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Baron d'Apcher

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Everything posted by Baron d'Apcher

  1. Gastronomy is something like the distilled delineation of all elements that provide the highest standard of nourishment. I'd propose "satisfaction" as it pertains to the ritual of eating. 19th Century gastronome Grimod de la Reynière documents the choicest ingredients by season and location in his expansive and infinitely charming "Almanach des Gourmands", followed by Brillat-Savarin's epicurean treatise on gustatory aphorisms. Both are founding experts in the matter.
  2. Poach the foie gras ahead of time and chill. American foie gras is much fattier than the French counterparts and are prone to releasing far too much fat. Buy "B" lobes as they are smaller, and slightly cheaper, than the "A" lobes which are absurdly massive and look like what I imagine David Crosby's liver to be.
  3. Natural casings might help firm up the product as it will shrink. Craft Butcher's Pantry is a reliable source for natural casings of all sorts, shapes and sizes.
  4. Consider cutting the shank and simmering with beans until both are tender, like cassoulet. For Swedish Christmas I deboned 2 shoulders, wrapped them in caul fat* nice & snug with herbs and braised until tender with root veg and chicken (or lamb) stock fortified with roasted bones. *Wrap the shoulder tightly in heavy-duty tin foil like a Tootsie pop and chill in the freezer until firm, easier to wrap. Pic is everything raw. The shoulders and veg were browned in bacon fat and braised uncovered @250F, flipped every 1/2 hour until tender and the strained sauce was finished with a splash of Sherry vinegar, dried cranberries and chestnuts.
  5. That is curious. A proper braise is a mixture of wet and dry heat: an item in an uncovered pot in an oven that is half-way covered with liquid. The dry heat allows for caramelization and evaporation and rotating the item adds caramelization to the liquid (deglazing it) and repeats anew. The continued caramelization and reduction is what enriches/concentrates the liquid (eventually the sauce). An hermetically sealed pot steams with no reduction and the temperature continues to increase, like impromptu pressure cooker without the release. Adding less liquid will invariable keep the meat above the braising liquid.
  6. Use plainly ground pork and season according to your tastes.
  7. Not really. If feedlot steers (we rarely eat cows) don't move, it is because they don't have enough room to do so and they are young: generally Angus breed around 24 months or younger. Feedlot beef represents about 97% of US beef production and while most of it will qualify as "tender" it is more a result of young animals whose musculature is not fully developed, having been quickly and somewhat artificially brought to market weight (1200lbs or so) by finishing them with corn, which they enjoy but don't know that they are not designed to properly digest it (it makes them sick). The corn is heavily subsidized, reliant on pesticides which flow into the ground or downstream to the Gulf of Mexico (killing lots of fish) and generates beef that is nutritionally deficient compared to 100% grass-fed. Corn-fed feedlot beef is terrible for the animals and terrible for the environment. It (and other CAFO's) is the scourge of meat production and highlights an American affinity for abundant crap over quality and integrity.
  8. Agreed. I work and live on a 28 acre family owned farm that pasture-raises pigs, chickens (both fed certified organic feed) and lamb (grass-fed) but invariably any pork/beef/lamb has to be slaughtered in a USDA facility for retail sale (chicken can be exempt with the certain requirements). Slaughter is a considerable determinant in the final product. An animal can live a cherished life but be clumsily killed resulting in a mediocre product. Finding careful staff to work in a slaughterhouse is a challenge and it is not a job many aspire to have. As result, animals are often dispatched in a careless manner, which is unfortunate. Paying a premium for a product has its merits up and down the life-cycle of food animals. Slaughter is the most overlooked aspect of meat.
  9. Dark cutters are generally bovine (beef) and occasionally other ruminants like sheep and goats. The color is indeed burgundy/purple and is an indication of stress or too high of a temperature prior to the slaughtering. Pigs with PSS (porcine stress syndrome) under similar pre-slaughter conditions present PSE (pale, soft extrudative) meat and often darker firmer red meat. Chickens however are not red meat like bovines and any surface bruising/bleeding was likely during the slaughtering process prior to it being bled. Purdue (and other large producers) suffocates the birds with carbon dioxide or argon gas before bleeding them. Sadly, super affordable prices come with significant consequences for the animal, the consumer and the environment.
  10. There isn't much juice worth the squeeze once the jowls and cheeks are removed, certainly not worth making pâté or anything that would resemble it since you are left with mostly skin (collagen) and a minuscule amount of meat in the snout or behind the skull. Consider removing whatever skin is left, blanch it to get whatever impurities out, scrape the excess fat off and cook beans or hominy with the skin. The skin will thicken the bean/hominy cooking liquid and you will be on your way to cassoulet or posole. Do you still have the tongue?
  11. Baron d'Apcher

    Making Bacon

    Food safety authorities err to the side of caution and can not presume how much water activity is in the crispy bacon (level of doneness), or the conditions in which is was cooled or left out on the counter or whatnot. To protect themselves from lawsuits and such, regulators limit the shelf life of products that spend time unrefrigerated and below 141F where spoilage can occur. The regulations are often excessive: chicken doesn't really need to be cooked to 165F. Pancetta lasts a very long time, but the USDA gives it a mere 7 day refrigerated shelf life, which is absurd. Beef jerky is very different than bacon. First and foremost, beef jerky is a dried, shelf stable item that does not need refrigeration based on the high salt and low water. Of course you could freeze the cooked bacon or cook less to begin with. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/meat-preparation/bacon-and-food-safety/ct_index
  12. Baron d'Apcher

