Interview with Rahm Fama - Star of the Food Network's Meat and PotatoesMy readers absolutely love pork, but they sometimes complain that it’s tricky to cook. I was wondering do you have any tips for cooking pork that you could share with them?
Rahm: Well there are different areas of the pork that need to have a lot of attention and then some not so much attention. I would start with asking the butcher for, and this is slow and low is the greatest thing for pork I think. It’s hard to mess up. The crock pot, the simple crock pot. Find a great BBQ or chili recipe, start with the butt and shoulder, cube it up and just let it sit in the crock pot and let it just cook slow and low. And that’s when, that’s when it becomes easy. You don’t have to mess with it so much, but seeing it what it becomes after hours and hours and hours. Find a great either, like maybe a pork stew or even a chili or a BBQ, but I’m thinking the butt and slow and low is the easiest thing for beginning cooks. And then you can get into the loin and the chops and there is a lot more confusion. But more really interesting stuff like headcheese and a lot of different snouts and stuff like that, that I really absolutely adore.
Now-a-days there is a stigma associated with eating red meat on a regular basis because its not generally considered healthy. Is there a way to incorporate red meat into your diet in a healthy way?
Rahm: Of course, I think everything in moderation is good. I think that a lot of red meat and even for myself as a meat connoisseur, an absolute fanatic, I also have to be very aware of what I’m eating at a consistent basis and I take a break and I go onto some pork or lamb. You know, I don’t eat red meat consistently on an everyday basis. Or there is also in moderation. So, I’m thinking, you know if you’re going to eat a big T-bone in one night, maybe you know try some veal or something the next night. Try and switch it up a little bit.
I know you should cut against the grain when you cut beef, but what does that actually do?
Rahm: So there are connective tissues all on these connective tissues. There is a certain way and there is kind of a certain way not to. Because the grain runs like a muscle - it has ribbons and tissue, and when you kind of grip against it what it’s doing is cutting all those connective tissues to allow it to be more tender and elastic. So if you cut with it, not that it’s going to be tough, but it is going to be really stringy. The whole object is you want it to fall apart in your mouth. If you cut it with the brisket with the grain then you are going to have long strings that you can probably play tug of war with it. If you cut against the grain then there’s going to be no elastic bands you’re going to be cutting it.
Why a show on meat? How did you come up with developing a show unapologetically and uninhibitedly about the love of meat?
Rahm: Well, you know I wanted to do it on cats, but Bugs Bunny would have been my biggest fan. Just kidding. I was just trying to make some sense of humor here. I think that meat is just at a culinary stand point it’s so culinary and it’s culinary fun. It’s still fun, it’s knowledgeable, it’s serious and I just think there’s just so much to it; and its complex but yet so easy. There’s just so much to it. It’s kind of like the jewel of cooking I think. And it’s a lot of different cuisines from Spanish to Italian to French to, even you know, to the American hamburger. It is widely used and we have to be culinary, constantly changing or we will get bored. And there are always changes. BBQ has evolved from one thing to another but it’s still around. It’s very competitive. Steak houses are still to this day one of America’s favorite restaurants. They are still thriving and you know there are different variations of steak houses and I just think there is just so much to it that I like and I would like to learn more and more about it everyday.
There has been this movement towards the chef butcher shop. You know meat makers that you can buy from on a regular basis and they know the best way to cook each cut. Do you see something emerging in our food culture, turning to principle items that they should be bought from by your butcher?
Rahm: You know I think you just answered that question yourself. I’m telling you that I remember but I don’t remember the days. And I would love to remember the days, but I hate to say it but I remember the days when there were butchers. Do you remember the day maybe of the gray haired butcher that stood over the counter and everything was wrapped in the butcher paper? And he’d ask you what you were cooking that day, and you’d say I’m going to be making this. And he picked out the best cut and then he would kind of look at his fingers to make sure his fingers were all there, because it is very dangerous, and kind of a creepy job. But it was that fun butcher that I wish we had in every grocery store, rather then just cellophane wrapped packaging and you’re going ‘Ugh, what do I do with this? When do I do this?’ You have the butcher to kind of guide you. This is stew meat, your going to want to take this home for stew. You don’t know how many times I bet there is somebody going to buy tenderloin because it’s the most expensive and not cooking it properly because you just don’t know. I would love to see more butcher shops, I would love to see more charcuterie. Charcuterie is so fascinating and really about now is the art of charcuterie. And the fact that the restaurants are doing it now themselves is absolutely amazing.