Serving nose to tail: A culinary movement sweeping Austin
Surveying the menus of restaurants using local sustainable products in Austin, you’ll find an amazing array of meat not seen in recent memory. Austin restaurants have surrendered to the recent “nose to tail” culinary trend sweeping the nation, where dishes are highlighting typically unpopular cuts of meat — peasant cuts — as well as the organ meat — offal — of cows, pigs, chicken, and lamb.
The nose to tail trend represents the slow food movement, a larger effort to defeat the massive genetically modified food industry.
With the advent of the modern slaughterhouse after World War II came a significant decrease in the cost of meat, allowing the American public to consume meat more often. And as previously expensive animal parts became cheaper, the demand for fancier cuts of meat, like loins and tenderloins, increased. Americans became predisposed to only eating the cuts of meat that were popularized by the industry, leaving offal and peasant cuts behind.
Now, by offering these “unpopular” cuts of meat and animal parts, Austin restaurants are challenging traditional relationships with food, while promoting ecological health and economic sustainability of local farmers. By using all edible parts, farmers can be more efficient and less taxing on the local environment, using the whole animal to feed more mouths.
One of the easiest ways to strengthen the local nose to tail movement is by supporting restaurants that feature peasant cuts and offal. Gastronomically speaking, tougher cuts of meat, such as lamb leg or pork belly, are typically subject to low and slow cooking methods such as braising, stewing, roasting or poaching for long periods of time in order to denature muscle proteins and connective tissue. These techniques are employed by some of Austin’s most-respected kitchens who are embracing the nose to tail movement. The result is fantastic, inventive dishes full of locally-sourced product.
Barley Swine uses pig face, cheek, and belly from Richardson’s Farm. Their braised pork belly dish delivers tender soft pork with hints of chili and citrus.
European kitchen Fabi + Rosi gets its lamb leg from Loncito’s Lamb. The lamb is slow-cooked and transformed into a signature lamb ragout served over house-made raviolis.
The 2nd Street District's favorite Mexican kitchen serves local chicken liver and pork tongue delivered from Dewberry Farm.
Venison leg, pig head and lamb liver are all sourced locally for Olivia’s menu. Their venison goulash features venison from Broken Arrow Farm, served with pappardelle, egg yolk and yogurt.
We are fortunate to bear witness to and participate in a local sustainable food movement. Support your local farms by eating out at your favorite restaurants, and remember that these same farms sell peasant cuts and offal at farmers markets throughout Austin.