by Tara Davis
This article is for all the carnivores out there.
Despite modern questions and controversies surrounding the things we regularly put in our bodies, many of us still value dearly the luxuries and daily normalities made possible by one specific animal type.
It’s possible that, barring a 4H affiliation, you don’t often specifically consider the many ways in which cattle have shaped humanity since their domestication around 8000 B.C. Prehistoric paintings have been found depicting bovine being hunted, though the Americas weren’t introduced to them until Spain brought them over in the 1500s.
Since that time, we have become so accustomed to easy access of milk, beef and leather products, it can be difficult to imagine life without them.
Be they of old world origins- as almost every species is- or new, -specifically, bison- our car seats and belts, our morning coffee, our date nights and tailgating would exist in a far different topography without cows.
In a still imperfect, but ever evolving world, where here in the U.S. nearly half of all cattle farms have been established as or converted back to more free range models, responsible land management and smaller herd sizes, both environmental and ethical concerns have rays of hope on the horizon.
For those of us who sometimes give in to our animalistic food lust, indulging in this particularly carnal intake of iron and vitamin B6, the importance of cattle is especially personal. Sometimes, we just NEED a steak, a burger or a roast beef poboy. And that, my friends, is that.
For me, for tonight, beef is most definitely what’s for dinner. It can be for you too-
Steak- my preferred method for cooking any cut – generously salt and pepper both sides of each steak. Lightly oil and heat a skillet (I highly suggest cast iron) to medium high. Sear both sides of each steak until well browned, approximately 1-2 minute per side. Leaving steak in the skillet, place in a 350 degree oven and finish cooking to desired temperature, checking after 5 minutes. Finish by melting butter on top.
Fajita beef- mix together 1 tbsp each salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, dried cilantro, paprika, and 1 tsp cumin. Cut beef of your choice (I like skirt steak) into 1/2 inch thick strips. Season liberally with spice mix. Cook in a lightly oiled skillet on medium high heat 2-3 minutes, or until browned on all sides. Remove beef from pan and add onions and peppers. Cook 5-8 minutes, until soft. Add to beef and serve with tortillas, rice and beans if desired. *Note: this seasoning mix is also great for ground beef.
Mongolian Beef- cut 1lb flank steak into cubes and toss in 3 tbsp cornstarch. Mix together 1 tbsp each sesame and vegetable oil, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup each water and brown sugar, 1 tsp each minced garlic and ginger (powdered can be substituted) and heat in a sauce pan on low. Cook beef in 3 tbsp vegetable oil over high heat, 2-3 minutes, toss in sauce mixture and serve over rice. Garnish with green onions.
Beef and potato stew- in a 6-8 quart pot, brown 1 lb stew beef (or cubed steak) in 3 tbsp vegetable oil over high heat. Remove from pot, add 1 1/2 lb small diced potatoes and 1 diced white onion to the pot. Cook until potatoes are beginning to brown. Add 3-4 quarts low sodium beef stock (enough to fully cover the potatoes) and 3 tbsp minced garlic. Boil until potatoes are tender, add dried thyme and browned beef, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer 15-20 minutes and serve with toasted bread.