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.
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.
This Easter was undoubtedly the best I have ever had. It began with attending Easter Mass in a Catholic church (I was raised Lutheran and haven’t been to church in over a decade…which makes me feel rather old…) and ended with bottle feeding an orphaned baby goat. In between was filled with everything that Easter is about; love, family, beginnings, closeness…and food. Here, I will focus on the food.
My wonderful girlfriend, Carley was kind enough to invite me to her family’s Easter gathering this year. Her dad prepared these amazing lamb sirloin roasts, dried apricots and rosemary on top of a sweet glaze, then roasted quickly in the oven for a wonderful medium rare.
A mid-rare beef standing rib roast was also on the menu. Carley’s dad rubbed it with a Caribbean inspired concoction, and it was absolutely delicious.
I was so excited to eat everything on the table, I completely neglected to photograph the entire spread. There were glazed carrots, a fantastic salad with goat cheese and cranberries, brussel sprouts with candied walnuts, challah, potatoes au gratin, and this:
All of the food was amazing. It was a potluck of sorts, everyone contributing something to the table. It made me feel at home, welcome, accepted to be a part of the meal.
And then there was this little guy, who I fed…
His name is Campo. His mother died during his birth, so he is now being bottle raised and is completely adorable. This is precisely what Easter is about, life and the promise of new beginnings. Many thanks for reading, and I hope your holiday was as enjoyable.
Dry aging is a preservation method of animal protein, normally associated with beef. It is the opposite of wet aging, a preservation method that is absolutely disgusting, but which is much more cost effective. In dry aging, the carcass is left to hang, unprotected, in a temperature controlled, sanitary environment for a period of time ranging from a few days to a few months. As a former employer told me, “The longer it sets, the better it gets.” I have found this to be the case. You can tell the difference between a steak cut from a rib aged a week and one that has been aged six weeks. The proteins break down by natural enzymes in the beef. Moisture is lost, creating a concentration of flavor. Think of salt water in terms of flavor. The longer the solution sits, the more you will taste the salt. This is exactly the same thing that happens with beef. The moisture leaves, the flavor is left behind.
Dry aged beef is, as a rule, more expensive. There is much greater loss, much less yield in salable product. The following are photos of different stages of dry aged beef:
Clearly the ends are inedible. This is part of the loss factor I described earlier. Depending on the length of the aging process, these ends can get pretty gnarly, and the undesirable sections will reach deep into the meat.
The Super Bowl would be so much better if they played hockey instead of football. So would the World Series, all of the tennis open championships, golf tournaments, college football games, soccer games…badminton…actually badminton is pretty sweet.
If you are going to make ribs, do yourself a favor and go to the local butcher (as you of course should for any meat that you are going to put into your body). I hope, I really, really hope that your butcher can offer you these:
But what are these magnificent meaty miracles destined for mastication?! I call them Columbus Ribs. I introduced them to Bluescreek Farm Meats a few months ago. They are the spare ribs still attached to the pork belly. Yes. Were you to buy this, brine it and smoke it, you would have bone-in bacon. Another way of thinking about them is extra meaty spare ribs. I am an evil, evil, delicious genius.
When I made these at home, I used a very simple recipe, and they were supple, succulent, unctuous, meaty…amazing. (I don’t measure, so these are all my best guess at measurements)
Prep Time: 15 min Cook Time: 8 hours
5lb Columbus Ribs (3-4ribs)
1/2 C Apple Cider Vinegar
8 bay leaves
1tsp whole peppercorns
1/4 C brown sugar
1tsp cayenne pepper
2Tbsp Kosher Salt
1-2 C water
Preheat oven to 225 degrees F
Arrange ribs FAT SIDE UP in a large, deep, non-stick pan (I used a standard sheet cake pan and it was only just big enough). Pour Apple Cider Vinegar around the ribs. Add water to bring the liquid half to 3/4 up the ribs. Don’t submerge them.
Mix cinnamon, brown sugar, cayenne and salt in a small bowl, just to lightly combine them. Gently rub the mixture into the fat of the ribs. Sprinkle the peppercorns on and around the ribs. Place 2 or 3 bay leaves on the top of each rib.
Cover the pan with tin foil, place in preheated oven. Don’t touch them for 4 hours, or until you smell something odd. If you smell something odd, as I did, you will open your oven door to find that the fat has melted off the ribs, into the braising liquid (vinegar and water solution) and subsequently pooled in the bottom of your oven, much like a fruit pie boiling over. If you are lucky, you used a pan deep enough to prevent this from happening. I was not so lucky.
Seriously, though. You may check the status of the liquid every couple of hours. I had to pour off liquid twice during the 8 hour slow braise. The meat is done when a fork inserted into the meat twists easily.
Let the ribs cool for about 45 minutes. Have a drink. You’ve earned it. They should look something kind of like this:
After the ribs have cooled down (not completely cold, just cool enough to handle without burning your fingers [learn from my mistakes!]), you should be able to cut them into neat little 3d rhomboid shapes. I deliberately did not say squares. They will not be perfect squares. Do not freak out.
Heat a cast iron skillet on very high heat (if you don’t have cast iron, a normal non-stick will be okay, but cast iron is just the bees knees for this part). Turn the pieces of rib fat side down, and carefully place them in the skillet. Let them sizzle and smoke for a couple of minutes. This isn’t part of the cooking process, necessarily. This is tightening the fat, searing in the juices, and simultaneously caramelizing the brown sugar from the rub. After you are done, they will look something like this:
This recipe seems really long and complicated, but I promise it isn’t. There are two cooking techniques used, and they are very basic: braising and searing.
I promise you, nobody at your Super Bowl party will have ever had these, and you will be as popular as Wayne Gretzky…er…John Elway.
I found this while I was bumming around on youtube. This guy holds many of the beliefs that I do. Warms the cockles of my heart.
I’m so glad we don’t sell poultry at Bluescreek. When I worked at Weilands, we sold about 1200 of those damn things every year. And I was fortunate enough to unload…all…of…them. It took an entire day, then we sorted them by size, then we matched them up with orders, then the people came, then they got pissed off because their bird was a pound more than they asked for…it was cute.
But enough bitching, let’s talk about the bird!
One of the funniest things in the world is the following: put one of these:
Inside of one of these:
Cook them. When you serve them, pull the game hen out and say, “Oh my god, it was pregnant!” Hilarity will ensue…at least for you.
There are, of course, many many different things you can do for Thanksgiving dinner. I’ll be having a bone-in chuck roast. Mostly because my family doesn’t like turkey, and it isn’t big enough to warrant cooking even a 12lb turkey.
Capons, geese and ducks are all fowl you can experiment with, and should be easily attainable. They are a hell of a lot more fun than the traditional bird. I don’t do many things that anyone considers “traditional.”
It would be great to see some comments about what you are doing for your meal!