Butchery Is Childsplay

8 Aug Peta activist Jodie Marsh tattoos entire body with primal cut chart to protest German toy manufacturer's new line

Whether it’s continuing education classes, or competitions at food events, evidence of a growing interest in the nearly-lost art of animal butchery is all around us. Leave it to the folks at Schleich, the same forward-thinking German toy designers who brought us the Smurfs, to anticipate a child’s curiosity in the burgeoning trend.

And leave it to the crack team of investigative reporters here at stuntfoodways.com to secure the first images of this secret new toy line. Made from the same highly detailed, quality casting that has made the toy line a favorite of deep-pocketed parents the world over, a new line, Primal Cuts, now offers kids a toy with all the classic primal cuts clearly delineated on the hide of a cow, pig and sheep.

Cow with beef primal cuts chart

Pig with pork primal cuts chart
mutton with chart

The line (rumored to be expanding to lamb, chickens, ducks, turkeys, rabbits, goats and possibly a horse) encourages kids to identify the source of those cuts of meat they eat every day (below right).Ooh, now there's a hard one lad, where does that Newport steak come from?

The new toy line allows kids to identify and locate the cuts of meat they eat everyday

An ambitious youngster can even use the clearly marked charts to memorize each cut (left).

Each toy comes with its own primal cut chart so kids can study and memorize every cut right down to the brisket

We at Stunt Foodways cheer the progressive thinking of the good folks in Schwäbisch Gmünd who are working to make learning about the harvesting and butchery of animal protein fun. High quality cuts of meat have always been enjoyable; now, with the new Primal Cuts line of domesticated animals, meat can also be a game.

Of course, not everybody approves of the new line. British television personality, celebrity pin-up and Peta activist Jodie Marsh has responded to the new Primal Cuts toy line by (apparently) tattooing her naked body with a primal cuts chart. This dedicated act of protest was, in all likelihood, undertaken before elective surgery to greatly increase the size of her breasts

Peta activist Jodie Marsh tattoos entire body with primal cut chart to protest German toy manufacturer's new line

At press time neither Jodie Marsh nor her representative at Intrigue Management could be reached for comment, though Marsh, has been outspoken in support of the rights of food animals including chicken in the past.

It’s a big world full of people.

STUNTFOODISTS UNITE!

9 Mar

As you know, foodways is the term social scientists use to organize and understand the social, economic and cultural practices integral to regional production and creation of food. Once upon a time  the foodways of Kurdistan was the focus of serious study, nowadays every neighborhood in Brooklyn claims its own foodways.

In 2011, food media burrowers and hucksters alike, along with self-anointed gastro-zealots use the term way too casually–as though uttering it might also serve to warn off rivals and attract a mate.

Here in this sanctuary, use of the term without the qualifying call to action in polite (even earnest) conversation is punishable by death. From this day forward let STUNT FOODWAYS be understood simply to mean a dedication to the fair and honest treatment of ugly and ungainly food,  a fondness for feeding unruly crowds, and a commitment to cooking hard and well beyond your pay-grade. So, fellow stuntfoodists, know that when the grass gets tall, the terrain unrecognizable,  and there’s nowhere to go but forward, you are no longer alone. Remember, In dubiis constans!

Steve McQueen and His Films

26 Jan steve-mcqueen-actor-films

 

Battle Hymn of The Goat Father, Part 2

5 Dec Rocking the polka dot power play Lisa, busy preparing breakfast on a Saturday morning, has no idea that today isMoroccan Braised Goat Day.

Continue reading

KITCHENS WE LOVE

21 Nov

Pan on the stove and vegetables in a basket on the floor, a quiet moment before the action starts


And so begins the regular photo feature celebrating enticing, evocative–occasionally provocative–kitchens we think are worth your consideration. These are not the showcase make-over kitchens, the museum pieces, or food mausoleums that the editors of glossy shelter porn mags fixate upon, these are working spaces where good food gets made by serious cooks, they are also hallowed ground where table fellowship (and once in a while, love) is made. So feel free to comment, and/or submit your own photos.

