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Dry Aging at The Organic Butcher

May 08, 2018 1 Comment

Dry Aging at The Organic Butcher
  This Blog post is dedicated to the aging process we value so much at the Organic Butcher. Dive in to learn all about the difference between wet and dry aging, why and what we age, how we do it, and all the nuances in between.  Did you know we age our meats on site, ensuring our customers receive the absolute pinnacle in quality? Our expert butchers closely monitor both the wet and dry aging process and sell the meat at the ideal moment of flavor and texture development. Master butcher, Greg Herring, who plies his art behind our counter most every day, explains why. “If you ate beef the day after it was slaughtered,” he says, “it would be tough as shoe leather. The muscles bind up... You have to let them chill out.” Aging meat is a process of highly controlled decomposition; enzymes break down some of the fibers in the meat over time, giving it the tenderness found in a good steak. Wet and Dry Aging Compared Beef can be aged in two ways: wet or dry. Flavor-wise, wet-aged beef is, well, beefy. It’s beloved by carnivores for a reason. Keep in mind that, as Greg noted, all beef is aged for at least four to ten days before sale to tenderize the cut. Wet aging “sort of happens along the way” from harvest to retail purchase, says Herring. Most abattoirs aim to break down an animal immediately and get it to their distributors, who like us, may then elect to wet age the beef for up to another month or so before deciding it’s tender enough for sale. Wet aging allows the meat to be cut into retail-size portions early in the process, because no evaporation occurs to shrink the meat. Dry aging, on the other hand, requires that the beef be left in large cuts—small cuts will shrink and dry out to the point that no useable meat remains. The “sub-primal” (read: big) cuts are hung in a space like we have on site; controlled for temperature, humidity, and air flow. The enzymatic action that tenderizes the meat happens more quickly with dry aging, even though the process itself offers more flexibility than wet aging. When it comes to dry aging, both the animal and the cut matter. Meat with more fat marbling dry ages better overall than lean meat or lean cuts, because, says Greg, “fat content slows the process of aging, tempers it a little bit.” Dry aging involves a fair amount of water evaporation and therefore shrinkage, and the outer portion of the cuts (the “crust”) must be cut off before retail distribution because it becomes extremely dry, almost like beef jerky. Lean animals or cuts will shrink more and develop a more penetrating crust—meaning more product loss. Dry aging is more expensive overall than wet aging. Unlike wet aging, in which cuts can be stacked and transported in vacuum-sealed bags with no unused space, dry aging demands a lot of space and air flow even during transportation; combine that with the amount of beef that is cut away during the trimming after aging is complete and it makes it a higher-loss, higher-expense process. Dry aging may be more costly than wet aging, but it’s also more interesting, says Herring. Dry-aged beef offers its own kind of fantastic flavor. The process yields a product that’s denser (thanks to water evaporation), more tender, and more taste-intense than wet-aged beef. Bacteria, enzymatic activity, and oxidation combine to shift the meat’s flavor in dry aging. After 28 days, the beef will have pretty much hit its maximum tenderness, but the flavor profile can continue to change for a long time after that. Between 30 and 40 days will likely yield a beef cut with intense but still beefy flavor and optimum tenderness. Here at The Organic Butcher, beef is typically dry aged for between 35 and 60 days. But, sometimes we get stuff that already has 28, 45 days of dry aging on it. Dry aging can also just be a way to store product, for example we sometimes get a cut in from a distributor that does their own dry aging, cut the steaks a customer requests, and store the rest. We’re continuing to age at that point, but effectively just storing it. That’s actually the safest way to store dry-aged meat—returning it to dry aging. It’s possible to vacuum seal the dry-aged cut, but the result will be a shortened shelf life. The beef will remain edible after two weeks, but the texture will begin to go south and funk will begin to predominate, according to Herring. “It’s not unsafe. It’s