Author: Patty Lee


Charcuterie Tasting with Antonio Fiasche of ‘Nduja Artisans

It’s a beautiful day in Brooklyn. Hot, but it is only 11am and the communal picnic table that sits in the middle of the Heritage Foods warehouse is quickly filling up with charcuterie. This augurs well for a good day at work.

Antonio from ‘Nduja Artisans in Chicago is in town for a whirlwind restaurant tour with Emily, our Director of Wholesale to drum up some business for his most excellent line of cured meats. But the first stop is Heritage and why not? Antonio uses literally over two tons (4000+ lbs!) of Heritage pork every month to make his treats. While most of corporate America is staring at spreadsheets or tossing marketing jargon at each other, the men and women of Heritage are getting ready to taste some of the best salumi ever to come out of a city famous for being the hog butcher to the world.

The beef charcuterie — the bresaola and the salumi di manzo (both made from waygu beef) — are instant faves, but the battery of pork treats always wins the day here at Heritage.

Culatello, what Anthony calls “the king of salami,” is supremely fatty with a sweet funk that could be cause for addiction. “It’s so awesome because we’re cutting it from the heart of the prosciutto,” Antonio explains, “it’s boneless, skinless, and tied up to look like a tear drop – all from heritage pork.”

Mortadella made from Berkshire pigs and gorgeous pistachio is so creamy it would melt on warm toast. The Calabrese, aka hot soppressata, is pure dynamite. Pancetta is cured for two weeks and aged another fourteen. The jowls are purely decadent, as they should be. The finocchiona makes one Heritage staffer cry, so poetic is the blend of fennel pollen and chianti.

“Most of the speck in Italy is a little too smoky and dry,” Antonio says, matter-of-factly, as we graze across the table. His, made from Duroc and Berkshire pork, with rosemary, juniper, a little garlic, and red wine, is smoked three times but holds its sweetness. It’s just a little bit salty.

Hot coppa and chorizo are up next, with Antonio admiring his own work: “Damn good for an Italian guy making a Spanish style sausage! The pimentón we use is amazing…and we learned about it from Jose Andres.”

And finally, the cremosa tartufata – a paté of spreadable salumi with truffles. Very sexy for 11am, it really needs to be paired with bone dry, cold champagne, but it is still almost an hour before cocktail time…

Heritage Turkey Premiere: An Interview with Frank Reese

 

“I have baby turkeys everywhere!”

It’s that time of year, summer in Kansas, and the heat is rising. “Turkeys have to be hatched before June to be ready for Thanksgiving,” says Frank Reese. “But these birds do real well in the heat – they aren’t morbidly obese, so they can handle it. And unlike on an industrial farm, they have trees and shade and get plenty of fresh water… commercial turkeys suffer a lot in the heat. Those birds have been genetically selected to grow as fast as possible.”

“A turkey is no better than the farmer behind it. And the genetics, of course,” says Frank, whose turkeys are one of the only flocks in America to receive certification by the American Poultry Association as purebreds, standards that were set in 1873.

“The biggest thing this year is that we’ve added three new farms to meet a bigger demand. We never seem to have enough — hopefully this year if everything goes well we’ll have twice as many turkeys as last year. But it’s still a drop in the bucket — our four farmers together are going to raise what one big commercial plant will do in a week

“What people don’t realize that when you send turkeys to get processed, they don’t all come out as birds in a bag — some birds are bruised and you can’t sell it as a whole Grade A bird. Truthfully we lose very few turkeys to cosmetic things — but to the big guys, they don’t care as much about their animals because they don’t make money off of whole turkeys, they make money off of deli meat. For an industrial producer, that’s where the money is. For them a whole turkey at Thanksgiving is like a giveaway. But when that turkey you usually sell for 99 cents a pound is instead smoked and put in an eight ounce package that now costs five dollars, you’re now selling that same bird for ten bucks a pound. And that’s why they only sell hens as whole birds — their toms they get up to 40 lbs in 14 weeks and sell as deli meat.”

An industrial turkey farm can get a 20 lb. hen in 12 weeks, or a 40 lb tom in 14 weeks. My hens, in 12 weeks only weigh 7 or 8 lbs – and we won’t process them till 24 or 28 weeks when their live weight is 15-16 lbs. My toms —  in 24 weeks weigh 24 lbs— a commercial factory turkey in that much time would weigh 44 lbs, and they don’t quit growing. They’ll get to 50 – 60 lbs and weigh too much for their legs to carry. I don’t lose any turkeys because of obesity because I haven’t selected them to be so fat that they cant live.

