Posts Tagged ‘humane’

Despite almost universal opposition to the cruel way calves are treated, the Humane Society says the veal industry shows little signs of changing. That’s why many people simply refuse to eat veal. I was one of them.

The veal industry is a by-product of the dairy industry. To get the dairy cows to produce milk, they are impregnated every year. Half of their offspring are male, no use to the dairy business, and those are the calves that become veal.

I said I was one of the people who didn’t eat veal. What changed was my source. A few years ago, Sweet and Salty Farm (, a dairy farm down the road from me in Little Compton, Rhode Island, began selling their own line of yogurt and cheese. And like most dairies, when calves are born, they have no use for the males. But rather than taking them away from their mothers and caging them for their short lives, they allow the calves to stay with their moms, nursing for up to four months before weaning. Then they graze in the fields by their mothers’ side, living a stress-free life. And when the time finally comes, they are dispatched humanely.

The result is incredible grass-fed veal I don’t feel guilty about eating: a rich, red in color…nothing like beef and a far better option than conventional veal. I also buy the veal bones from the farm to make a rich, flavorful veal stock, roasting the bones on a baking sheet with onions, carrots and celery…then moving them all to a large pot of water that cooks for 24 hours.

Traditionally, veal saltimbocca consists of veal medallions rolled with prosciutto and sage leaves. Often it is served with a marsala sauce. I got rid of the marsala–too sweet–and substituted a chardonnay. I added fontina cheese. And a guest’s aversion to spinach gave me the option to use kale…with bacon, of course!

By the way, if you’re not lucky enough to have a farm that humanely raises veal (or you’re still queasy about veal in general), this recipe works with chicken breasts, too.



1 1/2 lbs. grass-fed veal, pounded thin and cut into medallions about 3″ around
1/2 lb. prosciutto, sliced paper-thin
1/2 lb. fontina cheese, sliced thin
1 cup all-purpose flour (I use Cup4Cup gluten-free flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
olive oil
2 cups veal stock
1 cup un-oaked white wine (I like to cook with Alice White chardonnay)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
12 oz. baby portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 lb. spaghetti
2 bunches organic kale
3 strips bacon, finely chopped


Place the veal cutlets on a cutting board between a few layers of plastic wrap. Pound the cutlets to about 1/8″ thickness. Cut them into pieces about 3″ around, which will make them easier to handle.

Place the flour in a bowl and add the teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Mix well.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and butter in a pan. Drop the veal medallions in the flour and coat both sides of the meat, shaking off any excess. Carefully lay the veal in the pan and cook the veal until it’s just barely browned. You don’t want to cook it all the way through. When the medallions have cooked, place them on a baking sheet. Cook the medallions in batches, adding more olive oil or butter to the pan if needed.

When you’ve cooked all the medallions, use the same pan to sauté the onion until translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook them down. (You can add a little of the veal stock to help the mushrooms release their liquid.) Add the rest of the veal stock, wine and sage. Cook over medium heat until it’s reduced by half. If the sauce looks a bit thin, make a quick roux in a separate pan by heating equal parts melted butter and flour until it forms a paste. Stir this paste into the sauce, making sure there are no lumps.

Back to the veal medallions: place a piece of prosciutto on top of each medallion, and then a slice of fontina on top of that. Keep the baking sheet with the medallions in a warm (150 degree) oven.

Boil the spaghetti in well-salted water until al dente. Strain and toss in a bowl with unsalted butter. Season with a bit more salt.

Hand-tear the kale and remove all the tough, woody stems. Wash the kale thoroughly in cold water, making sure you get all the dirt and sand that can be caught in its leaves. Heat some olive oil (and bacon fat, if you have it!) in a pan, and toss in the chopped bacon, just to warm the bits up. Working in batches, place a handful of kale in the pan, and when it wilts down a bit, place another handful in, and so on until you’ve got all the kale in. Season with salt and pepper, and keep tossing the kale until it has wilted to its desired doneness. (I like it to still have a bit of a crunch.)

When you’re ready to serve, turn the oven on broil and place the baking sheet with the veal medallions on the top rack. You want the cheese to melt, but you don’t want it to burn, so keep an eye on it!

Serve a few medallions on the plate, with spaghetti, kale and sauce on the side.




For most people, grilling season is still a long way away. I’m a bit of a fanatic: I’ll use my Weber grill in the wintertime, often standing in a foot of snow while I’m carefully turning my steaks over the hardwood coals below. In the spring, I put the Weber away, and unveil my larger ceramic grill. I use it to grill or smoke anything from a great steak to a whole chicken or even a pizza.

Making a great steak isn’t difficult, but like all good things, takes a little care and finesse.

It starts with the beef. I only buy grass-fed beef. I think it tastes better, and I buy it from local farms that raise the cattle humanely. Some say that grass-fed beef tastes too gamey. I understand that, because I’ve had grass-fed beef from many different sources over the years. The taste of the beef depends on the breed of cattle as well as the environment they’re raised in. The general title “grass-fed” is convenient to use, but quality varies greatly. The only answer to that is to keep trying cuts of beef until you find the one you like. For me, here in Rhode Island, Pat’s Pastured in East Greenwich has the quality and taste I’m looking for. And occasionally, my local Whole Foods will offer great cuts of grass-fed beef as well.

