Posts Tagged With: Meat

National Jerky Day

Don’t be a jackass today…but you can be a jerk. June 12 is National Jerky Day!

unnamedJerky is meat that has been trimmed of fat, cut into strips, salted, and dried in order to preserve it. The word “jerky” comes from the Quechua tribe of South America, who referred to llama and alpaca meat that was cut into slices, pounded thin, and rubbed with salt as ch’arki (“to burn meat”). They didn’t actually burn the meat, but did smoke it over a fire or let it dry in the sun. Native Americans were doing the same thing with buffalo, elk, and deer, sometimes adding berries and other dried fruits. They called it pemmican, and packed it into rawhide pouches for easy transport across the plains. This method of preservation meant there was always a convenient, high-protein food source available on those rare occasions when the local McDonald’s was closed. Pioneers and cowboys adopted jerky as a staple to go along with their beans and coffee. Over time, various spices were added to enhance the flavor, and jerky became a popular snack worldwide. It can be prepared with a variety of meats; beef is the most popular, but other common ones include pork, lamb, turkey, venison, elk, salmon, buffalo, and ostrich. Kangaroo, caribou, alligator, emu, and camel are not unheard of. In the winter of 1846-47, the Donner Party is rumored to have perfected a recipe using “the other white meat.” And I’m not referring to pork.

Jerky is a surprisingly healthy snack. It’s high in protein, low in fat and carbohydrates, and contains relatively few calories. I almost always have a package on hand, either in my desk at work, in the car during long drives, or in my backpack while hiking. This was an easy (and tasty) holiday to celebrate! I’m fond of the various Jack Link flavors. Speaking of Jack Link, they created a 1,600 pound replica of Mount Rushmore made from beef jerky in order to commemorate today’s food holiday. Check it out here.

Today, I partook in the Carne Seca, which features “fiery jalapeno and chili peppers.” ‘Cause I like it spicy!

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225/365: National Filet Mignon Day

Carnivores will have no beef with today’s food holiday. August 13 is National Filet Mignon Day!

Filet mignon is French for “cute” or “dainty” filet, and refers to the small portion size of a typical steak. O. Henry first coined the term in his novel The Four Million, published in 1906. It is derived from the tenderloin of the cow, which runs along both sides of the spine; the small end is typically sliced into 1-2″ thick filets that are nearly round in appearance. Despite its small size, the tenderloin is the most tender cut of beef, and therefore the most expensive. This explains why that cute, dainty little 6 oz. circle of beef on your plate cost the same as your dining companion’s more manly 14 oz. ribeye. Interestingly, a T-bone or porterhouse steak has the tenderloin down one side and a New York strip down the other, so it is essentially two steaks in one. As tender as the filet mignon is, it doesn’t contain much fat, so it is often wrapped in a strip of bacon before cooking for added flavor.

As with most steak, the simplest preparation is usually the best. Sear your filet mignon over high heat after seasoning with salt and pepper, cook to a perfect medium-rare, and let rest before cutting into it. If you work up a sweat trying to saw through the meat with a knife, you’ve overcooked it. If it “moos” when you slice into it, you haven’t cooked it quite long enough.

To celebrate, we grilled up some filet mignons we bought from the store. These were pre-made and already wrapped in bacon. They turned out pretty good!

National Filet Mignon Day

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148/365: National Brisket Day

You won’t have a beef with today’s holiday if you’re a carnivore. Sink your teeth into this: May 28 is National Brisket Day!

Brisket was once considered one of the poorer cuts of meat. It comes from the lower chest of a cow, and because these animals have no collarbones, is responsible for supporting 60% of the cow’s weight. This is why it contains a lot of connective tissue, and requires slow cooking over low heat for a long time in order to properly tenderize it. It contains a fat cap which can be cooked either face up or face down; debate rages over which is the better method. That argument can probably best be answered by Texans, who love their brisket and have made barbecuing it an art form. In Colonial America, brisket was usually coated in large salt crystals and allowed to age for four days. This method – known as corned beef – was the best way of preserving meat in the pre-Frididaire days. While corned beef is still popular – especially among Irish-Americans on St. Patrick’s Day, even though it’s not an Irish invention – brisket is also delicious cooked slowly over a grill, smoked, braised, or boiled. It can be covered in a spice rub or marinated.

I would have loved to have slow cooked the brisket over indirect heat for six hours or so, but since we had to work today, that would have meant dinner wouldn’t have been ready until midnight-ish – which is not only really late to eat, but also a potential disqualifier if it wasn’t ready by 12:00. We figured, if the meat requires slow and low cooking, it should work in a crockpot, right? So we turned to the internet for recipe ideas. This is where Pinterest came in handy. I found plenty of crockpot brisket recipes, and chose one with ingredients similar to those recommended by our friend, Wendy. It contained tomato sauce, beef bouillon, apple cider vinegar, onion, and garlic. I put that sucker in before work, and let it cook on low for ten hours. The result? Yummm-amazing! But a little salty. In any case, the recipe is definitely a keeper.

Brisket

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117/365: National Prime Rib Day

Steak lovers will have no beef with today’s food holiday: April 27 is National Prime Rib Day!

Beef. It's what's for dinner.

Beef. It’s what’s for dinner.

Prime rib, originally known as a standing rib roast, is a cut of beef from the primal rib, one of the eight primal cuts of beef. It is called a “standing” roast because it is usually roasted in a standing position, with the ribs stacked vertically. Removing the bones from this cut and slicing it into steaks yields rib eyes. It’s unclear exactly when and where prime rib originated, but most historians believe roasts became popular during the Industrial Revolution, when hungry men desired a hearty meal after assembling widgets and other doo-dads all day long. Some cuts of meat are more popular than others, and prime rib has always been particularly sought after by beef connoisseurs. A nice slice of prime rib will contain the “eye” of the rib and the outer, fat-marbled muscle. It is typically rubbed with salt and other seasonings and slow roasted over dry heat for several hours. Prime rib is a popular “Sunday roast” in the U.K., where it is traditionally served with Yorkshire pudding. Here in the good ol’ U.S. of A., mashed or baked potatoes are popular accompaniments.

April 27 also happens to be my birthday. The fact that it’s National Prime Rib Day is a happy coincidence, as prime rib is my favorite cut of steak, and I have a tradition of going to the Original Roadhouse Grill for prime rib on my birthday anyway. Or I used to, at least. It had been a few years, but today marked the perfect opportunity to reinstate that tradition. And, let me just say: the prime rib was amazing. Cooked a perfect medium rare, with an herb/salt crust, horseradish sauce, and au jus. It was to die for – the perfect birthday meal.

Prime Rib

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