Archive for the KNOW YOUR COW Category

A Wagyu Holiday (Sponsored by Costco)

Posted in Beef, STUFF ABOUT MEAT, Wagyu with tags , on December 22, 2008 by chomposaurus

wagyu costco

Dear Warren,

You are a great brother-in-law. I hope the lawn gnome business picks up in the new year. I’m sure you’ll be able to pay back all the money you owe the banks… and me. I guess you may be feeling a little down, so here’s a 15 lbs pack of Wagyu Beef from Costco that cost me 2 G’s. Grill some up and find out what success tastes like!


P.S. I’m richer than you.

The Offal Truth: Depression Hits The Cows

Posted in Beef, KNOW YOUR COW, STRANGE MEAT, STUFF ABOUT MEAT with tags , on December 9, 2008 by chomposaurus

Apparently, the economic downturn massive depression is forcing some homemakers to look at alternatives to expensive meats.

Retail and food experts say that worry over the high cost of prime meat cuts and the economic downturn have more shoppers checking out supermarket offal offerings. But the return to eating innards was underway even before this year’s financial crisis, as celebrity chefs and restaurateurs have encouraged a return to cooking organs such as liver and kidneys, which once enjoyed a central place in British cooking. (See how farmers around the world prepare their crops for harvest.)

At ASDA, Britain’s second largest supermarket chain and a subsidiary of Wal-Mart, offal sales were up 20% last month compared to November 2007. Sainsbury’s, the country’s third largest supermarket chain, is selling 48% more pig livers, 22% more chicken livers and 8% more pig kidney than it was last year. Overall, sales of offal in the U.K. are expected to reach more than $62 million this year according to industry analysts Mintel.

“It’s price-driven,” says Bob Cotton, CEO of the British Hospitality Association, which represents 60,000 hotels and restaurants in the U.K. “I couldn’t say the British public have suddenly fallen in love with offal. That would be gilding the lily.”

I’m all for using the whole cow! Here are some great offal recipes:
Lamb Fries (aka Cowboy Caviar aka Balls) and Beef Tongue from Confabulist

Tripas à modo do PortoThe tripe stew for which Porto is famous (I have had this and it is quite tasty – like lentil soup with meat)

And something a bit more gourmet… Beef Liver with Carmelized Onions and Pecans

Yep, those are balls.

Yep, those are balls.

Know Your Cow: Porterhouse

Posted in KNOW YOUR COW, Porterhouse with tags , on October 28, 2008 by chomposaurus

To know the porterhouse is to know the T-bone and to know it well. And by “well,” I mean “gigantically.” For only the largest of T-bones are known as porterhouses: they must contain a significant portion of the tenderloin, or the smaller side of the short loin (the larger side being the strip loin). The “T” shape of the bone comes from the vertical cut down into the spine of the cow, with two bones going to the sides and one going down. Imagine the tenderloin being a little tunnel of deliciousness running along the length of the back half of the cow’s spine. So, for instance, if you were to get a T-bone from further up the cow (towards the head), with very little tenderloin, you could not call it a porterhouse. And the last 1/4 of the loin is the sirloin, less tender because it contains harder working muscles.

In pink: tenderloin. In red: porterhouse.

Are you confused? Then let me me clear things up for you: the porterhouse effing brings the flavor train right into your face’s station. You can grill or broil these suckers fast, and since they’re free of collagen they’re very tender, requiring less time on the grill. That means: RED meat. Caps-lock necessary.

Why is it called the porterhouse? Various theories abound, about a restaurant in NYC or some 19th century bearded douche named Porter. I say it’s because “beefmansion” sounded a bit uncouth for the olden times. If I ever have a restaurant, we’re definitely calling the big T-bones “Beefmansions.” Or possibly “Villa de Beouf.”

The most famous way to serve a T-Bone is the bistecca alla fiorentina of Tuscany, where the cut is so large it’s typically shared between two people after being grilled with sparse seasoning and olive oil over a wood grill. Hell, add some Roquefort or Bernaise. Because if you put anything less classic on one of these, like some sort of mushroom gravy or whatever, it will leap up from the table and wrestle you to the floor, leaving you greasy and hungry like you deserve to be.

If you put something lame on your porterhouse like cherry tomatoes, the steak MAY KILL YOU. But don’t forget the onion rings.

Know Your Cow: Wagyu (What is it, Exactly?)

Posted in KNOW YOUR COW, Wagyu with tags on August 18, 2008 by chomposaurus

When ordering beef online or in a high-end restaurant, you’ll frequently see the word “Wagyu” used. What does this mean? Is it the same as Kobe beef? Yes and no. Kobe beef is the most famous variety of Wagyu: other varieties include Mishimi and Ohmi, along with American Kobe and Australian Wagyu. All of the varieties are named for the region where they are produced. Remember, saying “Japanese Wagyu” is redundant because “Wagyu” means “Japanese-style Cattle.”

Sadly, most of the Wagyu info on the web, except for the wikipedia article, seems to have been cut and pasted from the same poorly-written source. But I found one great source of information: the Kobe Beef FAQ, hosted on good ol’ Geocities. Go there to learn the history of the market for Wagyu in America and Japan, and why it’s so hard to find.

One thing I can tell you: Wagyu beef is like no other. It’s beautifully marbled and is very low in saturated fat. Is it worth the price? You will have to decide – but you should definitely try it for yourself.

