Four Tips for Eating Well During a Meat Shortage

Why not turn the recent news reports of possible meat shortages into lifestyle changes for the better? Here are some of my tips for cooking with less meat, or better meat, or not meat at all — during these times.

My pot roast with coriander and cardamom is an amazing recipe for grass-fed beef.

1. Order Direct from Farmers Who Sustainably Raise Meat

Like many people, I’ve been trying to cook with less meat in general. And when I do cook with meat, I try to find meat that’s sustainably raised. I don’t always succeed, but it is a goal. While I often head to Whole Foods, I’m not doing that so much lately.

My meat farmer here in Iowa is Nick Wallace of Wallace Farms. If you live in Iowa or Chicago, he drops off meat at several locales in these areas. If not, he’ll ship meat directly to you. Check out the Wallace Farms website — he makes it so easy to source sustainably raised meats from grass-fed animals that there’s really no excuse to not at least give it a try.

The Wallace Farms website is a one-stop shop for just about every kind of animal protein: pork, poultry, seafood and beef, in all kinds of cuts – from chicken breasts, pork chops and roasts to offbeat items, like chicken backs and beef marrow bones. They even sell pet food, too.

My favorite Wallace Farms cuts are the pork chops, ground meats, and the pot roasts. Try them in these recipes:

Pork Chops with Orange and Thyme
My French Pot Roast
7-Bone Pot Roast with Coriander and Cardamom (use any pot roast for this — it doesn’t have to be 7-bone!)

Of course, sustainably raised meat is more expensive than CAFO-raised meat … but it’s like that old advertisement for good Scotch. Remember? It said: “Drinking less? Drink better.” Same goes for meat: Eating less meat? Eat better meat.

2. Eat More Seafood

If you, like me, live in a landlocked state, it can be tough getting great seafood, especially in these times when you don’t always want to go to the the best local seafood shop that’s too crowded for comfort.

That’s why I recently signed up to receive monthly boxes of wild-caught, sustainably raised, flash-frozen fish from the Wild Alaskan Company.  I gotta, say, I’m hooked (pardon the pun!)! A box of 12 individually wrapped frozen filets arrives every month. You can choose from all salmon (a mix of Coho and Sockeye), a combo pack (salmon and white fish) or all white fish. So far, I’ve received all-salmon and the combo back, I’ve been very pleased with every cut so far. Find out more on the Wild Alaskan Company website.

Here are a few of my favorite French recipes for fish:

Best French Method for Cooking Fish (Meunière style)
Roasted Salmon with Pernod Sauce
Salmon Pasta with Creme Fraiche
How to Cook Salmon in a Braiser

Honestly. I thought the Chick Pea Tinga Tacos from Hello Fresh would be a bit boring. They were outa sight … and meatless.

3. Order Occasional Meal Kits from Hello Fresh

I know. It seems really weird for a food writer and cookbook editor to order meal kit services. But the thing I like about getting the occasional box from Hello Fresh is that it makes me cook things that I don’t normally cook.  I also like the way each delivery stretches the time between visits to the supermarket.

In keeping with my goal of trying to eat less meat, I often try their vegetarian recipes. As you know, sometimes the world’s more creative meatless recipes call on a long list of ingredients — ingredients I don’t really feel like chasing down at the moment. That’s why I like getting them all in one box.

Two meatless recipes I’ve adored recently — which tasted infinitely better than I expected when reading about them, were Crunchy Curried Chick Pea Bowls (with pickled golden raisins, pickled cabbage, and kale), as well as Chick Pea Tacos. Seriously — I thought both sounded kind of drab, but ended up just thrilled with these meatless meals.

I’ve also enjoyed many other recipes, both with meat and without. They do really good things with chimichurri and Bibimbaps, especially!

Another thing I like about Hello Fresh is that with each order, you can do “add ons” of extra meats and sides: Ground beef, chicken breasts, Italian sausage, plus salads, breads and casual desserts. That’s a total boon during these “I don’t want to go to the store” kinds of days.

By the way: If you order through a link on this blog post, you can save $40 on on your first delivery. Note that if you use this link, I get a kickback of $10, but believe me, I’m not telling you about this because of the kickback! I truly like this service (and I’d never lend my good name to something for a kickback!).

4. Eat Plant-Based Meals

I saved the most obvious for last! A great response to the current meat shortage is to simply eat less meat. With all the great cheeses and vegetables and worldly seasonings out there, meatless meals are just SO much better than they were back when I went meatless for a year in high school! Lately, I’ve been cooking a lot of Indian, Thai, and Middle Eastern cooking, all which lend themselves beautifully to meatless cooking. But the French do good things sans meat as well. A few recipes on this blog:

French Goat Cheese Alfredo
Asparagus Crêpes with Goat Cheese
Piperade (Great for serving on omelets or baked eggs!)
Market Day Tagliatelle with Goat Cheese (pictured)
Tagliatelle with Morels

Shop Amazon to support this site (simply click on the ad link below — I will get a small commission on anything you order, without it adding to your costs whatsoever.) And, as always, thank you for visiting Chez Bonne Femme.