quality you’re losing.” Going All the Way: Long-Duration Dry Aging Extreme dry aging (100+ days) something we do on request, is a personal preference with a lot of variables at play, says Herring. One of the advantages of dry aging is its flexibility, both in terms of the factors at play and aging duration. Herring explains: You have a bit more versatility with what you're manipulating. You can manipulate the temperature, the amount of air circulation, the humidity, and each of those will affect the final product, the flavor. If you want really complex, nutty flavor, then you lower your air circulation, and you'll get way more [flavor]. You’ll have mold on the outside; those flavors penetrate, and the cut will taste almost like a fancy cheese. The longer you go, the more you can develop. At about 60 days, you stop really developing the classic dry-age flavor, because the aerobic enzymes have consumed all they can. But you can continue to dry it at that point. The beef will keep losing moisture, which concentrates flavors. It's just like reducing a soup. All the collagen, fat, nutrients, and minerals get more and more concentrated as you lose water content…. You're creating a craft, nuanced, interesting product. Is Dry Aging Safe? Short answer: Yes, assuming it’s done right. If it’s not, you’re going to notice—the meat will smell, look, feel, and taste (not that you would get that far!) awful. Long answer: Yes. Remember, all meat aging—dry and wet—is controlled decomposition. Properly dry aging meat requires the right temperature, humidity level, and air flow. All these variables have wiggle room depending on the butcher’s goals. Herring notes that dry aging, done properly, is safer than wet aging because, in the absence of liquid and the presence of air flow, any contamination remains on the cut’s exterior, in the “crust” that develops as air circulates around the meat. Says Herring, “With dry age, contamination stays on the outside. It doesn't penetrate, doesn't move around the cut, because there's no water activity to move in.” As for eating the exterior—the “crust”—of dry-aged meat, it’s not dangerous, it’s just, in Herring’s opinion, not terribly tasty. As mentioned, the cut’s exterior gets dry and hard during the dry-aging process, so it’s unappealing to eat. The outer layers also act as a barrier against contamination, and mold will grow on the cut’s surface. So, even though it’s safe to eat, standard practice dictates cutting away any hard or moldy portions after the aging process is complete. Health-department rules require that the exterior portions be removed for serving in restaurants, anyway. If you’ve ever eaten a really whiffy, odiferous dry-aged cut, it’s probably because the meat wasn’t trimmed back far enough. Dry Aging: Not Just for Beef Yes, it’s possible and useful to dry age other meats. Beef stands to benefit the most from dry aging, though, since of all commercial proteins, it presents the most variability in tenderness. Lamb, veal, and pork are generally tender to begin with; it’s cooking technique that’s most likely to make or break these meats. Dry aging game birds is a longstanding practice. “Hanging” birds was, before the advent of refrigeration, pretty much the only option for preserving meat besides smoking or salting. Pork can definitely be dry aged, and we do that often – if you haven’t tried it you’re missing out. Just ask one of our butchers for it at the counter. About dry aged pork, Herring explains it’s “not the same as dry aging beef. You don't have the enzymes that break down the texture as much, so you don't get much more tenderness, [though] you get a little bit.” Pork can’t be dry aged for as long as beef because of pork’s higher water content, which makes aging riskier when it comes to spoilage and meat loss. But, according to Herring, even a week of dry aging an apparently unmarbled pork chop can work miracles. “Suddenly all this marbling blooms out of it… The texture gets a little firmer. It gets juicier… It blows people's minds the first time they have it.” And you can dry age more than just the chops of a pig, we also dry-aged pork belly; leaving the skin on for protection and aging it for a whopping three months! About the pork belly Greg says “It was amazing…very, very complex. So rich.” There you have it—dry aging in a nutshell. We offer a number of aged cuts and if you don’t see them just ask at the counter. Trying out a dry-aged cut could open the door to a delicious new world.  

