The Best of the Rest (Chicken!)

Probably a zillion dollars have been made off of chicken soup proper—and that’s before we even start talking about the concept of chicken soup or the concept of the concept of chicken soup. Look: you’re tired of hearing us talking about chicken. But we would be remiss in our mongerly duties if we ended cheap chicken month without a discussion of chicken stock, chicken broth, and bone broth. The meat counter has options. Let’s talk about ‘em.

–Our Stock: We make our own chicken stock, just the way you would make it at home (if you had tons and tons of chicken parts and time to spare). It has a legion of regular customers. It is simmered for double-digit hours and has no salt added. Just roasted bones, mirepoix, and love. It qualifies for “bone broth” status and is ready to be the base in the soup of your dreams, or seasoned simply and drunk out of a mug.

–Make Your Own: With a little notice (3-5 days is enough) we are happy to set aside chicken bones for you and send you out the door with detailed, easy instructions to make incredible stock. Alternatively, you can roast a whole chicken, or buy a chicken cut-up, and keep the bones for a later stock-making project.

Bottom line: this is a stock rally that all of us can take credit for.

Meat Shop Charcuterie

Pork Rillettes: An enduring food preparation in more ways than one, rillettes began as a preservation method but acquired legendary stature as a delicious dish in its own right. Pork is confited in its own fat for many hours, so that the liquid moisture evaporates and is replaced with the fat. It is then shredded, pulled-pork style, and spiced.  If there’s anything better with a little spicy mustard and a pickle, we haven’t heard about it.

Pork Liver Mousse: Liver on its own can be an acquired taste, but when used as a supporting player it’s instantly appealing. The minerality and picquancy meld with warm winter spices, cream, and egg to make a rich spread that you could eat like ice cream but might enjoy even more served with some gruyere and garlicky crostini.

Duck Prosciutto: One of the major eye-openers on our shelves, duck prosciutto is cured, thin-sliced duck breast. Yes, it’s good on pizza. But it’s even better wrapped around an apricot slice or a fig and enjoyed with a glass of Beaujolais.

Thanksgiving possible

A roast that perfumes the whole house as you baste it with rosemary and thyme – a bird that is potentially intimidating, unfamiliar, the punchline to so many Thanksgiving jokes – turkey can be well, fairly divisive.  This is where your friendly meatmongers (that’s us!) come in.  

Concerned about the welfare of the turkey?  Let us tell you about the practices of our local turkey farmers (spoiler alert: they’re ethical and sustainable).  

Anxious about ordering the right size?  We can do the math together, but it’s pretty easy if you plan for 1 lb of turkey per person.  All about those leftovers?  Add an extra ½ lb per person.

What’s the deal with brining?  Brining is a great safety net – there’s a bunch of science behind it (J. Kenji Lopez-Alt does a great job explaining) and it’s super easy.  Plus, we’ve even got a brining kit that you can order!

What’s the best way to cook a turkey?  It’s what Martha Stewart, NY Times Food’s Mark Bittman, and your friendly neighborhood butcher have in common –  we really, really love our Thanksgiving turkeys spatchcocked!  Taking out the backbone, the breastbone, and laying the bird flat will cut the roasting time down to 90 minutes for a 12 pound turkey!  To quote Serious Eats’ J. Kenji Lopez-Alt (again), cooking a spatchcocked turkey is the “fastest, quickest, easiest route to juicy meat and ultra-crisp skin,” — and we’ll do the work for you!

What if I want to cook the white meat and the dark meat separately?  We’ll quarter your turkey for you to cook à la Julia Child, or, we can cut it into 8 pieces, if you want to fry it like chicken.

Can I order extra gravy?  Of course you can.

Roasts Part III

The rules of the game for roast pork or lamb are similar to those with roast beef, though each have their idiosyncracies.

Pork Sirloin Roast: We recommend eating your pork at about 140 degrees, which means removing it from the oven when it’s temping at 130. For the best results on a pork sirloin roast, you should sear it off on a pan first and then transfer it to a 280 degree oven, then cook for about half an hour. Want to take your pork to unimaginable heights? Glaze it with something a little bit sweet: American Spoon makes an incredible grilling sauce—our favorite flavors are Apple Cider, Pumpkin Chipotle, and Maple BBQ, all perfect for fall.

Lamb Sirloin Roast: We also like our lamb around 140 or perhaps a little less. The most effortless and classic way to prepare roast lamb is with a persillade: minced garlic, parsley, lemon zest, and little bit of salt, black pepper, and olive oil. It’s fresh, hearty, and perfect with rice pilaf and roasted vegetables.

