Say ahhhhhh. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

This is not a great photo, technically, but it’s a favorite of 2012 for all that it represents. That’s Billy Harris, apparently looking for tonsils to nibble on. Next to him is Paul Kahan, the Chicago chef, entrepreneur, badass cook, and purveyor of fine meats. At right is Jonathan Waxman, chef-owner of Barbuto in NYC and one of the godfathers of the new American cuisine. Bless them, they’d all come with many other colleagues to my town to benefit our amazing West Side Market and celebrate its hundredth birthday.

The head, it will be no surprise to Cleveland food lovers, is courtesy of Jonathon Sawyer, chef-owner of The Greenhouse Tavern (he also just started an ancillary vinegar business; see below). It had come to the table with much roasted meat still attached and was deeee-licious.

How can you not love a chef who sends a whole roasted steer’s head to the table?

I’ve begun the gradual recovery from my ten-day Key West hangover, catching up on work, and will post on those meals soon, but for now, Sawyer’s steer’s head, and a thanks to the powers that be that have put me in such close contact with America’s greatest cooks.

Other links you may like:

© 2013 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2013 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.

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7 Wonderful responses to “Steer Head, 2012”

  • allen

    Is this the kind fellow who gave you a bottle of beer vinegar at your fathers service?

    I am always thinking of a thank you whenever I use the vinegar and wanted to express my gratitude for sharing the process, I never knew who to thank, I love it on fish and chips and give it away as gifts.

    It was one of the special post that stay embedded in my memory, Chef Symon saying ” I got this one”. And the bright flowers that grew after the ashes were spread.

    Sometimes it’s the simple things that become important, like your post on James “pot popcorn”.
    I always review it whenever I make a batch, and read all the comments to make sure it comes out just right. One of the simple things that can be taken for granted and turned into burnt smelly inedible garbage in a few seconds if you don’t do it just right. And all the fellow bloggers who post valuable comments, I pay attention.
    Even on Friday cocktail post day.

    • Mantonat

      This may be the crowning achievement for a ruminant. Rather than being ripped apart by a pack of wolves or ground up to become an ignoble fast-food burger, this steer is being honored in his full glory by the chef who prepared it, and appreciated fully by those who partook. Cows and other herbivores are the lowest animals in the mammalian food chain – destined in one way or the other to turn vegetable matter into protein and fat for the sustenance of carnivores. While this may be a shocking presentation in a world of shrink-wrapped steaks and pre-packaged ground beef, it’s really only a pity that more people don’t understand the food they are eating. Perhaps if more people had the opportunity to experience beef served this way, we would all be a little less wasteful and cavalier about eating meat, we would appreciate it more, and the lives of the animals would not seem as wasted. Cheers to the steer and the chef!

  • Mike

    Hmm, I’m not sure about an entire steer head being appealing. But, I will take your word for it on the good eats! I like the links that you put into your posts as I continue to learn so much!

  • former butcher

    Just a bit curious as to what was actually edible on that beef head. I see the cheek muscles have been removed, the tongue as well and the accompanying glandular mass below it. I hope you were joking about the tonsils, as they are prone to infection and abcesses, much like our own. The eyeballs? I’ll pass. With all the concerns about Mad Cow Disease, I’ll pass on the brain as well, even it was below the proscribed age for bovines.
    Interesting center piece, though. It would certainly make the vegans in the crowd scamper away.
    FWIW, we just used the tongue and the cheek muscles. The rest went to the fertilizer plant. And speaking of beef cheeks, they make the best beef and barley soup in the world. No fat, just pure beef flavor!

  • Laura

    That picture is awesome! As someone who got my first grass fed steer and attended the ranch kill, I just want to say I am so grateful for my steer. I didn’t get the whole head but I did get the tongue, which I cured. It was marbled like Kobe beef, tender and amazing on sandwiches. Brains, you bet! Soaked in cold water til clean, lightly simmered in broth to firm it up. Sliced and fried in butter. My steer was well cared for and ate his natural diet of grass his whole life. There is no reason to fear the brains or other offal of a properly raised animal. In a big enough pot those bones would make some good stock.