Before the pandemic, Oakland’s Cream Co. Meats were available only to celebrated San Francisco chefs such as David Nayfield of Che Fico; Stuart Brioza of State Bird Provisions and The Progress; and Brandon Jew of Mister Jiu’s.
A distributor for sustainable and regenerative ranches across the West, Cream Co. it is one of the few USDA-certified processing facilities in Northern California.
If there’s one shining light in this COVID madness, though, it’s that this certified whole-animal butchery has pivoted to offer its top-notch products directly to everyday consumers now.
That means even if you can’t dine in at restaurants these days, you can still enjoy the premium meats they use — if you’re willing to do the cooking, yourself.
Shipping to California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Arizona, and Idaho is $25. Purchase $250 or more, and shipping is free. If you live elsewhere in the country, you can order the products through Goldbelly.
East Bay folks should take note that you can just pick up your order at the Cream Co. facility on Fridays, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Just choose “local pick up” when checking out on the web site, and your order will be ready in 2 to 4 days to pick up in person.
Cream Co. offers everything from 100-day dry-aged Porterhouse steaks ($50 for a 26-ounce behemoth) from Creekstone Farms and pea- and barley-fed bone-in pork chops ($10 for a 10-ounce one) from Klingeman Farms (the first Non-GMO Project-verified ranch) to a grass-fed leg of lamb ($45 for a 3-pound one) from fifth-generation-owned Anderson Ranches and cheddar IPA beer brats ($12 for 1 pound) from Healdsburg’s Journeyman Meat Co.
The company also sells “Bunker Boxes,” curated collections of its meat products at various price points, which make great gifts or a convenient way to feed a family.
Recently, Cream Co. sent me one of its “Basic Bunker Box” to try on the house. This $59 box included a range of items, all frozen: one whole pasture-raised chicken, 12 ounces of bacon, 1 pound of ground beef, 1 pound of heritage Duroc ground pork, and 1 pound of beef strips for making fajitas.
The chicken was destined for a long-time favorite recipe just made for this time of year: “Thai Barbecued Chicken.” It’s a family recipe from Pueng Vongs, a former colleague of mine at the San Jose Mercury News.
Cut up the chicken and place in a large bowl. Then, blitz together in a blender a marinade of coconut milk, soy sauce, cilantro, turmeric, garlic, curry powder, fish sauce, brown sugar, and white pepper. Pour this mustard-hued marinade over the chicken, and let it all meld together overnight.
The next day, grill or bake the chicken. You end up with juicy, tender, smoky tasting chicken full of earthy, musky and peppery flavors. It’s the type of charred, seasoned street food that beckons irresistibly from food stalls in Southeast Asia. As you take a whiff of the fragrant chicken, you can practically imagine mopeds whizzing by.
If you want to add a sweet note, serve it alongside purchased bottled Thai sweet chili sauce. I actually like it with a simple Vietnamese dipping sauce that’s just salt and black pepper stirred together with a little fresh lime juice. That dipping sauce is commonly served with Shaking Beef, adding a zingy bright note that just rouses the palate time and again.
As for the rest of my Cream Co. box, the beef strips were grilled with onions and bell peppers to tuck into corn tortillas. The bacon was crisped up to accompany pancakes. The ground pork was stir-fried with eggplant. And the ground beef? Check out my post this coming Wednesday to see the effortless comfort dish made with it.
Thai Barbecued Chicken
(Serves 4 to 6)
7 ounces (half of a 14-ounce can) unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2/3 cup rough chopped cilantro, leaves and tender stems
6 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground white pepper
1 chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds), cut into pieces
Bottled Thai sweet chili sauce, for serving (optional)
Limes, for serving (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt, for serving (optional)
In a blender, combine coconut milk, soy sauce, cilantro, garlic, turmeric, curry powder, fish sauce, brown sugar, and white pepper. Blend until smooth. In a large bowl, pour marinade over chicken pieces. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or ideally, overnight.
When ready to enjoy, grill or bake the chicken.
To grill: Grill chicken pieces over medium-high heat, turning and basting occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes or until juices run clear. Some pieces may cook more quickly than others, so remove the ones that are done and continue cooking the others, as needed.
To bake: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake chicken for about 50 minutes or until juices run clear, turning over pieces and basting occasionally.
To serve: Place chicken on a serving platter. Serve with some Thai sweet chili sauce mixed with a squeeze of fresh lime juice, if you like. Or alternately, provide each person with a cut lime, some freshly ground pepper, some flaky salt, and a small dipping bowl. Let each person mix the salt and pepper together, then add lime juice to taste.
Adapted from a recipe by Pueng Vongs