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Fresh West Coast Halibut + Recipe

April 20, 2018

Fresh West Coast Halibut + Recipe
Wild West Coast Halibut is in! They’re averaging 10-20lbs right now and boast a firm flesh with a mild buttery flavor. This makes them ideal for: Grilling, Roasting, Pan Searing, Broiling, Steaming, Poaching, and Smoking. Follow our simple recipe for delicious pan-seared Halibut topped with our house-made roasted garlic, thyme & lemon compound butter! Recipe: Pre-heat oven to 350  degrees. Season Halibut with only salt Heat pan till hot with 1-2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil until the oil shimmers Place halibut skin side down in the pan and let sear for 3-4 minutes. Do not flip and put the pan in a 350 degree oven and roast for 6 to 7 minutes Remove fish from pan and add some sliced shallots, asparagus tips, thinly sliced lemons, capers and cherry tomatoes Sauté for 4 minutes and season with fresh chopped parsley Place fish on top of the sauté vegetables and add a hearty scoop of our house-made roasted garlic & lemon compound butter and enjoy! Come see us soon!    

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Garlic & Herb Roasted Leg of Lamb Recipe

March 21, 2018

Garlic & Herb Roasted Leg of Lamb Recipe
We've created a simple and delicious recipe for a Garlic & Herb Roasted Leg of Lamb.  Ingredients: 8-10 lb. Bone-In Leg of Lamb  1 bunch fresh thyme 1 bunch fresh rosemary 8-10 cloves peeled garlic, cut in half lengthwise 1-2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil Mint Sauce  Extra butcher's twine (request when picking up the leg of lamb or in the notes section at checkout) Instructions: Request Bone-In or Boneless Leg of Lamb tied and pick up all ingredients at the shop! Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut 1" deep slits through out the roast, rub with EVOO and stuff with the cloves of peeled garlic. Season with salt & pepper. Secure a layer of fresh herbs with some additional butcher's twine. Roast at 350 degrees until the internal temperature reaches 125/130 degrees. About 1 hour for a boneless leg and 1.5-2 hours for bone-in. Remove herbs and crank oven up to 450 degrees for 10 minutes until the outside has a nice browned crust. Let rest under tented foil for 30 minutes, slice and serve with mint sauce.  

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Venison Chili Recipe

January 31, 2018

Venison Chili Recipe
Looking for the perfect dish to feature on Game Day? Try our spicy and delicious Venison Chili!  ______________________________________________________ Venison Chili Recipe  ½ C bacon – chopped – 4-5 strips 2 LB ground venison 1 LB venison stew – ask the butcher to cube for Chili 2 TBSP Lane’s ancho espresso rub (optional) 1 spanish onion – chopped 2 carrots or 1.5 C – shredded ¼ C garlic – minced 1 poblano pepper – diced 4 TBSP cumin 3 TBSP paprika 3 TBSP chili powder 1 6oz can tomato paste 2 C red cooking wine 1/2 TBSP maple syrup 2 cans diced tomatoes 1 can kidney beans salt & pepper to taste Instructions: Cook bacon until crispy. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and set aside for garnishing the chili at the end. Season the venison with Lane’s Ancho Espresso rub or salt & pepper. Sear until meat is browned on all sides in the rendered bacon fat. Add the onion, carrots, garlic, pepper & spices. Cook covered for 40 mins on medium/low heat or at a low simmer. Add tomato paste, red wine & maple syrup. Cook uncovered for 20 minutes or until liquid has reduced by about half. Add diced tomatoes and cook covered until the venison cubes become tender, about 2-3 hours. Add the beans and enjoy! 

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Top Sirloin Roast Recipe - An Easy and Impressive Roast for The Holidays!

December 05, 2017

Top Sirloin Roast Recipe - An Easy and Impressive Roast for The Holidays!
This recipe features the Top Sirloin Roast which is available on our Holiday Menu. This cut is tender and has rich beefy flavor.   We've paired the roast with Fingerling Potatoes & Shallots seasoned with Salt & Pepper and topped with Iberico Lardo slices as well as Brussels Sprouts & Carrots drizzled with Honey, Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper.  Plate these veggies then lay the sliced Top Sirloin over top.  ______________________________________________________   Ingredients: Top Sirloin Roast - ask us to season & tie it for you!  Extra Virgin Olive Oil Butcher Shop Steak Rub Fingerling Potatoes Shallots Sliced Iberico Lardo Brussels Sprouts Carrots Honey or Hot Honey *All ingredients available for purchase at the shop!*   Instructions: Pre-Heat oven to 350 degrees and bring roast to room temperature. Roast the season and tied Top Sirloin uncovered for 45-60 minutes or until internal temp reaches 130-135 degrees. Let rest under loosely tented foil for 20-30 minutes before slicing the roast. While the roast is cooking prep the potatoes by cutting them 1/4" thick and thinly slice the shallots. Season with salt & pepper and lay flat in a roasting pan. Lay the slices of Iberico Lardo overtop. Put these in the oven when the roast is about half-way through and cook the potatoes for 25-30 minutes or until done. The  Lardo crisps up during the cook, save these cracklings to use as the garnish! Lastly, cut the brussels sprouts & carrots to desired size. Drizzle honey or hot honey for an extra kick, olive oil, salt & pepper. Put these in when the top sirloin roast is almost done and roast for 15-20 minutes or until they're nicely caramelized. Plate the veggies together and lay the slices of sirloin and Iberico cracklings over top for an impressive and delicious presentation!            

