What should I have in my pantry?
This was a question asked of me recently about what are the best and healthiest ingredients. The conversation was about having a list of good choices to purchase when you're at the grocery. What is a good cut of beef that will taste great and be healthier? Which oils to use? How about butter and other dairy products? In essence, what are the best supplies for stocking a pantry with ingredients that taste great and are great for you -- a master shopping list if you will.
Over the next few weeks I am going to break this down to help you create a master list of what to choose when you're in the grocery and last week I started with beef. This week I am going to continue with red meats. I will include such things as pork, liver and lamb in this section of the list.
Of course this is everyone's favorite so you are probably wondering about it. :-)
OK, I know that the odds are against liver being something that you care very much about, but there are those who do like liver a great deal. Because there's a lot of cholesterol in liver, there's a lot of confusion about whether you can eat it. Liver does contain a lot of cholesterol, with a 4 ounce serving having 374 mg. However, the good news is that dietary cholesterol - the cholesterol you eat - doesn't have nearly as much impact on your cholesterol scores as the amount of saturated fat in your diet. Read more about this: Should I be concerned about the amount of cholesterol in foods?
I generally prefer calf's liver and it's very low in fat and saturated fat (5 grams fat and 2 grams saturated fat in 4 ounces). The key, as with most healthy cooking, is to reduce the amount of saturated fat that you use to cook your liver in. There are two recipes on the Dr. Gourmet website that illustrate this. In both recipes there's very little fat used in cooking the liver, and the butter in the Liver with Onion and Apple recipe is used sparingly, mainly for flavor. (See also Fegato Alla Toscana.)
I love lamb, but I don't eat it regularly. The most popular cut by far these days in America are lamb chops. I don't cook lamb chops very often because they are generally pretty high in fat. Trimmed to 1/8 inch fat, 4 ounces of lamb chops still has about 383 calories and 34 grams of fat (15 grams saturated fat). I generally save eating lamb chops for special occasions -- usually at a restaurant (hey, if you are going to splurge, splurge!).
I love the lamb shoulder and this is a great cut for many uses. Sometimes lamb shoulder can be harder to find, but it's worth looking for or asking for it to be ordered in for you. Shoulder steaks are leaner and have all the great lamb flavor with only 148 calories in a 4 ounce serving (6 grams fat and 2 grams saturated fat). The shoulder steak is wonderfully tender and could be used in almost any recipe calling for beef steak. Likewise, lamb shoulder makes great cubes for kabobs and stews (Turkish Lamb with Saffron Rice and Peas).
My favorite cut of pork is the tenderloin. This is juicy and succulent and quite lean. There's so many great recipes that you can use this cut for -- it can make for an elegant dinner party meal (Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Port Sauce) or an outdoor barbecue (Mojo Pork Tenderloin).
I like cooking with center cut loin pork chops as well and well trimmed these are low in fat and calories. Likewise, the pork loin itself makes for a great roast and is also relatively low in fat and calories when carefully trimmed (Shiitaki and Cranberry Stuffed Pork Loin).
Eat well, eat healthy, enjoy life!
April 23, 2007