Monday, January 25, 2010

Marinated Top Sirloin Steak

Not long into the New Year I finished reading Julie Powell's follow up to Julie & Julia.

Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession
is quite a shocking departure from the romanticism of her first book and its movie adaptation.

Her second book graphically details her cleaving or breaking down carcasses in her role as an apprentice butcher.

The act of cleaving beef, pork and lamb into parts and pieces with many a cutting blow is also a metaphor for the disintegration of her marriage, which she also dissects on the page in great detail.

It's a difficult read, the break down of her marriage juxtaposed against the pages and pages she takes to graphically describe her experience butchering.

I must admit, I scanned some of the more bloody details about cleaving a carcass. And then I wondered if that made me a hypocrite. After all, I love to eat meat, in moderation, but I'm grossed out reading too much information on how a beast is cleaved and merchandised for sale at the meat counter.

I do care to know where and how the animal I'm eating was raised, what it was feed and whether it was humanely farmed and butchered.

I'm increasingly concerned about these facts as more information comes to light about the meat industry including inhumane farming practices, GMO corn feed, and the antibiotics and hormones given farmed animals.

As a result, I do my best to make sure the meat I'm buying and eating is free of hormones and antibiotics. Ideally, I would also like to know from where that meat originated, i.e. what cattle ranch, and then the farming practices of that rancher.

Really, is it too much to ask that the cuts of meat one is purchasing for consumption were once part of a whole, naturally feed and happy cow or pig or lamb -- right up until the moment it died humanely?

Growing up in rural Australia, we knew where our beef, lamb, chicken came from. We bought from the local butcher who bought from the local farmers and every day we saw the animals we eventually ate grazing about the luscious green pastures surrounding our small town.

When I lived and cooked in France, I noticed it was similar, in as much as you could go into a butcher and see a drawn map of where the meat had been farmed, and have a discussion with the butcher about the meat, the farm on which it had been raised, the farming practices etc. etc.

I encourage you to ask more questions about the meat you're consuming. And if you're still wondering "why bother" watch Food Inc the documentary and or read what the Humane Society is doing to reduce the suffering of animals raised for human consumption.

One of the ideas the Humane Society is promoting, apropos meat consumption, is the Three R's: reduce, replace, refine.

It is easy to reduce the amount of animal protein we consume by simply replacing it with other high quality vegetarian protein options (last week I blogged about grain protein). And we can refine our diet by choosing flesh protein that is higher welfare or cage free.

This week, I'm going to post a number of main-meal ideas making use of smaller or reduced portions of organic, antibiotic and hormone-free meat protein. Increasingly this is the way I eat for health, budget, and ethical reasons.

For instance, at any one meal I don't eat more than 3 ounces of flesh protein and then not more than twice a day.

Marinated Top Sirloin Steak
1) Allowing 3 ounces of beef per person, slice sirloin steak into thin strips.
2) Toss sliced pieces into a bowl with some olive oil, Braggs or Tamari or Soy Sauce, a crushed and chopped clove of garlic and a piece of peeled and chopped raw ginger.
3) Allow beef strips to marinade for a few hours. Ideally, you'd prepare the beef the night before or the morning of the day you're going to cook it.
4) Because sirloin is a good quality piece of beef and because for this dish it's been sliced thinly, it will need minimal cooking.

My method: Heat a skillet lined with a little olive oil; once oil is smoking, toss in the pieces of beef and sear on one side for a min or two. You may not even need to turn beef over.

To Serve: Serving options are numerous. You'll notice in the picture above that I served my seared slices over a bowl of wilted winter greens which included chard, spinach, kale and radicchio. I also sprinkled the garlic and ginger from the pan over the lot.

On the side I had a bowl of millet (leftover from the breakfast millet I prepared last week) which I'd heated by adding it to the hot skillet after I'd removed the beef. Pouring in a glug of stock (or you could use water, red or white wine), I stirred the millet till the millet absorbed the liquid.

You could serve beef strips over garlic mashed potato (regular or sweet potato) with a side of greens, or over oiled pasta topped with a good quality bottled tomato sauce or you could serve it with rice and a side of stir-fry vegetables.

1 comment:

Louise Ross said...

I'm posting this comment for a friend who emailed me:

Great Post L - love how you wove in Julie Powell's new book, your response to it etc....nice one. Gets us thinking about the source of our meat!