But alas, a girl can not subsist on vegetables alone...anymore. Actually I'm not sure how I was a vegetarian for more than 2 minutes (I think it lasted a few weeks) before deciding that fish doesn't reaaaally count. I do have fond memories of my time as a pescetarian however. I look back on it and think how much better I felt when my tank was full of sea water and dirt. How true is that memory though? Why did I switch back? Am I really such a hedonist that I started eating meat again just because it tasted good? Answer to the latter is most likely...yes. But I digress from my real point.
I think the difference was that I started shopping at farmer's markets. To my college-aged, liberal arts-educated mind, there was something wrong with having no idea where my food came from (yes, I was advanced for my age, thankyouverymuch). I'd pick up a package of meat in the grocery store and all it would say is...80% lean. From where, I would ask (and yes, I meant that in multiple ways--as I still have on my to do list--from 6 years ago-- to figure out where exactly my favorite cuts come from on an animal body. The only one I'm sure I have down is ribs. Oh and shoulder. But I mean, come on, that's pretty obvious. Not exactly straining my gray matter there...) But also, where did this animal grow up (I was a bit of a sap, clearly, since I say "where did this animal grow up" and not "where was this animal raised to be slaughtered").
The fish counter, however, was different. Wild Atlantic Salmon! You know where that's from? The wild Atlantic! Or just the Atlantic! Either one works, I guess; I'm fairly certain if you showed me a globe I could pick out the massive blue chunk that is the Atlantic, and I have always been pretty awful at geography. So meat was out, and fish was in.
It didn't help that, after I gave up meat, every time I would eat it when at a family member's house or friend's house (places where manners won out over a decision that had no real solid backing), meat would make me sick...mainly because my body wasn't used to digesting it. So I started equating meat to an upset stomach, which could have kept me a pescetarian forever.
Until the summer after my senior year, when I was making up the semester I missed (damn mono!), I found the glorious Nashville Farmer's Market. As a bit of background, I was bored the majority of that summer. I had tried to make up the credits I missed while sick throughout my years so only had to take two classes...a total of 2 hours a day. And the rest was spent with little to do, since my friends had either graduated or gone home for the summer. [side note that I made a lovely friend that summer with the same name (spelled Andee) who I still talk to and have great memories of a Fourth of July weekend on the lake with her family tubing and (attempting to) wakeboard]
I cooked a lot that summer. That's the summer that Sea Salt n Pepa was born, although, as you can see, I've since deleted most of my old posts because man, if I was bored, the readers of those posts would have been worse off. But once I found that farmer's market, I spent a lot of time there. I would wander the stalls, comparing the quality of squash from this farm to that from this farm, and marveling at how many onions I could get for $1 (answer--a lot). I liked talking to the farmers about how they grew their vegetables. And the cheese monger about how each cheese was made and its flavor profile. And, to my surprise, the ranchers (I mean, it was Nashville, there were some real live cowboys there! Sadly, however, there were only a few) who raised livestock. The one I used to get eggs from would wax philosophical about the importance of hand feeding calves and slaughtering cows humanely.
I remember, one day, having an epiphany. I knew where this meat came from. This guy, right here, standing in front of me, raises the animals that these pieces were from on a ranch 70 miles outside of Nashville...from birth to slaughter. And I bought a piece of meat from him...and then almost died when he told me how much it was. Hint...it was not the $1 I spent on enough onions for two weeks. #justsaying
It's not so much that I think you should only eat organic, or only grass fed, or only XYZ-type of meat that is "in vogue". Instead, I just think you should know where your food is coming from. The small Amish farm in Lancaster who brings their meat to the Ardmore Farmer's Market near my parents is much less likely to be affected by a mad cow epidemic in Mexico than what you pick up in the grocery store. And yes, it might be a bit more expensive...so eat less meat. It's not meant to be a massive part of our diet. Check out the food triangle's replacement, the Food Plate. And just think about it.
Ok, don't worry, I'm stepping down from my soapbox. So back to the meat! The lovely politically incorrect veal chop! But more importantly, back to the recipe for a little marinade that will take your lovely veal chop and turn it into a mouth-wateringly-delicious lovely veal chop...with a cooking time of less than 10 minutes.
Of note, I used a bone-in veal chop, but you can use this marinade on basically any piece or cute of meat you'd like.
Grilled Veal Chop
1 refrigerated veal chop, per person
1/4 c. good olive oil
1/8 c. good balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves
Fresh green herbs (i.e. basil, parsley, oregano, sage--just make sure any you throw in work together)
1. Make your marinade. Chop your shallots and garlic. This does not have to be a fancy or very good chop since it is a marinade. Combine the olive oil and balsamic in your container--I prefer to use plastic bags, but you can use a bowl also. Add the chopped shallots and garlic, as well as whole leaves of the herbs you have chosen.
2. You are going to marinate your chop while it comes up to room temperature, which is essential for cooking meat evenly. Place the refrigerated chop in the bag with the marinade. Make sure to move the marinade around the meat, otherwise you end up with one piece that's very garlicky and flavorful and others that are not. Marinate for one hour, making sure to shift the marinade around and flip.
If you will be marinating for longer, make sure to place your chop in the fridge. Then take the chop out 30 minutes or so before you plan to cook to bring it to room temperature.
3. Heat your grill(pan) to medium-high. Add olive oil spray. Once the grill(pan) is hot, add the veal chop. Cook for 4 minutes on the first side and about two on the other, depending on the thickness of the chop. Remove from grill and enjoy!