Sunday, August 7, 2011

Batcheller Hill Farms: Behold the Ribeye!

I've obviously been beating around the bush thus far. Sure, there are lots of beautiful vegetables blooming all over New England at the moment, and yes! We MUST take advantage while they're here. But let's face it. When you want some meat, you really want some meat. And still staying true to my need to buy locally and patronize our local farmers, I turn to another stand at the farmers market, that of Batcheller Hill Farm.
I walked up to this stand on Tuesday with one thing that I wanted, and I knew that it would be my Friday night feast. Please, dear sir and ma'am, give me your finest rib-eye. 
The man at the stand went digging through his cooler, and pulled out two very thick rib-eyes, weighing about 1 1/2 pounds. He handed the woman the meat, and for a good fifteen seconds she agonized over which would be the better piece of meat, carefully examining the marbling that was produced on this fine animal, raised on a mix of grass and hay from their farm out in North Brookfield, Massachusetts. He looked at me and said, "I don't know how she does it, but she always know which one will be best." She finally picked the cut on my right, and said, "That's the one." I love that this farm stand took the time to find me the best piece of meat. Since I've always been pleased with what I've purchased from them in the past, I also noticed that this week they had oxtails on the list of items available. Not quite sure what I'm going to do with them yet, but I'm sure I'll come up with something. At any rate, I've got a beautiful cut of rib-eye ready to go for a night when I have the proper allocation of time to cook it up for a finest of the finest feast.
So, I think it's pretty important at this time to get a little down and dirty on the specific cut of meat I chose. I went for a rib-eye because I really like prime rib. Rib-eye is a boneless cut that is found closer to the head than say a T-Bone or a tenderloin cut of meat. I actually don't have much more information than this, except to say that a rib-eye is quite the tasty cut. I also really like NY strip, though I find it a bit tougher than rib-eye... and I'm not such a fan of the daintier cuts like filet mignon. Other favorites of mine include hanger steak, and skirt steak... ideal for tacos! We will see many of these cuts in posts to come, so thought I'd point them out now.
 When preparing the rib-eye steak, you must remember to let the meat properly defrost, since you will have purchased it frozen from a farm or the farmers market. You must then allow it to warm up to room temperature so that you have the easiest cooking process. We allowed our meat to warm up and then just marveled at its divine marbling. Since this is grass fed beef, it's not going to be as speckled with fat as something as wacky as Wagyu, but this was indeed a beautiful cut of meat. After gazing up on its glorious rawness for a few minutes, we went ahead and heavily salted and peppered both sides. Instead of grilling (since we're not allowed to have grills in our building - fascist condo rules apply here), we heated up a pan on high until hot enough to make that lovely first sizzle noise. Four minutes on one side, four minutes on the other, and a quick sear on each end section. Once the juices begin to bubble up out of the top just a little bit, the steak is nearing its perfect temperature. We wanted what can be best called a "French medium rare." Then the steak rested for an agonizing five minutes... that's 300 mind-blowingly slow seconds. If you do not let the steak rest, you're really shooting yourself in the foot, because those juices, all that flavor NEEDS to redistribute. Chew some bubble gum or something and just let the steak rest. 
Cutting in reveals a lovely pink to deep red interior. The smell of cooked steak is undeniably mouth watering, and the first bite is a gastronomic ecstasy. Wonderful meat should be rich, and enjoyed in smaller bites. Obviously, it's meaty, it's savory, and it's really a treat. Every bite will release more of the juice of the beef, and the speckles of fat have melted into what can only be called one of the most decadent proteins on this planet. A rewarding chew of rich, delicious, contented cows, and something that doesn't melt in the mouth with tenderness, but has that wonderful, round, primal nature that comes in consuming a fine steak. Rib-eye steak from happy cows is such a payoff, like the fanciness of a millionaire with the ruthlessness of a buccaneer or a cowboy who fights aliens. 

Batcheller Hill Farms
142 Oakham Road
North Brookfield, MA

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