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Discover the Lesser-Known Cuts of Meat

August 30, 2017 1 Comment

Discover the Lesser-Known Cuts of Meat
Most people are familiar with standard steak cuts - Ribeye, New York Strip, Filet Mignon - but did you know there is a whole world of cuts available? While the ubiquitous cuts are delicious in their own right, some of the most flavorful and mouth-watering steaks can’t be found in the grocery store meat case. We, at the Organic Butcher, take great care in stocking the widest variety of cuts available, so it is our pleasure to introduce you to some of our favorites! FLANK (aka London Broil) Flank steak comes from the abdominal muscles or lower chest — literally, the flank — of the cow. It is lean, boneless, and inexpensive so it’s perfect for a mid-week family meal. Throw on the grill for a few minutes per side to use in fajitas, on salads, or alongside grilled veggies. We also love using leftovers in sandwiches the next day. Flank steak marinates well because of its course texture, hearty grain, and beefy flavor. Try this bright and healthy recipe by cookbook author Melissa Clark as summer winds down: Cuban Flank Steak Ingredients 1 teaspoon grated lime zest plus 2 tablespoons lime juice 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest plus 1/4 cup orange juice 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grilling 2 large garlic cloves 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh oregano 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin Kosher salt Pepper One 1 1/2-pound flank steak 2 ripe, firm mangoes—peeled, pitted and sliced Lime wedges, for serving Directions In a blender, combine the citrus zests and juice with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the garlic, oregano, cumin, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and blend until smooth.    In a glass or ceramic baking dish, pour all but ¼ cup of the marinade over the steak and turn to coat. Let stand for 15 minutes, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Light a grill or grill pan and oil the grate. Remove the steak from the marinade, letting the excess drip off. Season with salt and pepper and grill over moderate heat, turning once, until lightly charred and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 125°, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the steak to a carving board and let rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the meat against the grain and transfer to a platter with the mango slices and lime wedges. Drizzle with the reserved marinade and serve. BAVETTE (aka Flap Steak, Sirloin Tip)The Bavette sits right under the Flank. Of all the inexpensive cuts of beef, this one's the most versatile and a great choice for Mexican-style grilled meats, French bistro steaks, and Asian stir-fry. Bavette should be cooked using high, dry heat; such as grilling, broiling, pan-frying or stir-frying, then cut very thinly across the grain. This cut is at its best between medium-rare and medium. For an impressive bistro-style meal, try the recipe below. One of our new compound butters would be perfect in this recipe too! Bavette Steak with Beurre Rouge & Roasted Potatoes Ingredients 2 lbs baby yukon gold potatoes, halved if more than 2 inches in diameter olive oil salt and pepper 3 sprigs rosemary or 3 sprigs thyme 1 cup red wine 1/2 cup low sodium beef broth 1/4 cup finely chopped shallot 1 bay leaf 1 1/2 lbs Bavette steak 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and kept chilled Preheat oven to 425°. Place the potatoes on a heavy-duty baking sheet. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then spread out cut-side down on the pan. Drape with the rosemary or thyme sprigs, then roast for 15 minutes without stirring, until crisp and brown. Pierce with a knife and if not yet tender, roast for about 10-15 minutes longer. Discard the herbs, or use as garnish. Meanwhile, combine the wine, broth, shallots and bay leaf in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Keep at a low boil until reduced to 1/2 cup. This could take 25-30 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and set aside. (If the steak is too large to fit in one pan, cut it in half to separate the thicker part and the thinner part. Use 2 skillets to cook the steak.) Season the steak well on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil shimmers, add the steak and cook until browned, about 1 1/2-2 minutes per side. Transfer the meat to a baking sheet and roast in the oven until cooked to your liking, about 10-12 minutes for medium-rare on the thicker part. Remove from the oven, tent with foil and let rest 10 minutes. If the wine reduction has cooled, reheat gently. Remove from the heat, and add a little of the cold butter, whisking until it melts. Continue adding the butter a little at a time, reheating gently for a moment if necessary, until the sauce has thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Slice the Bavette thinly against the grain and serve with the beurre rouge and potatoes. COULOTTE (aka Top Sirloin Cap, Picanha, Churrascarias)The Coulotte is a sirloin cut taken from the triangular muscle sitting right over the top sirloin near the back of the cow. It has very little natural marbling so is sold with a nice layer of fat still intact. The texture and flavor is similar to that of your ordinary sirloin, only with more intense flavors from the rendering of fat during the cooking process. This cut is hugely popular in Brazil where they sear it quickly, slice it, and then grill it to medium-rare. Each slice is served with a nice