Whether you are eating an apple freshly plucked from a low-hanging branch on a warm autumn evening or munching through a Big Mac in a harshly lit McDonalds, (I admit it! I sneak a #2 meal once in a while) you are taking part in a process.
An awareness of this should be essential, especially when meat is concerned.
Many of us consume meat without thinking about the full implications of the process required to transform a living, breathing animal into something we can eat.
As a result the process has become convoluted and swollen like a diseased abscess. Now consumers can pick up neatly packaged portions of meat, hermetically sealed and bearing no resemblance to the cow, pig, lamb, chicken or that it was once a part of in the supermarket.
Spending some time learning the basics of animal butchery with a qualified expert is one such way you can restore an awareness of the link between what we eat and where it comes from.
So, here is your chance.
I have added a new style tasting menu in my restaurant (www.meritageclaremont.com) called “vineyard to table”. I pair wines and foods grown on the same land as the grapes. This week the main course was from Tres Sabores Vineyard in the Napa Valley. (Thank you, owner Julie Johnson) We paired her amazing zinfandel with baby lamb that she raised on the vineyard.
I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.
The whole lamb comes wrapped in a mutton cloth (meat hates being wrapped in plastic).
The carcass is then divided into ‘primary cuts’…
It’s most important to use your hand before even picking up the knife, to feel exactly where the bones are so that you know where to cut and don’t accidentally damage a piece of meat that you are trying to save. After the initial inspection, lift up the leg and cut from the armpit towards the body. Note that the two legs are attached by the tailbone.
When taking off the hind legs. As with the forelegs, pinch with the fingers so that you know where the meat is. Avoid cutting into the loin. Pop the ball-and-socket joint on the femur. Follow it with the knife. Cut off the leg.
Then separate the saddle from the rack. There is usually one rib bone attached on the rack-end of the saddle. Either leave all the ribs on and separate the saddle at the end, or leave one rib bone attached. Use a saw for the separation. Remove the silver skin covering the meat. Slip the point of a knife underneath the skin. Trim in one direction and then the other, taking off as little meat as possible in the process.
Then making loin chops. Cut the saddle into cross sections—each cross section has bone in the center and meat (loin and tenderloin) on either side. Separate the rack into halves. Use a saw.
Separate it top to bottom along the chine bone. Hug close to the chine bone, making cuts at the shoulder. The final dish
Lamb “Three Ways”
Grilled Chop & basil infused evo, Roasted T-Bone & gremolata and a simple braise of the Leg Meat served with Slow Roasted Ratatouille
Remember good food takes time!!