A word of warning for those of you who don’t eat meat…or don’t want to see where your meat comes from….this post is may be a little too much for you. It’s okay, I understand.
The “Beast Meets Art” events this week at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver were very interesting and challenged my thinking about what is considered art. Is an animal a form of art? What about an animal running on the western plains? How about the food that is made from the animal?
The bison that was butchered came from a bison ranch in Nebraska. While the whole animal was delivered, the seminar only used a hind quarter…which is pretty darn big. The remainder of the animal was butchered earlier in the day. The animal was 2 years old which is the best age to produce tender meat.
Butchering is coming back into favor as a craft and Jimmy Cross from Marzczyk Fine Foods is well known for his butchering abilities.
Jimmy started with the hanging carcass, explaining and cutting into the architecture of the finished animal and breaking it down to usable pieces. Using his knives he quickly made the cuts and lined up the meat on a table. When the knives weren’t big enough or strong enough he switched to hand saws, explaining that normally he uses a band saw in his shop.
Moving to the table where the largest pieces were displayed, Jimmy sawed through the ribs with some help. The ribs were massive…a big barbecue grill would be in order if you were going to make barbecued ribs!
While a bison and beef are very similar in anatomy, the hump, on the back just behind the head, is unique. The large muscle allows the bison to hold up its very large head while charging across the plains. The hump is a specialty at some of the local game restaurants where it is roasted and then the meat is separated from the bone. The hump feeds about about 1/2 dozen people.
Finally, Jimmy took the better known roasts and tied them so they would look just like they do in the meat case. The chefs who were making the dinner the next night were in attendance and as Jimmy cut the meat they would wiggle their way to the table and pick up the pieces they wanted to cook for the Bison Roast dinner. They were standing behind me and the conversations about how they were going to cook the m eat was very interesting…and amusing.
The chefs worked late into the night preparing for the big Bison Roast dinner that was held the next evening. Of course I’ll be posting the pictures and stories about the dinner.
Click here for more pictures from Westword.com, the free city weekly in Denver.