Snapper

Grilled SnapperIf there was ever a utilitarian fish it would be snapper. This delicately flavored fish is relatively inexpensive and pairs well with virtually any cuisine you find. It is low in fat and its mild flavor is more appealing than stronger-tasting fish.

Snapper is found worldwide in tropical and semitropical water and for that reason, buying and ordering snapper can be a little more complicated. The name snapper refers to any fish in the family Lutjanidae of which there are approximately 113 species—all with their own variations. The most well-known of these is the red snapper, lutjanus campechanus. Because it is the most well-known, the name red snapper has been used to sell any fish that can be considered a snapper. If you ask the FDA though, the only snapper that can be sold as red snapper is lutjanus campechanus.

So with all the name games, how do you know what is what? We’ve listed two of the most popular varieties of snapper readily available to us in the Bay Area to try to make your decision a little easier.

Red Snapper
Comes from the Gulf of Mexico and the Western Atlantic. They can grow to be as large as 40 pounds but most weigh around 2-3 pounds whole. It is easy to differentiate from other snappers because it’s profile is more rounded and less streamlined. Its flesh has a consistent pink coloration throughout the fish. Like all fish in the snapper family, red snapper is best prepared whole or filleted, grilled, pan-fried or steamed.

Pacific Red Snapper
This snapper is found in the Eastern Pacific off the coast of Mexico and Baja California. It looks, tastes and cooks very similar to red snapper but with a slightly more elongated body. The best preparation for this fish is the same as true red snapper: whole or filleted, grilled, pan-fried, or steamed.

Rockfish
A lot of the fish sold on the West Coast is incorrectly labeled as red snapper or Pacific red snapper when it is, in fact, rockfish. While still very tasty, rockfish is a totally different type of fish. When buying your snapper, make sure to ask your butcher or fishmonger if it is a true snapper.

At Piedmont Grocery, we only sell the Pacific Red Snapper.

Oxtails

Braised Ox TailsOften overlooked in the meat case, oxtails have become a more popular choice when cooks are looking for the satisfying flavors of a good, long braise.

Oxtails are not just the tails of oxen. They are, in fact, the tails of beef cattle of all types and they make some of the most delicious braised beef dishes at a more than affordable price. Typically weighing 7 to 8 pounds each, oxtails are cut into shorter chunks of approximately 2 to 3 inches in length for sale.

Ox Tails are a gelatin-rich meat that requires long cooking times at low temperatures to produce tender melt-in-your-mouth meat. The high amount of collagen that is released during these long cooking times produces a rich sauce with deep beef flavors and a silky texture. Perfect when paired with a pillowy mound of mashed potatoes. Oxtails are also the perfect candidate for making beef stock or a nutrient-packed bone broth and if you are an Instant Pot aficionado, cooking oxtails is a snap.

Braised Oxtails Recipe
Adapted from Saveur Magazine
Yields 4 servings

The juices from braising the bone-in beef along with wine and vegetables combine to create a rich gravy. Read more…

Beef Tenderloin

IRoast Beef Tenderloinf there is a roast that screams celebration, it would be a beef tenderloin. Wildly popular due to its natural tenderness and flavor, beef tenderloin is the roast of choice for many holiday dinners.

Beef Tenderloin, also known as fillet or filet mignon when cut into smaller portions, is a cylindrical boneless cut from the short loin section of the cow which is an area of the animal that doesn’t get a lot of work, thus producing very tender meat. It is easy and quick to cook—which is great after a busy holiday morning. The drawback is that tenderloin is rather expensive which definitely makes it a special occasion cut of meat.

A whole fillet can weigh up to six pounds which will feed anywhere from ten to twelve people depending on appetites. The ends of the tenderloin taper to a point. If you are roasting it whole, it is important to fold the thin ends under and tie them with twine so that it will cook more evenly. Or you can leave them untied to allow for various levels of doneness for those guests who like their meat a little less rare.

Because beef tenderloin has such great beef flavor, it doesn’t require a lot of sauce to make it better. The simpler the better with this cut of beef.

Roast Beef Tenderloin with Garlic and Rosemary 
Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine
Yields 8 Servings Read more…

Rancho Llano Seco Pork

Rancho Llano Secco PorkA taste is worth a thousand words.
Our love of local and sustainably-sourced food has inspired us to begin carrying Rancho Llano Seco Pork.

