Wild About Game: The meatiest culinary event in the NW!

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’re well aware that I work as a meat distributor. You might even know that every year the company I work for hosts a huge meaty gathering where our vendors and other friends (think people involved with salt, cheese, and alcohol) get to mingle with our chefs. Four and a half hours later, everyone — staff included — is full of beer and booze and practically shaking from the meat sweats.

This year I even gave away two tickets to the event on my Facebook page. I would say it was a huge success — I’m pretty sure I saw the winner and his guest still hanging out at the after party bonfire around midnight.

What can I say? We know how to have a good time!

Anyways here’s some pictures I took of the day event to give you an idea of how deliciously awesome it was:

Winning dish of WAG 2013

The grand prize winning dish of the cooking competition. Guinea fowl leg stuffed with guinea fowl sausage, plum sauce, pea tendrils and carrots. By Chef Aaron Barnett of St. Jacks, Portland, OR.

Mt Hood

The view of Mt. Hood from the Timberline Lodge

Foie gras ice cream in sugar cones

Foie gras ice cream in sugar cones, by Chef Chris Carriker of 23 Hoyt, Portland.

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Wild About Game: A beautiful day to eat some meat!

I’ve mentioned that I work as a meat distributor. While my job occasionally has its bad moments (lets just say the words “turkey grid” can induce serious panic), for the most part it’s pretty awesome. We participate in many different food events throughout the year, but my favorite one is the customer appreciation party my boss hosts every year.

We travel out to the mountain — this year’s event was held at Timberline Lodge — and eat ourselves silly. All of our customers are invited and we throw down with a party that is truly unsurpassable. There is a marketplace with vendors on hand sampling products (Iberico jamon, foie gras torchons, local elk seared on salt blocks). There is a cooking competition and cooking demos involving some of Portland and Seattle’s top chefs. This year we even had a few James Beard winners compete.

But really it’s all about the meat (well, and the booze!).

So without further ado, I present some scenes from Wild About Game 2012.

Devil Kriek from Double Mountain. This is how you start the day off right! They also donated more than 5 kegs to the event and the afterparty. Woo-hoo!

Treats from Bakeshop — these looked so pretty, it was hard to eat them…okay, maybe it was easy, but still, they were beautiful!

Capunet made with Pheasant Sausage and Veal Sweetbreads — from Carrie Mashaney, the chef de cuisine of Cascina Spinasse in Seattle

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Flanken Shortribs for the Grill: Fast, easy and wonderful!

I have always been a big fan of flanken ribs, even before I understood what they were all about. I just knew that they were incredibly tender, with fat so crispy it melted in your mouth and they usually came seasoned with flavors of soy and sesame. I didn’t know where they came from on the cow or what their NAMP number was. Now, because I work as a meat distributor, I actually ended up in a Facebook conversation regarding such things after posting the above picture. That conversation led to all of my co-workers (including our master butcher) discussing it the next day, which just made me laugh later thinking about it. Because, wow, what a group of meat nerds! Seriously!

At any rate, flanken ribs are also known as galbi or Korean ribs, and are usually taken from the shortribs plate or chuck rib section of the cow and cut across the bone. Usually those ribs are cut thicker (like 2-3 inches) and are made for braising, but these guys are cut super thin. Like a quarter of an inch or so. They are typically run across a bandsaw while partially frozen, so the cuts should be nice and uniform. Like this:

This means instead of slow and low, you want to cook them quickly over very high heat. You can also see that the ribs are quite fatty, so you want to be sure to crisp up that section as much as possible. Left undercooked, it will still taste fine but the texture will be lacking. The crunchy fat is the best part!

The next important thing to note when making these ribs is that the marinade is critical. I have tried a few different recipes, and there are still some I am dying to try, such as this one  which calls for an Asian pear to help tenderize the meat. However, I always forget to go shopping before I make these (like last week) and thus I’m left with pantry staples.

Luckily this recipe from Bon Appetit worked out just fine. It called for the all of the basics, which I happily had on hand: soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, lots of garlic, sugar and rice wine vinegar. Since I only had about a pound and a half of meat, I cut the recipe accordingly. Then I took my lovely little ribs and let them soak for 24 hours in the mixture.

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Gratuitous Food Pic — A fabulous charcuterie board

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It’s time for another installment of things that make me happy:

Large platters of various meaty items ALWAYS make me happy. It’s a fact.

This massive charcuterie board had everything from duck rillette to prosciutto-wrapped asparagus and (the best thing ever) deep-fried pork rillette. Holy moly. It was good. Very good.

From Metrovino, circa 2010.