A New Pork Recipe Site

One of our members sent us a successfully tested recipe for pork belly cooked in potatoes and milk which she found at Olive Magazine. Sure looks like a good source for our products, and the pork belly in milk and potatoes sounds delicious. Thank you, Juliet!

Speaking of pork, Here’s a refrain on our porkers and why they produce so many great eating experiences. When we decided to learn how to raise good pork, we first researched why commercial pork was so lacking in taste. We learned that not only was the modern diet and living conditions shockingly lacking. But it went beyond that. Industry production had focused almost exclusively on one breed, the Yorkshire, and bred them to produce lean meat during the ridiculous era where all fat was bad (how did that work out for us? Huge mistake).

So we knew we wanted to 1) grow pastured pork and 2) any breed except the Yorkshire. We discovered two breeds that dated back many centuries in England and the early American colonies, the Berkshire and the Duroc. These 2 breeds competed in 9 blind international taste tests and placed first and second in every case. They also fared poorly in caged industrial houses - they simply rejected the idea and died in those cages, causing Big Food to go away from these breeds - fortuitously for ourselves and the pigs!

And that is the short version of why JVF pork tastes so darned good!
 

…In the Kitchen

We used to raise meat chickens. Tough enterprise, very time intensive, predation can be severe if not guarded against, and harsh weather on either side of the gauge can be killing. We finally had to throw in the towel and went and found farmers who did chicken exclusively. Trying to do beef, pork and chicken was too much.

After a couple of false starts, we found Jill and her boys at Jolly Farms near Alvin. It’s been a downhill glide since then. They figured out how to raise Big Fat Hens year round with no loss of quality. Fat, tender, juicy every time. Not every member takes chicken. Big mistake in my opinion.

Here’s why: whether you cook it in the slow cooker, rotisserie or oven, you get nearly 4 pounds of delicious, juicy chicken. For Honi and I, that means three meals and a meaty carcass to make soup stock for another 2 or 3 meals.

Try the Jolly chicken if you haven’t. You’ll never look back.

Himalayan Salt

We have added many new members as we rebuild from our members who were lost in Harvey. After much study, we have contemporaneously added a step at our butcher shop procedure, the light pre-salting of many of our cuts. So for all of you who have not been informed of this addition, here are the "hows and whys" of this improved process.

  • Salt is an essential mineral, providing the necessary sodium that our body demands for good health (Honi and I have a family member who suffered a stroke for lack of adequate sodium in his body).
  • Especially in this hot humid climate that we all experience, we need salt to replace our supply that is sweated out.
  • We chose Himalayan salt because it is considered the purest form of all of the salts.

THE BENEFICIAL EFFECT OF SALT ON MEATS:

  • So long as salt is given time to work its magic, salt penetrates the toughening tendons in meat and dissolves them into a liquid form through the osmosis process. The result: enhanced juiciness and most importantly, enhanced tenderness.
  • One last and not to be overlooked advantage: the tendons that are broken down by salt are pure protein - so your proteins are increased as you enjoy them in their converted, edible form.

HOW TO MAXIMIZE THE EFFECT OF HIMALAYAN SALT

  • osmosis begins when the salt is applied to the individual cuts at our butcher shop but is halted as the cuts are frozen and vac-packed. So you will get the maximum benefit from salt by thawing the cut for 24 hours in advance of cooking. You can speed up the thawing process by leaving the cut on your kitchen counter until you see the juices start to emit. Return to the fridge until you are ready to cook.
     

Plant-Based Protein? Not

There’s a lot of talk about “plant-based protein” these days. The apparent hope of plant-based proponents is that you can get a complete diet without eating meat. I’ve given myself a primer on the question of whether you can satisfy the body’s requirement for a complete protein from beans and nuts. This will be the short version.

Plant-based proteins are ALL incomplete proteins. Therefore, they CANNOT fill the needs of your body. Only meats – beef, pork, lamb, chicken, fish and the like, and dairy – will provide the complete essential amino acids your body requires.

You may google phrases like “animal vs plant proteins” where you will find the details.
 

Pre-salted Meats, redux

The positive response to our process of lightly salting some of our cuts with the purist of all salts, Himalayan, has been encouraging. We also know that not everybody gets the message the first time, so let’s review again why this works to improve the eating and nutritional experience.

Salt, if given time, will dissolve the tendons that can make meat tough. Tendons are pure protein and salt doesn’t change that, but instead improves it by making it more digestible and the meat more tender and moister.

