If you are throwing away your vegetables after you do a braise, you are making a mistake. They are not only flavorful but have something to offer you somewhere else in your kitchen. Even if you only whip them into butter and serve them with a warm baguette, this is a great twist on bread and butter service and is not only flavorful but sure to impress.
Nose to Tail is a beautiful thing
Nose to Tail butchering is something I have had the opportunity to work on during the past few months. This is mostly in part due to the fact that we have a such a solid kitchen staff. They maintain most of the daily menu items now, which allows me the opportunity to do cool things like work on some of the skills of which I personally need to improve. A few of which are butchering, pasta, and fermentation
Most of our butchering has been done with lamb that comes to us from Bear Creek Farms in Leiper’s Fork, TN. It all began with my desire to do a lamb sausage pizza for the colder months of the year. After talking with LeeAnn, one of the owners, we determined it would be best to buy the whole animal. That’s the way she and her husband prefer to sell. They don’t just have legs in the freezer that I could buy. So we purchased the entire animal. Our first thought was to use the front shoulders and the hind legs for the sausage making. I then cut the shanks off with an awesome sawzall (that Cara’s mom bought for me). We braised the shanks along with the neck and ran a special of four entrees with the shank.
As mentioned above, we then whipped the braised carrots into room temperature butter. The vegetables you have left after you braise should not be thrown out. We took the carrots out of the braise, pureed them and pounded them into the butter.
We took the ribs, salted them overnight, roasted them in the pizza oven, and then cooked them slow and low in the regular oven. We pulled the meat off the bones when they were ready and did a nice stroganoff with onions and mushrooms. We then made a stock with all of the roasted bones from the carcass and then reduced. The pasta came from Niccoletto’s. We used the bucatini (a tube-style of spaghetti that is hollow), and finished it off with some White Squirrel Farms arugula and cornbread crumbs. We also tried a roasted rib salad.
Next we took the rack and the mini lamb t-bones and created some dinner specials with those. We soaked the liver in buttermilk, breaded it in a seasoned flour and placed it in a hot cast iron skillet and cooked it to medium. We then served it with a root vegetable puree’. We charred some onion in our wood burning oven and took the stock from the bones, reduced it, made a roux, then a proper gravy. We added the onions and did a play on liver and onions. The best you have ever had in your life. The taste of the lamb from BCF is so nice and clean. You only need a little salt to maintain it’s integrity and give the dish what it needs to make it special.
After we cut all of the meat off of the bones to make the sausage, we chunked and cubed it. We then season the meat and allow it to rest overnight for maximum flavor. To enhance the final product we use different herbs and spices along with our secret ingredient, that Toffer suggested, harissa, which is a North African hot chili pepper paste whose main ingredients are roasted red peppers, Baklouti pepper, serrano peppers and other hot chili peppers, spices and herbs such as garlic paste, coriander seed, or caraway as well as some vegetable or olive oil. It’s a fun condiment to use and can be pounded into a mayonnaise for dipping fried calamari or pomme frittes for one.
The next day we ground the lamb into the sausage and added pork fat. We usually have some usable pork trim on hand and, as lamb is a bit of a leaner meat, it requires some added fat in order to make a proper sausage. I was taught that when you make sausage, you should have 33% fat to make it correctly. I was trained by a generation of hard-nosed chefs whose culinary standards in recipes matter. I try to remain true to them and my education,
After breaking down five lambs, I began to understand, and got better at, figuring out ways to utilize different parts of the animal. This not only helped in creating better dishes but also increased our bottom line as a business. Our lamb neck ravioli was one dish that I truly felt took us to the next level on the chef front, as well as the financial. Making that ravioli dish was the best way to stretch the products. But is also required skills and labor. For example, we cooked the ravioli in the stock that we had made from the roasted bone and we added the carrots from the braise into the butter.
As a chef and business owner an important part of your job is to make a daily profit. So, we are working with that mentality as well when it comes to butchering. As a chef your target is to maximize income by using talent along with creativity and ingenuity. At the end of the day, you can be proud about it. You have met your vision as a chef and as a business person. I have been very excited to be learning and I feel I am the best at nose to tail butchering currently than I have ever been in my life.