Jun 12, 2015

Veal, Beef and Offal

Veal comes from calves. It can be produced from a calf of either sex and any breed, but most veal comes from male calves of dairy cattle breeds. Limited numbers of male dairy calves are needed for breeding and the rest are sold to the veal industry. Incidentally, rennet (necessary for cheese making) is extracted from part of the fourth stomach chamber of harvested young, unweaned calves used for veal production.

Beef comes from older cattle and can be harvested from bulls, cows, heifers or steers. When a cow is slaughtered, its beef is so fresh it is considered 'green'. Green beef is tough, bland, and has no sustained juiciness. Aging causes natural enzymes to break down the muscle fibers, making it more tender. Most aging takes place within one to two weeks. Incidentally, Kobe beef, prized for its intense marbling, refers to beef from the Tajima strain of wagyu cattle, raised in Japan's Hyogo Prefecture according to rules from the Kobe Beef Marketing and Distribution Promotion Association.  There are only about 3,000 head of cattle that may qualify as Kobe. No beef from Japan was allowed to be imported into the US by the USDA, starting during 2009. US 'Kobe-style' beef comes from domestically raised wagyu crossbred with Angus cattle. Black Angus is the most common beef breed (sixty percent and greater than the next seven breeds combined) of cattle in the US and is meat is used by McDonald's and Hardees.

Offal is also called variety meats or organ meats and refers to the internal organs and entrails of a butchered animal, such as calves, pigs, sheep, and lambs.  It includes most internal organs, but not muscle and bone. Certain offal dishes, including foie gras, pâté, and sweetbread are considered gourmet food in international cuisine. Others remain part of traditional regional cuisine including Scottish haggis, Jewish chopped liver, Southern US chitlins, Mexican menudo as well as many other dishes. Intestines are traditionally used as casing for sausages.