The new ground meat mixture, which sells for $6 a pound or $20 for a four-pack, is the impetus of Jason Yates, the same Novy Ranches representative whom we talked to about eyeballs and other "off" cuts last time we spoke (the ranch's owner, veterinarian Lowell Novy, is more of a steak sort of guy).
"I'm the only organ guy in the company," Yates said rather fervently as he handed over a pack for a side-by-side color comparison to the ground beef (organ meet is a deeper burgundy).
For someone trying to convince Americans it's time to cultivate their offal palates, Yates is refreshingly honest about the fate of much of the organ meat in this country, even pricier grass-fed beef. "Most everyone else in the [cattle] industry here focuses on organ meat for animal feed, and Dr. Novy is a vet, so organ meat is really easy for us to get rid of," he says. "But I love the stuff. There's one other grass-fed [rancher] doing ground organ meat that I know of, but I think that's it."Yates' bipedal customers seem to agree. Though he has focused trial sales on individuals at farmers markets, not restaurant chefs, he has already sold 300 pounds of organ meat in less than two months. "You can use it for anything -- burgers, chili, tacos, anything you'd use ground beef in -- it just has a [more pronounced] flavor," he says between customer steak sales.
Yates says he came up with the current kidney-heart-tongue combo after experimenting with various proportions of each organ. The ground meat blend he currently has in stock is an equal blend of each, but with the next batch, he's planning to tweak the formula. "I'm going to try it without kidney -- it's got a pretty strong flavor."
He smiles and adds that he hasn't "sold a single whole beef heart in over a month" thanks to the positive response to the ground combo version. For a guy who, until now, was trying to convince Brentwood moms to make his favorite version of beef heart tacos (after trimming, simmer the heart slowly in beef broth for 12 to 14 hours, slice and grill on medium-high heat for a few minutes to get a nice color), that's a substantial ground organ burger devotional statement.
Novy Ranches' ground organ meat is available online and at the Brentwood Farmers Market on Sundays.