Hard to believe that May has come and gone so quickly! The month was full of moving critters out to pasture, outdoor farmers’ markets, gardening, the arrival of chicks, and lots of asparagus.
Leslie expertly held down the fort two weekends while we travelled for family obligations. She even found time to spruce up the farmstand and paint some much need signage. The pastures and crops are off and running with all the warm July-like weather we had. Soon it will be time to hay…
June share will include bacon, burger, and beef short ribs. This easy recipe from the Food Network’s Giada De Laurentiis makes heavenly short ribs. And since it is grill season – add a little excitement this month and cook your bacon on the grill – delicious!
The biggest culprit when preparing grass-fed meat is overcooking due to its lower fat content than conventional meat. Many unsuccessful grass-fed meat experiences are due to improper cooking methods. This beef is best for rare to medium cooking. If you like well-done meat, then cook your grass fed beef at very low temperatures in a sauce or liquid to add moisture; using a crock pot is a good option.
Reduce the temperature
Reduce the temperature of standard (grain fed) beef recipes by 50 degrees. The cooking time for grass-fed beef will be about 30% – 50% less than standard (grain fed) beef, even at the lower temperature. Use a digital meat thermometer (120-145 degrees for rare-medium) and don’t overcook your meat. The meat will continue to cook when removed from heat. Since the meat cooks quickly, it can progress from perfectly cooked to overcooked in less than a minute. Lamb can be cooked at slightly higher temperatures and for slightly longer than beef.
Thaw completely before cooking
For best results, thaw your meat in the refrigerator or if it is important to thaw more quickly, place the vacuum sealed package in warm water. Thawing completely will eliminate the “weeping” of watery red liquid onto your plate.completely will eliminate the “weeping” of watery red liquid onto your plate.
Use olive oil, tenderizer, or marinate for enhanced flavor and moisture
Grass-fed meat is low in fat. Coating the meat with olive oil will add to the flavor and moisture and also prevent sticking. Using a meat tenderizer (a 16-bladed puncturing tool) helps the meat accept marinade more generously. If you do not own a meat tenderizer, marinate your beef, especially the lean cuts like the NY Strip Steak and Sirloin Steak.
Stove top cooking steaks, while a bit risky, is preferable to grilling because you can control the heat more accurately. However, our steaks are thick, which helps protect them from overcooking and also allows you to grill them with greater success. The heat on a grill is correct when you can hold your hand next to the meat on the grill for 3 seconds. Baste to add moisture throughout the grilling process. Use a digital meat thermometer to closely monitor your meat while cooking.
Try this: Sear … then roast
One of our favorite steak preparation methods, also used by many chefs, is to sear a steak or lamb chop quickly over a high heat on each side (two-four minutes per side) to seal in its natural juices and then place in a pre-heated 400 degree oven to finish the cooking process (about 4-6 minutes). Preheat the oven or pan or skillet you plan to cook in starting at a low temperature and slowly raising the temperature.
When roasting, sear the beef or lamb first to lock in the juices and then place in a pre-heated oven. Use moisture from sauces to add to the tenderness when cooking your roast.
Cut across the grain
When you cut the meat, cut across the grain as this will improve texture because you are cutting the fibers in the meat into shorter segments.
Let it rest before eating
Let the beef or lamb sit in a warm place for about ten minutes before enjoying.
Our first lambs of the season arrived Sunday, March 1st! The rest of the month will be filled with new arrivals, midnight barn checks, and lots of fun watching the youngins grow and bounce. This is my favorite time of year – you can feel spring is right around the corner with the sun is climbing the horizon, the chickens are starting to lay, seeds are being planted, and the Union Village field is teeming with incredibly cute jet black and neon white lambs springing and chasing as they test out their new legs.
At night the ewes are loafing in the barn, peacefully eating hay, keeping an eagle eye on their progeny as they form a gang of jesters looking for trouble. I can spend endless evening hours in the barn amid the contented flock chuckling at the goofiness of the lambs and soaking in the calm of the scene- there is nothing like it. Be sure to take a peak at the new arrivals when you come to pick up your March share this Thursday.
This month’s share features our extra-thick loin pork chops. The double cut means a longer cooking time, but it has the benefit of being harder to over-cook and dry out. I usually just throw them on the grill with a little salt and pepper and they are divine. If you have more time to prepare dinner you can try the delicious stuffed Pork Chop Saltimbocca from Epicurious which is oh, so good. Serve with some wonderfully sweet, locally grown spinach and you have a meal fit for a king!
