Please find my (Tim, the Butcher) new blog here. I will continue posting the same types of information that have always been here, and may even borrow some posts I have on this blog. This blog will be gathering dust, unless Austin has anything to add.
Far and away the best day of Slow Meat 2014 for me. I was honored to meet Francois Vecchio, butcher and salumier. Watching him break a pork shoulder was akin to a Catholic listening to a homily from the Pope in the Vatican.
The second day of Slow Meat in Denver, Colorado is where things got interesting. And confusing. Less than 24 hours removed from our trip to the Lassiter Ranch, purveyors of Beefmaster cattle, one of the topics we were discussing was Biodiversity.
Clearly, discussing biodiversity for 45 minutes was not nearly enough time. However, Beefmaster cattle (as well as Angus and Hereford) were specifically called out as being detrimental to biodiversity. I was confused. We spent most of the day at a ranch devoted to this breed, then the next day are told that it isn’t what we want in Slow Meat…curiouser and curiouser.
What biodiversity is aiming for is a return to heritage breeds, to stock that isn’t a one size fits all for the consumer. I spoke to one pig farmer from Virginia, Josiah Lockhart for quite some time, and he listed off the breeds he prefers for lard, for bacon, for hams, etc etc. He raises a very rare breed, the Mule Foot, which he retails at $9/lb. Quite a hefty price, but he is booked 3 months ahead on orders. Being close to the Washington, D.C. metro area doesn’t hurt.
You will notice at the bottom of the page the name Dr. Sergio Capaldo. This is a man dear to me and to my bosses, as he is the man almost solely responsible for the propagation of the Piedmontese breed.
Again, I was slightly confused. The bison they used was frozen. Being a butcher, I did not envy the men as they wrestled with cutting through what was, honestly, almost solidly frozen bison. I would have expected something a little…fresher from Slow Meat. This bison would later be served as carpaccio among other dishes.
A few weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to travel to Denver, Colorado for a conference dedicated to the production and distribution of sustainably raised animal proteins. The conference was run by Slow Food USA, and was entitled, appropriately, Slow Meat. The conference lasted three days and included a farm tour, an exhibition of bison butchery, and a number of symposiums lead by men and women dedicated to bringing good meat to good people.
Day one was spent on the Lassiter Ranch, owned by Dale Lassiter.
The Lassiter Ranch is just outside of Denver, and is, in a word, expansive. The land out there is sparse, not exactly suitable for raising cattle solely on grass. Lassiter, however, has perfected his methods, and, by growing Beefmaster cattle (a breed developed by his father some years ago in Texas), has a booming business. His cattle require 30 acres of pasture per head. He raises around 900 head.
When I began at Bluescreek, the picanha (pee-con-ya) was something very few people knew anything about. Indeed, I had never heard of the delectable morsel until a Brazilian customer asked about it. He attempted to explain it as best he could, but I had no idea what he was talking about, but I told him I would research it and call him back once I figured it out. I went home that night, switched on my laptop and got to work. About eight seconds after opening my laptop, I had found what I was looking for. Google really is an amazing thing.
Picanha is a poplular cut in South America, particularly in Brazilian-style steak houses called churrascarias. The name is derived from the Spanish/Portuguese word churrasco, a style of barbecuing. In these churrascarias, the meat is cooked over an open fire on long, sword-like skewers. These skewers are then brought out to the customer where a passadore carves off pieces of exquisitely flavored meats; anything from the picanha to duck to poultry and pork.
The picanha is the cap from the top sirloin roast. This is, in fact, what will become the “regal” rump, or first cut rump. It is very tender, and due to the fat cap left on the small roast, extraordinarily juicy. To cook at home, grilling is best, indirect heat to a medium rare, or your liking. Blue rare for me, thanks. But do get the fat soft. None of that should go to waste.
Goat meat is becoming increasingly popular, not just for the adventurous any more. It is becoming decidedly mainstream. At Bluescreek, we have been selling out weekly, and demand is on the rise. When I first began working for David and Cheryl, we broke down one goat perhaps every other week, maybe every three weeks. We are now moving an entire goat every week.
Goat meat is a lean, red meat more reminiscent of beef than of lamb. Most of the goat we sell is in bone-in stew form. The loins, ribs, bellies, and legs are left whole, or cut into chops. The remainder is cut into stew.
Here is a recipe for Carribean Goat stew.
Since working with Bluescreek Farm Meats, I have had the pleasure of working with some of the finest chefs in Columbus. We regularly sell to establishments such as Knead, Alana’s Food and Wine, Latitude 41, Till Dynamic Fare, L’Antibes, and, most recently M at Miranova by Cameron Mitchell. These restaurants don’t get any discounts on our products, and are instrumental to getting our message of local, sustainable foods to folks who may not have otherwise heard of us. We are continually reaching out to new clients, and I will hopefully be making a trip up north to Cleveland sometime in August to get our product in the Greenhouse Tavern. I am so pleased to work with and for people who keep such high standards of quality in their establishments.