Log Cabin Chronicles

greg duncan

© 1998 John Mahoney

The Gallivanting Gourmand



I've got a beef. Not a big one mind you but one that's been bugging me for a while now.

Why the hell can't I buy regular ground beef anymore?

No one seems to offer it. There is lean and medium on shelves everywhere but what happened to that fat riddled stuff that we grew up on? Even the great culinary goddess Julia Child lamented some time ago that today's ground beef lacks flavor and juiciness due to the fact that the flavor is mostly imparted by that artery-clogging, heart-stopping stuff called fat.

Current cooking guidelines recommend cooking ground beef until it is no longer pink. This is fine when you've got some juicy stuff to start with but the result of cooking lean burger this way leads to grey, tasteless, and dry.

No wonder most people slather other forms of fat on their burgers. A dollop of mayo, a slice of cheese and all the original goodness can be restored - yep, let's take the fat out and then put it back in.

The last time I prepared some lean ground for tacos I was forced to add a little oil to the pan as it stuck to my non-stick 50-dollar T-fal.

By golly, why don't we just leave things alone? A burger made in the 50s tasted a heck of a lot better than today's mush.

O.K., you guessed it - my belly does swell a little because of my inability to conform, but taste is taste, damn it!, and a well-marbled cut of beef beats a lean cut for flavor anytime.

This past week I slow-cooked a blade roast to a meltingly tender turn and I was fueled by the flavor that resulted by having left the whole thing in the pot on the bone and fat intact. Six to eight hours of slow simmering imparted toothsome succulence to the surrounding potatoes, carrots, turnip, and onions. A meal fit for a king, although admittedly a fat one. Try this soon, as blade steaks are now on sale - four or five dollars will get you a big one for the pot.

Fall Pot Roast

1 medium-sized blade roast, bone and fat intact
2 medium onions, quartered
2 large potatoes, cut into chunks, skin and all
3 large carrots, cut into 11/2 inch slices
1 turnip, cubed
2 cups apple juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt and pepper to taste

Place all in slow cooker and cook six to eight hours.

A recent food show on PBS caught my attention with an item about tenderizing tough cuts of beef. It seems that Chinese warriors in some dynasty that I can't remember had a taste for raw beef. They liked it tender, so much so that they would take a slab and place it under their saddles between the horse and leather. Their long days of riding and fighting resulted in very tender beef indeed and supper was simple. Reach under the saddle and slice away. Now that's what I call rump roast!

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Copyright © 1998 Greg Duncan/Log Cabin Chronicles/10.98