In last Wednesday’s Star Tribune, Kevin Diaz reported on Hormel and Cargill CEOs testifying about the modified atmosphere packaging that allows for storing meat and other foods in an oxygen-depleted environment, then pumping the meat with carbon monoxide, making it shelf stable for up to twenty days, and it retains all it’s original bright red color. I have all the respect in the world for many of the local politicians on all sides of this issue, but if you take the position that the process preserves freshness and minimizes contamination as Cargill and Hormel do, and if you really believe this is a positive step for food safety as they do, then the least you could do is stick a BIG FAT LABEL on the meat that tells everyone how old the stuff is. I happen to think the practice is deceptive and is a scarily, but weakly, disguised attempt to get us to relieve the giant food companies of old meat that otherwise ends up in the garbage. You can say as many times as you like that it’s about preserving freshness, but it is simply a matter of baiting consumers into buying old meat that looks fresh and keeping meat shelf stable without freezing it. Why not simply sell fresh meat as fresh meat; then freeze the stuff before throwing it away in the supermarkets and sell that at a discount? And if you believe in the product and the new science so much, why not simply label it as “CO gassed” with large “made-on” dates? Hormel and Cargill have offered to label the product with a “color is not an accurate indicator of freshness” warning. Why create a process like this and then label it as such? Isn’t this an obvious mea culpa? Thoughts?
Speaking of freshness . . . for those looking to make do-ahead gravy for the holidays:
3 lb. poultry wings and backs
2 c. chopped onion and celery
4 c. chicken or turkey stock
3 T. flour
3 T. butter
1/2 c. cream (if you like)
salt and pepper to taste
herb sprig as needed
Chop the onion and celery, and place in a large brownie pan. Roast the poultry wings and backs on top of the chopped onion and celery. Season and cook at 350 degrees for 75 minutes. Remove from stove, pour off any accumulated liquid/fat, and return to oven for 10 minutes. Onions under the bird bits should be golden brown around edges, and poultry should be crisp-gold. Skim fat from liquid and discard, returning the liquid to pan along with the chicken or turkey stock. Simmer on a stove top for 10 minutes to loosen the sticky bits, pour contents of the pan into a small pot, and simmer covered for 50 minutes. You can add an herb sprig here if you like. Uncover, strain well, discard solids, and reduce liquid to 2-1/2 cups.
Set aside, and place the flour and butter in a saucepan, and cook for a few minutes over medium heat. Add the hot gravy liquid in thirds, whisking, and bring to a slow boil. Cook for 3–5 minutes, add cream, if you like, or season with salt and pepper, and serve as is. I do mine ahead to make life easy on Thursday. Happy Thanksgiving.