Featured

Dry Aging: Less (H2O) is More

Dry aging (hanging carcass beef in a cool, climate controlled environment) has a long history but the modern beef industry has abandoned it in favor of a poor substitute deemed “wet aging” where all the excess fluids associated with a beef primal cut are supposedly captured with it in vacuum sealed plastic. Dry aging is more costly because this excess water is evaporated during the aging process and does not contribute to finished yield. Producers who don’t explicitly claim to practice dry aging are NOT using it.

Here is what Hugh Fearnley -Whittingstall, a British small holder , livestock raiser and food writer ( The River Cottage Meat Book) has to say: “What happens to the meat during hanging (dry aging) is that the natural enzymes begin to act on the fibers of the muscle meat, making them softer and more elastic so that the meat becomes more relaxed and tender.” “The meat will also begin to lose moisture as it hangs. Paradoxically this is a good thing when it comes to cooking. Wet, fresh, underhung meat carries too much water, which expands as the temperature rises during cooking, stretching the fibers of the meat and leaching out between them-especially when the meat contracts again after cooking and during carving. This means that wet meat actually ends up drier after cooking and vice versa.” “In general, another great but rarely discussed benefit of proper hanging… is that dry aged meat will emerge  from the freezer with far greater credit than immature, wet meat. Again, moisture is a key issue. Water expands as it freezes so that ice crystals will tear and push apart the fibers of the meat.Not only will dry aged meat contain less of the damaging moisture but the more elastic fibers will cope better with the expanding ice crystals. So, as the meat defrosts , and again as it cooks , there will be less tendency for water to leach out.”

I tested this idea by comparing moisture loss of pan -fried ground beef patties made from Hay Creek dry aged beef and Australian (AU) grass fed organic ground beef referred to in another post. The AU ground beef is distributed unfrozen with a moisture diaper so is almost certainly NOT dry aged. Both samples were frozen once and thawed fully prior to pan frying under identical conditions to a medium rare done-ness (just past spatula press “squish” point). The AU burger had a ring of “pan boogers” around it while cooking where excess juices were evaporating off and lost an incredible 19.3 % of it’s raw weight. It shrunk in diameter quite noticeably and had a somewhat dry, chewy eating texture. The Hay Creek burger fried w/o forming “pan boogers”, very little diameter shrinkage and only 9.0 % moisture loss. Much more tender and moist upon eating . Way juicier than any of the much-overrated Juicy Lucy contenders in town.

Remember that “dry meat” (dry aged) is “moister” than “wet meat” (fresh or wet aged) every time you discard the costly tray bib/diaper thing saturated with excess moisture from a package of grocery store beef.


 

Featured

Hot Hanging Weight Pricing : the Dark Side

Hot Hanging Weight (HHW) based pricing is common in this business and can seem attractively priced but the freedom to choose (cutting instructions) comes with the twisted consequence of having been “provided enough rope to hang yourself”. Everyone else (farmer and processor) involved in the yield outcome takes 2 giant steps backwards and you are left standing alone.

Beef genetics and quality of finishing (last stages of grazing) along with cutting method , care and skill effect actual yield expectations (net total beef cut weight as percent of HHW).  HHW is the net weight of the  rail-suspended, bare eviscerated carcass sans head, hide and lower legs at the point it enters the chilling cooler. Both payment to farmer and processor are based on this number. It’s use makes sense for small/occasional producers w/o a herd yield performance base. HHW’s continued use by large/experienced direct sellers is at first glance puzzling: how can they ever develop herd yield performance data from myriad potential cutting plans? The not-so -obvious answer is they don’t care: they are sourcing from multiple herds: the Dark Side to which HHW easily provides access.

