Tuesday, November 17, 2015

On Steak and Other Red Meats.

Vegans and PITA trigger alert.  Stop here.

Red meat animals have been bred for millennia as walking larders for nomadic people which convert non-arable vegetation to useful proteins for human consumption. By and large the animals are selected to be herd able and relatively trusting and are therefore unfit for survival in the wild.  If this is cruelty to animals so be it.  It is prehistoric cruelty, so enjoy the food or pay for their freedom in human habitations as India does.  They die in the wild.  Probably more brutally than even a factory slaughter house.  Not that I condone factory methods. Religious or humane slaughter is much preferred, as most "Free Range" ranchers have learned to advertise.  If stem cell meat becomes commercial I would probably break our prehistoric contract with those animals and condemn them to extinction except for zoo farms to keep the species alive.  Similar to our treatment of Buffalo in the US.  Culls would go to the fancy restaurants and the stem cell pink slime to fast food as usual.

White meat, pigs, chickens and recently turkeys were bred as human garbage and bug eaters and therefore can carry human diseases.  Nonetheless useful food if well cooked.  It loses most of its flavor if cooked well so most white meat dishes are heavily spiced and good.

Red meats are most flavorful rare and are safe for human consumption if freshly sliced as in prime rib or seared to remove handling pathogens. They stand up well to strong flavored sauces as in barbecue sauce and steak sauce for those that don't like rare meat.

A high quality steak if it is seared on the outside is safe and wonderful.  If it is a low quality steak, burn it.  Chefs know this and select the meat by how it is ordered. Steak tartare was almost certainly mishandled in most restaurants.  Hence the spices and crap they include covering up the spoiled meat. I learned this lesson in high school in the Midwest when I worked in a gourmet meat market and grocery store.

My boss overheard me tell a customer that I liked my steak well done (without the ketchup) :-)  He didn't say anything at the time but soon invited me to his home for dinner.  The Colonel asked me to select a T-bone steak, my favorite at the time, from the "Super Deluxe" case which was meat from steers bred for show. He displayed the blue ribbons on the wall of the meat department. He asked me to select one exactly like it from the "Good" case which was USDA select, the lowest quality in the store.  His butcher was good so even that was well chosen.

I showed up at his home with the steaks still flash frozen as all employees were instructed to recommend to our customers, and asked me how I liked my steaks cooked and naively I said well done. He said nothing but my plate when it came out had two parts of T-bones without the bone well done just like I liked them. The Colonel asked me to taste them and asked me which was the Prime  and which was the Select steak. I guessed wrong. He then said to his wife "take that away, and bring the other half properly cooked." I looked at the poor cow bleeding all over my plate, almost gagged, but he was the boss so I tried them both and answered confidently which one was Prime and which one was Select.  I didn't need the A-1 sauce I was thinking about asking for, and enjoyed the rest of both steaks. I was a growing athlete at the time and almost asked for the burned halves back. Ever since if I trust the chef I will order steaks Extra Rare and am usually rewarded with an excellent steak. At one time I asked for my steak as rare as the meat was good that day, but quit when one day I got a well done steak which made even a bad piece of meat worse. I needed the A-1.

It is hard to find but I still like a rack of Lamb rare, but even medium rare it is good without sauces.  If it is only offered with sauce I assume the chef knows his meat and go with the flow.  


Christine Veazey said...

Carlin, you can eat meat if you want to. For me, it is a risky business after reading your educated post.

J'Carlin said...

Christine, not advocating or trying to convert anyone, just explaining why so many of us for countless generations have enjoyed omnivory. Cultivated veggies have their own problems expecially for those of us who don't garden, but being alive is risky no matter what choices you make.

By the way the author of this blog is J'Carlin. Carlin will vigorously deny any connection to that flake. I am too old to care much these days, but occasionally, frequently in the past, the deniability was important.