That's my friend Jake up there in that picture. If I do remember correctly, he was not behind the drum kit where he was supposed to be and instead playing Island In the Sun by Weezer on my Tele. It's okay though, we're friends. I told you that already.
Jake is leaving our fair city for new experiences in the one Ohio city that's always under construction and therefore never, ever fun to drive through. Yes, friends, I'm talking about Cincinnati. And they seem to like putting chili on spaghetti down there, as though that's a thing or something. It's totally not, Cincinnati.
In light of Jake and his wife, Elaine, departing from us soon I was reminded that back at the outset of 2013, Jake penned a little piece about his favorite meats of 2012. A little list he had to help us all better understand what good food is all about. As I was re-reading this wonderfully insightful piece, it was a little surprising that someone can write a post about meats and use the word "versatile" so many times in reference to some of them. As though a pork chop is something akin to a Swiss Army Knife. He also uses the word "brininess" and I'm not even sure what means. It could be a weird German curse word because apparently his wife knows some weird German songs that her grandmother taught her as a child.
Nonetheless, and on a serious not as well, I'm a little perturbed at myself that I didn't fully appreciate the brilliance of the list when I read it way back when. And I read it, you can tell because I commented on it. Oh, he posted it on Facebook, so unless you're a friend of his on Facebook, because it's like high school, then you don't get to see that part. It's there, trust me. And since there is a really good chance that you're not friends with my friend, Jake, then I'm going to post his entire Best Meats of 2012 list, right here for you to read it. In its entirety. If you're anything like me, just reading this list will probably result in you waking up at 2:30am with the meat sweats.
Do I have his consent to repost it? Nope. I'm posting it anyways, for two reasons:
1) It's too good NOT to post.
2) He's a huge stickler on copyright law, so it'll probably irritate him a touch.
So, without further adieu, I give you said list... enjoy.
So logically, I follow up a couple music lists with this. I like food, I like lists. I may have issues. In the end, I hope we can all laugh and debate the merits of bacon vs. chicken as one big happy facebook family, slowly being driained for monetary value by our facebook overlords like the people in The Matrix. Well, here goes nothing. I am still waiting for Brad Inman's list, though he's kind of restricted by a seafood allergy. Also, if you don't know why you're tagged, it's just because I thought you might enjoy this and/or you were tagged on the other lists. Go ahead and de-tag if you want, just getting your attention, shamelessly.
Sorry if you're a vegetarian. You're missing out, though. Each number will feature a description/explanation, as well as a suggestion of where to get it from. Note, I haven't necessarily had all of these in 2012, this is just my list for 2012.
...Just kidding. Animal products only!
20. Soylent Green
Surprisingly flavorful, this staple of our modern diet is also..wait. Soylent Green is what? Really? Okay. Uh....
Let's try again.
20. Bone Marrow
Usually from the leg bone of a cow, this slightly gelatinous offering is akin to meat butter, as it's scooped out of a roasted bone and onto some sort of a bread product.
Where: Michael Symon's Roast in Detroit (and I believe his restaurant Lola in Cleveland as well) offers this, and it's something you should try at least once.
Preferably not out of a can, this especially flavorful meat is a staple, mostly because it brings a lot to the flavor party on its own, while many other fish need heavy seasoning to be worth much. You owe it to yourself to try a well-prepared Tuna Steak, with the nice red color still intact on the inside. Tender, light, and not too bad for you, either.
Where: Somewhere that offers tuna steak, or perhaps sushi/sashimi
18. Ground Beef
Versatile but uninspiring, still an essential part of the gastric life of an American. Gets pushed down here because it's not healthy at all, and like I said, it can be a little boring without some serious help (or helper). There are just some times that only good old-fashioned burger meat hits the spot.
Where: Five guys, or any other place with top quality beef.
17. Pork Chops
The other white meat, this versatile cut is a nice alternative to steak when you're feeling like something different. A little more flavor than Tenderloin, though not quite up to the same standard as steak or bacon. Still, a solid choice and something you can order at a steakhouse if you want to break out of the mold a little bit.
