I am a carnivore and I have already eaten way more meat than I ever should have eaten, but I make no excuses. My father and Grandfather were both butchers and worked in slaughterhouses.
I remember being horrified at the sight of the cows being led up the chutes and the man shooting them in the head with some sort of air rifle.
I had nightmares for years when I was younger. I could here the thud of bodies as the carcasses hit the ramp and the meat was sent for processing.
But they never stopped me from eating my way through all the different cuts of beef. We always had steak and meat on the table during hard times, and I grew to be able to break down an entire cow with my hands and my Henckels.
Meat invites fat to the party, and even the most lean cuts are not healthy, and I did some major damage on hamburgers in my time.
I ate veal, something which the Domestic Despot does not allow in my current diet. Veal is great to work with as a chef because the meat is very non-committal and takes to many different treatments and sauces so long as you don’t overcook it.
My favorite cut of meat is a porterhouse steak and I spent hours and hours on the band saw breaking down loins into porters and T-bones. Once I broke down whole tenderloins, I would hand-cut the filet mignons.
When training chefs I looked for the kids who were maybe not exactly the fastest, but I always looked for pride in workmanship. I used to tell my trainees that I could teach them everything about cooking except the pride in presenting a perfect plate every single time. I would start training my expeditors by placing a perfect plate in the window with ONE THING out of place.
One of the items I developed while I was working in the kitchens during the California Cuisine era of the early 80’s was what I called the Filet Mignon Catalina:
One 6-oz filet mignon lightly salted and peppered. I would split the two halves and flambee with brandy. I made a seafood stuffing out of King Crab Leg meat, Jumbo Santa Barbara Prawns, and several slices of Sea Scallops.
This was a very imposing plate, standing around 4-5 inches tall, and topped with a rich bearnaise sauce.
I used different types of meat in my kitchens and I was one of the first (that I knew of) to cook rattlesnake which I served with a smoky tequila salsa. I used to break down the snake when I served it, as I had trouble trusting anyone with my food cost when it came to exotic meats and ingredients.
I used to make a very rich dish out of sweetbreads. Sweetbreads are the meat from the pancreas of the calf. Since describing certain specials were a big skill of the servers, I told them to answer the queries from customers with “the sweetbread is the tenderest part of the calf.”
I made a super-rich treatment by sautéing the sweetbreads and serving them with a creamy Chardonnay buttercream.
And I wonder why I had a heart attack.