Part 3 of 7
Palatable Proteins: The new Trends in Meat
Summer may be over, but the grill is hotter than ever. Barbecue has risen out of regionalism and is spreading like wildfire through the industry. So much so, that it was one of the key points outlined by CEO and editor of StarChefs.com, Antoinette Bruno, in her (http://www.starchefs.com/about_us/stars/html/ABruno.shtml) opening remarks at the 8th annual International Chefs Congress (ICC) Congress. (http://www.starchefs.com/cook/events/icc/2013)
But the smoke-infused flavors of barbecue wasn’t the only trend chefs showcased—house-made charcuteries, lamb and goat dishes, and a continued focus on sustainability, were all evident during the three-day expo.
Smokin' BBQ Flavors
For the first time ever there was a barbecue competition—SMOKE@ICC—with 40 competitors dedicated to the art of smoke, fire, heat and meat. Chef Josh Watkins and his team from The Carillon Restaurant (http://www.thecarillonrestaurant.com/) (Austin, TX) "smoked" the competition with a secret ingredient—pecan shells.
Although the Texans scored the prize in the competition, chefs north of the Mason Dixon line were also on fire. NYC Chefs like The Brooklyn Star’s Joaquin Baca (http://thebrooklynstar.com/) and Maysville's Kyle Knall (http://www.maysvillenyc.com/) invited expo attendees to try dishes infused with smoke. Baca’s fried oysters and waffles featured smoked cream corn, while Knall served up an expo favorite—smoked Yukon potato puree. Smoked whitefish mousse, smoked lamb neck, and whole smoked trout appear currently on the Maysville menu.
The Rise of Charcuterie
Part of that smoke wave includes an increase in house-made charcuteries. Experimentation with the cured meats has served up interesting flavor profiles. John Bates and Brandon Martinez of Noble Sandwich Co. (http://noblesandwiches.com/) (Austin, TX)—who served venison blood sausage, yellow-eyed beans, hoja santa and pickled melon—feel that charcuterie is a lost art.
At his traditional German Beirhall, Chef Jeremy Nolan of Brauhaus Schmitz (http://brauhausschmitz.com/) (Philadelphia, PA) makes his charcuterie in his own drying room, where they usually have ten different varieties of meat being prepped at a time. His team is currently using ingredients like juniper, caraway and paprika to add more flavors to the meats. “We’re looking at bold flavors to create a nice composition,” he says.
Lamb and Goat: The Protein of Choice
Lamb and goat were featured in numerous incarnations on the ICC food trucks, with some chefs calling these meats “the new chicken.” Aaron Gottesman of Border Springs Farm (http://www.borderspringsfarm.com/) (Philadelphia, PA) served tacos with slow roasted American lamb and honey habanero sauce. “Lamb is a unique protein with a unique flavor because it’s a young animal,” he says. And while historically it’s been seasoned with Mediterranean flavors, he’s among a new crop of chefs adding diverse flavors to complement the different cuts.
Mike Isaballa of G Sandwich (http://gsandwich.com/) (Washington, DC) offered spiced baby goat sandwich with harissa lemon potatoes and oregano, while James Merker of Mile End Delicatessen in Brooklyn, NY, (http://www.mileenddeli.com) was among a bevy of chefs who combined the two trends, using lamb in various charcuteries. Merker specifically uses the breast, smoking the meat to create lamb bacon.
Continued Focus on Sustainability
Experimentation has always been part of the chef’s pantry, as is economy— basically using every part of an animal.
The “let’s not waste” was another theme echoed at the conference. Elias Cairo of Olympic Provisions (http://www.olympicprovisions.com/) (Portland, OR) is big into utilizing every part of the lamb, creating dishes out of the tenderloin, ribs, leg and neck. David Santos of Louro (http://www.louronyc.com/) (NYC) paired his Portuguese horchata with a warm lamb tongue's salad.