Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Meat & Potatoes - 100 Mile Style

Kevin had some work thing to do last night so I needed something I could make for myself and then serve to him with minimal fuss. I looked at what I had and figured I would do a grilled veggie salad and some charred flesh on the bbq and more of those yummy Peruvian purple potatoes I picked up from Duncan.

I grabbed some buffalo from Piper's Meats on Bowen Road. They have a cut of buffalo marked 'mock tender'. It's cut in steak form and had a ‘Perfect for BBQ’ sticker on it. That’s all I needed to know. It looked super-lean so I marinated it once I got home. When I say I marinated it, I mean, I threw it in a bowl and squirted some already made vinaigrette onto it and let it sit in the fridge until cooking. I often keep a vinaigrette in a plastic squirt bottle on the counter. It’s a great flavour enhancer for the obvious things like salads but also as a last minute flavour burst for pasta, soups, stews and even as a quick sauce for a otherwise plain piece of flesh. As mentioned, I also use it as a marinate for veggies and flesh. I still have some of that blueberry vinaigrette I made the other night. I used one part Marley Farm’s blueberry vinegar to one part olive oil, a smidgen of Dijon mustard. If you want, you can dump in some dried herbs and a clove of crushed garlic.

I also grilled up a bunch of corn, yellow peppers and red onion. The corn I started in the microwave. I shucked them and tossed them into a large microwave safe bowl along with enough water to cover the bottom of the bowl and nuked it for 6 mins on high. I left it in the microwave for a few extra minutes after it was done being nuked. The peppers and onions I chopped into quarters and threaded onto some skewers and doused with a few squirts of the marinate. The potatoes I simply boiled-up while I BBQed.

With the BBQ all preheated, I turned the heat on both sides to medium high and plopped my meat and veggies onto the grill. The buffalo needed about 5-6 mins on each side. They were cut about 2 inches thick. I just rotated the veggies every 3 or so mins so all the sides got some grilling.

I let the buffalo rest in a bowl, covered with a pot lid and assembled my grilled veggie salad. I cut the kernels of the corn cob and chopped the other stuff into bite sized pieces. I also threw in some leftover blanched green beens, cooked kamut wheat and freshly chopped parsley. With a few more squirts of vinaigrette and pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. I now have enough grilled veggie salad to last me until the end of the week. It’s great on it’s own. I have also used it as stuffing for egg dishes (omelettes, fritatta etc), thrown with some pasta, stuffing into a baked squash, stir-fried with rice, tossed into a soup or pilaf.

To make it a complete protein vegetarian dish from this salad just toss in some beans. I haven’t been able to find locally grown chickpeas or other beans for sale at the stores but Saltspring Seeds is selling chickpea seeds for home gardens. They also sell a great range of soybeans. Locally grown fresh soybeans, or edamame, can also be found. I found some a farmers markets over the summer. Saltspring Seeds website offers some great info and advice on growing these.

Back to dinner. Once I assembled the salad, I sliced the buffalo steak into thin slices. I do this for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it makes the steak seem much more tender. And even so, buffalo is such a naturally lean meat, it benefits from being served this way. Secondly, it looks like a whole lot more meat than it really is. I’m all for eating flesh. I just don’t think we need a whole slab of beast on the plate. There are enviromental and simple food budget issues that have led me to this conclusion. I'd rather spend my money on buying smaller cuts of higher quality, more sustainable , ethicially raised beasts. Kevin, who is genetically predisposed to being a carnivore (or so he tells me) hasn’t noticed that I’ve whittled down the meat portions to a few ounces per day on average. Don’t you dare tell him! (I actually split the meat shown in the photo above between me and Kevin. The rest I used in a fast & dirty soup for lunch the next day).

As you can see, I cooked the buffalo rare/medium rare. I prefer my grilled beast this way, especially for buffalo. I find that once you get past the medium range the meat gets tough and dry and simply not good eats.

The light shavings that you see beside the meat is freshly grated wasabi from the Hazelmere Farm. It provided a good shot of horseradish heat to the rich buffalo steak. The potatoes really are that purple. So pretty. They’re a lighter purple inside but still, very purple. The flesh is fluffy and high in starch like a russet. It would certainly make some cool mashed potatoes.

Dinner took less tha 20 mins to prepare. I got dinner for the two of us, a grilled veggie salad to last us for the rest of the week and some leftover beast that made for a yummy lunch today. The only ingredients that weren't grown within 100 miles were salt, pepper, olive oil and the kamut. The kamut is organic and I got it from True Grains bakery in Cowichan Bay. I'm waiting to hear back from the head baker there about where he's getting his kamut and other grains from.

BTW, Pipers Meats is taking orders for local turkeys for Thanksgiving. They’re coming from a farm just a couple miles away or from Gabriola Island. The turkeys will be coming in the Wednesday before the Thanksgiving. Of course, they also have a bunch of other locally grown beasts that you can roast up for the big holiday.

That’s it for now. I’m heading down to Ladysmith for the Happy Turkey Night at the Yellowpoint Cranberry farm tonight. I can’t wait! I’ve got to clean-out the freezer and make room for a load of cranberries.

Happy Eating!


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