A Pear For Breakfast

7 Nov

Lost this day. March 24, 1930 – November 7, 1980

Stunt Foodists Join the Occupy Wall Street Protest Movement

11 Oct
Stunt Foodways activist, Adele Higgins, 24,  confronts a pair of “deep pockets” as protesters march north to midtown Manhattan and beyond intent on visitingthe homes of the homes of News Corp. CEO Rupert MurdochJP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and oil tycoon David Koch, among others.

Stunt Foodways activist, Adele Higgins, 24,  confronts a pair of “deep pockets” as protesters march north to midtown Manhattan. Higgins is one of dozens of Stunt Foodists who have joined the national Occupy Wall Street protest movement. “We are the 99 percent, too!” proclaimed Higgins, who, like many Stunt Foodists, advocate using the whole animal when cooking. Higgins says she and and fellow Stunt Foodists found in the now familiar “99 Percent,” Occupy Wall Street rallying cry a demand they could relate to, and took to the streets today. Higgins chose only the Primal Cuts grid as a costume–but  elected to wear gloves to ward off the cold.

(courtesy The Huff Post)

NEW YORK — Hundreds of protesters, emboldened by the growing national Occupy Wall Street movement, streamed through midtown Manhattan on Tuesday in what they called a “Millionaires March.”

They marched two by two up the sidewalk, planning to pass the homes of some of New York City’s wealthiest residents. An organizer said they didn’t have a permit and wanted to avoid blocking pedestrian traffic.

“No Billionaire Left Behind,” said a placard hoisted by Arlene Geiger, who teaches economics at Manhattan’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Protesters expressed concern about how much less the wealthy will pay – and who would be negatively affected – when New York’s 2 percent “millionaires’ tax” expires in December.

In the closest they’ve come to naming names, the protesters planned to visit the homes of News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch, JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and oil tycoon David Koch, among others.

Protesters have been camped out for weeks in lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, near Wall Street, saying they’re fighting for the “99 percent,” or the vast majority of Americans who do not fall into the wealthiest 1 percent of the population.

Just Nail The Fish To The Fence Honey, We’re Good

13 Sep

Lisa just loves the greenmarket on Cortelyou Road. Every Sunday she returns with a report about how it has grown, or how busy it is. She presents the week’s trophy fruit or vegetable. This week Lisa said she’d purchased the most gorgeous fish. She called it a striper. I smirked. Nobody sells whole stripers at the greenmarket. Hours passed. Lisa worked intensely cleaning up after the painters. Howard Hall was more in the weeds than usual. The playroom ceiling had been replaced.
I did nothing. Worse than nothing, I played SPORE for the entire afternoon (I’d ordered the game when it first came out, but was only now trying it out. It’s completely absorbing).
The sun set. The kids argued. “So are you gonna cook this fish, or what?” demanded Lisa.
“Me?” shaking free from the care and feeding of my gayly painted two-legged carnivore with antlers, long, bony hands for grasping and nasty biting teeth. “I’m cooking the fish?”
“It’s too big for me to cook. And its got scales.”
“What is it?”
“I told you, a striper.”
“A bass? You mean a ‘sea bass.'”
“A striped bass.”
“Like this?” I asked, holding my hands seven inches apart.
“Much bigger.”

