Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Beef Chronicles: an introduction

Under the High Chair is happy to bring you...The Beef Chronicles!

What's this?
A new series on UtHC featuring beef in both classic recipes, such as Beef Bourguignon and steak tartare, and a few of my own creations. I'll cook almost every cut imaginable on a side of beef, and display the results, be they good or bad. With any luck, every meal will be a celebration of this noble animal and I'll learn a lot along the way.

Why beef?
We recently purchased a side of locally raised, grass fed Angus beef. It's hard not to be inspired after loading package after package of beautifully butchered young beef into one's freezer. After we made a glorious list of all the cuts, feeling pleased as punch over our padded freezer, I decided that this young cow deserved a tribute. We feel particularly blessed to have access to such fine beef and it deserves better treatment than getting groped with some Montreal Steak Spice and merely slapped on a grill.

Why now?
I need an exercise, a kick in the pants, so to speak, and a new focus on UtHC where the main ingredient isn't sugar! I tend not to blog everyday meals, mostly because I feel I have nothing new to share and honestly, they are pretty boring, what with two picky eaters to cook for and whatnot. Believe it or not, this new project will be a challenge for me.

Why would cooking a hundred and thirty three pounds of beef be stretching my culinary repertoire?
For one thing, cooking massive amounts of meat isn't really my forte. As a youngster, I grew up mainly vegetarian, as my mother had some insight into the questionable world of processed meat and we couldn't afford to buy organic all the time. While we raised some meat ourselves on our 1/4 acre (chicken & rabbit), we simply did without others (beef), so I seldom had a chance to learn to cook red meat.

Also, in my restaurant days I wasn't Forever Garde Manger Girl for nothing. Give me twelve dozen oysters to shuck or 48 quail to de-bone and I could give anyone a serious run for their knife skills, but seldom was this five-foot-three-inch girl allowed near the four-legged creatures.
Anyway, (and this is going to sound like a food snob pretty much any way it comes out), most of the fine dining establishments I worked for didn't even serve beef, so I wouldn't have gotten much expertise under my belt had I worked the meat station.

The Cuts
Here's what I'll be choosing from over the next few months--and hopefully well into the winter.

Cross Rib Roast
Filet Mignon
Bavette (skirt steak)
Veal Shank
Sirloin Point Roast
Spare Ribs
Blade Roast
Flank Steak
Stewing Veal
Veal Cutlets
T-Bone Steak
Minute Steak
Rib Steak
Sirloin Steak

The last three are intended for the cat, but you never know, I may get inspired to try them out. I'm not much of an offal-lover, but maybe I'll try a steak & kidney pie sometime.
I'm looking forward to my very first batch of Osso Bucco with the veal shanks, and also devising ways to use the stewing veal--somehow I ended up with ten bags of it. That's a lot of stew.

Please provide!! Send me your family recipes, give me your best tips, request a recipe; just talk to me!
I'll also be relying on my Twitter friends for input as I go along; the first question being:

"Can I even consider a decent carpaccio if the beef has been frozen?"

Hope so. I love carpaccio.


Isabelle said...


I will be following your beef chronicles. I have never bought beef other than at the butchery, but it seems like a great experience to buy it directly at the farm.

Jennifer Jo said...

We get quarters of beef from our friends, so I'm well-acquainted with a beef-overload in the freezer. Have you ever made peposo? It's simply beef, garlic, lots of black pepper, salt, and red wine thrown together and simmered in the oven for a long time. It's divine.

(I don't even know what "carpaccio" is---goes to show what a beef expert I am not.)

Hilary said...

That freezer is lookin' good. I don't eat much red meat, but every few months or so I like a bit of beef. Looking forward to the recipes!

Jess said...

You're so organized! I still haven't even opened my fourth bag. I have no idea what's in it!
Can't wait to be inspired :-)

Michele Humes said...

Lucky you!

Now, why are the heart and other organs in parentheses? Are you unsure of whether you will include them?

annie76 said...

For the carpaccio, you need fresh and never freezed meat, as same for tartare.
For veal cube, put all the ingredients in a Crock-pot. Onions, carrots, garlic, celery, potatoes, even tomatoes and add some veal stock or water. Salt and pepper, herbs and spices.

Ingrid_3Bs said...

Oh, geez that's a lot of beef. While my honey enjoys his beef, I'm on the other end of the scale that wants just the mushrooms and the kiddos are somewhere in the middle.

I'll be following along to see what you come up with. Good luck Aimee!

Nutmeg Nanny said...

