Posts Tagged ‘beef’

Chipped Beef: some old traditions are the best.

February 2nd, 2011

chipped beef

An introduction to chipped beef

Chipped beef harkens from the days before refrigeration when meat needed to be cured, dried or canned to preserve it until the next hog or steer was slaughtered.  It seems unimaginable to us today to be unable to barbacue steaks or pork cutlets whenever we feel like driving down to the corner market and purchasing our plastic wrapped, already fabricated protein.  This was not always true.

Smoked salmon and beef jerky are the two most popular and well known methods of preserving meat, yet chipped beef in its heyday was universally known around the country.  In military jargon this was called SOS (Shit on a Shingle) because the meat could be dry packed and shipped overseas and then draped over a slab of toast for breakfast.

The recipe for chipped beef varies as you travel across America: at one point many small diners served SOS (Same Old Stuff in more gentile parts of the country) for breakfast, but I will hazard to guess that not many diners are currently serving this meaty dish.  There is a resurgence with the traditional butchery of hogs and cattle and with that movement comes the traditional methods of preparing and preserving the meat.

Chipped beef at The Country Cat is beef brisket that has been brined for five days, then pulled from the brine and sliced thin.  From there the brisket gets dredged in seasoned flour and deep fried until it is golden brown.  The chipped beef is then added to a combination of sweated celery, onions and fennel which has had sufficient chicken stock added to cover the beef.

I wasn’t able to capture the completion of the SOS, but managed to catch the begginning in An introduction to chipped beef.  We haven’t received our side of beef yet this week so when that happens, and when Mike makes the recipe again I will get in there film the chipped beef getting made and upload it up to duckspoon.com.

Stay tuned!

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Where’s your beef from?

November 11th, 2009

How many people could answer that question?  I don’t mean which supermarket, but rather from which ranch and from which slaughterhouse.  Follow that question a bit farther and ask about the conditions on that ranch.  Are anti-biotics used? Are chicken remains ground up and sprinkled into the grain to provide more protein? How many cattle pass through the slaughterhouse every day?  The food safety system of this country has been bankrupt for quite some time.  200 people die every year in the United States from E. coli (Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser).  The relationship between big business and the U.S. Department of Agriculture ensures that this number will not decrease unless there is a cultural shift in how we approach the animals we eat.

Stephanie Smith of Minnesota came home one Sunday for a home cooked hamburger at her parent’s house.  Weeks of cramping, diarrhea, and eventually 9 weeks of coma left her paralyzed from the waist down for life.  From a hamburger labeled “America’s chef’s selection Angus beef patties.”  The hamburger patties that she ate that day came were ground up in Wisconsin, and garnered from slaughterhouses in Nebraska, Texas, South Dakota, and Uruguay. (The New York Times, Oct. 3, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/04/health/04meat.html?_r=2) None of those scraps had been tested for E. coli because the FDA allows hamburger grinders to create their own safety procedures.  Even though Cargill, the food giant that made those patties, had been breaking it’s own safety procedures months before those patties were made, they were allowed to release their products into the public because Cargill had promised to increase its safety requirements. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HA8iyzYnXuc

At the Country Cat in Portland, Oregon, Adam Sappington breaks down a side of beef every couple weeks and grinds the burgers himself.  He has visited Sweet Briar Farms in Junction City and has made sure that the beef he serves is grass-fed, raised without anti-biotics, and slaughtered humanely.  All of this is hard work, but worth it because of the piece of mind that accomplishing a job with integrity imbues.  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1Wo4O2iepI)

On November 4th Adam broke down a side of beef at the Livestock venture.  Livestock is the new shift away from the production of mass food and enormous slaughterhouses. In their words it is “an urban conversation designed to explore the literary and literal aspects of killing our dinner.”  This is an attempt to create a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program that extends not only to the farmers of Oregon, but also to the ranchers. Farmers, and soon ranchers, will be encouraged to grow their produce and raise their livestock in a way that puts health and food safety first.  People should be confident that the food they eat is being raised correctly, and slaughtered humanely.  Perhaps this movement will someday spread to the rest of the nation.