The very removal of responsibility for yield  creates an opportunistic opening for these “front-men” ; non-farmer brokers who only source and deliver beef under their label and  profit on the spread between their HHW “buy”(from a real farmer/rancher) and “resell” (to you) prices: an essentially risk-free deal for them when yield is your problem. There’s an ol’ braggart around this area who has made himself something of a kingpin in grass fed beef- having found farming/ranching too much work and risk -and now does just that. I once heard him boast -to a cattlemen’s group-how he ( actual quote) was “not above buying  hamburger cows” (old, culled, open, unbred female cattle). Otherwise, of course, his ethical standards are only the highest. HHW pricing encourages this kind of B.S. by making it simple, easy and risk-free to source cattle from multiple herds- w/o a quality and yield data base.

Hay Creek can provide CHOICE w/o the RISK :  I offer choice of steak cut thickness , roast cut target weights, “round ” roast or steak instead of ground- for prepaid HALF size orders at normal half pricing.

A commercial grain fed whole beef carcass weighing 630 pounds can have a bone-in cut yield of anywhere from 44 to 79% depending on yield grade. This does not include dry aging moisture loss -which takes around 5% off the top -since dry aging is no longer used commercially. No such published statistics exist for grass-fed beef . Since grass fed breeds are  typically of British- not heavily muscled , high yield grade Continental breeding- their gross yield most likely tops out around the low 70’s , high 60’s after 14 days dry aging. Variability in individual cattle and grazing quality can reduce this to the low 60’s. This range of yield has a huge effect on net $/pound you take home.

Suppose you purchase a quarter (technically a split-half ) of the 630 pound HHW carcass (157.5 pounds) and pay $3.90/pound to the farmer and $.72/pound (combined butcher, cut, and grind fee spread over HHW) to the processor for a total of $727.65. You assumed an unrealistic 75% yield of 118 pounds ($6.17 per pound net) but only received a 62% yield of 98 pounds ($7.45 per pound net). Not a bad deal but way different from what you bit on.

Complaints to farmer or processor on your orders’ yield result will inevitably be met with the negative effect of your choice of  cutting directions: boneless cuts- including cuts processed into ground- reduce yield.  Deviations from – or lack of- a cutting “standard” leave an “out” for the grower and processor. Remember, there is only one firm number in this game: the one you are billed for: HHW.

Factor these expectations into your purchasing decision and resist unsupported claims of unreasonably high yield. Dry aging is costly in terms of yield. Be sure to have the processor weigh, total , and sign off on your net cuts so you can determine if you got a good deal. Buy only from REAL farmer/ranchers.  Not the posers who look like they’ve spent a lot more time inside a casino than outside moving cattle.  Mystery Meat from unidentified herds with unverifiable practices is way cheaper in the supermarket.


 

Featured

All Hat No Cattle

It takes a decent breeding herd, fertile land, fencing, drinking water delivery works , expertise (luck too) and most of all;  time ( 6-12 months more than grain-fed) to produce a quality true grass- fed beef.

It’s not about just jockeying random maybe-grass-fed cattle between a convenient “sale barn”  and processor. Nor is it waylaying opportunistically-purchased cattle in some greenish chunk of pasture a few weeks.  It takes 2-4 acres of good pasture per finishing head to support that generation of cattle and the upcoming younger generations-for a whole growing season.

Beware of large sellers using Hot Hanging Weight (HHW) based pricing. It’s a likely cover for brokering from multiple unidentified herds with unverifiable practices.

Make sure you are getting what you pay for . Ask questions. Make a farm visit. Mystery Meat of ambiguous origins is way-cheaper in the supermarket. Don’t simply go along with crowd-think.


 

Featured

The (Down) Under Side of Cheap Imported Grass Fed Ground Beef

 

Bos Indicus cattle

There’s a region of the world where large-scale beef production is  relatively new and “grass fed” remains a disparaging term: the equatorial lands of Brazil and Australia where only Bos Indicus cattle breeds like Zebu can endure high heat, humidity, insect pressure and drought cycles to gain some very lean, tough weight over a 3-4 year harvest interval. Australia exported 2.5 million metric tonnes -predominately this type of beef- valued at $8.285 billion in 2015/2016. That works out to $1.19 USD per pound.

