Food Basics 2: Animals, Fins and Gardens

Food Basics 2: Animals, Fins and Gardens offers a basic overview of many of the proteins and produce that are served at Two Roads property's events. You will learn about the different cuts of beef, their defining characteristics and how to describe and differentiate them for your guests. You will also learn about cuts of meat coming from lamb, pork and chicken. Finally, you will learn about the importance of seasonality when creating a menu, and how it impacts seafood and produce. 

Introduction

Welcome to Food Basics 2: Animals, Fins and Gardens

Thank you for participating in the Food Basics 2: Animals, Fins and Gardens training module. 

This course is designed to present Two Roads Event Designers with information they should know about what appears on the menus of their events! It offers an overview of the different cuts of beef, lamb, pork and chicken that you will feature on your menu. At the end of this training, you should be able to describe these options to your guests, and communicate with the BOH about them. This course also details the importance of seasonality when creating a menu, and how it will impact the price and quality of the produce and seafood you have available.

TRAINING FORMAT

This training module has 3 sections. Each section covers information about a specific area of concern involving food today, and is then followed by 2 short quizzes on the knowledge that was presented. Completing these quizzes completes the training module. 

Beef

Beef Overview

Beef comes from many different places. Flavors and cooking techniques vary with each. We will look at forequarter, the hindquarter cuts and some of the more popular cuts.

Forequarter Cuts

The chuck is the source of bone-in chuck steaks and roasts (arm or blade), and boneless clod steaks and roasts, most commonly. The trimmings and some whole boneless chucks are ground for hamburgers.

The rib contains part of the short ribs, the prime rib and rib eye steaks.

Brisket, primarily used for barbecue, corned beef or pastrami.

The fore shank or shank is used primarily for stews and soups; it is not usually served any other way because it is the toughest of the cuts.

The plate is the other source of short ribs, used for pot roasting, and the outside skirt steak, which is used for fajitas. The navel is the ventral part of the plate, and is commonly used to make pastrami. The remainder is usually ground, as it is typically a tough and fatty meat.

Hindquarter Cuts

The short loin, from which the T-bone and porterhouse steaks are cut if bone-in, or strip steak, if the bone is not included.

The sirloin, which is less tender than short loin, but more flavorful, can be further divided into top sirloin and bottom sirloin (including tri-tip), and the tenderloin, which is the most tender, can be removed as a separate sub-primal, and cut into filet mignons, tournedos or tenderloin steaks, and roasts (such as for Beef Wellington).They can also be cut bone-in to make parts of the T-bone and Porterhouse loin steaks.

The round contains lean, moderately tough, lower fat (less marbling) cuts, which require moist or rare cooking. Some representative cuts are round steak, eye of round, top round, and bottom round steaks and roasts. The flank is used mostly for grinding, except for the long and flat flank steak, best known for use in London broil, and the inside skirt steak, also used for fajitas.

Flank steaks were once one of the most affordable steaks, because they are substantially tougher than the more desirable loin and rib steaks. Many modern recipes for flank steak use marinades or moist cooking methods, such as braising, to improve the tenderness and flavor. This, combined with a new interest in these cuts' natural leanness, has increased the price of the flank steak.

Quality of Beef

 

Additionally, the amount of marbling (fat) comes into play in the grading process, as demonstrated below:

 

Types of Beef: Flank Steak

Tough in texture, the cut is devoid of fat and is known for its rich taste. To increase the tenderness of this portion, it should be cut against the grain.

Tenderizing the Flank Steak can be a tough job as it is a tough Beef cut. For this reason, the cut can yield best results if subjected to slow, moist cooking methods like braising and stewing. Dry heat cooking techniques can also work well on this cut if the steak has been marinated for a few hours ahead of cooking.

Price: $

Types of Beef: Short Rib

Short Ribs are a wonderful cut for barbecuing, especially when divided into pieces with 2-3 inches thickness. Their flavor increases multifold with addition of a barbecue sauce or any other marinade. Many people prefer cooking Short Ribs using the slow, moist cooking methods in order to dissolve the network of connective tissues present on them. Braised Short Ribs is a popular dish made with this cut. It can also be used in stews, soups and casseroles. This cut is also recommended for making the Korean dish Kalbi.

Short Ribs are taken from the primal cuts of Plate and Rib, with a little square portion of Chuck attached to them.