Introducing the Hogwash Farm CSA Blog! After five years, I thought is was time to retire the monthly newsletter – which was fun to put together, but was not very useful as a searchable collection of information and recipes. Switching to the more user-friendly CSA blog will making finding specific recipes or cooking techniques for our meats much easier.
Farm happenings, photos, and recipes will still be included. I will start transferring some of the more useful articles from past newsletters into the blog, starting with the Grass Fed Primer (below) from 2011.
January was busy around the farm with animals coming going, and moving. I was happy to wish a bon voyage to 30+ piglets that were born here in November that went to a farm in Concord, MA. Piglets are such fun to have around, but they grow fast – it was past time for this bunch to leave mom and move on!
Lots of people have been asking how the animals manage with the windy, cold, and snow this winter. Below are some photos Dave took around the farm in January. The only animals put out by the winter weather are the laying hens. They are not fans of snow and are counting the day until spring – which according to Punxsutawney Phil will be at least 6 more weeks…
Also, in the share will be a pork shoulder. Pulled pork is one of the easiest and most delicious meals! Perfect for a winter weekend with the slow cooker doing all the work and served with your favorite barbecue sauce.
Try this classic recipe from Chow Hound or go on the wild side with Korean Pulled Pork from Bobby Flay.
The Grass Fed Primer
Grass fed beef is not only lower in overall fat and in saturated fat, but it has the added advantage of providing more omega-3 fats. Studies from around the world have shown that meat from grass fed animals has two to four times more omega-3 fatty acids than meat from grain fed animals. Omega-3s are often called ”good fats“ because they play a vital role in every cell and organ system in the human body. It might surprise you to know that, of all the fats, they are also the most heart- friendly. Indeed, people who have ample amounts of omega-3s in their diet are less likely to have high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat. These crucial healthy fats are most plentiful in flaxseeds and fish, and are also found in walnuts, soybeans and in meat from animals that have grazed on omega-3 rich grass.
Interestingly, scientists have also found that even if cattle start their lives on grass they immediately begin losing the health benefits, such as the omega-3s stored in their tissues, when they are taken off grass and shipped to a feedlot for fattening on grain. As a consequence, the meat from feedlot animals typically contains 50–85 percent less omega-3s than meat from grass fed livestock.
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is another “good” fat worth examining. When ruminants are raised on fresh pasture alone, their meat and milk contains three to five times more CLA than similar products from animals fed grain-based diets. Scientists now believe that CLA may be one of our most potent defenses against cancer. In laboratory animals, a very small percentage of CLA — a mere 0.1 percent of total calories — greatly reduced tumor growth. Other studies have shown that a study group of hamsters fed a diet of CLA had lower amounts of LDL (low density lipoprotein) in the blood, as well as a reduced risk of developing early aortic athero-sclerosis. Another study from Iran found that adults with rheumatoid arthritis showed a significant decrease in blood pressure after CLA additions to their diet.
Research has also shown that grass fed meat is higher in vitamin E than meat from grain fed animals and — surprisingly — higher than that of grain fed animals that were given high doses of synthetic vitamin E supplements. In humans, we know that natural vitamin E in the diet is linked with a lower risk of heart disease and cancer.
From Nancy & Dave:
The nights are getting cool which means it is turkey time at Hogwash Farm! Our delicious turkeys have been enjoying the lush summer pastures and Vermont-milled certified organic grain. We will be processing a limited number of turkeys this year that will be vacuum packed and ready for the freezer this weekend. This will be the only batch of turkeys we’ll have available this year so reserve your’s soon.
Our freezer is a little crowded so a free package of our pork sausage or two pounds of our grass-fed ground beef for those who can pick up their turkey this weekend.
(Posted on behalf of Nancy & Dave)
This month’s Hogwash newsletter comes to you from Dave, in order to help cut down Nancy’s keyboard time.
Nancy devotes pretty much all daylight and quite a bit of the rest to Hogwash- whether in the field, barn, or office. Changes this year have placed even more demand on her, but with the help of very capable Leslie, the work was shared. I helped when possible, but my day job as a mechanic (at Cedar Circle Farm) took me out of the daily loop here.
If you experienced our Thanksgiving turkey pickup, you might have an idea of how much effort is needed behind the scenes. Winter is mildly calmer but brings a different set of issues. Water must be carried to bowls because hoses do not work. Grazing is not an option, so hay is fed, and barnyards are crowded. Cold weather demands more bedding for the animals. Snow (when it happens) buries electric fence wires, requiring close maintenance. If the precip is liquid, flooding and mud are problems (note: I love summer…).
So, the newsletter isn’t filled with news, just a note to say “all is well” but it’s time to take a breath; and also to thank everyone for their continued support.
Dave (& Nancy!)