The personal blog of Frank Lesko. Award-winning writer. Non-profit entrepreneur. Activist. Religious professional. Foodie. Musician. All around curious soul and Renaissance man.

See also my professional blog: The Traveling Ecumenist.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Whole Meat

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are the carnivore's equivalent to mass-produced white bread.

It is easy to think about bread and pasta when considering "whole foods." You can actually buy something called "whole grain", so there is an immediate mental connection. A whole foods philosophy does not end there, however. It relates to meats, vegetables, fruits and has a bearing on the diet as a... well, whole.

Chicken skin and fat contain a lot of vital nutrients. Your best bet is organic, pasture-raised meat. It contains less of the harmful fats and more of the good fats, such as Omega-3 Fatty Acid's. That fat is so good people get it in pill form. Grass-fed beef contains 3-4 times as much Omega-3's as factory raised cows, with pasture-raised eggs at 10x. My eggs from Raven Rocks state on the label they are aware of instances as high as 20x. Pasture-raised have less overall fat, and what's there is the good kind.

Cooking with bones was once common. Nowadays, producers spare us the problem of de-boning meat by having it all nicely mechanically separated and pressed into patties, nuggets or just fillets. Bones are vital to nutrition, though. We don't eat them (although some cultures do crush them into a bone meal). In cooking, bones release plenty of minerals and other nutrients into our food. The cartilage releases glucosamine, something people spend a lot of money for in supplement form to treat arthritis.

See the Weston A Price website for features on bone soups and the problems with boneless, skinless meats.

Any time you can cook with the bone in, go for it. Its amazing what a few bones and a lump of fat can can do for a batch of beans (pork & beans, ya know). Scott's grandmother uses pork neck bones when making pasta sauce. When roasting or grilling, let that marrow drizzle out into your food. I've already talked at length about bone soups in previous posts. If you don't know what to do with bones, just throw them in the pan when you're cooking something--anything. Needless to say, the bones of naturally-raised animals produce a better gelatin for sauces and soups.

To really complete the deal, you should eat your fair share or animal organs, too. I try to eat some liver regularly (about once a month). I often make soup with the whole bird--gizzards, heart, liver, skin and all. Most of my sausage is in natural, intestinal casing. That's about as far as I've taken the organ thing.

I have a 4 lb beef heart and a much smaller kidney waiting for me in my freezer. Just not sure what to do with them, yet. I thought about "Steak and Kidney pie", which is a featured item on the menu for any Guy Fawkes celebration worth its salt. However, my goal is to have my cow finished before the end of October (so that I keep the frozen beef no longer than 1 year), so I may have to have my own celebration before the November 5th holiday rolls around. Any suggestions? Consider yourself fair-warned if you invite me to a potluck in the next few months.

The smaller the animal, the easier you can eat the whole animal without grossing yourself out. I think about small fish were used to munch up whole in Spain. Every organ was there!

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