Price: $

Types of Beef: Hanger Steak

Hanger Steak is a low fat cut of Beef that is known for its exquisite taste. Hanger Steak has been famous in French and Mexican cooking for a good amount of time. Its entry in American cuisines has been fairly recent. This is low on tenderness, which is why the best way to cook it is to leave it marinated for a while and then cook it on a high flame. It produces best results when it is cooked on a grill or under a broiler. For maximum taste and satisfaction, the steak should be cooked rare or medium-rare so that it does not dry out.

Price: $

Types of Beef: Rib Eye

Being well-marbled, this cut maintains its moisture and juiciness even when it is cooked up to medium-well doneness. With its tender fiber, it can be cooked in a number of different ways and is more popular for dry-heat cooking methods like pan-frying, broiling and grilling. This cut is a particular favorite of for steak and barbecue lovers. For best results, the cut should be sliced 1-2 inches (2.5-5cm) in thickness. Many people vouch for its enhanced flavor when it is prepared with the bone still attached.

Price: $$

Types of Beef: Strip Steak

Strip Steak is counted among the most expensive cuts of meat due to its supreme quality, although it is still lower in grade than Rib Eye and Tenderloin. This is an incredibly tender cut since the section where it is taken from gets very little exercise. It is typically an inch in thickness.

Strip Steak is a classic steak cut, which means that it can be cooked using any dry-heat preparation methods such as roasting, grilling, broiling, barbecuing and smoking. Since it is rich in marbling, the fat within its muscles melts when it is seared and enriches its flavor as well as texture multifold.

Price: $$

Types of Beef: Beef Tenderloin

Perhaps the most sought after Beef cut, Tenderloin Steak is famous world over for its impeccable flavor and succulence. This cut of meat retains its texture and moisture even after being cooked on high temperature. Tenderloin Steak is a restaurant favorite and is one of the most expensive cuts of Beef.

Tenderloin Steak is arguably the most popular cut for making steaks. This cut can be cooked using the dry-heat techniques like grilling, broiling, pan-frying and barbecuing. Due to its naturally rich, beefy flavor, cooking experts do not recommend dousing this portion in heavy marinades.

Price: $$$

True or False

  • The best grade of beef is choice
  • A rib eye steak is extremely well-marbled
  • A hanger steak may dry out if it is cooked past medium-rare
  • A beef tenderloin should be heavily marinated in order to produce the best flavor
  • To increase the tenderness of a flank steak, it should be cut against the grain

Match the name of the cut with the dish it is most closely associated with.

  • Brisket
    Corned beef & pastrami
  • Outside skirt steak
    Fajitas
  • Tenderloin
    Filet mignon
  • Flat flank steak
    London broil
  • Rib
    Short ribs

Chicken, Pork & Lamb

Chicken

The most common type of poultry, chicken is universally eaten across all cultures.  Its prevalence is attributed to the fact that almost the entire animal is editable.

Chicken-In Depth

The Breast cut of Chicken is quite lean and not most flavorful of portions. It is, however, preferred by those who are on low fat diet and can be used in a variety of dishes.

 

Chicken Thigh comes from the leg portion of the Chicken. This part of the Chicken’s body is marked by dark meat, which is amazingly soft and juicy due to the presence of fat. The portion can be served both bone-in and boneless

 

Even though they have a lesser bone to meat ratio, Chicken Wings are among the most popular Chicken cuts. They are typically served as appetizers or snacks. Chicken Wings can be made both with the skin on and peeled off, yielding some excellent tasting dishes as a result.

 

The Drumstick is perhaps the most popular cut of Chicken. It comprises the lower part of a Chicken’s leg and is marked by its dark meat. Drumsticks are well-liked world over for their succulent meat and incredible flavor. Being a moist cut of Chicken, they can be cooked in a variety of ways, yielding great tasting dishes.

Lamb

Lamb is low in fat, and it contains very little fat marbling in comparison to other red meats. This food is also low in calories.

Lamb is the meat from very young sheep who are under 1 year of age. Lamb is a tender cut of meat and its gamey flavor is mild.

Lamb-In Depth

Lamb Leg is by far the most popular Lamb cut, especially when made on festive holidays. There is a wide range of methods in which this portion of Lamb can be cooked. Since it is one of the most active parts of the Lamb, the meat on the Leg can be quite tough if not cooked properly. Most cooking experts see the Leg as a classic roasting cut.