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Stay-at-Home/Eat-at-Home Tip #3: Websites You Can Trust

This graphic, from Wikipedia, makes food safety look kind of scary. It’s not, really — once you know the basics. The websites I offer here do a good job of boiling it all down for you.

Quite possibly, the least glamorous thing in the food world to write about is food safety. And yet, I’ve spent a lot of time writing about this topic in my work as a food writer — such assignments are part of my “bread-and-butter” gigs (the ones that help keep the lights on, that is!).

As you continue to prep meals at home, using up what’s in your fridge, freezer and pantry while limiting your trips to the store, you might have some cooking and food safety questions. To help, I thought I’d share some sources I’ve trusted in my 25 years of food writing:

  • FSIS/USDA: The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service focuses on ensuring the safety of meat, poultry and processed egg products. I often consult their fact sheets, which answer all kinds of questions, such as what foods can be frozen (see answer) and whether raw or cooked meat can be cooked from its frozen state (see answer, under “Cooking Frozen Foods”).

 

 

 

Another site I’ve been turning to lately is the Center for Disease Control’s Coronavirus FAQ page, which includes some information on food as well as info on how to protect yourself in general.

Like I said — not the sexiest topic going…but I hope these resources help when you have questions about the safety of the food you’re serving yourself and your loved ones.

All best during these times.

 

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Stay-at-Home, Eat-at-Home Tip #2: La Quercia

Every few days, I’m sharing ways in which I’m staying put and eating well during these times. Today’s tip:

La Quercia Prosciutto (and Other Delights)

Famed La Quercia prosciutto and other cured meats are made in Norwalk, Iowa, just down the road from where I live. When I ran out of prosciutto — and my scheduled once-every-two-week trip to the store was still a week away — I ordered a few packages from another online gourmet-food company.

A day later, I was talking to La Quercia owner Kathy Eckhouse, and she told me La Quercia now sells their meats directly from their website. See LaQuerciaShop.com.

[Forehead Smack]. D’oh! Had I known, I would have saved quite a bit — the online third-party retailer charges $12 for a package of the classic La Quercia Prosciutto Americana, which considering how much I love the stuff is money well spent. But because there is no middle-dude, La Quercia sells it for just $7.99 a package.

Why am I loving prosciutto right now? It’s versatile, it has a long shelf life in the fridge, and its flavor is so concentrated that a little goes a long way in cooking. Try it in this recipe got Prosciutto, Asparagus, and Goat Cheese Pasta (pictured below), and if you don’t have asparagus, substitute any veggie you have on hand (peas will work, as will spinach and just about anything green!) and any grating cheese at all for the goat cheese.

French Asparagus recipe: Pasta with Asparagus and Prosciutto. Find the recipe here.

Here is another recipe, which Kathy shared with me a while back: Pasta with Pancetta and Leeks. The leeks are optimal, but if you don’t have leeks on hand, substitute a combo of white onions and green onions, or yellow onions and parsley, or …. just anything oniony and maybe something green if you have it. You can order pancetta from La Quercia, but I’ve also made this with prosciutto, and it’s lovely, too.

Oh — and while you’re ordering the prosciutto and pancetta, for heaven’s sake, grab some ‘Nduja. This spicy prosciutto spread is amazing in so many ways.

Photo: Ellen Mary Cronin

I asked Kathy Eckhouse how she and her family enjoy ’njuda at their house. She offered these tips:

• Stuffed Dates Extraordinare: The Eckhouses’ favorite way to serve it is to stuff a little of the ’nduja into a pitted date; wrap the date with La Quercia pancetta, put it on an ovenproof tray, and bake it for five minutes at 350 degrees.

• Something Even Simpler: Kathy also enjoys simply serving it in a little crock alongside Rustic Bakery Olive Oil and Sea Salt Flatbread Bites.

• All Over the Place: “Spread on the inside of a grilled cheese sandwich before grilling/griddling. Toss into sauteed veggies or pasta near the end of cooking. Stir into an insipid pot of beans,” she added. “Plus, it’s pretty tasty on a baked potato.”

As for me, I especially enjoy it when I need a quick meal in a hurry. I toss cooked, drained pasta with some ’nduja (about one tablespoon per serving) plus olive oil, then serve in a shallow bowl with plenty of grated Italian cheese, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano. It’s about the best 10-minute entree I know of right now.

P.S.: According to Kathy ‘Nduja is pronounced “en-do-ya,” as in “en-do-ya love me?”

 

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