Where: Any steakhouse worth going to.
Bucyrus, be proud. This porky sausage (preferably with sauerkraut) is essential, once you grow out of your hot dog stage. With a bit of stadium mustard, this is the best sausage out there, breakfast sausage included.
Where: At a ballgame, preferably one with authentic stadium mustard and the Cleveland Indians on the field. So, anywhere that has all that. Your choice.
15. Pork shoulder
The base for pulled pork, this cut of pig is a summer and barbeque essential. Pick a hearty bun and your favorite sauce, and pig out. Probably terrible for you, but this list is about taste, not waist.
Where: The smokin' Ox in Oxford, Ohio is my local pick, but City Barbeque (the chain) isn't bad, though I dislike their wimpy buns.
Essential offering on lunchmeat sandwiches, though better when taken in bigger chunks, like thanksgiving leftovers. So may ways to have it: sliced thin like at Jimmy Johns, thick like at Panera, as a whole leg at the Ohio Renaissance Festival, or freshly carved off a turkey at your relatives' at Thanksgiving.
Where: Take your pick, it's everywhere.
It belongs, as this is easily the most versatile meat ever. I think white meat is a little tasteless, but done right, it's a staple. Dark meat really packs the flavor, though it doesn't really work on sandwiches as well. Tastes like...chicken.
Where: Raising Cane's and/or Chick-Fil-A (try both)
The universally likeable seafood, these little buggers are the right mix of sweetness, saltiness, brininess, and freshness. With a little cocktail sauce (and preferably without their intestines) these are great either on ice or fried. Also surprisingly good in tacos, a seafood salad (like Chicken salad, Tuna salad, etc.) and even jambalaya. Just avoid the coconut (my least favorite food, perhaps of all time).
Where: Kind of universal but just kind a half decent seafood restaurant and you should be set.
This is where things begin to get interesting. Lamb is pretty similar to beef--tender, flavorful, can be eaten like a steak. Pretty versatile, with many cuts to choose from. I'd like to try this more, but it's not all that common here in the states.
Where: Any place you can find it--likely a foodie restaurant. Roast in DET, Lola in CLE, Orchids in CIN are my local foodie spots of choice.
10. Frog Legs
Gross right? Wrong. Think seafood crossed with Chicken Wings. Good anywhere, even a Chinese Buffet. Try to get over your squeamishness and just go for it. No, it isn't really a prince you're eating.
Where: Chinese buffet or French restaurant are where you're most likely to see these; not too common.
Again, kind of hard to find, but these tiny little birds pack serious flavor if you like dark meat, or a little gaminess in your poultry. I had this in Findlay at Revolver (R.I.P.) over some mashed butternut squash, and it was my favorite appetizer ever that didn't involve meats #5 or #3.
Where: You can find it frozen if you look hard enough (Churchill’s in Perrysburg, Jungle Jim's I'm sure, or Whole Foods probably), but again, a foodie restaurant is your best bet. Just look at the menus before you go.
When done right, these golf ball sized seafood nuggets are a pure joy. Fork-tender and ever so sweet, they're a little pricey, but some of my favorite seafood. Pan-fried and with seasoning or a nice sauce, they practically melt in your mouth. Way better than fish. I had a couple recently with a filet, and it made for a great surf and turf.
Where: Most seafood restaurants and steakhouses will have these, but you want to be sure to go somewhere that they will be cooked properly, since you can often pay quite a bit for just 3 or 4 of these. Can also be made at home, but again--could be a costly experiment.
7. Pork Ribs
Barbeque heaven. Not even messy if cooked long enough to be properly tender--just use a fork and knife to slide the meat right off in between the bones. Pick a sauce, and enjoy the strips of pork perfection.
Where: Cincinnati (and now Dublin) has Montgomery Inn, a classic. If you don't like their tomato-based BBQ sauce, you could just go to any place where you know they will be cooked for the proper amount of time to reach knife and fork tenderness. I've had great success with Longhorn's ribs. Just avoid the McRib, which actually has pig heart, tripe, and scalded stomach, whatever that is.
