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Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 5 months ago

April 2008 beef:


We have beef from two different ranches in this month's box, which should make for some interesting comparisons. The Prather beef will be familiar to many of you, and cooks very much like conventional beef, though it is leaner, grassier-tasting meat, and doesn't have quite as much intramuscular fat as grain fed beef. Prather finishes their animals on grain for a very short time. I'm generally uncomfortable with this practice, but was compelled by marketing director Mark Keller's confidence, and by the fact that the beef fell under the CSA's second mandate of clearing out ranchers' freezers. The Azevedo beef is a different animal altogether. Tony Azevedo, the first organic dairy farmer in the San Joaquin valley, stops milking his cows just as soon as they don't produce in a manner that seems natural and healthy. He slaughters the cows at 2-3 years old and sells the beef as whole and half-animals to his community members, using vegetable-farmer-extraordinaire-Tom Willey's CSA as a market. I received such strong assurances of the beef's quality from Tony and Tom that I bought a whole animal, sight unseen. Tom picked it out for me a month ago. Nervous about the taste and consistency of an older dairy cow, I experimented with two cuts from the cow. The very lean nature of the Azevedo cow also prompted me to fill out the May box with a grain-finished Prather order.




I cooked ribeyes from the Azevedo cow to such great results that I wished I'd bought two cows instead of one. I seasoned it well with salt and rubbed it with a little garlic and let it sit at room temperature for 40 minutes or so. I seared it for about 2 minutes per side in a hot cast iron and let it rest. I sliced the steaks and served them with parsley-meyer lemon salsa, farro, and a salad of mache. The beef was incredibly flavorful, perfectly rare in the center and crusty on the surface. There's definitely a different muscle-makeup to this animal, and the ribeye sliced more like a flank. The taste, though, was so outstanding, and some bites so tender that my friends and I realized that the way to eat this beef was like this: simply prepared and rare. I have a feeling that the burgers are going to be other-wordly, though someone will have to let me know, since I don't have enough beef to grab any.


Cube Steak


Cube steak is super lean, super striated, working muscle that’s been pounded into submission. It comes from the round, or back end of the cow and is cooked in just about every resourceful food culture that eats beef. The fact that its various presentations are so delicious is nothing but a miraculous reassurance that not only is all of an animal edible, but with the right preparation, the lowliest of cuts can beat out the most esteemed, if the occasion suits.

Chicken-fried Steak

Cube steak or tenderized bottom round

All-purpose flour

Buttermilk (optional)

2-3 eggs

salt, black pepper, cayenne

lard or butter

gravy (too contentious to give a recipe for)

Using any number of cutlets you want, use the general principle of flour, egg, flour for this dish. Vary quantities of those ingredients accordingly. Also, much of the South soaks its cube steak overnight in the fridge before proceeding. Do it, as an experiment, adding cayenne to the buttermilk, but no salt or pepper, to avoid confusion.

1 hour before cooking, season the cube steak very well with salt and a little black pepper. If you haven’t soaked the steak with cayenne, add some now. Leave it to sit at room temperature or refrigerated for an hour.

Set up 3 plates: 2 containing flour, the first lightly seasoned, and one containing beaten eggs. Dredge each cutlet in flour, then egg, then flour.

Heat butter until just foaming in cast iron or other old-timey pans that stuff can stick to. If using lard, heat it up. Fry the cutlets for 2 minutes or so per side and allow to drain/cool on a wire rack. If making gravy, pour most of the fat from the pan, add a little new fat, make a roux with flour, add some stock and some milk or cream. Better yet, deglaze the pan with a little sherry, add a little butter, and whisk it together with a little stock.

Serve with sunny side up eggs, grits, mash, collards, or all of the above.

Cotalette di Manzo

Cube steak or tenderized bottom round

2-3 eggs

fresh bread crumbs

salt, pepper




1 hour before cooking, season the cube steak very well with salt. Leave it to sit at room temperature or refrigerated for an hour.

Prepare pan for frying. Dredge each cutlet in egg and then in bread crumbs. Heat butter until foaming and fry cutlets, about 2 minutes per side. Drain on metal racks. Roughly chop parsley and wedge lemons. Scatter with parsley and serve with lemon wedges.


Beef recipes



Grassfed beef cooks differently than conventional (grain-fed) beef. It has less saturated fat and more healthful polyunsaturates, plus it contains more "conjugated linoleic acid" or CLA, another so-called good fat, than is present in grain-fed beef.


Instead of fat, grass-fed meat contains moisture, which heats more quickly than fat. It is easy to overcook unless you pay close attention, and should be cooked to a lower internal temperature because it will keep cooking even off the heat. A roast's temperature will rise as much as 10 degrees in the 15 minutes it rests before you carve it. If cooked past medium-rare, it dries out and can become tough -- unless, as with a low-temperature braise, it's cooked long enough to tenderize the meat. Because it comes from cows not raised in feedlots, the likelihood of E. coli contamination is extremely low; it's much safer to eat it rare than it is conventional beef.



Steaks: Here's some advice from a friend that has served us well.

Start off by searing the steaks on their fatty sides, standing them on edge in a cast-iron skillet. This renders some of the fat into the pan (which flavors the meat as well), and you end up with a more desirable piece of meat (rather than the fat still limp and glistening). Sear the meat in the fat. Then turn down the heat and then just flip the steaks every minute. you want to flip them often so the juices don't rise to the top (and then evaporate when the hit the pan if you've allowed them to build up). carmelization continues to occur at medium heat, which is why you don't need to blast them for the duration. just cook the steaks this way, until they are done to your liking. put them on a cooling rack when you take them out of the pan (with a plate underneath to catch the drippings). if you put the steak on a plate, the bottom surface that you've just so carefully caramelized, steams from the residual heat and softens up. by putting the steak on a cooling rack, both sides cool evenly and stay crisp.


When it comes to actually eating the steak, keep in mind the type of cut and the way the muscle runs. For a t-bone, i would cut away the entire muscle from the bone, and then thinly slice it across the grain. thinner slices make for a tenderer mouth-feel. if you just kinda cut a chunk from the steak here or there like most people do when eating a t-bone, you get big uneven pieces of meat that are obviously harder to chew. and, make sure you have really sharp steak knives so you don't end up shredding the meat instead of slicing it cleanly. makes a huge difference. ever wonder why sushi is so tender? watch how a sushi chef cuts a piece of fish. no back and forth sawing motion, just one long continous slice.  if you have a nice flank, hanger, or even a roast, using an incredibly sharp and long-bladed knife to cut it with (a la the sushi method) yields a much tenderer eating experience.




Beef and pork meatloaf, from Jennifer L.

Measurements are approximate.


1 pound ground pork

1.5 pounds ground beef

1 onion, diced small and cooked slowly in a little butter until soft

1.5 small apples (i used pink ladies), peeled and grated coarsely

1 tbsp mixed fresh herbs: rosemary, thyme, sage

1 egg

3/4 cup breadcrumbs (i used acme walnut levain)

sea salt and pepper


combine all ingredients; press into a loaf pan, then unmold onto a sheet or roasting pan. sprinkle with sea salt and bake at 375f for an hour, or until firm (internal temperature 140 or so). let rest for 10 minutes, then slice and serve. this would also work really well as meatballs, i think.






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