Who doesn’t love Fall? The weather is still enjoyable, football is back, and the leaves will soon turn those gorgeous red, purple and orange colors – it is my favorite time of year.
The seasonal change from warm days to chilly nights also signals the introduction of fall menus for chefs and restaurateurs.
September opens the door to robust dishes and heartier meats; wild game and duck are also now in season.
Here are some inspiring ideas for building Fall menus using a variety of meat selections and slower cooking methods:
Shanks a lot!
Shanks are terrific for braising. They are fattier with more connective tissue rich with collagen that along with the bone adds fabulous flavor when cooked. Shanks are also relatively inexpensive. Lamb, Pork, and Veal Shanks make excellent braising choices.
We recommend using Domestic Colorado lamb shanks, though Australian and New Zealand lamb will work too. Compared to imported lamb, which is typically grass fed, American lamb has grain in its diet and tastes less “gamey”. Domestic lamb is larger in size and presents beautifully on the plate; many say it is the highest in quality and consistency.
For pork shanks with a little something special, try the Duroc breed hogs. This breed produces well marbled very tasty meat and competitively compares with higher priced Berkshire or Kurobuta pork.
When it comes to Veal shanks, Domestic No. 1 Special Fed veal is our favorite. These calves are raised on a milk formula supplement. Their meat color is ivory or creamy pink, with a firm, fine, and velvety appearance superbly tender and delicious.
Bone-In Beef Short Ribs can be braised whole, or portion cut in a variety of ways, from traditional 3-bone short ribs to Tomahawk Cut single or double bone-in short ribs. Boneless short ribs can also be rolled & tied before braising for a unique plate presentation.
Shoulder Cuts of all types are also perfect for braising. Lamb, Pork, and Veal shoulder cuts are typically favored for stew dishes.
Cheek Meat has become quite popular in trendy restaurants and bistros. Beef, pork, and veal cheeks are rich with flavor and suitable for producing smaller portions. Ox Tails are also excellent for braising.
Rotisserie cooking allows you to cook whole pieces of meat, which can be used across multiple dishes on your menu. This maximizes your yield, saves labor and leverages your food cost.
The best candidates for rotisserie cooking are Lamb Leg, Lamb Rack, Lamb Top Round, Veal Shoulder Pork Rack and Pork Loin. Chicken, Duck, and Cornish Hens are also traditional rotisserie favorites.
Get Your Game On
Game meats have also risen in popularity in recent years. Known to be highly flavorful, some of these meats also have lower fat content.
Elk, Venison, Bison, Rabbit and Duck all make great game for fall menus. Elk and Venison racks lend themselves well to a variety of recipes. Bison flanks and chuck rolls are excellent for hearty pot roast. Rabbit can be stewed or braised in a number of ways, and Duck is always a traditional favorite.
To help get your creative juices flowing, check out some of these fab Fall recipes for ideas: