Lill Erickson, who directs CNR, knows that plenty of people would rather see fewer cows and more prairie grass.
“It’s not my job to try to change anybody’s mind,” she says. Instead, the CNR, with the help of master chefs and a nationwide movement to eat more locally grown food, will try to inspire people—and restaurant owners—to think differently about meat.
Eric Stenberg, co-chef and co-owner of Bozeman’s Savory Olive, explains how he will prepare the meat at an upcoming demonstration at Chico Hot Springs. He will rub the steamship roast—a 60-pound hunk—with fresh rosemary, parsley, sage, garlic and olive oil. Then, he will slow roast it for 11 hours at 200 degrees. The result, the chefs and CNR hope, is that people will see that it isn’t just the prime cuts of meat that can please the palate.
The meat, says Stenberg, is from Montana. “Most of it comes from Wally,” he says.
On a ranch down in Dillon, Wally Congdon, 46, raises Scottish Highland cows. The cows browse on native grasses—the same stuff the buffalo ate, says Congdon—and he supplements their diet with grain.
Congdon also knows that beef is a political meal right now. But most people, he says, come to him with a different concern.
“I’m hearing more people that want to know where their beef comes from,” he says.
In Missoula, The Good Food Store sells meat from the Congdon ranch. The steamship roasts are good for large parties, but for a family meal, Wally prefers chuck roast.