Broccoli Beef

Well, it’s Monday…again (I feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day).  I wish I could say I’m feeling all perky and in-your-face and all, but…no.  It’s just going to be one of those (unbloggable) days.

Oh, well.

I do have some good news, and it’s this recipe.  I believe I’ve waxed poetic about my love of Asian food before and this dish, based on a recipe by Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen fame, is a lulu.  The original recipe is made with ingredients I no longer consume or cook with – mainly corn starch and commercial soy sauce, which contains wheat – but the substitutions in no way detract from the dish, nor do the additions of the onion and water chestnut.  It is a delicious, and quick, meal – even The Young One ate it with enthusiasm.

Note: You can use dry sherry in place of the Chinese rice wine or, if you want to avoid the alcohol, simply skip it in the sauce and replace it with the chicken stock in the marinade.

Broccoli Beef

Broccoli Beef

serves 3

4 cups broccoli florets
14 ounces beef sirloin
2 cloves garlic minced
5 ounces canned sliced water chestnuts, drained
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons tallow or other cooking fat

1 teaspoon tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine (rice cooking wine)
1/2 teaspoon arrowroot powder
1/8 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper

2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (rice cooking wine)
1 tablespoon tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
1/4 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 teaspoon arrowroot powder, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water

Stir together the beef marinade ingredients in a medium bowl; add the beef slices and stir until coated. Allow to stand for 10 minutes.

Stir together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.

Cook the broccoli in a large pot of boiling, salted water until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly.

Heat a large, heavy frying pan over high heat until nearly smoking. Add the tallow; as it melts, swirl to coat. Toss in the onion and quickly fry for about 30 seconds, browning the onion and softening it slightly. Add the beef and immediately spread the beef out all over the surface of the pan in a single layer. Leave the beef undisturbed for 1 minute. Flip the beef slices over, add the garlic to the pan and fry for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute until no longer pink, Pour in the sauce, add the blanched broccoli and water chestnuts; bring to a boil. Add the dissolved arrowroot and cook, stirring, until the sauce boils and thickens, 30 seconds more.

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I’m Mad Cow As Hell, And I’m Not Going To Take It Anymore

Yesterday, we took possession of our second side of grass-finished beef.  I can’t even begin to list all of the cuts we got, but in addition to the roasts and steaks and brisket, we asked for and received the tallow, marrow bones, liver, tongue, kidney and heart.

Think about that for a minute:  The tallow.  The marrow bones.  The liver.  The tongue.  A kidney.  The heart.

What really burns me about this is that the kidney and heart should not be in the list.  You see, we wanted those organs added to our ground beef (at least 60 pounds worth).  Organ meats are incredibly nutrient dense, and as a rule Americans don’t eat enough of them.  I certainly understand why; with the exception of liver, which I happen to adore, the thought of cooking and eating a beef heart/tongue/kidney gives me pause – and I’m fairly adventurous when it comes to food.

When we went to Whitefeather Meats a couple of weeks ago to discuss the butchering of our side of beef (and have a good visit with the Perkins family, who are just the most wonderful people), we asked about adding the organ meats to the ground beef and were told the USDA doesn’t allow it.  I was a bit flabbergasted (to say nothing of disappointed) and didn’t think to ask why at the time.  A few days later, I contacted them and asked – and was told that since mad cow disease came to the United States in 2003, the USDA changed what was deemed “edible” and organ meats could no longer be mixed with muscle meat and fat in ground beef.

But they can vacuum pack the damn heart and kidney and give them to me to do with as I will, if I want them.  WTF???  I can eat them alone, but not mix them into our ground beef.  Oooookaaaaaay.

Not that any of this really makes any sense, but if the USDA is using mad cow disease as the excuse to no longer add organ meats to ground beef it makes even less sense.  Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), “is a fatal neurodegenerative disease in cattle that causes a spongy degeneration in the brain and spinal cord.”  A neurological disease, which is why the sale of cattle brains or any part of the spine is no longer allowed.  The heart is the main organ of the circulatory system, and kidneys are the main organs of the urinary system.

Now, having said that, while the disease itself may be most concentrated in the nervous tissue (most notably the brain and spine) of the animal, it can be found in virtually any organ in the body, including the blood.  So basically, if there were a threat of contracting mad cow disease from our animal,  the heart and kidneys aren’t any more of a danger than the Filet Mignon or the rump roast.  And if you’re still trying to figure out why it’s okay for me to cook and serve those organs alone, but not have them ground into the parts that serve as our hamburger, you’re not alone.

What really makes all of this even more frustrating is how cattle contract mad cow in the first place.  According to Wikipedia, “A British inquiry into BSE concluded that the epizootic was caused by cattle, who are normally herbivores, being fed the remains of other cattle in the form of meat and bone meal (MBM), which caused the infectious agent to spread. There are studies indicating that the cause of BSE may be from the contamination of MBM from sheep with scrapie that were processed in the same slaughterhouse. The epidemic was probably accelerated by the recycling of infected bovine tissues prior to the recognition of BSE.”

So, basically cattle get mad cow by eating the remains and by-products of other animals. My cow was completely grass-fed.  Which means its chances of being contaminated with mad cow are basically…nil.  Nada.  Zip. Zilch.  Nothing.

After pondering this for awhile, I decided to ask the USDA why the heart and kidney from my personal cow, meant for my personal consumption, could not be mixed into my personal ground beef.  Have you ever tried to call the USDA?  Their “information hotline” is a joke – it’s only there if you want to know things like the internal temperature meat must be cooked to in order to be deemed “safe for consumption” or why so many people eat corned beef on St Patrick’s Day.  Oh, they’ll give you the same old song and dance about keeping meat safe if you ask them why organ meats cannot be included in ground beef, but offer no justification for why I cannot have it included if I wish in ground beef meant just for my personal consumption.

There is an extensive telephone directory on the website, if you know the name of the particular person you wish to speak to.  But a directory of actual departments?  Fat chance.  There is absolutely NO indication who might be the right person to speak with if you have a specific question.  There is an option to send an email to their “Ask The Expert” person.  So I did.

Twelve days ago.

I have received no answer.

We’re looking at meat grinders.  Anyone have a suggestion for a good one?

Posted in participation of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday