Moo!

Nothing terribly profound today, just something that amused me.

Vegetarians may wish to skip the rest of this post.

The graphic below comes from visual.ly and shows all of the different cuts of beef, where they come from on the cow, and how to cook them.

My first reaction on seeing it was to be impressed at how much of the cow is used, but then I started thinking about it further and realized that there are some startling omissions. There’s way too much blue in that diagram. I’m not a “snout to tail” activist, but I do feel that a spending a little time thinking outside the torso seems warranted.

Consider oxtail soup for starters (no pun intended). That certainly allows us to include the tail in any “useful bits of cow” list. About.com has a simple-looking recipe; there are also good-looking recipes for oxtail stew at Food Network and Simply Recipes.

OK, how about the legs? I figured that they would need a long cooking time, but that there ought to be something tasty that could be done with them. Yup. How about Nigerian Pepper Soup? (The last time I had pepper soup, it was the result of an accident while making potato soup; let’s just say that ground black pepper should never be the largest ingredient by weight in any dish. Made a nice base for beef stew, though.) Braising them in red wine looks pretty tasty too. I’ll skip the tendon recipes. Pho is plenty tasty, but I have problems with anything that needs to be cooked for hours until it becomes, as one website put it, “something that is a close approximation to tough—but tasty—Jell-o”. Cow Jell-o. Not too likely to show up in any commercial involving Bill Cosby.

I’m not going to worry about the hooves. I can’t think there’s enough meat there to bother with… (Apparently I’m wrong.)

That still leaves the head. What can we do with that?

Well, tongue is certainly an option. Try a simple American preparation, a slightly more complicated Mexican approach, or a more elaborate Vietnamese/French version.

That doesn’t help with the rest of the head, though. There’s no shortage of recipes for barbacoa out there. Elizabeth Karmel’s looks pretty straightforward if you’ve got a smoker handy and can wait 24 hours for your dinner. (Kat Kinsman’s account of the proceedings is a must-read!) Some alternate ideas: Jamaican Cow Head Soup or Head Cheese in a variety of national variations. Or, if you’re really feeling adventurous, check this recipe for Calf’s Head Casserole – but be aware that you’ll need a lung and a heart as well.

OK, enough. For those of you who stuck with me through this, thanks, and I hope I’ve given you some food for thought.

7 thoughts on “Moo!

  1. Consider this your first “booooooo!”. Not for your writing skills, use of grammar, or use if visual aids (a huge fan of those, in general)’ but for the topic in general. But you knew that, I suspect. 🙂

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    • Congrats to Jack (but I wouldn’t follow the [pro] As on a bet). I shouldn’t moderate posts first thing in the morning — I spent a good minute and a half trying to figure out what the As had to do with cow parts.

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