 

Tenderloin is an extremely tender and flavorful cut from the Lamb. Since the size of a Lamb is small, the portion size of Tenderloin is also very small and produces a miniature roast. Much like the Tenderloin of other animals, this portion is lean and is counted among the prized cuts of the Lamb.

 

Frenched Rack refers to a Rack of Lamb which has the meat removed from the tip of the bone. In a true Frenched Rib Roast, around 1 ½ inches (4cm) of meat is removed from the tip in order to make the portion appear more presentable. A double Frenched Rack can also be made by placing two Frenched Lamb Racks against one another in such as way that their bone tips are intertwined.

Pork

Pork is the most widely eaten meat in the world, accounting for about 38% of meat production worldwide. Consumption varies widely from place to place. The meat is taboo to eat in the Middle East and most of the Muslim world because of Jewish kosher and Islamic Halal dietary restrictions. But pork is widely consumed in East and Southeast Asia, Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Americas and Oceania.

Pork-In Depth

Pork Belly is a boneless portion, which mostly comprises fat. It is the most popular cut of Pork for making bacon. In its fresh and uncured state, Pork Belly is extensively used in Asian cookery. The trend is also catching up in the United States where a number of restaurants are now serving delicacies containing Pork Belly.

 

Spareribs are typically considered richer in flavor, texture and fat than Baby Back Ribs. The meat on these ribs is extremely succulent owing to the generous marbling within its grains. Generally, a rack of Spareribs contains 10-12 ribs and weighs around 3lbs (approximately 1.5kg).

 

Slab Bacon is a relatively large chunk of meat that is typically cured and can also be smoked. This cut is typically cut into pieces as per the requirement, giving cooks much more flexibility than they would have with regular precut bacon. Although it is not commonly available in retail, Slab Bacon can be bought from outlets selling specialty food items as well as butcher shops.

True or False

  • Almost the entirety of a chicken is edible
  • Lamb is high in fat and calories compared to other red meats
  • Pork is the most widely eaten meat in the world
  • A pig's spare ribs are typically used to make bacon
  • The lamb leg is the most popular cut of lamb, especially on holidays

True or False

  • Chicken breast lacks natural flavor compared to other cuts of chicken
  • Lamb comes from sheep that are over 1 year old
  • Most practicing Muslims and Jewish people do not eat pork
  • Chicken has a more gamey taste than lamb
  • Chicken thighs are soft and juicy because they do not contain very much fat

Veggies, Seafood & Seasonality

Importance of Seasonality

Seasonal availability should be a major consideration when ordering and planning menus for events. Certain fish & shellfish may only be available at certain times of the year. An educated consumer may know that a fish served out of season is likely not fresh. Likewise, fruits and vegetables taste best when eaten in season (especially if they are grown close to your property!) Weather and other “acts of god” can greatly influence the availability of all produce, therefore, impact pricing. Planning events with the food seasons in mind elevates everything.

You should also consider seasonality as you put together a menu. Featuring out of season produce on a menu looks tone-deaf. Use your understanding of the available products to create a menu that embraces the season you are in. Your guests will enjoy a menu that highlights the appropriate produce. Consider how satisfying pumpkin soup is in the fall, and how out of place it would seem to eat in the spring. 

Fruits & Veggies: Spring

Spring is a tremendous season for produce, as many ingredients that were unavailable during the cold winter months begin to ripen again. Many chefs consider spring to be the best season for fresh produce, and it is a fantastic opportunity to feature your chef's work.

 

 

SPRING VEGGIES

  • Artichokes
  • Arugula
  • Asparagus
  • Belgian Endive
  • Broccoli
  • Butter/Bibb Lettuce
  • Cauliflower
  • Chives
  • Collard Greens
  • Fennel
  • Fiddlehead Ferns
  • Green Beans
  • Jicama
  • Mustard Greens
  • Pea Pods
  • Radicchio
  • Red Leaf Lettuce
  • Rhubarb
  • Snow Peas
  • Spinach
  • Spring Greens
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Vidalia Onions
  • Watercress

SPRING FRUITS

  • Apricots
  • Grapefrut
  • Honeydew
  • Limes
  • Mango
  • Oranges
  • Pineapples
  • Strawberries

Fruits & Veggies: Summer

The summer has plentiful produce available, and is particularly a good season for fruit. You may notice a change in your guests dining habits in the summertime as well. People tend to eat less in the summer, but they often drink more. Consider driving beverage sales during the hot summer months. 

