Ingredient Feature


December 14, 2015

Photo by @annefood


You may have noticed that we talk a lot about produce here at Foodstand, taking note of the seasonal fruits and vegetables we eat throughout the year. But good food is more than vegetables. And the star of the holiday table is often meat—long-cooked brisket, prime rib, beef tenderloin, roast goose, pork loin, turkey… The list goes on.

There has been a lot of conversation surrounding meat recently, and if you stay on top of the news (or Foodstand’s weekly newsletters!) you’ve probably heard about the World Health Organization’s latest findings about processed and red meats. Limited consumption is better for one’s health, and also for the well-being of the planet. But a good food diet is a well rounded one, and being mindful is a big piece of the puzzle. Plus, meat is packed with protein and has many vitamins and minerals our bodies need. So if it plays a crucial role on your holiday table, then enjoy it! Just make sure it’s the best meat it can be! Here’s a quick guide to help you out at the butcher.

Certified USDA Organic: Animals must be fed non-GMO grain and grass produced without pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, and be raised without the use of hormones or antibiotics. They must also be raised in a way that accommodates their natural behaviors such as grazing on pasture a minimum of 120 days per year.

HFAC Humane Certified: Animals that are certified humane have been raised without hormones or antibiotics, and with attention paid to a variety of other factors such as stocking density, sleep periods, litter management, pasture time, and slaughter methods.

Natural vs Naturally raised: Natural doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot besides suggesting that the meat has been minimally processed—there’s no governing body or qualifications for the term. Despite common belief, meat labeled natural can be raised using hormones and antibiotics. That’s where naturally raised comes in, which does require that animals are raised eating food without animal by-products or being given hormones or antibiotics. This doesn’t however, have any bearing on the animals’ environment.

Cage free vs Free range: Cage free is fairly self explanatory—poultry that was not raised in a cage. Read: still lives inside, just not in cages. If you want poultry that was raised with access to the outdoors, look for free range, though the classification doesn’t mandate how much outdoor time the animals have.

Pasture raised vs Grass fed: Pasture raised requires that the animals are raised outdoors without confinement. However, these animals may have been fed grains in the winter months when grazing is not possible. If you are looking for pasture raised and a solely grass diet, choose grass fed. Note: 100% grass fed beef tends to be leaner, more intensely flavored, and slightly tougher than its grain fed counterparts. Could make for an interesting taste-test to cook both and compare!


SWEET AND SAVORY BRISKET by Cara Nicoletti for Food52

Photo credit: James Ransom for Food52


3 pounds second-cut brisket
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 tablespoons neutral cooking oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 medium white onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 sprigs thyme
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
3/4 cup dried apricots or prunes
6 cups beef stock
1 bottle of red wine (I used cabernet)


Rub brisket all over with salt and pepper and allow to sit out at room temperature for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, the moisture that the salt releases from the meat should be reabsorbed into the meat. If the surface of the brisket is still beaded with moisture, allow the meat to sit out at room temperature a little longer.

Preheat oven to 325° F. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat and sear brisket for 5 minutes on each side, or until a nice crust forms. After searing, remove the meat from the pot and set it aside.

Melt butter in the Dutch oven and add onions, garlic, thyme, carrots, and tomato paste and cook over medium heat until onions are soft and slightly browned—about 5 to 7 minutes. 

Return brisket to Dutch oven and add the apricots or prunes, beef stock, and red wine. The brisket should be completely submerged in liquid—if it isn’t, add water or more stock until it is. 

Cover the Dutch oven with a lid and cook in the oven until the meat is falling apart, about 3 1/2 to 4 hours. 

When the meat is done, remove it from the Dutch oven, set it on a platter, and cover in foil to keep it warm. Boil the liquid over medium heat until it reduces to approximately 4 cups—this should take about 25 minutes.

After it has reduced, strain the sauce through a sieve and taste it to adjust seasoning.

Cut brisket against the grain in 1/4-inch strips and serve with sauce and stewed apricots or prunes, onions, and carrots.

Serves 6



Photo credit: Fred R. Conrad for The New York Times


For the brined pork:
3 tablespoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons brown sugar
¼ teaspoon allspice berries, crushed
¼ teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
2 bay leaves
Few thyme branches
1 pork tenderloin, trimmed, about 1 pound
For the sauce and roast:
4 ounces pitted prunes, about 16 large
½ cup dry red wine
½ teaspoon grated ginger
½ teaspoon grated orange zest
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
3 to 4 large shallots, finely diced, about 1/3 cup
½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
1 ½ cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon Madeira or port, optional
2 teaspoons potato starch dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water


To brine the pork: Dissolve the salt and brown sugar in 2 cups cold water in a glass or stainless steel bowl large enough to hold the tenderloin. Add the allspice, peppercorns, bay leaves and thyme. Submerge the meat, cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours (overnight is better). Before cooking, remove the tenderloin, pat dry and bring to room temperature. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

To make the sauce and roast: Simmer the prunes in the red wine until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in the ginger and orange zest, and steep for 10 minutes

Heat the olive oil in a heavy stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly brown the tenderloin, about 3 minutes per side. (Turn off heat and use the same pan to make the sauce.) Transfer the tenderloin to a small roasting pan. Roast uncovered for about 15 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer registers 140 degrees. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. (Residual heat will cause the meat to continue to cook a bit while resting.)

To finish the sauce, melt the butter in the reserved skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and thyme, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, until softened, stirring with a wooden spoon. Scrape up any browned bits to enrich the sauce. Add chicken broth, turn up the heat, and simmer 2 minutes. Stir in the prunes and wine, and simmer for another 2 minutes. Add the Madeira if using. Taste and correct the seasoning, then add the potato starch mixture and cook for another minute to thicken. Spoon sauce and prunes over the sliced tenderloin.

Serves 4

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