Here’s what they have to say about its quality and destined usage: “Australia’s beef exports are globally competitive, but are generally low-value exports (grass fed for ground beef) rather than high-value products (grain-fed for high value sale). According to Meat & Livestock Australia, in 2016, 75% of Australian beef exports to the US were low-value manufacturing or hamburger beef (MLA). The US cattle herd has been near historic lows, fueling increased demand for imported beef.”

With the US as it’s major export destination a whole bunch of this beef most likely makes it’s way into the head of the fast food industry pipeline via Lopez Foods in Oklahoma, distributed as preformed, precooked, frozen patties.

Brazil’s deforested Amazon basin is a much larger producer of this type of beef but is barred from export to the US due to Foot and Mouth Disease outbreaks. They also have a long history of being demonized for rainforest destruction so are compromised in the arena of health food marketing.

Some of this ground beef marketed in retail packages is labeled USDA Organic- a label whose meaning is being increasingly challenged such as in this Dec 2017 Washington Post story:  “What was the organic movement has lost control of the National Organic Program (NOP)- the pirates have taken over the ship,” said Dave Chapman, a Vermont farmer who has farmed organically for 37 years.”

At it’s essence Organic is only the certified absence of forbidden synthesized inputs: fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and drugs. Even that basic requirement is somehow overlooked by current administration of the NOP according to audit results. Virtuous, feel-good niceties like holism, species diversity, integrated pest management, etc. are relegated to window dressing by the caveat “where possible”.  Perversely, it is possible to merely deplete a natural environment  with the Organic blessing (UNCTAD p24).  Organic or not, rough, dry-land ranching has always been a brutal business with no lack of adversaries; real (drought) and perceived : kangaroo

 

I bought a couple pound bricks of Australian (AU) grass fed ground beef to try out for eating quality.  Cooked them “sous vide” for 60 minutes (sealed in zip lock plastic bag and immersed in temperature-controlled circulating water bath) in quarter pound segments cut direct from the  brick alongside the same of my own Hay Creek ground beef.  The samples cooked ‘”rare” (126 deg F) had the most pronounced difference with the AU sample have a chewy texture like  rubber bands that slowly disappeared as chewing progressed. The “medium” (142 deg F) and “medium well” (157 deg F) AU samples were also more rubbery-chewy but not so distinctly as the “rare”. Flavor was comparable between my own and the AU samples. Samples of both presented to farm dogs were wolfed down so quickly that the hundredth-second stopwatch differential could easily be attributed to operator reaction time.

This is not a bad quality product but why the completely opaque source labeling with only a whole huge continent  of widely varying climate and environment as the “country of origin”?  No state or territory or farm name. The USDA labeling laws don’t preclude more information but they do help obscure those that desire to remain so.

Don’t be reeled-in by colorful, cheery labels with no real information. Can you tell if you are buying from small farms or mysterious corporate entities or brokers?  Where -as in on the map-is the beef raised?  Practically speaking Organic means different things in different settings and practices, particularly when imported.  In tropical native grassland grazing it can mean next to nothing or even be a force for land clearing or other forms of  environmental degradation.  

Reinforcing this madness; cheap ($38USD/acre), raw, previously un-farmed land is actually favored by the NOP in that it does not require the 3 year transition to Organic of lands with a history of conventional farming.


 

 

Featured

My Foodie Background

 

Disclaimer on “foodie” in that it’s prob’ly been overused to the point of meaninglessness but it seems to still possess instant recognition. Paradoxical in that hardly any modern farmers-those folks closest to the origins of the food supply-would call themselves or be considered foodies.  Most of them I know consider the Sysco-supplied stuff in the local cafe/ roadhouse or the stuff off the Schwanns truck to be good food. Lots of reasons for this “dumbing down” of the traditional farm table: the specialization of modern farms cuts selection of home-grown foods on hand for cooking; tight profit margins mean the farm wife no longer cooks but instead does shift work at a local manufacturer; aging-out of the remaining farmers mean reduced appetites, fewer children, and less energy.

