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5 Meats to Try for Healthy Diversity

July 10, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe overwhelming favorite meats in America are beef, pork and chicken. They’re celebrated at the meat counter and in restaurants. They’re made up for every day or for special occasion. But sometimes, there are those days when you just want something different.

As media warns of disruptions in the food supply, and people get more adventurous and health conscious, there are many who want to look beyond the big three. So what are alternatives? Here are five that can stretch your palate and add something different.

The guinea is a unique little bird that, when you see one, you won’t forget them. “They’re ugly!” is a common comment. They’re noisy is another. But get beyond that and they’re tasty. They’re similar to pheasant, but can be raised on small farms.

Rabbit is another possibility, with advantages of being lean, high protein, dense meat that is easily raised in small areas. Many say it’s just like chicken but that sells rabbit short. It is similar, but as a mild meat it takes flavor well. It’s wonderful in stews, enchiladas and other dishes that it can absorb the flavors from seasonings it’s cooked in. It’s incredible in curry, with some onions and peppers over rice. Rabbit meat is also tested low in cholesterol. If you use tender fryers under four months, there will be a different texture than the more “chewy”, firm flesh of the five to six month old rabbit.

Duck is often overlooked, but has gained the attention of chefs and foodies on a quest for cooking with duck fat. Explore a trip to the taste of duck and you’ll see these hardy birds are an asset to your dining calendar. Muscovy is a particular type that some say has a “beefy” taste to it.

The amount of fat on duck breasts confounds many beginning cooks. We all enjoy a bit of luxurious fat now and again, but few of us like a big glob of gooey suet in our mouths. The best way to meet this challenge is first to stop thinking of a duck breast as poultry. It’s essentially a steak, and should be cooked like a steak. Your task is to render that fat and crisp that skin, all the while preventing the meat from overcooking. It’s a lot easier than it sounds. Hank Snow- Duck, Duck, Goose

For those wanting the above options, they can be found from ‘exotic’ meat places online as well as purchased directly from farms like ours. These often benefit the family run operations, as the large volume agriculture operations aren’t quite caught up with these choices.

If you’re interested in a walk on the wild side, and taking your food into your own hands on another level, go fish. Freshwater streams and lakes can be a bounty for those who are interested in eating fish without going to the store.

WhitetaildeerUSDApublicdomainAnother option is venison. Although this is commercially available online, you can also spend time outdoors and gather your own. Indeed, in some parts of the country, there are those who celebrate fish, deer, elk, antelope and other wild treasures. Venison is usually restricted to hunting in the fall months, and a quick kill will help preserve the best meat.

Although for most people these options probably won’t replace the beef and pork on your plate, it can give some variety. Whether you purchase from a small farm that raises it for you, raise it yourself or buy commercially online or off, these are options that can offer something different. If the ‘big three’ continue to rise in price, or as some predict become more difficult to get, or perhaps you just want to try something different, any or all of these options can provide a hearty, tasty meal.

Even if just once or twice per month, variety is good!


Today’s recipe – from the book Pizza on the Grill -for a twist on the ordinary!

Duck Duck Pizza

¼ cup uncooked grits or polenta, for rolling dough

1 ball prepared pizza dough, at room temperature

3 tablespoons olive oil

¾ cup Cassis Sauce

1 ½ cups shredded duck confit or roasted duck

½ cup sliced water chestnuts, cut into slivers

8 ounces St. Andre cheese (a French triple-creme), rind removed if preferred, cut into ¼ inch thick strips, then cut into one inch squares

3 scallions, trimmed, cleaned, sliced

Zest of 1 mandarin orange or clementine

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the grill per the master instructions for gas or charcoal. Roll out and shape the dough, then grill the first side of the crust per the master instructions. When the bottom is marked and browned, use tongs to transfer the crust to a peel or rimless baking sheet. Switch the grill to indirect heat and close the lid to maintain the grill temperature.

Flip the crust to reveal the grilled side. Spread the entire surface with cassis sauce. Top with the duck, sprinkle with water chestnuts and top with cheese. Finish grilling the pizza per the master instructions. Remove from the grill. Sprinkle the scallions and zest evenly over the pizza. Season with salt and pepper. Slice and serve.

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