How to maximize the experience: The osmosis starts at the butcher shop but will stop when the meat reaches its frozen state. To restart the salt’s magical effect on your meat, assume you want to cook a particular cut on Thursday. Take your meat out of the freezer on Wednesday morning and place it on your kitchen counter until the meat is thawing but still has plenty of chill to it. Place it back into the fridge, take it out the next day 45 minutes before cooking to bring it to room temperature. Cook and enjoy a moister, more tender cut of meat. Try this method with all of your cuts that have Himalayan Salt added.

However, if you want to avoid the extra day’s thaw, you will still have an improved product by just thawing and cooking immediately
 

SOUPS!

We are big fans of soup, especially during these cold winters. We make it simple to start with and add vegs and starches when we reheat it. We have even used roasts and osso buco to make large batches to store in the freezer. Here is an example of what you can do with cuts such as short ribs, your chicken carcass or any of the other cuts.

First find our Bone Broth recipe at our website. We prefer cooking the meat and making the broth in the pressure cooker, but of course you can use slow cooker or stock pot if you prefer. It only enhances the flavor and richness if you are including a good chunk of meat when making the broth and it allows you to cut the meat into smaller bite-sized chunks when you go full scale into a soup.

Okay, you have made your meaty broth. We then strip off the meat and cut them into chunks for division into freezer storage containers. We found the perfect containers at Kroger’s, called “SOLO, Bowls to Go”. Freeze the broth and meat chunks for ready use when soup is on the menu.
The great thing about a soup is that you can have a complete meal in a bowl. Add your desired ingredients as you warm the soup up - think broccoli florets, green beans, collards, mustard greens, sweet or summer peas, corn, rice, pasta or potatoes. Choosing among these so that you have your different colors completes your meal. Add a buttered crusty french roll and a glass of wine and you are really eating like kings and queens.

It doesn’t get any better than this, folks!

My Quarterly Price Survey

I was surprised 3 months ago when I found $9/lb grass-fed ground beef. This quarter, it just went higher, $10.49/lb at Whole Foods. Their top steak, a NY Strip, was priced at $22.99/lb. Mind you, Ribeye and Tenderloin go higher when they have it. And the beef is not quite “local” - all coming in from New Zealand. Other cuts such as cutlets, flank steak and roasts fall in the middle of those prices. So on average, getting all of the cuts found in your cooler would cost $16.74/lb for New Zealand beef or approximately $335. JVF cost: 13.45/lb, delivered to your door.

Lamb

We have gotten our experimental lamb back - it was delicious and we think our lamb customers will be very pleased with the packages we will be offering. BUT, we have run into an unexpected obstacle . Our processing house and all of the processing houses are extremely busy this time of year. There is a bottleneck caused by the confluence of county fairs increasing the livestock coming in from the 4H auctions, deer season is in swing, and Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year celebrations increasing demand for the processors’ facility. We think we will work through this, but it may require us to push our lamb offering to Easter rather than the end of year holidays. We will keep you up to date as we work through the issue.

That caution being expressed, In the belief that we will have lamb packages to offer for our coming December/January holy days, I have begun trying some approaches to the cooking of lamb. I started with lamb chops and found this recipe at the allrecipes.com site. It is called brown sugar chops. The brown sugar label attracted me, knowing that it would put a nice and delicious crust on the meat whether grilled or in a skillet.

First make your dry rub marinade, consisting of:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon each of ground ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, and garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

(a confession: I cut ginger down from 2 t. to 1 because I have had bad experiences with ginger being so dominant it tastes like soap. Add it back if that is not your concern.)

Mix the ingredients together. Place all sides of each chop in the rub so that it is covered. It helps if the chops have been brought near to room temperature so that moisture has started to form, allowing the seasonings to attach to the meat.

When all chops are dredged in the seasonings, place in refrigerator and cover for an hour, allowing the seasonings to penetrate. 

Ready to cook? Warm your grill or skillet up to medium-high heat. Brush the grill or skillet with oil to avoid sticking, give the chops 5 minutes on each side for medium rare, more if you prefer them medium or well. But it must be a hot grill or skillet in order to get the crustiness you need for the brown sugar.

Enjoy! Really delicious.

A note to those who prefer less of the gamey taste of lamb: the more done the meat is, the less gamey it is. Medium-well chops are still tasty, but with less and less gaminess as they cook further. I like gamey, Honi doesn’t so much. But I’ve been eating wild duck and venison all my life so my palate developed a receptiveness to it. So, experiment to suit your taste.