Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ethical Meat Makes Better Beef Rib Stew

I've set the bar high declaring my intention to purchase traditionally farmed meat over cuts from factory-farmed livestock.

It's actually not as easy as I'd hoped, sourcing traditionally-farmed protein items.

At the store, the meat and poultry I gravitate to is labeled organic, organically fed, and or natural, but I've never noticed a label identifying protein items as "traditionally farmed."

And of course labeling is not always accurate.

On further reading of Nicolette Hahn Niman's Righteous Porkchop, I followed the author's research trail and found my way to the Animal Welfare Approved website.

On their home page I read that the Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) program "audits and certifies family farms that utilize high-welfare methods of farming."

And what that means for the consumer is this:

"Animals are raised outdoors on pasture or range on true family farms with the most stringent welfare standards according to the World Society of Protection of Animals ..."

I liked the sound of this and so I scrolled down the home page to a window that says "Find Farms and Products in your Area."

If consuming high-welfare meat, poultry, dairy and eggs stamped with approval by the AWA is of interest to you, type your area and the product you're seeking into that window and see what comes up.

I noticed that Whole Foods carry AWA certified products. Perhaps there's a store near you; follow the link to find out.

Compared to rock-bottom priced factory-farmed meats, you'll pay a bit more for products stamped with the AWA symbol. However, as I've written many times in this blog, if you're on a budget, buy less meat, buy less expensive cuts of meat and or stretch your meat items further.

Yesterday I posted a recipe for hamburgers consisting of 50 percent ground beef and 50 percent hummus. Today the meal idea I'm proposing is beef rib stew which is less about the beef and more about the vegetables and barley that make up most of this dish.

Beef Rib Stew
1) Fill a large pot with water and add your choice of vegetables such as a chopped onion or leeks, carrots, celery, potato and garlic.
2) Add a half to 3/4 of a pound portion of beef back ribs or the portion that will fit into your pot. In the pic above I have approximately 3/4 pounds of beef ribs.
3) Add a few black peppercorns, a couple of bay leaves and if you have any fresh thyme or sage, add a few sprigs.
4) Pour in half a cup of barley or brown rice or brown rice and lentils or your favorite cooked beans i.e. kidney, pinto, canellini or Great Northern -- or a combination of all of the above.
5) Simmer stew for 2-3 hours on low, periodically skimming the surface of the stew for fat and debris.
6) The liquid in the pot will decrease during cooking creating a thickened stew, however if the contents of your pot begins to look too dry, add a bit more water.
7) Taste test and season to your liking.

To Serve: Remove ribs from stew pot and cut meat from bones, trimming away any excess fat. Toss meat back into the pot and ladle spoonfuls of stew into serving bowls; top with chopped parsley and present with chunks of crusty bread or corn bread.


Beth said...

Thank you for your interest in the Animal Welfare Approved program. Your quest is admirable and let us know how we can help and help you spread the word!

Louise Ross said...

Hi Beth,
Wonderful to hear from you and your organization directly.

I'm hoping readers will peruse your website and feel compelled to look for the AWA stamp when grocery shopping; I'll certainly be on the look out!