It’s one again time to turn your chuck roasts of ignorance into perfectly-ground burgers of understanding with MBQ&A. The only advice column recommended by that street preacher who keeps telling you you’re going to Hell.
Your experts for this glorious opening week of baseball season:
JB Mays – Editor-in-Beef.
Death Toll Scholl – His hip glasses hide a dark past. They also correct his terrible eyesight.
Tomax – GI Joe villain with a heart of gold.
The Other Woman – Music editor. Woman.
Ricky Thumbs – Mexican Werewolf frontman. Actual Mexican-American werewolf.
Pitfall Harry – Cameo appearance!
To your questions:
Why don’t we eat more goat? It is great for you and as tasty as just about anything you can catch and eat.
Tomax: I would say we don’t eat much goat because it’s a cultural thing. Go to the islands and goat is a primary meat. Plus goat isn’t readily available in the grocery store.
Death Toll Scholl: As Americans, we generally don’t like gamey meat – we want to go buy our bland corn fed factory farmed boneless food product. As a business side, what is going to yield more in 6 months? 1000 pound cow vs. a 65-pound goat.
The Other Woman: Believe it or not, goat meat consumption is on the rise in the U.S. for reasons including health benefits, and the comparatively lower cost and higher sustainability factors of raising goats vs. cows. The average goat drinks less water, eats less food, and poops less often than the average cow. Multiply that by a couple of billion animals a year.
I’m not an expert on red or any other kind of meat, but my brain is full of this kind of random, semi-useful information (which is probably why I run the music section). My personal theory that Americans feel uneasy eating animals that smile – and goats are smiley creatures – has been completely debunked since I started hanging out with ManBQue.
Ricky Thumbs: It’s because they scream like people.
What is the difference between hot and cold smoking meats?
JB Mays: Time, for one. Since you’re staying below 85 degrees, it’s going to make your 14-hour brisket seem like boil-in-bag rice pilaf.
In most setups, smoke is generated away from the ingredient to be smoked and passed through independent of the heat generated. Lox is cold smoked. Black Forest ham is cold smoked. A lot of bacon is cold smoked. All quite different items and results than what you’ll see pulled off the pit in Austin or Knoxville.
Successful cold smoking inhibits bacterial growth, which is why human beings invented it in the first place. You’ll need to cure your meat before cold-smoking to ward of bacterial growth, since your meat will be at essentially room temperature.
The flavor development on a piece of cold-smoked meat is much more subtle, and the texture changes very little compared to, say, how a hot-smoked pork shoulder transforms. Since it’s incrementally more difficult the warmer the climate gets, a lot of your cold-smoked traditions tend to come from places that also don’t necessarily associate reindeers with Christmas.
If you’re really interested in the minutiae – air contact, relative humidity, etc. – this is an excellent primer on the subject.
Tomax: Hot smoking is great for cooking meats where cold smoking is great for things like cheese. Cold smoking is where the smoke temp is brought way down to give things a smoky flavor while not cooking them.
If I were to cook a spinach and ricotta pizza – would I cook the spinach first then put it on the pizza and bake it… Or just put raw spinach on there? Hypothetically?
Tomax: Just toss the spinach on there. Spinach is very easy to cook. In fact, spinach is so easy to cook you could probably do it by breathing hot air all over it. The Godfather, for example, is a portable spinach cooker. He can reduce an entire bag of spinach in under 15 seconds.
Death Toll Scholl: I worked in a pizza place for 4 years – if I won the lotto I would go back to making pizzas. Dream. Job. Anyway, we always used baby spinach laid flat between the sauce and cheese and it seemed to hold up fine. Raw on top of the cheese after cooking would work and taste good. You want to keep the crisp crunch. Don’t use canned or frozen – it will look like Popeye puked on the pizza and taste like it too.
The Other Woman: If you are going the traditional, tomato sauce-topped pizza route, you can throw it on raw before or after topping with cheese. If you’re going “white,” drizzle a little olive oil over the crust, then try lightly steaming or sautéing your spinach with garlic, salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon before adding the ricotta and baking.
Pitfall Harry: If someone puts raw spinach on top of the cheese on a pizza, you get a dry-leaf reaction. Spinach has to go under the cheese regardless if it’s steamed or not.