Ok all this meat is making my mouth water:) I'm a huge fan of beef heart (I know it sounds gross but it's not...I promise:). The way we make it in my family is thin slices, lightly flour breaded with some garlic poweder, salt and pepper and then lightly pan fried. Now beef heart tends to be large so I doubt you would cook up the whole thing. There is another option for the heart too. Although I will admit I'm not a fan of this recipe most of my family loves it. Pickled. Yes I know it's sounds weird but I have family members who salivate when you mention you have pickled beef heart. If you want the recipe just email me, if not I won't be offended:)

Cheryl Arkison said...

Yum. You've pretty much summer up Morgan Heaven. Shocker, right?
I'll be inrigued to see what you do with T-Bones, I usually avoid them because I'm lazy when eating. If it isn't edible I don't want it on my plate at the end of the meal. And minute steak? I only know the one way my mom did it, pan fried and in tomatoe sauce. And I disliked it very much as a kid.

Chocolatesa said...

ROFL @ "getting groped with some Montreal Steak Spice and merely slapped on a grill"

My mom has a mean beef heart soup recipe, I'll get it to you tonight. Beef heart is very lean, if not the leanest meat you can get from a cow. I find the texture really tender and smooth. Well, from what I remember from the last time I had my mom's soup anyways, must be a few years now. But go ahead and try the beef heart, it's great!

Aimée said...

Hi Isabelle- Thanks for joining in! This was our first time to buy directly from a farm and so far we are really happy.

Hi Mama JJ- Mmm, peposo sounds great! simple and elegant.

Hi Hilary- Thanks for stopping by. I hope I can inspire some beef cooking in you!

Hi Jess- Well, it's all talk so far, right? Talk is easy!

Hi Michele- Right. like I said, they are intended for the cat, unless I get truly inspired and very brave.
I know, how un-Julie Powell of me.

Hi annie67- Sounds like directions for a killer stew. Thanks!

Hi Ingrid- Thanks for commenting! Maybe your hubby's going to follow along, eh?

Hi Nutmeg Nanny- Thanks so much for the instructions. I MAY thaw to the idea of eating heart.
(not pickled, though)

Hi Cheryl- Hah! Morgan heaven. Most guys probably, too.

Hi Chocolatesa- Thanks for stopping by UtHC! And for the promise of a recipe. Very sweet of you.

Chocolatesa said...

Here's the recipe, an adapted version from from Pierre & Janet Berton's Canadian Food Guide, my mom's copy that she gave to me.

Take 1 beef heart, put it in a big pot, cover with water, boil for 24 hours, keeping covered with water. Remove heart from water, keep broth. Take a blunt knife, scrape off fat from beef heart. Cut in half, remove blood vessels, and then cut into 1" cubes, and put them back into the broth. Add beef broth/bullion cubes/powder to taste, diced potatoes, chopped onion, herbs (sage,thyme, rosemary), parsley, carrots, then cook until veggies are done, salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot.

The original recipe calls for celery, turnip, green pepper and chives, which I haven't tried yet.

ChefNick said...

Wow, that sounds almost like a Julie/Julia project.

What you really should do, though, is get a Foodsaver and properly freeze the stuff, as there's no way you're going to be able to eat all that within three months, and you want to avoid freezer burn.

I'm very jealous. Last time I checked I'm not a butcher, but almost everything you suggested sounds good (well, liver and let liver).

This is one I'll be following.

Uhh, any chance there's a space at the table, say, next Tuesday . . . . ?

kimberleyblue said...

Fun endeavor! We rarely eat beef at home, maybe once or twice a month, but I'm really looking forward to seeing what you come up with. It'll probably inspire me to try it out more often too.

Kristen said...

Oh my have some tasty dinners in your future.
My hubby's family are beef farmers. Would love to see e=what creative thing you come up with!

Graydon said...

@ChefNick --

If, as it certainly appears, Aimee's beef is vacuum sealed in polypropylene bags, she's got something like 2 years before she has to worry about freezer burn. (Which is to say, I've had one of the 5 lb slabs of sirloin I buy in the freezer for longer than that, and it was fine.)

Aimee --

For all the stewing veal, well, for the grade you've got, you can just re-cube it a bit smaller and stir fry it. For extra decadence, stir fry in bacon fat (instead of olive oil) with thyme and tarragon, salt to taste, cook covered until done (stirring occaisonally) and serve over rice. One douses the rice with the liquid in the wok, or saves it to cook the rice in next time.

Or you can wait until things are a bit cooler and make soup; beef-parsnip-carrot soup is a fine thing and really doesn't much care about the grade of beef.

Andrea said...

What a great idea - looking forward to reading more!

leedav said...

Beef heart is really delicious. We make a guajillo sauce and eat it in tacos.

Julie said...

My dad just slaughtered a steer and I got a bit of it this weekend. Kelly the Kitchen Kop has a recipe to "hide" liver that I'm going to try:

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