Monday, April 2, 2012

Dog Stew Version 2.0

For the benefit of all two people who asked, here's my current dog stew recipe.

I started including organ meats after reading a bunch of stuff in Whole Dog Journal about how muscle meats alone are insufficient for adequate nutrition. Liver is the best organ meat, but there are benefits to all of them -- kidneys, hearts, green tripe, even oddball stuff like beef trachea if you can get it -- and so I add ground organ meats to the dog stew. I also feed various bony-bit odds and ends (chicken feet, chicken backs with the organs attached, turkey necks, etc.) for extra calcium, the tooth-cleaning benefits of bone, and the glucosamine, cartilage, and collagen from the joints.

All the dog stew ingredients are ground up, shredded, or diced into tiny bits so that the dogs can't pick out the stuff they don't like (or just eat the stuff they do like). Also, grinding the bones eliminates any risk of bone fragments. (The bones I feed whole are knobby ones like vertebrae, rather than long hard pieces.)

I stopped using the boil-'em-to-softness crockpot method of cooking bones because that degree of overcooking was damaging the quality of the food and, frankly, it started to smell like a rendering plant, which was pretty gross. Now I rely on the meat grinder to pulverize chicken wings and cook them much more lightly. (I still don't/can't feed the dogs raw food because Pongu refuses to eat anything done less than medium well. But to the extent I can avoid overcooking, I will do that.)

Dog Stew Version 2.0
-- 2 to 3 cups chicken, vegetable, or beef broth
-- 3 pounds ground muscle meat (lamb, chicken, turkey, pork, beef, bison, etc. I rotate every batch so that it's never the same thing twice in a row.)
-- 1 to 2 pounds ground organ meat (the current batch is a mixture of lamb kidneys, beef heart, and lamb liver. I use whatever's available in the farmer's market offal freezer. Generally beef and lamb parts have better nutrient value than poultry, so I buy those when available, particularly since the dogs already get chicken giblets from eating chicken backs.)
-- 1 to 1.5 pounds ground chicken wings, including bones
-- 2 cups shredded or diced fruits and vegetables (carrots, apples, spinach, grated sweet potatoes, green beans, summer squash, zucchini, canned pumpkin, raspberries, strawberries, etc. I try to include at least three kinds of fruits or vegetables in every batch, but exactly which ones changes each time.)
-- large handful of rolled oats
-- 4 to 6 large eggs

Everything gets stewed together until the meat is mostly cooked through. I add the fruits/vegetables and eggs a little later when the meat is almost done.

Optional add-ins (I don't put these in every time, but add one or two of them occasionally when I have the ingredients on hand):
-- 1/4 cup molasses
-- 1/2 cup whole milk yogurt
-- shots of wheatgrass juice
-- minced wheatgrass clippings (easy and cheap to grow on your windowsill)

And that, along with a scoop of kibble every meal, is what the mutt monsters are eating these days.

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