I held my hands nine inches apart. Lisa shook her head.
“A legal striped bass is 28 inches minimum.”
“At least.” Lisa nodded her head.
You bought a wild bass at the greenmarket? Not scaled? Is it gutted?”
“Nope,” said Lisa losing patience with my condescending questions. “The lady said it wasn’t hard to do.”
“It’s not, if you’ve done it a hundred times, but it’s always messy as hell.”
“Forget it!” Lisa stormed. “I thought it’d be fun. I’ll just throw it away. We’ll just have chicken fingers.”
“Throw it AWAY? A striper? Shit.”
“Forget it. You don’t have to do anything. I will. Just tell me how.”
“Tell you how?”
No problem, I taunted, all you need to do is remove the fins, scrape every single last scale of four square feet of fish skin, cut it from its gills to its anus and tug free a couple-three handfuls of icy cold fish guts. Oh, and then clean the god forsaken mess up before even turning on the stove. All at 6:30 on a Sunday. With that I stormed into the garage, found a ten-penny nail and a framing hammer, grabbed the fish (sure enough it had the tin taglooped from gob to gill vent) from on top of the cooler.
“Nice fish,” I said, impressed.
“I told you,” said Lisa.
I nailed the fish’s tail to the fence, turned to Lisa who was cold, and heading back inside. “No way. If I’m going to process this fish in the dark, you’re holding the flashlight.”
After some to-do I recovered two respectable fillets. After pawning off the guts and carcass on the chickens, I picked what remained of the broad leaves from the spindly fig tree and washed my hands and the leaves thoroughly. I sliced the fillets into single-serving pieces and then placed alternating layers–fig leaves, seasoned fish, olive oil–until the baking dish was full. The fish baked at a high heat to draw out the flavor and aroma from the fig leaves. I served it all with baked spaghetti squash seasoned with Chinese Five Spice (fennel, cloves, and cinnamon, star anise and Szechuan peppercorns) and steamed broccoli. (7 servings in 50 minutes, not including fish processing)

Le Diner en Blanc Arrives in NYC, August 2011

21 Jun berlin images
Diner en Blanc, Berlin

Image by artie* via Flickr

This Year’s celebration of the culinary inside-job and tight, cropped white jeans, was celebrated on June first. The location of the Le Diner en Blanc is shared with participants just one hour before the event. This year two locations were arranged: Cathédral de Notre Dame–above–and Cour Carrée du Louvre (an inner courtyard of  the Louvre),
The challenge for diners is to get the tables and chairs set up and the food served before the cops arrive. Once underway the police will not (dare?) disrupt the meal. One stuntfoodways source with a seat at the Louvre estimated the crowd at nearly 8,000 Some estimates put total at 12,000. The event is 2o years-old this summer and has already been  in Lyon, Amsterdam, Munich, Zürich, Quebec City and Montreal.

On August 25, 2011 there’s a plan afoot to hold the cloak-and-dagger dinner in NYC. Is there really already a waiting list? …We shall see.

Drowning in Crawfish

4 Jun

We hosted a memorial day crawfish (crayfish?  i’m going with crawfish, but go crazy if you need to) boil.  I had not had crawfish for a very long time and figured it was a good time to eat some.  (figured is a southern term for “I thought it was a good idea” just like “fixin to” means getting ready or going to do something)  Anyway, I called up some friends with New Orleans ties and surfed some sites for info on getting crawfish.  The local fishmongers all said the same thing, that gas prices where to high to justify running small batches of crawfish.  I decided on LACrawfish Company. (check the spelling!)  I did some more research on appropriate quantities for a party and got all sorts of conflicting reports from 2 lb per person to 7 lb per person.  My wife and I came up with a list of people to invite and I ordered 50 lb of crawfish, as looking at the website it looks like one big sack of crawfish.  I ordered early in the week with saturday delivery, airport pickup was cheaper so I went with that.   I had to have them delivered on Saturday as FedEx wouldn’t be available on Sunday or Monday (Memorial Day).  Turns out that airport pickup means at the FedEx facility that is 5 minutes from my house so bonus!  I drove down Saturday 9:30 am and strolled into the facility.  Once I told them what I was picking up they mentioned the “huge seafood package.”  They wheeled out the foam casket that was my shipment and let me use the dolly to get into the car.   I brought the casket home and opened it up to reveal two large sacks of very pissed off crawfish.

