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Posts Tagged ‘olympic meat’

Valentine’s Day…you gotta love holidays that are created for the sole purpose of capitalist pleasure. While the origins of Saint Valentine had absolutely nothing to do with lovers, today Hallmark sells millions of cards and Jared sells tons of ugly jewelry. Restaurants are always packed with their special Valentine’s prix fixe dinners. Extremely disappointed by every meal we’ve gone out for at Valentine’s this year I took the truly romantic way through the day of lovers and put my own hard work into a beautiful meal for the love of my life. I made a Japanese flavored Osso Bucco. Let’s be honest, is there anything sexier than slow-braised oxtails?

While I have never braised oxtails (actually cow tail, not an ox) the principles of braising are the same across the board. Brown your meat, saute your mise en place, and simmer it all together for a couple of hours minimum while keeping the braising liquid about 3/4’s of the way covering your meat.

To make this one Japanese flavored I used dashi and soy instead of beef stock and wine. To start I made my dashi. I put 3 cups of water and 1/4 cup of dried anchovies in a pot, brought it to a boil, covered it, turned the heat to med-low, and let it simmer for about a half hour. Then I strained out the anchovies and set the dashi aside.

To flavor the dashi, my mise en place, I used 4 tablespoons of soy sauce, 3 tablespoons of sake, 2 tablespoons of mirin, 1/2 onion diced, 1 rib of celery diced, 1 carrot diced, 3 cloves of garlic smashed, and 3 bay leaves.

The ingredients I used to serve included 3 pounds of beef oxtail cut into 4 portions (have your butcher use his saw to get through the bone, I went to Olympic Meats for mine), about 1/4 cup of parsley chopped, 2 medium carrots chopped, 1 pound of daikon chopped, 12 cipollini onions skin peeled, 1 package of konnyaku, and 1 package of shiitake halved (large ones quartered).

To get started I heated up a few tablespoons of olive oil in my large stock pot. I dredged the oxtail pieces in flour (no need to season the flour since I used soy sauce, without soy sauce you’d probably want to season the flour with salt and pepper) and browned all sides for a couple of minutes. I did two at a time so as not to overcrowd the pot. I set the browned oxtails off the side.

Once the oxtails were all browned I added another couple of tablespoons of olive oil and added all of my mise en place. I sweated it all down for about 5 minutes. Then I put the oxtails in along with any accumulated juices on the plate and poured the reserved dashi in. Once the dashi came to a boil I let it rumble for a few minutes and skimmed the surface a few times for a clearer liquid. Once I finished skimming I added the soy, sake, and mirin. I covered the pot, turned the heat to med-low, and let it simmer for about an hour and 15 minutes.

During this time is when I prepped all of my serving veggies. For the konnyaku I cut it in a very traditional Japanese way. I sliced the block into 1/4 inch strips. I put a slit in the middle of each and then folded inside of itself to make this braided shape. Not only does this add visual appeal, but I gives more surface for the konnyaku to absorb the flavors of the broth.

After the initial hour and 15 minute braising time I removed the oxtails and strained out all of the mise en place. With the back of a wooden spoon I squeezed out every last drop of flavor from the soft onion, celery, and carrot. I wiped out my stock pot, poured the strained broth back in, put the oxtails back in, put the serving veggies in, brought it up to a boil, covered the pot, turned the heat to med-low, and let it simmer for another 45 minutes. That was enough time for the daikon to absorb the broth flavors and become nice and tender.

To serve, I placed on piece of oxtail in a large bowl and surrounded it with broth and veggies. I sprinkled the parsley all over the top. On the side was white rice with ground sesame seeds and some seaweed salad (the same kind you get at your neighborhood sushi joint, I picked some up at the Mitsuwa Market).

As if I weren’t already in-love with myself, this dish made me fall heads-over-heals in-love with myself. I can only image what it did to my wife.

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One thing that being unemployed is teaching me is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money in order to eat right. To me, eating right doesn’t mean counting carbs, or taking supplements, or any of that nutritionist crap (I’m a believer in Michael Pollan). There’s nothing wrong with eating animal fat, or bread, or dessert. There is everything wrong with eating too much and eating processed foods brought to you by the Big Food Industry.

At any rate, last night I made some of the best Lasagna you could ever pass through your tracts (and pass it through my tracts I did!). I did it using only fresh, high quality, organic ingredients, and I did it on the cheap.

I don’t buy much at Whole Foods since their prices are sometimes ridiculously high. However, I won’t buy meats from normal chain grocers because they sell meat from sick, hormone and antibiotic pumped animals. In order to save a few shekels The Big Farm Industry feeds livestock unnatural diets causing them to get ill. In turn they need to inject large amounts of antibiotics because the feed is unhealthy to them, not to mention the extremely unsanitary living-quarters. On top of all of that the animals are fed hormones to speed up growth, this causes even more health issues. Basically, if you’re not eating organic naturally fed, humanely raised animals, you’re eating sick animals. Would you eat a moldy tomato? So why eat a moldy cow?

But I digress. I headed over to Whole Foods and got some really nice, fresh ground chicken thigh meat. I opted for chicken instead of the usual beef because I grilled skirt steak (from Olympic Meat Market) the previous night. Variety is the spice of life. I went for thigh meat for a few reasons. One, it’s cheaper. Two, even though it’s higher fat it’s actually healthier for you since it’s heart-healthy unsaturated fat. Three, it has more flavor. 

While there, I noticed that organic zucchini was on sale. A perfect match for lasagna. They also had high quality parmigiano on sale. I had a jar of organic pasta sauce that I got for $2.19 from my last trip to Whole Foods sitting in my pantry. Otherwise I would have made my own sauce that would have cost me roughly the same amount, maybe another dollar or two.

Back home, I also had some lasagna noodles in the cupboard already. One thing when you have no income is that you try to eat what you’ve already bought and stocked. I picked some basil from my back porch garden. I also had some mushrooms that I bought at Stanley’s, where I buy most of my fruits and veggies.

So, I whipped up a bechemel sauce. I, for one, do not think that putting butter, flour, and milk together is too much fat. As long as the dairy comes from good cows and the flour isn’t processed or enhanced or anything unnatural. Then I cooked the ground chicken with onions, garlic, and some of the tomato sauce. I thinly sliced the zucchini and mushrooms. Then I put it all together.

Turned out to be enough for 4 full servings (I try to cook for 4 even though it’s just my wife and I, that way we have a good lunch the next day as well)when paired with a simple mixed green salad with sliced tomatoes. When I add up the costs of everything and divide by the 4 meals I got out of it I ended up making delicious healthy food for about $4 per person. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather eat that than a $5 foot-long.

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