Monday, June 8, 2009

What's in the ground beef?

Usually an entry with this title would give the reader an anticipatory shudder, right? Well, provided you aren't an ardent vegetarian this should prove interesting, not disgusting. I just spoke with Ed of Central Valley Farm in Asbury, NJ and asked him to set aside a few packages of ground beef and some raw milk cheddar for me to pick up this afternoon at the Union Square Greenmarket. I posted a comment recently on another entry about how delicious their ground beef is, and I have been wondering for some time why this is the case. This meat - which makes great stroganoff or burgers - is truly unusually flavorful and delicious. I recently made burgers that had a strong musky repulsive flavor/smell which I bought through another farm (they weren't spoiled or anything, and were from pastured cattle, which just goes to show all grass-fed ground beef is not created equal). I asked Ed about the beef and why it tastes so good, and he said that the breed of cattle is special (to the chagrin of Ed's wife -- apparently she complains about how he always has to buy the most expensive cows), plus they graze on a wonderful variety of native grasses (on which he uses no chemicals of any kind). AND to top it all off he doesn't sell any cuts of meat, only ground beef. So this means all the more expensive parts of the animal are being used, not just the leftover scraps, tough parts, and fat. If you are a meat-eater and looking for a great source of ground beef it would be worth checking out the Central Valley Farm tent at the Union Square Greenmarket. They are there every Monday from 8-6; they sometimes sell out of beef so it's worth getting there early. Be sure to try the raw milk cheddar and the homemade vegetarian pasta sauce, too! Each item is about $5 (1 lb. ground beef, 8 oz. cheddar, or one large jar of sauce).

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