The classic high-end seafood, it has a complex flavor profile, with an incredible mix of sweetness, and even slight bitterness depending on the type of lobster, type of meat, and obviously the preparation. Bisque is a cheaper way to experience lobster, but it's hard to go wrong alongside a steak in a surf and turf. I'm not super well-versed with lobster, but lobster bisque could just be my favorite soup.
Where: Anywhere that you think they will cook it well enough to justify the crazy price. New England or Seattle is a good bet. Red Lobster or perhaps Lobster bisque can be a cheaper way to acquaint yourself with Lobster, but obviously to some extent you get what you pay for.
5. Duck Prosciutto
Thinly sliced and cured, it's like ham, but DUCK! Oh man, I had this once and it was just incredible. Wonderful gamey poultry flavor profile, but in a package that pairs well with all kinds of things, like cheese, crusty bread, pickled veggies, fruit, honey--whatever. It’s not something you put on a sandwich, but something you savor and take in slowly.
Where: Any restaurant offering charcuterie, or house-cured meats. I think Jungle Jim's might carry it too, but let's be real here--get it anywhere you can. Then tell me where you got it so I can go too.
Thinly sliced pork belly, this fatty goodness is the best pork product, easily. You know her well, I'm sure. Crispy, soft, thick, thin--you may have your preferences, but it's all good. Basically the wingman of meats--it's an ingredient in itself, and goes well with many, many other items on this list. It's relative inability to stand on its own as the star protein in a dish knocks it down a bit, but C'mon. You can't deny Bacon.
Where: Anywhere, but somewhere with thick-cut bacon or straight up pork belly is best.
3. Foie Gras
Fattened goose or duck liver, actually illegal to make or serve in California, yet a staple of French cuisine. Generally expensive and not that big, it's one of those delicacies you may only try once in your life. The first time I had it, I raved about the deep, rich, meaty flavor, matched with the buttery texture. Best served on a nice bread with some fruit, preferably just sliced off and pan fried to perfection. I've had this a few times and loved it each time (though at Lola in CLE it was pureed I believe and served in a cup, which was not my taste at all). You may not like this if you hate liver, but you really can't let squeamishness prevent you from trying it at least--just get it once and split it with your table. A bite won't kill you. Branch out.
Where: Just about anywhere that offers it, just bring your wallet. Really good at Orchids in Cincinnati.
2. Filet Mignion/NY Strip/T-bone/Porterhouse
I have these together because the Filet and Strip are next to each other, and combined in the porterhouse and T-bone. The Porterhouse is usually bigger and has a more of the tenderloin (filet), while the T-bone has less. The Strip is a better deal, but the filet is more tender. Not as flavorful as a Ribeye due to its lean composure, but it also makes for a healthier cut that is still really flavorful and incredibly tender to eat and chew. The most joyful steak of all.
Where: Any good steakhouse. Get a porterhouse if you're really hungry, T-bone if you're less so. NY strip and Filet are typically smaller, with the Strip and Filet roughly the same price, but the Strip having about 50% more meat for the same price. Depends how hungry you are. But just don't go any further than a medium doneness. Oh, and don't ask for steak sauce.
1. Duck Breast
A lot like a chicken breast, but with worlds more flavor and a fatty, crispy skin that just completes the experience. Best when cooked medium-rare, with the inside barely cooked at all, still showing a bit of color. Perfectly portioned, not crazy expensive, and goes with everything a steak does. One of those foods that has to be cooked properly to fully appreciate. The best poultry product out there, and in my book the best meat of 2012.
Where: Anyplace with it--this is one of my favorite foods ever. Stella in Oxford makes a great duck breast, as did Revolver in Findlay. Ultimately, just find it and try it, you can even make it yourself, just made sure you pan fry it with the skin down, since the fat needs to render awhile to crisp up since it's so thick.