I am a carnivore. I do not want to be, because I love living animals, but then again, I suppose I love dead ones, too. Tonight had me returning from dropping off last week’s work for Paderno to the post office, and then on a stroll to The Healthy Butcher to see if I learned anything from the Butchery 103 class that I attended last week. During the workshop the butcher, David Meli, had given priceless advice on choosing cuts of meat that showed value and prime eating. While I will not list those cuts blatantly, over the course of the next month I will be attempting to present a perfect preparation of the cut while photographing it with the Linhof 4×5 camera and Fotodiox adapter.
At the Healthy Butcher on Queen Street West, I ran into David who was amused to see me at the counter. We didn’t speak during the course on Wednesday, so this gave a chance to introduce myself and explain in the simplest way possible what exactly I do for a living. The first piece of meat that I decided to prepare was “The Clodhammer.” No, you will not find it at a grocery store where the focus is on t-bones, filets, rib-eyes or prime rib, but this has to be the best cut of meat that I have ever taken into my kitchen: period.
The Clodhammer comes from the rotator cuff in a larger animal like a cow, elk or bison. In my case, I went with a strip of meat from the bison. Bison is a lean meat, and would not be a choice for roasting in my mind, but the Clodhammer is built for high heat searing and medium rare presentation. I truly wished I still possessed my Wolf stove for this dish, but that was another life with other problems. Setting up the camera is always a disaster for a long strip of meat, especially when I do not bring out the Profoto lights. Both of these images were captured at f.16 with a Schneider-Kreuznach large format lens on the Linhof 4×5 Color body. Eating and photographing meat is a challenge, because it has to be warm and fresh for the photo, but that only gives you about two minutes post resting to get the shot…then the meat is not ideal for eating warmth, but that is the cost of photographing it in the first place, I suppose.
Flavour on this piece was deep and round. It was soft like a perfectly beef tenderloin at cut rate cost. I paid $9 and change for what should have been two to three servings. To accentuate the richness of the meat I wanted to go overboard with English Stilton cheese that I picked up for 66% off at Cheese Boutique on Saturday, and the roasted beets I did last night. David Meli had suggested letting either butter or cheese sit upon the meat during resting to absorb its fat into the flesh. I am not certain this worked, but it tasted like it made a difference. As a full meal, this single piece of meat with the cheese and beets was perfect. Given that I am reading a lot of Joe Beef Restaurant’s cooking philosophy, I also decided to pair the bison with a Burgundy wine. Nirvana could aspire to the feelings my body is now exuding after consuming such a glorious dinner. The only thing that would have made it better would be to share it with loved ones, family or friends; alas, only Mingus and India could partake in the dinner with tidbits reserved for their dainty palettes.Last night’s beet salad tower also connected deeply in a rich, earthy tone. My friend Millage’s beets proved exceptional and balanced out well with the chèvre and the white truffle oil/ fleur de sel combination. I would mention the Eggplant Parmesan I cooked, too, but that will be added to an upcoming meal. Why so much cooking? I am not sure. I feel pretty unfocused right now with V. heading to Thunder Bay and the school year about to begin. Maybe the culinary perfection is coming from a need to refocus my energies into what I do best, or maybe reading David Chang’s writing in Lucky Peach Magazine has inspired me to cut out the pretence and cook like my hair is on fire.
Final thought: I grabbed umami paste at The Healthy Butcher. I had never heard of umami until this week when it appeared all over Lucky Peach. As the reputed 5th taste, I thought that I would pounce on a tube and try it with a few dishes next week. I am not exactly certain you to use it, but that will be the best part of the experiment. I also heard from a person who reads this blog and complimented what I do, which is nice when one writes into the void of the web without reply but fifty-odd thousand views. So many thanks to those who take the time to read my musings and of my adventures; the best is always yet to come…