Been in the food business continuously in one way or another since starting at Pillsbury R&D’s fledgling frozen foods group in 1976 as a process technician. Put together and operated a low-budget, skunk-works pilot plant for process experiments on a new Totino’s pizza concept. The engineering came naturally. Learned the basics of cooking , baking and food safety practices from food scientists . Left there in late 80’s- after attaining a mechanical engineering degree and process engineer title- during one of a series of takeovers and downsizing that culminated later in purchase by General Mills.

Went on to Food Engineering , a small fabricator of specialty equipment primarily for the prepared cereal industry. Lots of time spent in vast processing plants starting-up new lines, new products or diagnosing malfunctions. Spent an overnight in a South Korean instant ramen  soup plant  to get the kimchi drying quality they expected out of a new conveyor-type dryer with 3 temperature zones and 5 conveyor levels that required 6 hours retention time.

Quit engineering to take up beef farming/ranching in ’98 while the kids still young enough (10 and 12) to be excited about the prospect.

Stumbled into low-carb nutrition by the back door after a spring and summer of eating old-timey (fat/flavorful) pork out of their 2 Hampshire-ish sows and a stubby, round, spotted gift- boar. The family bought a half pig from them and ate pork a least  4 times a week , believing pork only had a 6 month freezer life. So much pork to eat we hardly had the appetite for carbs beyond that from vegetables. That fall, at my 30th high school re-union, I was lighter in weight (165 pounds) than any point since high school.  Don’t recall exactly how I pieced together cause and effect but I’ve been a low-carb advocate since. Always find reason to regret falling for high glycemic foods.


 

Homemade Pastrami

Pastrami is to beef brisket as bacon is to pork belly. The “Michael Symon’s Carnivor” recipe (on which I based this) uses a hybrid cook of dry smoke to 150 deg F internal followed by enclosing the brisket in a covered pan w/water (steam) cook to finish. I considered it a waste to cut short great smoke conditions for cheesy steaming so used apple wood chunks (for smoke) in an indirect heat Kamado grill setup with a cup of water in the drip pan (early steam) and allowed the grilling temperature to slowly increase from 225 deg F to 275 over 4-5 hours, removing the brisket at 180 deg F internal, foil wrapping and “resting” 1.5 hours in a towel-lined insulated “cooler”. My indirect Kamado set-up elevates the meat rack 3 inches with a 14 inch flat aluminum pizza pan “heat deflector”, 1/2 inch air gap and 12 inch deep dish pizza “drip pan” between the coals and the meat- blocking radiant heat transfer.

The result is firm, a bit on the dry side, and intensely smoky-salty flavorful. I sliced by hand (chef’s knife) so could only control to around 1/8 inch thickness. Firm enough to go half that thickness with a power rotary slicer. Steaming it prior to some uses might be desirable. Portioned slices into freezer gauge ziplock bags for future test of Symon’s “Fat Doug Burger”.

The 3 -day wet brine for a 5 pound brisket calls for 1 gallon water, 1.5 cups salt, 1/2 cup sugar, 8 tsp curing salt ( I used Tender Quick), 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, 1/2 cup honey, 2 tbsp minced garlic and 1 tbsp Pickling Spice (next paragraph). Bring all to a simmer, cool, pour over brisket in non-reactive container , weight to submerge and refrigerate for 3 days.

Pickling Spice makes 1/4 cup (more than enough for a 5 pound brisket) and calls for 1 tbsp black peppercorns, 1 tbsp mustard seed, 1 tbsp coriander seed, 1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, 1 1/2 tsp allspice, 1 1/2 tsp mace, 1 1/2 tsp whole cloves, 1 1/2 tsp ginger, 1 small cinnamon stick and 10 bay leaves.

Remove brisket from brine, rinse in water and dry with paper towels before coating in a coarsely ground blend of a tbsp each toasted black peppercorns and whole coriander. Place in preheated smoker or grill setup and monitor internal temperature to desired done-ness. Steam or not: it’s your call.

Firehouse Chili Gumbo

This NYT Cooking recipe works great with Hay Creek Ground Round. Serve with grated cheese and tortilla chips. Stands up to liberal use of hot sauce. Good stuff.

