Pink Slime: High-Tech Charcuterie

Pates and terrines

Wikimedia Commons

I’m probably not going to attempt any of this any time soon, but as a big fan of charcuterie I was interested to read Meredith Bethune’s Grist piece on how to make it at home. I was also struck by the observation that “the best part about making charcuterie is almost nothing gets wasted” she explains that she “transformed trimmings from sausage-making into rillettes or country pâté.”

And indeed this is the very essence of the art of charcuterie, techniques for transforming the less obviously usable parts of an animal into delicious and often storable food. But that I always felt was the missing context for the great nationwide pink slime freakout that we had a few months ago. As is often the case, I’m guessing the industrial-scale transformation of cow trimmings into lean textured beef is nowhere near as delicious as high-quality artisanal products. But the food world is full of price/quality/convenience tradeoffs. And the basic thing the meat companies were doing with the “slime” is exactly what vendors of sausage and pâté and the like have been doing from time immemorial.