Saturday, September 15, 2007

Laptop Butchershop

Today I went to the Strip District to pick up some meat. Not just any meat, mind you. This is the good stuff. Free Range. Pasture Fed. Organic. The real deal. You know, chicken that tastes like chicken. Not that I know what that is, being raised on corn fed chickens from feedlots.

Laptop butchershop is a program started by Susan Barclay of Slow Food Pittsburgh.
By ordering ahead, one can arrange to pick up meat (this week it was chickens, lamb and beef) at the Saturday Farmer's at the Firehouse Market.

First I visited Steve Misera of Misera's Poultry. From him I purchased three whole chickens, 2 chickens cut into parts and a dozen eggs. No pack of boneless, skinless breasts available here. He let me know that he would be back in November with more chickens, but then that would be it. Since his chickens are grass-fed, they are not available in the winter time and won't be ready next until June. But, one can call in the off season to see if anything is left in the freezer.

My next stop was with Deanna McMaken of Rose Ridge Farm.She is often at the East Liberty market, but it was good for me to be able to pay with a check and buy some meat without the kiddos. From her I bought 4 small beef tenderloin steaks, some hamburger patties and some ground beef. Her beef is also grass fed on a farm in Ohio. She often comments that she could easily sell every steak that she gets, but there is a lot more to the cow than steaks.

After two long trips to the car (parked far away of course, since it is the Strip District on a Saturday morning) I headed home.

What to do with those chicken parts, though. My experience, and most of my recipes involve cooking with boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I had to turn to an old companion, the Betty Crocker Cookbook, to find recipes using "3-3.5 broiler/fryer cut into parts." Well, my parts weighed about 7#, so I was hoping to divide and conquer. The recipe I did use called for melting butter and olive oil in a 9 x 13 pan, then adding herbs (marjoram, basil, oregano), lemon juice, worcestorshire sauce, garlic and onions. Coat the pieces in the mixture and cook at 375 for 30 minutes, then flip over and cook 30 minutes more. It worked out fine -- not great -- and the chicken tasted like chicken.

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