In a kind of companion piece to the dire fish news of last week, Mark Bittman writes in yesterday’s Times about the global impact of our growing appetite for meat, quoting a geophysicist Gidon Eshel: “When you look at environmental problems in the U.S., nearly all of them have their source in food production, and in particular, meat production.” If I were a cynical New Yorker, I’d say this was simply Bittman’s crafty way of promoting his latest book, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, but in fact, the piece serves to remind me that I am an earnest flesh-loving Midwesterner who has to work harder at developing strategies for eating more plants and smaller portions of meat from animals raised according to their nature.
But it’s not going to be easy—what to do about my veal stock love, for instance? We need to source veal from humanely raised calves.
And speaking of stock: I’ve posted about the hidden beauty of water on the Elements blog, of using water rather than those heinous cans of College Inn and Swanson “low sodium” (low relative to what?) chicken broth for braises and sauces. Now a kindred spirit has written about a way of doing this as well. Daniel Patterson is that relatively rare chef, one who can really write. I love his contributions to the Times’ magazine, and in yesterday’s issue he describes another strategy for using water as the sauce base by blending the liquid and vegetables and fat from a standard braise to finish sauce. The technique really works and results in a voluptuous texture (from the fat and the vegetable puree) with a rich satisfying flavor. I did this recently with pork shoulder—cooking it in a tight pot packed with onions and just enough water to cover, braise till fork tender, remove the shoulder, blend the cuisson, the cooking liquid, in the pot with a hand blender, slice the meat and serve it with the sauce—simple onion-braised pork shoulder. And the liquid doesn’t have to be water—you could use or wine and water, or beer, or milk and I’ll bet it would delicious as well.
See, I’m already hungering for meat at 9 am. I think I need to go get Bittman’s book.