Grass-fed matters to me because the cows eat what is natural for them to eat: grass. The meat naturally has better fats; it’s higher in Omega-3’s. Feeding corn and grains to cattle is cheaper and fattens them up faster, which is why most American farmers switched to that method many years ago and created the factory farms we now have. But feeding them corn and grains also makes them sick, so the farmers have to pump antibiotics and hormones in them to keep disease away. Make no mistake: whatever nasty crap they put into the cow, goes into you. To me, it’s worth paying the extra bucks to support the farmers that do it right. I have beef less often, but what I have is the best I can get for my family.

If none of that matters to you, and you simply want to grab a slab of beef from your supermarket, that’s your choice. But even then, there are varying degrees of quality. Cough up a few extra bucks for better beef and it will reward you later.

A perfect medium-rare porterhouse that was simply pan-seared. It was thin enough not to even go in the oven.

A perfect medium-rare porterhouse that was simply pan-seared. It was thin enough not to even go in the oven.

The cut of beef I select is as personal as the choice to go grass-fed or not. My absolute favorite cut is the porterhouse: NY strip on one side, tenderloin on the other, bone in the middle. (Not to be confused with a T-bone, which offers almost no tenderloin.) And it needs to be thick. The thicker the cut of beef, the more control I have over the final cooking temperature I want it to be. Unfortunately, because grass-fed beef costs more, farmers often sell skinny porterhouses to keep the price down. But the end product comes out over-cooked, because the meat is so thin. I would rather pay big bucks less often and get a real slab of meat than get a scrawny cut more often.

If you want to try grass-fed beef, but are put off by the high price of the more popular cuts (tenderloins, ribeyes, etc.), go for the less popular cuts: flank, hangar, etc. They cost a lot less and they’ve got great taste. You just need to be careful not to overcook them because they’re usually thin and contain very little fat.


Many articles have been written about it being okay to cook beef from frozen, but I don’t like to do that. I always take my slab of beef out of the freezer the day before I want to cook it, and thaw it in the fridge (out of its wrapper.) Then, about an hour before I plan on cooking it, I take it out of the fridge and place it on a plate to warm to room temperature. I like to rub the beef with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper and let it sit that way for an hour. And that’s all I season my beef with. No need to hide the flavor of amazing beef!

But although I grill year ’round, it’s not always convenient to fire it up when I crave a steak. Few methods can rival the simple steps of searing both sides of the beef in a hot cast iron skillet, and then finishing it in the oven. I use pork lard or bacon fat in the cast iron pan, heat it, sear one side, flip it over, sear the other side, and place it in a 375-degree oven. How long to cook it is a matter of practice. Eventually you learn the quirks of your oven and you get the perfect steak every time. Until then, a thermometer helps, though you don’t want to poke the hell out of your beef and let all the juices run out.

And it’s key to let the steak rest. I’ve gone to all this trouble…it would be dumb to mess it up now! This is when I take a few minutes to make myself a nice cocktail. By the time the cocktail’s made, and I’ve taken a few sips, the beef is ready to be devoured.

That's not scallions. That's garlic! And a side of fresh oregano.

That’s not scallions. That’s garlic! And a side of fresh oregano.



With the garden coming to life again this spring, I found a bunch of shoots popping out of the soil in my garlic patch. I pulled them out, and the garlic greens looked just like baby scallions, only with tiny garlic bulbs at the bottoms. I also found some fresh oregano growing in the herb garden. I washed them all, finely chopped them, and sautéed them in a pan with a little olive oil, butter, salt and pepper. I cooked them just until the garlic started to get brown and crispy, and I poured it all over my porterhouse. Fantastic!

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Just remember…












Posted: February 2, 2015 in beef, Carnivore!, chicken, Food, pork
Tags: , , , , ,

I think many of those that don’t think GMO’s are a bad deal probably don’t really understand the situation.

My friends at FireFly Farms in Stonington, Connecticut (, understand GMO’s better than most. They raise heritage breeds of pork, pastured chickens, and rare cattle. They are family owned and certified humane. You should follow them on Facebook.

Max Mule, by Kelly Milukas

Max Mule, by Kelly Milukas

This was a recent post on FireFly owner Van Brown’s Facebook page. I’m reprinting with his permission. It’s simple and to the point.

Hi everyone.

I have been thinking about the debate on GMO’s and labeling.

A lot.

Let’s imagine a world where there are two types of pudding cups.

The Blue Pudding Cup definitely will not hurt your kid.

The corporation that makes The Red Pudding Cup states that all the negative tests about The Red Pudding Cup are wrong and they have made lots of tests themselves showing that The Red Pudding cup is okay.

You know The Blue Pudding Cup is safe. There are tests both ways, remembering that many of the tests were funded by The Red Pudding Cup Corporation, so the best you can know is The Red Pudding Cup pudding will probably not hurt your kid. At least according to The Red Pudding Cup Corporation.

You know one pudding cup is okay for your children. You have to have a question about the other pudding cup.

Which pudding cup would you buy to feed to your child?

One last thought?

Would it be okay for The Red Pudding cup to put their pudding into a Blue Pudding Cup so no one would know which type of pudding they are feeding their children… your children?