Angry Crawfish
Crawfish

Angry Crawfish

Healthy and Alive, and yes angry.  From this point on It was a matter of keeping them alive till Memorial day.  I put each sack in it’s own cooler, (I left one sack in the original foam casket) and rotated ice and cold packs for the next two days.  I panicked a couple of times as the crawfish where silent when the cooler was opened, but upon stimulating then (easy now… just poking them a bit… seriously grow up) they sprang to activity, apparently just too cold.  We had several cancellations for the party as the date approached and it became clear (to my wife) that we where going to have too much food.  I had bought some sausages from Belmont Butchery which I had planned on grilling with some clams, but as I prepared to go out the door to the seafood shop for clams my wife stoped me cold and pretty much kiboshed the idea of more food.  I admit I was a bit put out, but begrudgingly agreed to not have more food.  (Grilled clams and sausage is going to happen this summer at some point though)  Monday came around and what do you know, hottest day in the new summer, I think it got up to 98 deg Farenheit.  I went out and cleaned up the pool and grill area, gathered wood to, of all hairbrained things, light a fire.  I planned to cook the crawfish in my Cowboy Cauldron.   I rinsed and flushed the mud out of the crawfish.

I cleaned and chopped some corn.

Once I got the fire going beneath the cauldron I noticed I wasn’t feeling so great.  I had breakfast but not lunch as the party was schedulled to begin at 3 pm.  I went in and told my wife I was a dehydrated, my daughter made me drink some water and some electrolyte water (smart water and gatorade), and I started to feel a bit better.  People started to arrive and I fired up the grill and two extra pots of water to boil the crawfish.  I divided the potato, corn, andoui sausage and seasoning amongst the three cooking areas, cauldron and grill.  I also made some spicy dip from a jar of rocotto pepper puree, queso fresco and lime, all pureed in a blender.  Went great with the potato and the crawfish tails.

And ran back and forth between the crawfish, cauldron and grill… with occasional dips in the pool.  I nearly burned the grilling sausage,  as I tried to keep an eye on multiple cooking sites, and then really began to feel poorly.  I was drinking water and my daughter asked me why the water was shaking… I couldn’t stop trembling… I doubled up on the water intake and took a break in the pool.  My wife worriedly looked me over and asked me if I was OK.  I probably wasn’t but I didn’t want to disappoint the guests.  Who by the way where devouring crawfish.  I had a pair of leather gloves on so I could scoop the bastards into a colander and the into the boiling seasoned water.  I stayed away from the beer and alcohol and tried to stay alive as I continued to cook… it soon became apparent to me that 50lb of crawfish is a shitload of mudbugs, there was no way in hell that 1. I could cook all of them in one afternoon, 2. that they would all be eaten in one afternoon with the number of people present. and  3. this shit might kill me.

I decided to stop cooking, get away from heat sources and spent the remainder of the gig, eating crawfish in the pool.  I had to rally to cleanup,  feeling rather shaky I didn’t chase the escaping crawfish in the yard… maybe they have set up a renegade clan in our creek.  I put away a ton of crawfish to clean and reserve for another day, along with leftover potato and corn.

This is the first time I felt that my health was in jeopardy from prepping for a party, despite that the gig went great (probably with the exception of my wife saying “if you go down who is going to pick you up?”  Despite the risk on life and limb,  we are considering doing it again next year just with half the amount of crawfish and hopefully less heat.

Cooking With Cobblestones, The Stone Soup of the New Millenium

30 Mar Gear alert: Polka dot shirtwaist dress smart, sheer apron? What the hell.
Rooster in grass.

Rooster in grass.

It’s been going around town that a brick is no longer necessary if you intend to smother a chicken. Now, I’m a big fan of The Broke and Chic Project, but even colleagues who share a deep respect for one another have to disagree occasionally. Most any kind of orthodoxy makes me itch. I don’t believe this because fathers and mothers of the tradition say you must (here, thinking Prudhomme and Claiborne) you can’t smother a chicken (or pork chops, for that matter) without pressing the meat to the bottom of the skillet thereby maximizing thermal contact.