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE CHILI:

  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil, like canola or grapeseed
  • 3 pounds ground beef, ideally coarse-ground
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons steak sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes

FOR THE GUMBO:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium shallots, peeled and diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 3 ribs celery, trimmed and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 6-ounce cans tomato paste
  • 2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
  • 1 to 2 cups tomato juice
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon apple-cider vinegar, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce, or to taste

PREPARATION

  1. Make the chili. Heat the oil in a large skillet or heavy-bottomed pot set over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook the beef, stirring often, until it has begun to brown at the edges. Using a slotted spoon, transfer browned meat to a bowl.
  2. Pour off excess fat, turn heat down to medium and return the browned beef to the skillet or pot. Add salt, peppers, chile powder, turmeric, oregano and cumin, and stir to combine. Add steak sauce, Worcestershire sauce and diced tomatoes, and stir again. Cover the skillet or pot, and cook, stirring a few times, for 15 minutes or so.
  3. Make the gumbo. Place a large pot with a heavy bottom over medium heat, and put the butter and oil into it. When the butter is melted and foaming, sprinkle the flour into the pan, and whisk to combine. Continue whisking until the mixture is golden brown, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Add the onion, shallots, bell peppers, celery and garlic, and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables have started to soften, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Make the chili gumbo. Add the beef mixture to the pot with the vegetables along with the tomato paste, tomato sauce, tomato juice and ketchup, and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 to 45 minutes, then add apple-cider vinegar and hot sauce to taste. Take the pot off the heat, and serve, or allow to cool and refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to cure. Heat before serving.

Old-Time Diner Style Keto- Burgers

This high (20-30%) fat burger is absolutely melt-in- your- mouth luscious and a wake-up jolt to the leaner-is-better crowd. Add frozen-shaved grass-fed suet (50 grams per pound of thawed Hay Creek ground beef ) and fry to 130 degree target internal temperature. This takes a good while since all the fat has to begin melting before the temperature will rise. Don’t overcook or you’ll melt out all the fat! Have Brioche buns already toasted and avoid overloading with condiments. A bit of ketchup, mayo, and fried onion maybe. Skip the tomato slice -or any other cold, moist mass-for sure. Eat ’em right away. Don’t let the fat cool and solidify.

Beef suet -with it’s unique flavor and melting point profile- is the only fat that will work for this. No Substitutes!

You could use an auger/plate style meat grinder with 3/16 to 7/32 inch plate openings to regrind the entire rolled-up “log” in photos above. NO “food processor”: it’ll destroy the meat texture and melt the fat.

Do not try this with commercial, wet-aged beef or you’ll have a mess, to say nothing of risk of illness.

No matter your take on the origin of the American burger, this preparation style dates from a time before any consumer had heard of e. coli – much less it’s numbered mutations. No one had heard of an official 160 deg F internal temperature cooking recommendation or had any equipment capable of measuring it in such a thin piece of meat. How did the burger become popular if it was always accompanied by the threat of illness or even death? The answer is most likely the growing dependence on fed antibiotics in the commercial cattle feeding business.

The USDA inspected processor I use handles only small- farm grown beef and has NEVER had a recall. Seems to me that the rewards outweigh the risks of “under-cooking”small farm, small processor beef: particularly so if grass-fed.. I never cook Hay Creek ground beef burgers to 160 deg F, just to the point the “squish” disappears at around 130 deg F. You judge for yourself.

Beef Stroganoff via Time Machine

Set the time machine for 1963, pop the hatch and emerge into a weird parallel world where everyone smokes constantly, fear of meat, dairy, and dietary fat is unheard-of and “fat kids” are an anomaly still worthy of ridicule by peers. Anxiety over Soviet missiles and MAD could only be relieved by smoking, drinking, the antics of “Rocky and Bullwinkle” and escape into the romanticized past of Camelot. ” Dr. Strangelove ” wouldn’t be seen till ’64. Something evil (besides Boris and Natasha) stalks this confounded scene: causing a dramatic rise in coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality in relatively rich, western nations. The evil needed identification and eradication. All was about to be turned upside-down.

Ancel Keys (U of M) had already set the course by then with his graphic association of CHD death rate vs percent of dietary calories from fat for 6 countries. Everyone thought he was onto something and researchers piled-onto the “diet-heart idea”. More cool-headed skeptics found that Keys had cherry-picked the 6 countries from a total of 22 for which data was available. Had he included all 22 the correlation for sugar consumption versus CHD deaths would have been higher than that for total fat.

The zeal of funding institutions and researchers soon took on a religious crusade quality of certitude in direction and outcomes. No one questioning the “diet -heart idea” could get funding or an audience. Investigators manipulated data in ways to present the accepted outcome. Framington (MA) study analysts at year 30 could only find positive news in overall death rates of men (CHD death rates in women had never been shown to be influenced by blood cholesterol level) in the lowest cohort of blood cholesterol being a half-percent less per year than those in the highest. They failed to point out that deaths were not CHD specific OR recognize that for men beyond age 47 survival rate was indifferent of cholesterol level!

So how did we get to today? How did all that momentum and low fat/high carbohydrate diet endorsements get reversed so that it’s now OK again to eat butter, bacon and beef? Reality intervened is what happened. Maverick cardiologist Dr Atkins started recommending the opposite; a high protein/low carb diet that had outstanding success in reversing the CHD symptoms of his patients. Packaged food companies eagerly switched over to cheap refined carbohydrates and sugar in place of expensive fats and -as a result-by the mid 80’s adolescent type 2 diabetes was becoming a problem. Endocrinology- the study of the body’s hormone reactions- came to better understand the roles of insulin and glycogen and the group of symptoms leading up to insulin resistance. Gary Taubes summed it all up in 2002. Since then diet-related autoimmune disorders and the huge role of gut microbes have begun to be understood.

Beware of vegan groups recovering the fallen, soiled banners of this era’s misguided protagonists, laundering them and representing them as underappreciated heroes. They were merely the wrong-headed opportunists of their time. Their endorsement by association lends no legitimacy to the vegan cause.

This is a wonderful, classic recipe. If using sirloin steak or sirloin tip roast be sure to cut to specified size while partially frozen. It’s impossible when completely thawed. The piece size is critical for chew-able texture as there isn’t much cooking time to help tenderize. Spring for fresh Italian parsley and the wide “nested” type egg noodles like Sams Choice Italia Pappardelle. Try a bit of fresh-grated nutmeg on a portion for that distinctive flavor.

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds beef tenderloin or boneless sirloin of beef, trimmed of all exterior fat and cut int 2-by-1/4-by-1/4-inch strips
  • ½ cup (one stick) butter
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups beef or chicken stock, ideally homemade
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

PREPARATION

  1. Combine the flour, salt and pepper. Dredge the meat in the mixture.
  2. Brown the meat in one-quarter cup of the butter in a saucepan. Remove meat from the pan and set aside.
  3. Add the onion to the pan and sauté until transparent. Add the mushrooms and remaining butter and sauté 3 to 5 minutes longer.
  4. Add the beef stock or bouillon and bring to a boil. The preparation, to this point, may be done ahead.
  5. Add the meat to the sauce and cook until meat is tender but not overcooked, 3 to 10 minutes, stirring often.
  6. Combine sour cream, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce. Add some of the beef sauce to sour cream mixture. Return to pan and heat meat and sauce, stirring. Do not boil. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with buttered parsley noodles.

Have you cooked this?  Mark as Cooked


 

Soup Bones Special $2

Add-on (by request) to any “available” order meaty Hay Creek soup bones for only $2 per pound plus 10 or 12 cents per pound delivery (Fargo/MSP). Great for broth or basis for stews.

Special Agent Suet Part 1: Pemmican

Pemmican is an all-natural , long-lasting energy food originally made by native Americans from wild large game, dry berries and nutmeats. Suet rendered into tallow (chemically/biologically stable at normal temperatures) serves as an important energy source and binder for all the components.

