Sunday, August 01, 2010

Indiana Kobe


I’m following Alice Eshelman through a rural patchwork quilt of squares dotted with country cemeteries, barns and even Victorian era manses to her Heritage Farms, located about six miles from Roanoke in Northeastern Indiana.


Eshelman is the type of woman who takes her food so seriously that she was excited when her husband, Pete, gave her 40 Angus cows impregnated by Wagyu bulls for her 50th birthday. No diamonds for this gal.

Those pregnant cows were the perfect present because both Eschelman and her husband Pete have long had an interest in sustainable local agriculture – foods grown and produced close to home – as well as organic foods. It’s an interest that became even more important to them after the huge beef recalls last month. The pregnant cows at Heritage Farms were part of the Eshelmans’ ongoing quest for quality foodstuff to serve at Joseph Decuis (pronounced Day Kweeze), their high end restaurant in the charming hamlet of Roanoke, Indiana.

Kobe beef, which comes from a breed of cattle called Wagyu, is a delicacy in Japan. American Kobe is a cross between Angus and Wagyu cattle, a pairing that creates a tender beef much more suited to American tastes. Joseph Decuis is the only restaurant in the United States that produces its own Kobe beef.

“Wagyu started off as working cattle hundreds of years ago,” says Pete Eshelman who notes that working cattle have the genetic capacity to store fat in their muscle. “So if you look at the beef, because the fat is in the muscle, it creates an intramuscular marbling which adds to the flavor of the meat.”

According to Eshelman, two percent of the beef sold in the U.S. is prime, the most tender of the grades, and Wagyu is on top of that one percent.

The cows at Heritage Farms (where the Eshelmans also grow organic produce and raise free range chickens) give birth each spring.

Spring is also when the offspring are harvested. Because these calves aren’t given drugs or hormones, they have a slow maturation rate and it takes 24 to 36 months for them to grow to the 1750 pounds needed for harvesting. The Eshelman also stress that their cattle –and chickens -- are raised in a stress free environment.

Pete Eshelman says that he first became aware of Kobe beef when one of the chefs at their restaurant put it on the menu. The taste was enough to send the Eshlemans down to Texas to meet with a farmer who was raising American Kobe beef. Later this spring, Peter is going to Japan in April to meet with Kobe farmers.

“We’re hooked,” he says.

Joseph Decuis is located at 191 North Main Street in Roanoke. 260-672-1715 or www.josephdecuis.com Kobe beef as well as other products made at the restaurant can be ordered from their Web site and are also sold at their store, The Emporium at Joseph Decuis.

Bourbon Marinated Kobe Rib Eye Steaks

2 large red onions

1/2 c fresh rosemary

1/2 c fresh mint leaves

1/2 c bourbon

1 tb salt

3/4 c balsamic vinegar

2 c tomato juice

8 garlic cloves

1/2 c soy sauce

4 - 16ounce Kobe Ribeye Steaks

Start by combining all of the ingredients for the marinade in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Next, place the ribeyes in a glass dish and pour the marinade over them. Let sit for 2 hours at room temperature, or up to 3 days refrigerated. Grill or broil to desired doneness.

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