It is my considered belief that the entire recipe starts with brick selection. I have been heard to declare that each chicken smothered ha an ideal brick.  To much brick and all the desired moisture is pressed from the bird and evaporates from the pan in the early stages of cooking, if your brick’s too little?…

potholes are almost as good as municipal building sites for sourcing your smothering brick.Destined to be hastily smothered by sticky blacktop, liberation is a duty, not a crime. I have used clay bricks, but prefer granite cobbles. The best smothering cobbles are found art. This morning I passed this pothole, yanked the car to the side of the road, slapped on the hazards and poked around the crater

until I found a perfect cobble for a 2 lb. bird. The cobble was 2/3 the size of industry standard, giving it just enough heft to press the dark meat to the bottom of the cast iron skillet, without being a burden on the tender white flesh.

All that’s left is to get it into the house and scrubbed clean and stacked in its proper place before Lisa notices that I’ve added to the collection.

At its most elements, beyond the skillet and the cobble the smothered chicken recipe calls for little more than one whole fresh chicken, salt, pepper, chicken stock, and Wondra. Flourishes such as coarsely chopped onion, poblano peppers, maybe some ground nutmeg. The following photo essay lays it out as easy as I know how to do it.

C

That 2 lb. yardbird on the set at Stunt Foodways headquarters

Cut the back out of the bird and, along with the wing tips (cut the tips off with kitchen scissors) and liver, neck, heart any other marginal bits and toss all on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven to brown them. As you’re preheating the oven put 16 oz. of chicken stock on very low simmer. When the nasty bits brown add them to the stock and simmer the lot.

Cutting the back out of the bird allows you to unfold it so that more bird makes contact with skillet

Cutting the back out of the bird allows you to unfold it so that more bird makes contact with skillet, this helps assure that the meat cooks evenly. The trick to a smothered yard bird is evenly cooked dark and white meat.

place bird skin-side down in heavy skillet

Season both sides of the carcass and place skin-side down in the skillet. With the back cut out almost all the skin is touching the bottom or side of the pan. Cast iron conducts heat amazingly evenly.

I use a diner plate I rescued from an estate sale

Cover the bird with a plate that fits inside the skillet. If you don’t, it won’t matter how big or small that cobble is, it’s not going to transfer any weight to the bird.

all important application of the brick

Cook on a very low heat. With the brick on it, the bird is absorbing all the heat the skillet is giving up. Often times I have to take the pan of even the lowest heat or apply one of those cast iron buffers that lift the pan off the burner an inch or so. Cook 30-40 minutes until skin is golden brown and outer edge of visible meat is starting to turn white.

Gear alert: Polka dot shirtwaist dress smart, sheer apron? What the hell.

Gear alert: butcher's apron smart, flipflops stupid.

Flip the bird. When you do, take care not tear the crisp skin as you lift it from the pan.Replace the plate. Replace the brick.Cook on same low heat for about 10 minutes longer. Reserve cooked chicken on the plate used to cover skillet. scrape the biggest chunks of remnant chicken from the bottom of the skillet using metal spatula. Add scrapings to simmering stock.

Chicken and stock for gravy cook together

Chop onions and peppers and will them in the fat in the skillet (5-8 minutes), then reserve them. Remove some chicken grease from the pan and reserve in a heat-proof container (if you have a heavy hand with the Wondra, you’ll have some fat a fallback).

You’re making a roux now, so you’re gonna have to gut this out a bit, you need to leave enough fat in the pan to toast the Wondra, but not so much that you end up with brown plaster of paris hardening in the pan. In Dubiss Constans!

Sprinkle Wondra in the pan and begin blending it into the fat. It should absorb the fat without drying it out, after a while it should turn golden brown, stay the course! You’re looking for a brown two shades darker than a Cheerio. The minute you hit that color start ladling in your hot stock. It’s gonna bubble. Don’t sweat it. Switch tools. Grab a stiff metal whisk and get to work, blend the magical flower in with the stock until you have half a skillet full of gravy. Now scatter the onions and peppers evenly into the gravy and put the chicken back in the pan skin side up and let cook for 5-10 minutes more, spooning the gravy over the chicken.

Smothered, sure, but by what?

That’s thing, you need a brick to make smothered chicken, but it’s not the brick that smothers the chicken it is the gravy.

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