A host of other roasting options are always on hand at our shop, including spectacular whole chickens (think of those as your practice turkey), and we are always excited to talk process and preparation to help you get the most out of your roast.

Roasts Part 2

Pot Roast definitionally involves liquid, so it is necessarily a braise. This might seem like a semantic distinction, but since the word roast is already taken, it really makes sense to use the word “braise” to describe the method of cooking with liquid, especially if we’re talking about something that’s going to be cooked to fork-tender instead of medium-medium rare.

This pot roast recipe made the rounds lately and is justly celebrated; this digest of braised beef recipes from Mark Bittman is also delightful. The most crucial thing to remember about any of them is that an instant read thermometer is your friend, and a fork a decent substitute. Braised beef isn’t done until it’s done: if it’s not tender when you cut into it, then it needs more time, and that’s all there is to it. An internal temperature of 210 degrees is the magic number.

The second and third most crucial things have to do with how you treat the meat before and after you cook it. Salting it well ahead of time—from an hour or so, up to a couple days—can reveal dimensions in the meat you never knew existed (cue spooky sci-fi soundtrack). And letting your dish rest before serving—from a half an hour, to even overnight—can also yield unexpected complexity and nuance in your work.

All of these recipes would work remarkably well with our American Roast, a marvelously well-marbled piece of meat from the chuck section that has become one of our all-time favorite braising cuts. If you haven’t tried it yet, this is a great weekend to venture into the unknown: all American Roasts are $3 off per pound.

Roasts Part 1

The fact of the matter is, when you are cooking a Roast Beef Dinner (capital letters fully intended), you are either going to cook your beef to medium-rare (about 130, 140 max) or to fork tender (about 210). Anything in between is dried-out no man’s land.

Next week we’ll talk about pot roasts and braises. This week we’re going to focus on two of our favorite cuts for straight-up roasting, because—listen up—roasting a piece of meat to medium-rare is hands-down one of the most delicious ways to feed a crowd without breaking the bank.

–Sirloin Filet: Our Sirloin Filet is often referred to as “top sirloin.” It’s surprisingly tender and relatively lean, without sacrificing anything in the flavor department. You can prepare it like this and expect it to come out gangbusters.

–Minnesota Tri Tip: Tri Tip, North-style. This cut sits directly next to the traditional Tri Tip that you may be familiar with from California barbecue. The MN Tri Tip is leaner, but for our money, more tender and more flavorful. It’s the closest thing we sell to an Eye Round roast, and you can prepare it the same way—but we like it way better.

Easter Preorder

Make sure you have everything you need for a beautiful holiday meal. Starting now, you can preorder whole house-smoked hams, and cuts of lamb to pick up the week of Easter!

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Olympic Worthy Steak: The Picanha

When we first opened the shop we had this steak called the coulotte. A delicious steak, to be sure, but it required some explaining because this is not a cut you’ll see at a grocery store. We sold a few and we ate a lot. It wasn’t catching on a quite as we had hoped. And then a funny thing happened: lots of customers started asking if we carried this one kind of Brazilian steak called the picanha. In fact we did, we just called it the coulotte. 

Typically when customers begin asking for something en mass my assumption is that Oprah must have mentioned it on her show. “Everyone’s going home with their own steak!!!” But in this case it seemed that there’s a secret society of Brazil-o-philes that we had no idea about.

The picanha comes from the section where the sirloin meets the round. It has a healthy fat cap on it (especially on our grain finished Peterson cows) which adds to the deliciousness. This is a tender steak packed with a ton of flavor. We love it sprinkled with salt and with a crunchy sear on it.

Cook the fat side down first to render some fat and get the fat cap nice and crispy. 3 minutes direct on each side over a very hot fire should get the color you’re looking for. Move to the indirect heat and cook to medium rare. Let your steak rest for 10 minutes and slice against the grain.

Gold medal stuff, people.

Peterson Limousin Beef

Last week a group of us had the privilege of visiting the Peterson Family farm in Osceola, Wisconsin. Farm visits are one of the best parts of my job. I’d wager that they’re far more interesting and enlightening than going to check out the local widget factory. At the very least it is far more beautiful.

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It feels superfluous to write anything about bacon. Is bacon over? Are we past our obsession with cured pork belly? For a while it seemed that every cooking meme involved the addition or manipulation of this wondrous food. And now it seems that things have settled down a little bit or maybe I’m just numb to it.

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