“The industry has made their money off of uniformity… there can be no variance, no difference. My turkeys don’t all come out the same – it is a totally different system.

“All the industrial turkeys have salt water added – they call it flavor enhancers – but sometimes its more than just salt. They figure most people don’t know how to cook a bird properly, and they figure it will keep the turkey from turning into dry leather. The truth is that because they raise these birds so fast and kill them so young, they don’t develop a layer of fat. My birds are harvested at a normal age and maturity, and having that maturity brings taste, flavor, texture. The industry has removed that — what people are used to now, the taste of turkey they think they love, is mostly just added salt.

Long-time Heritage customers know that we got our start selling Frank’s turkeys, and our relationship with him truly is the cornerstone of our business. Frank can count among his fans Alice Waters, who says “These birds are without a doubt the tastiest birds you can possibly serve,” and Mario Batali, who proudly claims “I’ve served these birds for my Thanksgiving every year for the past 12 years and always will.”

Frank is a true hero of the heritage food movement — he is the first and one of the only sustainable commercial farmers to receive certification by the American Poultry Association, and the USDA, for his birds as purebreds— and he has been featured in publications ranging from The New York Times to National Geographic. His story is the Rosetta Stone of sustainable farming, and the reason why when it comes to meat, the word “heritage” is synonymous with “heirloom.” Good Shepherd turkeys are the oldest line of turkey in America, 100 percent antibiotic free, and pasture raised on the Kansas prairie.

Matt Rudofker – Director of Culinary Operations at Momofuku

Photo by: Gabriele Stabile

Matthew Rudofker joined Momofuku Ssäm Bar as a Sous Chef in 2010 and soon rose to Executive Chef. In 2015 he was also named Executive Chef of Momofuku Má Pêche.  Matthew has received a variety of recognition from the hospitality community included in Forbes’ 30 Under 30, Zagat 30 under 30, Eater Young Guns, and James Beard Nominated Rising Star Chef. He is now the Director of Culinary Operations at Momofuku, a gastronomic dynasty whose coin of the realm is Heritage pork. The Bo Ssäm at Ssam Bar, especially, is a masterpiece of pork, something like “pig candy,” cured and slow cooked, and dizzying in its deliciousness.

“We get bellies and butts from Heritage for some of our classic dishes like the Pork Buns and Bo Ssäm.  Our menus are ever-changing and evolving. We work with Patrick, The Heritage Foods team, and all the farmers to ensure as a company we help utilize as many sections of the animal as possible.  It is important for our chefs to have an open dialogue in regard to animal breeds and cut specifications to bring the best product to the table for our guests

“Early on we went with Patrick on one of his farm trips – we went to Paradise Locker Meats, the processing plant, and five or six different farms, getting a feel for the whole operation. That’s really important to us, to visit everyone we buy from, from fish to meat, we go out to the farm, see the produce, we farm our own oysters… having that connection to where the product is coming from, especially in the case of animals to see that they are being treated humanely and they have good lives, that is who we are. We’ve made it a point to be responsible about sourcing product – it’s about building an understanding with our guests and vendors so that they trust us.”

“Whenever we run a pork chop I talk with Patrick about exactly how I want it to be, from breed  — typically we are using Berkshire, Duroc, or Red Wattle — to density, to the cut, and it translates to the customer. It’s a pork chop people talk about.”

Nancy Silverton, Chef Series and Featured Cuts

Our new Chef Spotlight Series explores the minds of visionary chefs committed to preserving endangered breeds by featuring them on their menus. Our inaugural feature is Nancy Silverton, star of Chef’s Table, founder of Campanile and La Brea Bakery and owner of the Mozza Restaurants in Los Angeles.

It’s a trust thing.

When Nancy Silverton was getting ready to open up Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles, her partners, Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, gave her very little direction. “Joe had an idea for an amaro focus at the bar, and of course we had Italian wine. As far as the food, Mario trusted us, but he wanted us to look into working with Patrick and Heritage Foods, which was still very new.

“What sets us apart as an Italian restaurant — and what doesn’t,” says Nancy, in typically exuberant fashion, “is that we are so ingredient driven. Everything has to be local and seasonal, especially produce. Mario wasn’t able to give me any advice about that because he was in New York, and I already had a relationship with my farmers in California. But meat is one of the hardest ingredients to source, and Heritage took the worry out of knowing where it came from — I love their dedication to slow farms and heritage breeds, and we know these animals are raised under the best conditions, which leads to the best quality — and that was the key to our relationship.