This is pork like we have never tasted. Llano Seco has created a sense of place an terroir that is unique in the U.S. They have been raising their hogs how nature intended. And, they have a superior and tastier product to show for it.

For years, Rancho Llano Seco has been providing world-famous restaurants, like Chez Panisse, with some of the best-tasting pork in the world. This family-run company is now focusing on building on its existing relationships with high-end Northern Californian retailers like Piedmont Grocery.

Llano Seco responsibly raises their pigs.
Llano Seco pigs are insulated from harsh weather, allowed to root and socialize freely, encouraged to feed on a specially-grown, high-quality diet, and humanely slaughtered at a more mature age. This allows the meat to develop and mature naturally into an exceptionally flavorful pork.

About the rancho
Operating since 1861, Rancho Llano Seco is an original and in-tact Mexican land grant parcel on the banks of the Sacramento River that has been in Charlie Thieriot’s family for six generations. They preserve the richness of 17,000 acres of wild Californiasus while maintaining gentle land stewardship and a holistic approach to ranching.

In a fortunate twist of fate, their land has been kept remarkably similar to its original condition. Thierot’s ancestors weren’t farmers and didn’t live on the property, so they never exploited the resource to the degree of most farmland in our country. This evolved into intentional conservation until recent generations.

Now, over 50 percent of the ranch is under conservation easements with The Nature Conservancy, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and The Northern California Regional Land Trust.

Why pay more for pork?
We vote with our dollars. And, by purchasing pork from highly-sustainable producers like Llano Secco, we are supporting clean meat that has been farmed with the highest of sustainability standards out there.

If you care about the quality of life of the animal that became your meal, the land we all share, or the health of yourself and your family then you’ll consider the awesome deliciousness that is Llano Seco pork!

Currently, we are carrying these products:  Read more…

Rabbit

Rabbit in Mustard SauceIf you ask most people in the US if they would choose to regularly eat rabbit and you will most likely receive a negative answer. It’s hard for many to get past the fluffy cuteness which, though understandable, is unfortunate because rabbit can be very tasty. And, it is a much more sustainable source of protein than the other options out there.

Up until the early 1950s, rabbit was as common for dinner as chicken. Rabbit meat is what got many people through the lean times of the Great Depression. During WWII the government encouraged the raising of rabbits for meat in order to lessen the burden of the red meat shortage. After the war, the rise of big agriculture and government subsidies made raising rabbits for food less appealing fiscally.

Rabbit meat is very high in protein. A three-ounce serving of rabbit contains approximately 28 grams of protein. The same amount of beef or chicken contains 22 grams and 21 grams respectively. Rabbit is a great source of iron as well as being lower in fat and calories than chicken. It is also extremely low in cholesterol.

Another obstacle to the consumption of rabbit is their confusing anatomy—which can make rabbit difficult to eat if you are not familiar with their structure. Typically, a whole rabbit will break down into 8 pieces which consist of the front legs, hind legs, and the loin, or saddle. The saddle is the most tender part of the rabbit. The legs tend to be a bit tougher. Depending on your recipe, you might consider just buying specific parts of the rabbit instead of the whole animal. The saddle will be best for recipes with shorter cooking times. The legs are better for longer cooking times.

Purchasing a whole rabbit and cutting it up yourself is by far and away the cheaper option. Although, if you are trying it for the first time, it might be better to have your butcher do it for you. A tutorial on doing it yourself can be found here on Saveur.

A small rabbit will be enough to serve two people and a larger rabbit can serve three or four. The age of the rabbit can affect its size as well as the correct cooking preparation. A young rabbit is called a fryer and is usually 8 to 12 weeks old. They are very tender and are better prepared in a similar manner to chicken so as not to overcook them. A 15 to 20-week old rabbit is known as a roaster. These rabbits are better suited for slow cooking methods like braising or as the main ingredient in a stew.

In Europe, rabbit is eaten with regularity. And, if you are looking to try it, I would suggest recipes which reflect the great cuisines that can be found there. This recipe for Rabbit in Mustard Sauce is a perfect example.

Rabbit in Mustard Sauce Recipe
Adapted from David Tanis at Chez Panisse
Yields 8 servings Read more…