My Meat Prayers have been Answered

On May 4, 2013, in Featured, Food, by Chris Baccus
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Thank you Meat God.

When we moved out of Texas last year to come back to my home state California, one thing I knew I’d miss was Burgundy Pasture Beef.  The ranch in Grandview, Texas was a gem in where I sourced my meats. We would drive to the ranch about every 6 weeks (it was a hour drive south of Dallas) and get $300-$400 of meat while enjoying some of the best burgers in my life. Life was good. I had found an amazing small ranch, grass-fed beef place I loved going to visit and support with my dollars.

Los Angeles is not Dallas. Or is it California is not Texas?

LA is not full of ranches within a hour drive and the area is known more for vegetarian, raw food which I love too, but it just isn’t a mecca for beef like Texas.  So I went around the local Farmers’ Markets and bought from a couple good grass-fed vendors.  Nothing was that impressive and at least I found some sources outside of the supermarkets or mail order.

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That’s when fate intervened.  We were interviewing some interns for a open position we had where I work and one of the interns mentioned she was doing social media for an organic, grass-fed butcher in Los Angeles called Lindy and Grundy. My ears perked up and I asked her to tell us more about the place, where it was and what she was learning about grass-fed meat. I noted the place and went to it that Saturday when the weekend arrived. I’ve been back since about four times.

Lindy & Grundy sells local, pastured raised, organic meats including beef, pork, chicken and a few other options. I had the pleasure this week of finally meeting one of the two owners Amelia Posada. She was great sharing how she spent some of her time growing up in Pasadena just like myself. I bought some beautiful baby back ribs, chicken, and Amelia’s family recipe pork carnitas.

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We had the carnitas tonight. Oh. My. God. They were delicious. The lard, oranges, garlic and spices brought out so much wonderful flavor I couldn’t stop eating. The shop was also selling fresh tortillas today from the Boyle Heights location of Guisados Tacos. Writing about this I’m now thinking of raiding the refrigerator to make another taco.

So while I love doing vegetarian/vegan meals every 3 to 4 times a week, having a great place to get high quality, sustainable, grass-fed meats is a blessing to my meat quest. Amen.

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Hotel Burger with Goat Cheese

On July 21, 2012, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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I am still at in my Extended Stay America hotel room with its quaint kitchenette. Tonight I came home after a long but enjoyable week of work, now only two weeks away from reuniting with my wife and kids.

This morning, before leaving to work, I thawed out some grass-fed ground beef I purchased at the Studio City Farmers’ Market last Sunday from Best Beef Ever. It was my first local grass-fed meat purchase since arriving in Southern California and sure enough it was pretty damn good. The only negative was due to my lack of options having to cook the hamburger patties in a sauté pan over an electric burner instead of on a grill, since my grill is currently in storage.

I also used some of the excellent goat cheese I bought from Soledad Goats at the La Canada market last Saturday.

Hotel Burger with Goat Cheese
Serves 2

1 lb ground beef
2 hamburger buns
handful of arugula or lettuce
4 half-moon slices of onion cut thin
4 tablespoons of goat cheese
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
salt & pepper

Form the ground beef into two patties being sure to salt and pepper them as you get them shaped. Add the beef patties to a medium-high heat sauté pan, preferably non-stick and let them cook for about 8-10 minutes on each side to get a nice burn on each burger’s side.  Cooking time will vary depending how thick you make your patties and how hot your burner gets.

Drain the fat from the pan halfway through before turning the patties over and continue to cook the other side.  This will help the burgers brown instead of boil in grease.

Prepare some thin half-moon slices of onion and wash your lettuce.  Place the dijon mustard on one of the buns using 1 tablespoon per burger.

Place the burger onto the bun and spread half the goat cheese on each patty and top with lettuce and onions.

Note: I only made one burger tonight and put the other fully cooked burger in a small container to save for tomorrow’s lunch. 

Tip: While staying in a hotel room it is definitely worth $3 to buy some plastic containers to store some food in for leftovers. This way you don’t need saran-wrap or aluminum foil. 

Better Bacon

On May 2, 2011, in Food, by Chris Baccus
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I love bacon. Who doesn’t right? In fact, bacon has become all the rage lately. If you want to explain your love of any food, bacon is the one that will get you a lot of smiles and a few high-fives. It’s a popular food choice. But what about the choices you have for the brand of bacon to buy.

You can buy an Oscar Mayer brand bacon like their Center Cut Original brand, but that contains sugar or evaporated cane sugar if you go with a smoked variety. Of course that’s also factory farmed pork and well sugar is the least of your problems (go ahead and Google factory farming pigs and you’ll see.)

So what are some smart decisions when it comes to bacon? An easier find for those with natural food stores or a Trader Joe’s is Niman Ranch bacon. It does have a small amount of turbinado sugar, which is a less processed sugar. The better feature is that Niman Ranch raises its pigs in humane way and all with the “finest vegetarian feed.”

The other option is to do something we are adopting more which is buying “pork belly” from a local ranch. We buy from the same place we buy all of our meats, Burgundy Pasture Beef in Grandview, Texas. Buying “bacon” this way is a bit different than buying a processed product. Pork belly is simply natural pork. There is no curing, no nitrates, and nothing is smoked. It’s simply just pork and requires the cook to salt and pepper the pork belly before cooking.

So I finished cooking some Niman Ranch bacon last weekend and as you can tell it cooks nicely. Trust me it is some of the best tasting bacon I’ve ever had. Pork belly is a better choice, but I have to admit with bacon some processing does make for a more flavorful product.

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