A few weeks ago at the Dupont farmers' market, I got to talking with my friend Bev about how much I'd enjoyed the lamb with which he'd supplied me for the Irish stew dinner. At one point, I suggested that more folks would be chasing him down for lamb necks if only they knew what to do with the inexpensive, meaty cuts. I also pointed out that though his meats are consistently stellar, his website was a little lean on content. (Hah. You must've seen that one coming.) Not a lot of recipes or recent blog posts, anyway.
About an hour later, as we sat yapping on the back of the Eco-Friendly Foods truck, a plan had formed: every few weeks, Bev would supply me with some of the less common cuts of meat and I would take them home and fiddle with a few different recipes. If things turned out well, I'd write things up and send along the recipe. If my experiment happened to go horribly amiss, at least then I could offer ways NOT to prepare certain cuts. Either way, it would mean more opportunities to hang out with my carnivorous dad (and mom, who is a good sport), along with some other adventurous cooking friends.
If you've been following this blog for any length of time, you know that I have been pretty adamant in recent years about not being wasteful, but until recently I've been focused on things like saving veggie scraps to make stock and composting. I have grappled a few different times during my life with the complicated idea of eating meat and how it fits with my beliefs. During high school and college I was a vegetarian. Many years later on the bikeable feast cross-country trip, as a means of really understanding what gets meat to my plate I participated in the butchering of chickens. I have finally settled on eating very little meat, and when I do eat it, sourcing responsibly raised meat from local farmers and chefs I know and trust. I believe in using the whole animal if it's going to give its life to feed us. And yet, outside of tasting some chili and lime fried pig ear that the chef sent to my table at Barcelona about a year and a half ago I have not really participated in the whole "nose to tail" movement.
Now, in an interesting turn of events, it's looking like coming months may feature pigs feet, jowl, face bacon, and some of the organ meats. (No liver, though -- I can't handle the smell of it, never mind the texture or the fact that it is the organ that absorbs all of the body's poisons. I can't get past that, sorry. I will leave others to enjoy pâté and liverwurst.) From the get go, Bev tried to talk me into making haggis, which I had managed to avoid on my travels through Scotland. If I can cobble together a version without liver I may try that in a few months, but I'm going to need to work up to it. My dad, upon hearing this latest culinary development, was especially excited about the prospect of making traditional Iraqi dishes with harder to find animal parts, and I had to talk him out of the stuffed lamb stomach for Round 1 -- I'm going to need to work up to that one, too. Mom will likely be sending some traditional, meaty Polish recipes my way soon. My friend Kathryn is already talking about smoked pigs feet for Round 2. (Meanwhile, I think I'm starting to fall for a cute vegan. It's going to be an interesting few months coming up....)
Bev's hinting about bringing me some pork shanks next weekend. Stay tuned!