Know Your Cow: Brisket

Posted in BBQ, Beef, Brisket, KNOW YOUR COW with tags , , , , , on July 30, 2008 by chomposaurus

Brisket (from the Old Norse “brjōsk”) is cut from the lower chest of the cow, which is frequently called the breast. It’s usually split into a first and second cut, for a total weight of 7 to 9 pounds. As one of the toughest parts of a cow, brisket can’t be grilled like a traditional steak. It takes careful marinating and seasoning to prepare and then has to cook for many hours. It’s especially popular in Texas (sold by the pound or by the sandwich), where rumor has it that two German brothers who owned a meat market began smoking brisket as a way to use their excess meat.

Brisket is cheap. A massive 7 pound block will run you only 30 or 40 dollars. That’s why it’s so popular for BBQ’s: because you can feed a lot of people without spending a fortune. It’s also popular because it’s effing delicious.

Real men smoke their brisket. Not by coincidence, real women also smoke their brisket. You better believe Rachel McAdams smokes her brisket. Mine, too. If you happen to be so unlucky as to not yet own a Big Green Egg (I assume by reading this site, you must be at least aspiring to own one), then you can also slow cook your brisket in an oven or a very large slow cooker. Just make sure you rub it with as much spice as humanly possible first.

To cook a whole brisket, you need to take off most of the fat, leaving just a thin layer for cooking. Your butcher will have no problem doing this for you; not so sure about asking the high school student that works at Safeway.

And don’t forget, it’s great for Hanukkah!

Know Your Cow: Rump Roast

Posted in KNOW YOUR COW, Rump Roast on July 2, 2008 by chomposaurus

People aren’t the only ones with big booties. Cows love Sir Mix-a-lot, too. So to celebrate July 4th week, we’re talking about big cow asses, because, as we all know, big asses are part of what makes America great.

The rump roast comes from the beef round cut. This is easy to remember, because as everyone knows the best rumps are round. A beef round is the back leg of the cow; rump roasts are cut from the bottom round, which are the tougher parts of the leg. In general, beef rounds are lean but tough, being made up of very frequently-used muscles. London broil and tip steaks come from beef rounds as well.

A rump roast with the leg bone left in is called a standing rump roast. You have our permission to use this in any sort of joke you see fit.

There’s only one proper, American way to cook a rump roast, and you won’t have to work to hard to figure out what it is: roast that sucker. 30 minutes per pound at 325 will get you a delicious, medium rare block of beef that you can use in any application you desire, from sandwich to stew.

Know Your Cow: Sweetbreads

Posted in Beef, KNOW YOUR COW, Sweetbreads with tags , on May 29, 2008 by chomposaurus

After being featured in not one but two dishes on Top Chef last night, sweetbreads are piquing the curiosity of would-be gourmets throughout the reality TV viewing world. So, what exactly is a sweetbread? The answer is possibly less appetizing than you thought.

Most mammals, including humans and cows, have a thymus, a gland that helps produce immune cells, such as T cells. Cows have more than one thymus, in their neck and by their heart. They’re only prominent in young cows, thus they are frequently referred to as “veal sweetbreads.” If someone says “beef sweetbreads” to you then they are either stupid, or are they are Bobby Flay trying to trick you into looking stupid. In either case you should hit them with the nearest mallet.

Preparing sweetbreads involves removing the outer membrane by soaking them in salt water, usually overnight. They can then be poached, braised or straight-up deep fried. Like Lisa said on Top Chef last night, they’re kind of like a big beefy chicken nugget.

Sweetbreads information on the internet seems to vary. Some sites insist that the pancreas is also a sweetbread; others say it is only the thymus. Many sites talk about whether lamb or pork sweetbreads are worth eating – lamb seems to be generally accepted. Explore the interwebs for more info; meanwhile, here’s Stephanie from Top Chef’s veal sweetbreads recipe.

Know Your Cow: Hanger Steak

Posted in Hanger Steak, KNOW YOUR COW with tags , , , on May 20, 2008 by chomposaurus

The Hanger Steak, or onglet, has long been popular in French bistros or Mexican restaurants (as part of your sizzling fajita). Made of the couple pounds of meat that “hang” between the last rib and the loin of the cow, hanger steaks are tough and grainy but extremely flavorful. Although they used to be ground into hamburger meat in America, their popularity has risen as knowledge of how to properly marinate and cook them has spread. Now you’ll find the hanger steak on the menu of many classy French-American restaurants, usually served pomme frites (with french fries). Surprisingly, the hanger steak still is largely unmarked on most beef charts.

Hanger steaks are similar to skirt steaks or flank steaks, which you’ll also find in fajitas. All three come from the same area of the cow and all three require specific cooking methods to make sure they don’t dry out. On the chart, the circled area is the hanger steak. Forward on the cow is the skirt, to the rear is flank.

Some notes on cooking hanger steaks: they’re way too tough if you cook them above medium rare, so only get one if you like it bloody. Make sure to marinate it over night if you’re cooking it yourself. Also, since there’s only about 2 pounds of hanger steak per cow, it’ll be tough and possibly expensive to feed a large group whole steaks.

According to Boo Rah, the best hanger steak in NYC is at Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain. It might be worth pouring more money into his ego to have one – this is a delicious steak that needs to be cooked just right to be appreciated. But if you’re into covering your grill & plate at home with some still-mooing bloody strips of meat, please consider the hanger steak.