Meat and Poultry
I could write a whole book on this. I worked in a packing and slaughter house back in Fort Wayne, Indiana when I was 21. It was a great learning experience; however, I’m quite sure I made the correct choice to return to the kitchen.
We buy different cuts of meat from different ranchers including Creekstone and Niman. There are big differences in how the cattle are raised, fed and bred, which translate into big differences in flavor and texture. These cattle are void of unwanted antibiotics and growth hormones. Both of these ranches “house grade” their beef, which means it is not USDA graded. Buying this beef involves a certain level of trust. That, however, does not mean that we do not inspect the primal cuts for marbling of fat. A good steak, whether it be from the loin or rib section, should have visible thin striations of white fat running throughout the muscle. The color of the muscle should be bright red when exposed to air. Good beef is firm to the touch and not soft.
If you are not going to cook or roast your steaks the day you buy them, remove them from the paper or plastic and wrap them in a clean towel before putting them into the fridge. This will allow the meat to breath, and it will keep better and longer.
There is a lot more to pork than being “the other white meat.” Just like beef, it’s all about the breed, feed and arranged living conditions. Most pork in the U.S. is industrially raised in somewhat horrific conditions and fed a diet that promotes fast growth. We get our pigs from either Niman or Devils Gulch Ranch (DGR) where they are raised in a more natural setting that is also more environmentally-friendly. They also taste better. We buy whole hogs from DGR and use every part but the squeal.
We don’t serve much in the restaurant except for the winter months when braised lamb shanks are featured on the menu. Though, we will, on occasion, buy whole lambs from DGR.
In general, apply the same rules of buying lamb as you do beef and pork – know where it comes from and how it was raised.