piece of the fat cap. HANGER (aka Butcher's Steak, Hanging Tenderloin)The Hanger steak is taken from the lower belly area where it hangs down between the tenderloin and the rib. Hanger is usually the most tender cut on the cow. Back in the day, butchers would keep this cut a secret for themselves, hence the name "Butcher's Steak." This cut is rich, meaty, and over-the-top tender. It's best cooked to medium-rare and pairs well with a zesty chimichurri sauce to counter-balance the richness of the meat. Chimichurri Sauce Ingredients 1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar 4 large garlic cloves, minced (2 1/2 tablespoons) 2 tablespoons oregano leaves 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil In a food processor, combine the parsley, vinegar, garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper. Process until smooth; season with salt and pepper. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and pour the olive oil over the mixture. Let stand for at least 20 minutes. Can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving. TRI-TIP (aka Triangle Steak or Roast, Bottom Sirloin Steak)Tri-Tip is the tender, triangle roast that comes from just in front of the hind quarters. This cut is lean and similar in texture to a brisket but with less fat content so it will cook more quickly.  The versatility of Tri-tip is what makes it a great cut. Uncut, it is a fantastic roast that can be grilled indirectly for 30 to 40 minutes. You can also cut the tri-tip into 1-inch thick steaks, that grill up in about 8 minutes over a low to medium direct heat. As always, let your steak (or roast) sit for 5 to 10 minutes before you carve or serve it. The Tri-tip cut is best cooked to medium rare. It has a little more chew than traditional steaks like strip or tenderloin, but a whole bunch of flavor. This cut is popular in Santa Maria-style barbecue in the Southwest. Tri-tip is cooked fairly quickly over an open pit just until medium-rare. No low-and-slow smoking, no breakdown of connective tissue, no fancy barbecue sauces. Just seasoned beef, grilled, sliced, and served with a bowl of beans, a tomato salsa, and buttery garlic bread. Try this recipe from Serious Eats for something different this Labor Day weekend. Santa Maria-Style Barbecue Tri-Tip Ingredients 4 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons) 1 whole tri-tip roast (about 2 1/2 pounds)  Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper Salsa Directions Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Alternatively, set half the burners on a gas grill to the highest heat setting, cover, and preheat for 10 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. If desired, add a few chunks of oak that have been soaked in water for 30 minutes directly to the coals. Rub steak with garlic and season well with salt and pepper. Place over cooler side of grill, cover, and cook, turning and flipping occasionally until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the steak registers 115 to 120°F for medium rare, 20 to 30 minutes. If coals are not hot, remove steak from grill, add another quart of coals, and wait five minutes for them to heat up. Return steak to hot side of grill. Cook, flipping regularly until well-charred on exterior and center of steak registers 120 to 125°F on an instant-read thermometer, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice thinly and serve with salsa. FLAT IRON (aka Top Blade Steak, Butler's Steak, Oyster Blade Steak) The Flat Iron is cut with the grain from the shoulder of the cow and contains a significant amount of marbling.  The Flat Iron (named because it looks like an old-fashioned metal flat iron) is uniform in thickness and rectangular in shape and perfect for grilling. This cut is widely considered to be the second most tender cut after the Tenderloin, and is best if not cooked past medium. We recommend serving the Flat Iron with a spicy, creamy horseradish sauce much like you would a Prime Rib. Ingredients 1 1/2 cups crème fraîche or sour cream 1/2 cup prepared white horseradish 6 tablespoons chopped fresh chives 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice Whisk all ingredients to blend in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.) This cut of meat has a really interesting beginning, as it was "discovered" by scientists who came up with a new way to cut the connective shoulder tissue of the cow. You can read more about it here. OUTSIDE SKIRT  Skirt steak is one of the most flavorful cuts of beef, and even though it's one of the tougher cuts, with a lot of connective tissue, it's still a fantastic steak for grilling. Skirt steak actually comes from either of two separate muscles inside the chest and abdominal cavity, below the ribs, in the section known as the beef plate primal cut. The two muscles are the diaphragm muscle, or outside skirt, and the transversus abdominis muscle, or inside skirt. This cut is a bit thinner than the inside skirt, but with more delicious fat. This long, flat strip of meat has an incredibly beefy flavor, and when marinated and prepared correctly, the Outside Skirt is an excellent choice for texture, value and versatility.  Skirt is the ideal cut for fajitas and tacos. Cook it on a very hot grill for about 3-4 minutes per side, searing the juices in and cooking through to no more than medium. We hope this post has given you a good introduction to the myriad of cuts available at the Organic Butcher. Everyone behind the counter is ready to guide you with recipes and cooking instructions. We'll see you soon!

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