After yesterday's post regarding E. Coli I feel like Lucy - I've got some splainin' to do.
The bacteria E. Coli is present in food that has come into contact with feces. In the case of tainted hamburger it happens on the slaughterhouse floor. Stomach and/or bowel contents come into contact with the freshly cut meat. E. Coli lives on the surface of meat - when it is ground into hamburger you are effectively mixing the bacteria into the entire product. That is why you always hear about hamburger being recalled and the need to cook it until it is well done. A steak (for example) may have E. Coli living on its surface but as soon as you sear the meat you have killed the bacteria; even if you serve it rare.
Cooking hamburger to the internal temperature of 160 degrees will effectively kill the bacteria. Do not rely on the COLOR of the meat - use an instant read thermometer. Of course you are still eating feces....
Purchasing your meat products from a local farm will reduce the chances that your meat has come in contact with E. Coli. Your local farmer either has a license to butcher the meat himself or uses a small, local food processing facility.
Purchasing your meat products from a local, reputable butcher will also reduce the chances. Don't be afraid to ask your butcher where he purchases his meats from.
Grinding your own hamburger from a local farmer or local butcher will greatly reduce the probability.
Purchasing organic beef will lower your chances also. In order to be labeled organic the animal has had to have been butchered at an organic slaughterhouse. Chances are an organic processing house has a much lower production rate than the commercial beef houses, thereby lowering the chances of improper handling due to increasingly high line speeds and unskilled labor.
A vegan diet of course will eliminate the chances of E. Coli infection from hamburger completely. BUT it will not eliminate the chances of E. Coli infection from other sources. Make sure you rinse your vegetables well - especially leafy greens produced outside of the United States. A few years ago there was an E. Coli outbreak traced to fresh spinach. It had come in contact with raw manure used as a fertilizer. Another reason to eat locally and seasonally.
So after all of this if you're feeling like a meatless day, try this mushroom pie recipe. It is rich, satisfying and the portabellas in the pie give it a meaty, hearty flavor. I've served this on Thanksgiving to my vegan friends and have always received rave reviews!
Mushroom Pie with Sour Cream Crust: - Serves 6 to 8 as a main course
Crust: This is one of the easiest, most delicious pastry doughs I have ever worked with. Trust me, you're going to love it.
2 1/2 cups flour (you can use whole wheat or all purpose, unbleached white flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup sour cream (you can substitute Greek Style yogurt for less calories)
Whisk first three ingredients in bowl. Cut in the butter until it resembles a coarse meal. Add sour cream and stir until dough comes together. Shape dough into 2 disks, one slightly larger than the other. Roll out larger disk and fit into pie plate. Refrigerate. Wrap other (smaller) disc of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped shallots
6 cups coarsely chopped mushrooms (portabella, shitake, white button or any combination you like)
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
8 ounces cream cheese (you can use Neufchatel style if you like) - room temperature and cut into cubes
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter in large saute pan. Add onions and shallots and gently saute until translucent. About 5-8 minutes. Add mushrooms and thyme. Saute until tender, about 10 minutes and most of liquid from mushrooms had cooked off.
Remove from heat and stir in cream cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool.
Roll out smaller disc of dough and cut into strips. Form a lattice crust. Brush with egg white.
Bake at 400 degrees F for 45 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing.
A Cook's Notes: You can make this pie up to one day before. To reheat, cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until filling is bubbly.
To find local farmers near you:
I have also purchased wonderful, organic, grass fed beef, as well as heritage turkey from Heritage Foods, USA (and shipping is free!)