Suet is the “hard” fat from inside the body cavity of a beef animal. It’s not simply collected “trim” fat from the exterior. It’s 52 % saturated and 32 % mono saturated with a smoke point of 392 deg F. REMEMBER: NO legitimate scientific research has EVER established a causal link between saturated fat consumption and heart disease – despite what people who should know better continue to say. Suet seems hard and dry but in fact contains significant water moisture and will decay even under refrigeration.

Rendering the suet into tallow changes it’s chemical/biological stability at normal temp’s. Beef tallow is composed primarily of the saturated fats Palmitic (26%) and Stearitic (14%) as well as mono-saturated Oleic (47%) with a composite melting point of 86 to 113 deg F which provides a melt-in-the mouth sensation. The rendering process basically involves slowly heating suet (cut into small chunks) over a long period of time to drive out water. This is best/most safely done in a device with limited heat input capabilities (crockpot) or better yet a device that is thermostatically controlled (self-heated roaster). Small (1-3 pound) quantities rendered in a crockpot can be started out on “high” but must be monitored by thermometer inserted into the suet regularly to check temperature. Reduce crockpot setting to”low” when the 212 deg F “plateau” is past (most of the water evaporated) and the temp begins to climb rapidly. Stop heating when temp reaches 260-270 deg F, strain thru a SST kitchen strainer and pour into a glass or crockery vessel with removable cover to cool and store .

I based my pemmican trial on this site’s recipe #1. 

My interpretation used a 1# brick of Hay Creek Ground Round thawed and spread out (like a pizza dough) onto a roughly 16 inch diameter circle of parchment paper and oven dried for 8 hours @ 180 deg F. It sticks with unbelievable tenacity so the parchment is highly recc’d. Break the dried sheet of meat into rough chunks and food-processor mill into a granular powder. I ended up with 135 grams from the original 454 grams of beef. Place powdered beef into 2 quart mixing bowl.

Melt 200 grams of tallow (you already rendered and saved ) over a double boiler.

Hand chop (with a knife) 3/4 cup (117 grams) roasted almonds .

Measure out 1 1/2 cup(50 grams) dried cranberries (NOT Craisins which are sugar-enhanced. Even the “reduced sugar” Craisins contain 2X the sugar of an equal-weight serving of true dried cranberries)

Pour melted tallow over powdered beef while mixing with a silicone spatula. Add nuts and cranberries and mix till uniform.

Immediately plate out (pack with spatula while doing) onto smooth plate or pan and place in cool location to partially solidify. Test ability to break into chunks with knife or scraper after an hour of cooling. Store chunks in sealed plastic ziplock or rigid plasticware in refrigerator. Freeze for long-term storage.

The flavor and mouthfeel is entirely unique, subtle and becomes even more appealing with familiarity. Great trail food! Feel Good points on using grass-fed for the Omega-3′ benefit!

Where to get grass fed suet?

Ground Round ready for drying


 

All Ground Special $69

Xtra thick ground round burgers w/garlic & balsamic worked in

Get either a 10 (2 each type)or a 15 (3 each type)-nominal 1 pound each- assortment of grounds: beef brick, beef quarter-pound patties, chuck brick, round brick, and sirloin brick: all dry-aged and vacuum packed. $69 for 10 or $99 for 15.

Limit one (1)  Special per order/delivery address. Only PayPal (not mailed check)$20 special deposits received while this post is active will be eligible. Special flat total delivery charge of $7.00 per order/address. See “How to Order” on menu. Make note during PayPal checkout of which order size. For   St Cloud, Minneapolis, St Paul delivery August 18, 2019.


 

Lisa’s Lazy Pot Roast in Clay

I’ve made this recipe a million times- mostly in cheap, oversized enamel roasting pans- whose loose fitting covers promote excessive dehydration. Thought I’d give my new Romertopf clay cooker a spin on this ol’ favorite. I’m sure any heavy, closely sized (roast should just fit) casserole or dutch oven with a tight lid would work as well. Adjust total roasting time for smaller/larger roast weights. My 2.7# Chuck was overdone to point of falling off bone though not dried out at 3 hours. Don’t be dismayed by the dark appearance of the roast exterior; it’s the rub! I don’t mess with the intricate “sauce” steps: just adjust the final broth addition so the natural pan sauce is of desirable consistency. I only added a quarter cup. The softened onions serve to bind the juices and preclude the need for reduction or thickeners. Let cool a bit in covered cooker before slicing or chunking to serve. Serve with potatoes/carrots etc cooked separately.

Lisa’s Lazy Pot Roast

Prep Time: 20 minutesCook Time: 180 minutesTotal Time: minutesServing Size: 6 From “The Complete Meat Cookbook” Aidells and Kelly

Ingredients

  •  1 tsp dried thyme
  •  1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  •  1 tbsp paprika
  •  1 tbsp kosher salt
  •  1 teaspoon Freshly ground pepper
  •  4 lb boneless beef chuck pot roast or beef brisket trimmed of excess fat
  •  2 tbsp vegetable oil
  •  1/2 cup water or beef or chicken stock or more if needed
  •  5 cups thinly sliced onion
  •  6 whole Garlic cloves, peeled, chopped
  •  1 pinch salt
  •  1 pinch Freshly ground pepper

Preparation

  • Flavor Step – Combine the herbs, paprika, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the meat thoroughly with the mixture. You can cook the roast immediately, but it will taste better if it sits for an hour or two at room temperature or overnight in a zipper-lock bag or, well wrapped, in the refrigerator.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large, heavy casserole or a Dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Brown the meat on all sides, about 7 minutes. Remove and set aside. Pour off any fat from the pan and deglaze the pan with the water or stock, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon or spatula. Put the roast back in the pan, cover it with the sliced onions and garlic, cover, and bake for 1 hour.
  • Remove the cover, turn the roast over so that it is on top of the onions, and continue to cook, uncovered, for another hour, adding more liquid if needed. Stir the onions around after about 30 minutes so they can brown more evenly.
  • Replace the cover and continue to cook for 1 hour more, or until the meat is fork-tender; brisket will take a little longer than chuck. Remove the meat from the pot and let it rest, covered loosely with foil, while you prepare the sauce. (At this point, you may refrigerate the pot roast for later reheating. Refrigerate the cooking liquid separately. To serve later, remove any congealed fat from the cooking liquid and strain it before using it to reheat the meat gently.)
  • To serve, strain and defat the sauce. Taste for salt and pepper. Cut the meat into thick slices or separate it into chunks. Spoon some sauce and onions over each serving.


 

Sous Vide Chuck Roast

There’s loads of roast prejudice out there, prob’ly stemming from the tough, overcooked, dry-seeming “pot roasts” we were forced to eat as children. Sous Vide method will erase this prejudice from your minds with both tender and moist results from the lowliest of roasts: the chuck.

Equipment is no longer expensive or hard to obtain. My unit retails for less than $50 and is used with a home-insulated 8 quart stock pot (with worn-out teflon hardcoat interior) sitting on a silicone hot pad. I added an o-ring between the upper body and lower shroud to tighten-up the fit and prevent the stirring impeller from ticking against the shroud interior. Now it works great.

I’d already tried a Sous Vide Sirloin Tip and posted here. Chuck seemed the ultimate test with more fat and connective tissue to deal with. Rubbed a 2.7 pound Hay Creek chuck roast with 2 tsp salt, a tsp each of rosemary and thyme, and placed 6 cloves garlic around the roast in a gallon ziplock freezer bag. Placed partially closed bag vertically in pot and sucked out air via a small diameter tube (assisted by water pressure) while closing zipper. Set unit for 135 deg F with a target time of 24 to 36 hours. Removed after 26 hours, drained juices for gravy, and seared exterior of roast using cast iron skillet in 500 deg F oven for 8 minutes with one turn.

Incredibly moist, tender outcome. Still some fat and cartilage present at this cook time but bulk of roast so tender it could be used cold thin-sliced for sandwich cuts. Juices rich and make a highly savory gravy.