 

 

SUMMER VEGGIES

  • Arugula
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Butter (Bibb) Lettuce
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Endive
  • Green Beans
  • Hot Peppers
  • Okra
  • Radishes
  • Red Leaf Lettuce
  • Snow Peas
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Summer Squash
  • Swiss Chard
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

SUMMER FRUIT

  • Apricots
  • Asian Pears
  • Black Currants
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Boysenberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries
  • Elderberries
  • Figs
  • Grapes
  • Honeydew Melon
  • Limes
  • Loganberries
  • Nectarines
  • Passion Fruit
  • Peaches
  • Pineapples
  • Plums
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon

Fruits & Veggies: Fall

As the temperature begins to dip, your guests will start to crave comfort foods. The body will burn more calories in order to stay warm. This is a tremendous opportunity to Sell, Sell, Sell!

Keep in mind, however, that availabilities of the robust summer crops start to change and their prices will begin to go up. 

 

 

FALL VEGGIES

  • Acorn Squash
  • Arugula
  • Belgian Endive
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Butter (Bibb) Lettuce
  • Buttercup Squash
  • Butternut Squash
  • Cauliflower
  • Daikon Radish
  • Endive
  • Hot Peppers
  • Jerusalem Artichoke
  • Jicama
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Pumpkin
  • Radicchio
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Swiss Chard
  • Winter Squash

FALL FRUIT

  • Asian Pears
  • Cape Gooseberries
  • Cranberries
  • Grapes
  • Huckleberries
  • Kumquats
  • Passion Fruit
  • Pears
  • Pomegranate 
  • Quince

Fun Fact!

According to The Weather Channel, pumpkin by far was the most craved for food in autumn.

Fruits & Veggies: Winter

In the winter, prices on high cost proteins (such as steaks) start to skyrocket due to increased demand because of holiday celebrations. As a result, you may experience an increase in food cost. For the sake of the price conscience client and your chef, it is good to have some alternatives available in your back pocket. Consider featuring fresh winter produce in a dish.

 

WINTER VEGGIES

  • Acorn Squash
  • Belgian Endive
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Buttercup Squash
  • Butternut Squash
  • Cauliflower
  • Collard Greens
  • Jicama
  • Kale 
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Winter Squash

WINTER FRUIT

  • Clementines
  • Dates
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Oranges
  • Passion Fruit
  • Pears
  • Pineapples
  • Pomegranate
  • Red Currants
  • Tangerines

Fruits & Veggies: Year Round

Some fruits and vegetables never go out of season! Even so, consider what kind of associations guests may make with these foods, as some may still be considered more appropriate in a certain season. For instance, although fresh parsnips are available year-round, many other root vegetables come into season during the colder months, and parsnips is more associated with cold-weather dishes than summer dishes. 

YEAR ROUND VEGGIES

  • Beet Greens
  • Bell Peppers
  • Bok Choy
  • Broccolini
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Celery Root
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Parsnips
  • Shallots
  • Turnips

YEAR ROUND FRUIT

  • Apples
  • Avocados
  • Bananas 
  • Lemons
  • Papayas

Seasonal Seafood

Just like produce, seasonality has a great impact on many species of fish and other seafood. Seafood populations often migrate in and out of local fishing grounds, impacting their total population numbers. As a result, seafood prices can vary greatly based on available supply. Similarly to produce, in-season seafood tastes better and fresher. Finally, a greater focus on sustainability leads some consumers to only desire to eat seafood when it is in-season.

The chart below details the availability of many popular season fish and other seafood:

Year Round Seafood

Some seafood is also freshly available year-round. These species are specified in the chart below. It is worth noting that seasonality of seafood only impacts wild-caught seafood. Farm-raised seafood provides many seafood species year round. Many of your guests may avoid farm-raised seafood, however, and they will likely not want to pay a premium for it.

Match the food with the season it is associated with

  • Pumpkin
    Fall
  • Clementines
    Winter
  • Asparagus
    Spring
  • Tomatoes
    Summer
  • Mushrooms
    Year Round

True or False

  • Price and taste are both affected by seasonality
  • Sweet potatoes are freshest in the spring and summer
  • Farm-raised salmon is available year round
  • Oysters are freshest in the hot summer months
  • People tend to eat more food in the summer