Molding minds with meat

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When we’re too tired to cook, we only have 1 carryout option that passes muster among everyone:

Pizza.

Fast food chains peddling burgers and fries? No dice.

“Ug, I’m not eating a salmonella-laden burger! I don’t want beef from a cow that’s been standing in a feedlot in its own poop!”

That’s Cayden speaking, not me.

But I’m Oz behind the curtain; I’ve tainted the kids with beef production propaganda.

I didn’t intend to warp them and I never thought that they’d shun a Happy Meal, but it’s happened. They haven’t eaten a McDonald’s burger in months. (Though we still dine at sit-down restaurants that are just as feed-lotty as the rest of them.)

But since we subsist on local milk and farm-fresh eggs, the next logical step was beef. And we live in an Ag community, so purchasing a locally-raised steer (or part of one) wasn’t difficult.

The steer owner (another horse person) provided me with a beef chart to select our preferred cuts, based on the animal’s anatomy. Most of it was obvious. Flank and sirloin? I wanted steak, not ground. But other sections left me mystified. Primal rib? The choices were rib steak, rib eye steak or rib roast. I dunno, what’s the difference? What’s better?

When in doubt, I selected “ground” for the shoulder, elbow and other beef hinterlands. As a result, we are flush with six-ounce sleeves of burger meat.

 

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We skipped the blind taste test, like the one conducted with the milk and eggs. But the taste differences in the meat are similar to those with the milk: the beef is more flavorful than the store-bought variety, but it’s difficult to explain why. Apparently, the steer was raised largely on grass and alfalfa, but finished with grain — a common practice; otherwise the meat is too lean and the flavor too strong.

Even so, prior to cooking, the local meat has a faint gamey odor — by no means unpleasant, just a little reminder that yes, this was once an animal. We’ve tried the steaks and the ground beef and they’re a huge hit, especially among the kids, who spout their anti-feedlot doctrine at every opportunity.

Martin did register one request: “Can you not use the word ‘gamey’? It kind of freaks me out.’

Duly noted…

…now I use the word gamey as much as possible.

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Burger, anyone? Just don’t use the G-word.