May 13 2014
When we’re too tired to cook, we only have 1 carryout option that passes muster among everyone:
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.
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.’
…now I use the word gamey as much as possible.