The Meat CSA

It started, innocently enough, when our regular CSA (Eating With the Seasons) offered some grass-fed beef. The results were extraordinary and we kept an eye out for future offerings.

Then they mentioned that Morris Grassfed Beef was offering “split halves”. That’s half a side of beef, delivered all at once or in 4 equal packages CSA-style. We opted for the whole thing — about 100 pounds — and stashed it in a freezer in the garage.

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It’s fantastic. Now I know that some people find grass-fed beef to be too “gamey”, but that appears to be a problem when it’s left to age too long. (All those wonderful Omega-3 fats go rancid quickly.) The Morris people age it for 14 days which is the optimum age.

(By the way, the hamburgers are made with about a pound of ground beef, 1t of Penzey’s BBQ 3000, and a little salt and pepper. Make 1/3lb patties, grill to medium rare, and don’t forget a napkin.)

My first taste of this reminded me of beef from my childhood (in the 1970’s) before factory farming had become a big thing. It’s also shifted our household cooking to be more like the cooking when I was growing up — meat was an accent to the meal, with a meat-centric meal being a special “Sunday dinner” occasion. We’re not really buying outside beef, but choosing when to pull another package of something from the freezer — mindful that once the single brisket is used for onion roast, it’s gone.

Ambar, being the silly sweetie that she is, started looking at other options via Craigslist — whole pigs, pasture-raised lamb, etc. She finally proposed we buy lamb from a fellow who raises them on his walnut orchard (as weed control) then finishes them on organic almonds. We took delivery yesterday.

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Her first bite of Parmesan-crusted Lamb Chops was a Tex Avery moment — her eyes grew huge and I bet they would have popped right out of their sockets if they could. The flavor on these is amazingly mild and sweet; we both noticed a hint of almond.

Parmesan-Crusted Lamb Chops

Take 8 lamb-chops, ideally pounded thin. Grate about 1/2C of good parmesan into a bowl. In another dish, beat 2 eggs. Take a plate and spread about 1C of fine bread crumbs on it. Heat about 1/4″ of vegetable oil in a fry pan on the stove.

Sprinkle the chops with the parmesan, pressing the cheese into the chop. Then dip into the egg, drain off the excess, and dredge in the bread crumbs. Fry in the hot oil — thin chops until golden, thicker chops until a rich golden brown. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper before serving.

Lamb chops are best served medium rare.

(I served these with some zucchini steamed with Penzey’s Sunny Paris seasoning and tossed with butter, mashed Yukon Gold potatoes, and a good glass of Pinot Noir.)

P.S. I’m off to cook at Witchlets in the Woods in the morning. Watch for new posts when I get back!

P.P.S. To give you an idea of cost, we’re averaging $6/lb for the beef and $5/lb for the lamb. With factory-farmed lean ground beef at $3.50/lb, offset by our shift in consumption, we’re paying somewhat less for groceries these days and definitely eating better.