“When you’ve got a proper hunger you can’t top a Triple Whopper®.”
At least that’s what the folks at Burger King would like you to think. Who’s so famished that they need to stuff ¾ of a pound of beef into their mouths to satisfy their hunger, proper or otherwise? It borders on obscene.
Fast food has had an unhealthy reputation for some time, as has red meat, but did you know that the risk of dying prematurely rises with red meat consumption? In other words, the more red meat you eat (especially processed red meat), the more likely you are to die young. So what is it about red meat that makes it so potentially harmful? Well, along with the high saturated fat content which can contribute to heart disease, charring red meat at high temperatures can produce carcinogens on the surface – and carcinogens cause cancer. The good news is that you don’t have to give up red meat entirely to cut the risk; just eat less of it.
I signed up for Chef Antonio Cerullo’s cooking class, The New Carnivore, at Choices Market, hoping to learn more about how to enjoy red meat as part of a (mostly) healthy diet.
The first recipe Chef Antonio demonstrated was Beef Salmonato; a riff on the classic Italian dish Vitello Tonnato. Instead of searing or grilling the beef, he chose to safeguard against carcinogens by simmering it in stock. Once the meat had chilled, he sliced it very thin and topped it with a heart-healthy salmon sauce.
Chef Antonio told us that he focuses entirely on taste without worrying about presentation. I’ve never heard a chef say that before. *
Next, he used some of the leftover stock to make a delicious soup.
The main course, Ginger and Tamari Marinated Rack of Lamb, highlighted several healthy cooking techniques. First, Chef Antonio marinated the racks of lamb overnight before he seared them over high heat. Studies have shown that the right marinade can reduce HCAs by as much as 96%. He also chose to load the marinade with powerful antioxidants - ginger, sesame oil, tamari soy sauce, lime juice, mint, and cilantro. These antioxidants help counteract any carbon that might form during cooking. Finally, he chose to cook with responsibly raised meat, Ovation Free Range New Zealand Lamb. For the healthiest option, look for terms like grass-fed-and-finished, certified organic, free range, certified humane, and natural on the package.
For dessert, Chef Antonio taught us how to make Bacon Rosemary Chocolate Fudge; a sweet and salty little slice of heaven. The crust is made from bacon, rice puffs and bacon fat. The top is a rosemary-scented ganache made with the standard 1:1 ratio of milk chocolate to whipping cream. The idea here is to use a small amount of intensely flavoured meat (like bacon, prosciutto, or pancetta) to deliver a huge hit of happiness.
The New Carnivores eat meat less often and in smaller portions, and are willing to spend more to get the best available. They also choose cooking methods that reduce carcinogens and deliver powerful antioxidants. Oh, and they don’t eat the sandwich Burger King describes as “the best threesome you’ve ever had”, the Triple Whopper®, for lunch.
* I confess I was really surprised to hear Chef Antonio say that as long as a dish tastes great, presentation doesn’t matter. What do you think? Do you agree?
- 250 g bacon (all-natural if possible)
- 1-1/2 cups rice puffs
- 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons bacon fat
- 400 g milk chocolate
- 400 ml whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary (chopped)
- Cook bacon on medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon from the fat and place on a paper towel to cool. Reserve the bacon fat and keep warm (not hot).
- Once bacon has fully cooled, place in a food processor and chop finely. Add in rice puffs and sugar and process on high until everything is well combined. Remove mixture from processor and place in a medium mixing bowl. Pour in the warm bacon fat and mix until well combined.
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Line six 3-inch or one 8-inch cake ring cake molds with parchment paper. Divide bacon mixture between the rings and press down evenly. Bake for 20 minutes then remove from oven.
- Place the chocolate and rosemary in a double boiler. When chocolate is completely melted, add whipping cream and stir until well blended. Divide chocolate mixture between the rings and spread evenly. Set overnight in the fridge.
- Enjoy this treat simply as is or serve it with a side of custard or vanilla ice cream.
Choices Markets 1937 Harvey Avenue Kelowna, British Columbia Canada V1Y 6G5 The New Carnivore Date: January 29, 2013 Cost: $25.00 CDN Style: Demonstration, Dinner with Wine Pairing Duration: 2 hours Chef Instructor: Antonio Cerullo Highlights: At only $25 per person, this class is a steal! Registration fee includes an informative cooking demo, recipes, generous portions of appetizer, soup, entrée, and dessert paired with three exquisite wines from Summerhill Pyramid Organic Winery. Improvement Opportunities: Add tables to the room setup so that students don't need to juggle their plate, drink, utensils, napkins, recipes, pen, purses, and in some instances, cameras all in their laps.