I recently had the honour of being invited to a butchery demo in the basement of Cowbell (a very unique restaurant in Toronto). Our friend Margaret Mulligan (the fabulous photographer) was shooting the session and, along with Head Chef, Mark Cutrara, I was offered to come along. I always love the chance to explore something I haven’t seen or tried before – we only write about the experiences that we liked or loved. This was one to love. Today’s article is art 1 of 3 and is a serious comparison of a butcher, a chef and a vegetarian. All of the photos are hers. To see the entire series of posts, click here.
In the butchering process, they weigh the scraps (waste) that they cannot use. Their waste is stunningly small – a lamb had less waste than the amount of trimmings, peels and vegetable ends that we dispose of weekly.
I was thinking about that last statement and a few others. Restaurants, delis, food producers and fish mongers all find ways to reduce their waste. Less waste = profit. Less waste also equates to less overall consumption, an easier budget and a better sleep at night.
So I was chewing the proverbial fat with a vibrant discourse in my head as I filled my cart at the grocery store. Although I had many vegetables I also knew that I needed stock. I had a $4 “box” of it in my hand when an idea struck…
I realized if I cleaned all my vegetables when I got home, I could make a quick stock of my scraps. Carrot peel and tops, celery bottom (and top), the stalks of herbs, seeds from our squash, mushroom ends and so forth. Jam them in a pot, cover in water and simmer with a bay leaf.
The verdict? It’s a work in progress but a very promising one. The yield was 1.25 liters (5 cups) of golden broth – the seeds made things bitter and slightly awkward (like being a kid at a wedding – you belong with the family but don’t entirely fit in just yet).
I wouldn’t drink it on it’s own but it’s plenty flavorful to add to dishes through the week, deglaze pans and add to think mashed veggies or other soups.
Many of these vegetables took months to create – finding a way to use the parts we skip could make a small difference in so many things. It also just makes me feel great.