    Making Bacon

    I am not sure what the experiment is, but hard fat (back fat) will not render at 140F. Soft fat (leaf lard) will. And a thin slice of bacon acts much differently than a full slab of whole belly. When shoulders are smoked for a very long time on the cusp of 180F, much of the hard fat is still there, albeit it very tender. Thinly sliced hard fat will render at higher temp, like in a 350F over or hot frying pan. Crisped bacon (because slab bacon is, for the most part, already cooked) has much less water than the un-crisped/un-rendered slice and consequently will last a very long time in the fridge. The USDA recs are paranoid fantasies meant to insulate themselves from worst case scenarios since the US food system (poultry in particular) puts the safety onus on the consumer. I coarsely grind up bacon ends, render them stove-top, strain them, crisp them in a very low oven overnight and the bacon bits last for months in the fridge. Bacon has lots of salt and nitrates specifically meant to increase the shelf-life. The "uncured" Niman Ranch bacon most definitely has nitrates in the form of celery powder (which has more ppm than the conventional Prague #2 cure) but because celery powder has varying levels of nitrite and has to be used in such minuscule quantities, the USDA does not recognize it as a curing agent and forbids the "cured" distinction, even though it certainly is. Its all marketing malarkey.
  13. Baron d'Apcher

    Making Bacon

    Most of the stuff you buy in the supermarket is smoked and cooked to an internal temp of about 140F or somewhere close in massive ovens.
  14. Baron d'Apcher

    Making Bacon

    Who or what says so? Invariably, bacon is fully cooked during the smoking process, or else it isn't bacon. Cooked bacon will last a very long time in the fridge.
  15. Sous-vide (reduced oxygen) cooking can be dangerous if the product inside is not cooked for sufficient time/temp to pasteurize/kill most pathogens and/or if chilled improperly pathogens can multiply and they are not good to have in your body. SV safety is severely overlooked and underrated. Douglas Baldwin explains the safety issues and consequences of improper cooling very well.
  16. Fine. But the link you provided was from Australia. Lamb gestation is 5 months and it takes at least 6, even 9 months for a lamb to reach market weight and the ones in the OP are at least 135lb hot weight which is huge and would definitely be graded 5. A dressed 6-8 week lamb will weigh no more than a suckling pig and the price will be prohibitive (baby vegetables vs full grown). Sheep can breed throughout the year, but not every breed does and the World Famous Welsh lamb that is available all year round might be breed artificially. Tomatoes are available all year round, but they still have a natural season. Wherever and whenever the OP's lamb were bred/born, they are at the fattiest end of the spectrum and I would not be comfortable selling them.
  17. I should have specified that above the equator, most sheep naturally breed in the fall (October-November) and give birth in the spring (April-May). Below the equator it is likely the opposite. There is also a lot of artificial insemination in the US and Australia/NZ.
  18. It looks like the huge Suffolk/Rambouillet breeds raised out in the Western US. They represent the far end of the spectrum for fat cover and such fatty animals might not be an efficient use of grain. The craving of fat is subjective, and I much prefer leaner beef. To each their own. Objectively however, lamb are born in the spring but slaughtered in the fall/winter, generally before they reach a year in age or else they must be labeled as mutton
  19. That is not a healthy animal. Those are unnecessarily fatty breasts from an unnecessarily crap/grain fattened animal. Lamb fat is not a flavor that most people crave. Unless you are into making soap or candles, I would not recommend buying those ever again. I work on a farm where we raise and butcher lamb and have only seen anything barely close to that fatty from 5yr+ rams (mutton). Salt is flavor too, but within reason and marbled is much different than fatty.
  20. If the rib-eyes have the deckle, that might explain the less-than tender chew.
  21. Per the weight of the cleaned gizzards (remove the thick inner keratin lining): 2% salt 1% sugar .25% #1 cure Whole spices, herbs, garlic. So, for 1000g of gizzards: 20g salt 10g sugar 3g #1 cure Cure for 48 hrs. Put the gizzards in a pot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Strain through a colander and rinse, keep the spices and such. Cover with fat (poultry fat, lard, tallow or oil) and bring to a simmer. Cook in a 225F oven with a parchment cover for 3-4 hours or until tender. Cool in the fat, store in the fat refrigerated. If you don't have fat, cover the blanched gizzards with water and add a pinch of salt. Cook in the same manner.
  22. Corned/confit gizzards are absolutely delicious, provided they are properly cured, cleaned and cooked tender - like rosy meat jellybeans. If not, they are chewy, brown and unappetizing. I use them in soups, salads, pastas, pâtés, ragouts, stews and virtually anything that beckons for a savory garnish. We even warm them up and snack on them at home with cocktails, pickes and nuts. Gizzards in a salad with a poached egg and dressing made with the goose fat is quite delectable.
  23. That is curious since the hide can be removed so easily, tanned and used/sold for another purpose. Do they scald them to remove the wool or is the customer expected to dispatch the intact hide? I have seen wild venison and boar sold in Europe with hides intact, but they are aged with the hides, which have little secondary value.
  24. For lamb, absolutely. The shank and neck muscles are lined with silver skin. Even the intramuscular silver skin in beef shank muscles gets tender after cooking. The fascia between the rib cage and deckle and outside the flank on lamb will get soft, however it will not dissolve. Above 160°F collagen will break down and melt nicely. *Aside from fish and poultry/fowl, the only common animals that will have skin after slaughter are pigs.
  25. When sheep are slaughtered the hides (skin) is removed. Connective tissues and silver skin will melt easily above 170F. Cartilage is best removes as is thicker white layers (fascia), neither of which are delectable, even after cooking. Soft fat can melt, hard fat less so. Depends on whether or not you crave lamb the flavor of lamb fat (depends on the size and breed of the lamb too). I prefer to cook "stew meat" in the conventional, analog simmer/braise method. It allows you to prod and poke and test for flavor and doneness. Stewing cuts cooked at 133F will take an eternity to soften the collagen, and you won't have a sauce thickened by the gelatin.
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