Sunday, June 28, 2009

What Real People Eat

I’m sure if I read Betty’s book I’d find something good in there. Betty Fussell is a gourmand. She lives in New York, N.Y. and she believes in steak. Her recent book Raising Steaks: The Life and Times of American Beef, is described by Michael Pollan as an “absorbing journey through the geography of beef.”

But I haven’t read Betty’s book. I’ve only seen part of the meaty note she sent to High Country News in May. This is where Betty shares a few thoughts on red meat, emphasizing that ‘real’ American men, women and children eat steak because it infuses them blood, iron and vitality.

What struck me about this sentiment is the word “steak.” In my book, what ‘real’ men, women and children eat is locally and sustainably grown food. Which in places like Hells Canyon, with an abundance of natural grasses and forages, includes meat. And not just steak.

Steak can be yummy. So can arm roasts, heart, soup bones, liver, rump roasts, tongue, stew meat, etc. To build a food system that supports ranch families and the lands they steward, we must learn to eat and use more of the animal.

Folks who know how to cook a delicious heart or tongue can share those skills and tastes. I can’t remember who showed me how to cook tongue, but I know that boiled and seasoned, sliced thin, it makes awesome sandwiches, with a hearty mustard on homemade bread.

Nowadays, the butcher even asks me if I want the tail. And some of my customers do. So fire up the freezer honey, because it’s about the whole cow.

Recipe for Boiled Beef Tongue

Rinse the tongue and place in a stock pot with water to cover and one teaspoon of salt. Optional: add chopped onion and/or seasonings, such as bay leaf, red or black pepper or pickling spice. Bring to a boil and simmer 2 to 3 hours or until tender, should be able to pierce it with a fork. Rinse in cold water. Peel off the skin. Slice thinly and serve. Good for sandwiches.