Loins are the muscles on the sides of the spine. Yes, go ahead, reach around to your back, find your backbone, and feel the muscle on either side. That’s the piece. This is one of the high-end cuts from any mammal. For example, from a pig, it can become a pork chop (if sliced through the bone). In deer, it is often called backstrap. From a goat, we just call it the loin, and in our butchering style, we generally carefully cut it off of the spine, resulting in a nice boneless piece of meat. This a cut that is suitable for quick, high heat cooking. We like to make a point of doing something nice with the loins.
Editor’s note: This was written in late winter, but delayed due to various circumstances. The next post in this series will be a new, current one and hopefully the series stays up to date from now on.
In honor of my German heritage, I decided that sauerbraten should be in my cooking repertoire, as I enjoy it when prepared by Eric. So, in spite of my plan to minimize “meat and potatoes” meals in this series, I decided to embrace and feature that combination…this time. Why? For a culturally complete meal, I wanted to serve the sauerbraten with potato pancakes, another German specialty that I make routinely. Our dwindling storage potato supply suggested that I either make this now or wait until July, the earliest more potatoes could be ready for harvest. Sauerbraten in July doesn’t sound as appealing, so I opted to prioritize this as a nice winter meal.
Although my parents have handwritten recipes for sauerbraten from my grandmother, I simply went for our cookbook shelf and took guidance from the recipe in Mimi Sheraton’s The German Cookbook, our favorite resource for traditional German cooking. I followed the recipe moderately closely, though of course it calls for beef rather than goat. What matters is the braising theme, and the basic components of this technique are quickly becoming familiar: brown the meat, saute some aromatics, add some liquid, put it all together, and slow cook. The twists here are that sauerbraten starts with a specific marinade, and final preparations include making gravy.
After a bit of an interlude due to some travel and other distractions, I’m returning to the (goat) kid cooking series. Readers who are in tune with seasonal eating will quickly notice that the meals described here happened some time ago, back when storage onions were still in good condition, and prior to the season when we’ve started eating greenery from the fields again. This piece and the next (which will go up in a few days) describe late winter meals featuring Crystal’s front shoulders. The remainder of the kid is still happily in the freezer, and I intend to resume kid cooking (and timely blogging) quite soon.
So many recipes suffer from unnecessary precision, pressuring home cooks to buy ingredients they don’t need. On the other hand, a lot of great food can’t easily be prepared with a recipe because there isn’t any one way to make it. Here’s a tasty leftovers concoction we made recently that, if written up as a recipe, perfectly captures the absurdity of precision in a creative kitchen. Continue reading
I never encountered tripe growing up. My first taste of it was from the piece shown in the photo below, left, which shows the particular chamber of the stomach with a honeycomb pattern on its inner lining. That’s the stomach from the goat kid featured in this series, and I suspected that preparing it well would present a challenge.
We consider heart and tongue to be delicacies. I don’t remember ever encountering these on a plate before we started raising and eating our own animals, but I had no problem learning to love them. Both are muscles, and don’t convey the strong innard-y smells and flavors that challenge my quest to love liver. However, as very specialized muscles, their textures differ from each other and those of other muscles, and so certain preparations are preferable.
The photos above show the tongue and heart of the goat kid featured in this series. For the preparations described here, I also used the heart and tongue of a second kid that we butchered on the same day.
In April we’ll be teaching a kitchen-management course through the Columbia Area Career Center. We’ve long practiced and espoused a form of whole-kitchen management that integrates creative cooking with using seasonal items that are available and on hand, without being overly time-consuming or fussy. A good example is the “Preparing a CSA share in an hour” demonstration we gave last year, which showed how easy it can be to turn an full-share of farm-fresh produce into simple, delicious, and wholesome dishes.
Here’s the catalog description (p. 44) followed by a more detailed outline of our curriculum and goals, drawn from our initial proposal to CACC. Please considering sharing this with anyone you know who might be interested, or even signing up yourself!
Tuesdays 4/14 – 5/12, 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Getting the most out of your ingredients and your budget requires flexibility in menu-planning along with creativity and improvisation in the kitchen. Explore ways to source and prepare meals that are simple, delicious and economical. (5 Sessions)
Skills to be gained: Students will learn how to: find and choose fresh ingredients; assess and adapt recipes to match their supplies & needs; use seasonal menus and food preservation to improve their food budget; and explore kitchen techniques and items that can benefit their cooking & time budget.
Presenter biography: We have been honing our cooking skills for over 15 years, first as farmers market shoppers and CSA members, then as professional producers of fresh ingredients at Chert Hollow Farm in northern Boone County. Eric also holds a Masters degree in teaching and has extensive experience with public speaking and education.
Outline of learning activities per session:
- Sourcing ingredients: Discussions of seasonality, growing methods, sources of ingredients, what to ask farmers or grocers, ways to identify better or worse ingredients, storage and preservation methods.
- Recipe analysis: What makes a good or bad recipe, how to rewrite or adapt a recipe to be easier or faster to follow, how different ingredients contribute to a recipe, how to swap or supplement ingredients.
- Master recipes: Step away from specific recipes and discuss the structure of different classes of meals. What defines a soup, a pasta, a stir fry, a sauce? How can we develop a master recipe that can be adapted to whatever ingredients are on hand?
- Kitchen management: Ways to use your kitchen more efficiently, including advance preparation, recipe doubling, appropriate shortcuts, spreading preparation over multiple days vs. a scheduled cooking binge.
- Budgeting & valuing food: Economics of how food is produced, sold, and purchased, minimizing waste, efficient approaches to sourcing ingredients, analysis of personal and general food budgets, buying in bulk vs. not over-purchasing.
As a perishable organ meat, liver ranks among the parts of a freshly-butchered animal that should be eaten quickly. So, in my quest to cook an entire goat kid, liver made it to the plate first. And since I hesitated to prepare the entire liver for one meal, it was featured in the second meal, too.
On our farm, preparing meat to eat begins outside of the kitchen. For many years our home meat supply has come from animals we’ve raised and processed ourselves. Thus, this post tells the story of the goat kid who will be featured in this tongue-to-tail cooking series (introductory post here). Continue reading
We recently butchered our last two goat kids of 2014, and we’ve designated one of them for a bloggable project in the tongue-to-tail cooking genre. I’m taking responsibility for preparing one whole goat, cooking it in many different ways to practice as many different meat-cooking techniques as possible to compensate for the fact that I’ve never really learned how to cook meat.