“From the beginning we were using all of our pork from Patrick. At the pizzeria we were using shoulder in the grind for the sausage and the meatballs. Now we’re buying whole pigs at Chi Spacca, and if Patrick calls us and says, ‘Hey I have an excess this week, can you use this or that’ – we can buy cuts to use at our other restaurants. We all want zero waste, and I’m supporting all of my values. In October we buy Heritage goats — last year we featured it for the whole month at Chi Spacca. We do goat sausage, we braise it, we cure it and make salumi.

“Back in ’89 when I opened Campanile it was the beginning of careful sourcing, and I would list our farmers on the menu. But after a while it began to look too commercial. When someone said ‘farm to table’ it could mean anything. So now I always just explain to our servers the back story, and they can tell the customers if anyone is interested. But I know they can taste the difference. I just found a producer of bufala milk mozzarella in Sonoma – it’s the first bufala not from Italy that we’ve found of this kind of quality, so that’s why I mention it. I’m very excited!”

Featured Cuts from This Week’s Chef Series:

Pork Loin, Boneless
Red Wattle or Berkshire
4lb bone-in or boneless $75
8lb bone-in or boneless $140

Pork Boston Butt Shoulder
Red Wattle or Berkshire
4lb bone-in $59
8lb bone-in or boneless $116

Ground Goat
Oberhasli
Three 1lb packs $55

Goat Belly with Ribs
Oberhasli
4lb total $59

Casella’s Prosciutto Speciale!

We are so honored to be partners in the launch of Casella’s Prosciutto Speciale, a unique and delicious addition to the American food scene. Our heritage breed prosciutto is something special, or as The New York Times says “outstanding” — each one celebrates true American flavor.

Casella’s follows a time-honored Italian recipe — happy, healthy pigs, salt and time. Each leg of prosciutto is aged slowly, on the bone. At Casella’s there is no rush. Only a commitment to create a high quality, American-made prosciutto in line with the standards of the Italian prosciutto consortia. The results are consistently gorgeous — juicy, marbled meat with a delicate nutty flavor.

Cesare Casella grew up in a small town in the countryside of Tuscany, where his family ran a little trattoria. As a boy, he awaited the arrival of the norcini, the traveling butchers who came each year to make the salumi. Before he could barely see over the table, he was helping to prepare salumi and would care for it as it hung in the cellar. Since those early days in Lucca, Cesare has welcomed a successful career as a chef in New York City, opening several restaurants, becoming the Dean of Italian Cooking at the ICC, and of course, continuing to make salumi. With Casella’s Salumi Speciali, he hopes to transport you back to the flavors and experiences he knew when he was a boy.

Casella’s is made using only our pasture-raised, antibiotic-free, heritage breed pigs including Red Wattle, Berkshire, Tamworth, Gloucestershire Old Spot, Large Black and Duroc. Each breed of ham has a slightly different flavor.

Click on the links below to visit our storefront:
1. CASELLA’S PROSCIUTTO SPECIALE, Sliced Eight 4oz packs
2. CASELLA’S PROSCIUTTO SPECIALE, Sliced Four 4oz packs
3. CASELLA’S PROSCIUTTO SPECIALE, Whole One 9.5-10lb ham

Secreto for Lunch

Secreto is a term used for a butcher’s secret cut. Crafted by master artisan Thomas Odermatt, our Secreto, cut from the short loin, brings 200 years of butchering tradition to your table.

When you’re on the run and need some quick ideas for lunch, our Secreto can come in handy.  Use some slices in a sandwich, beef up a healthy salad, or use it as your main ingredient in a pasta.  Here is a quick and delicious tomato based pasta recipe:

Ingredients
1 box Baia pasta, Casarecce
2 14.5oz. can of whole tomatoes
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup water
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 garlic clove, grated on a microplane
2 basil springs
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper

Procedure
1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or heavy-bottomed pot. Bloom the grated garlic and tomato paste in the olive oil. When the tomato paste turns into a dark brick red, add the canned tomatoes, breaking them up as they cook. Once all of the tomatoes are crushed to the desired amount, add 1 cup of water and continue to cook. Add the bay leaf, basil sprigs, salt and pepper and allow the tomato sauce to simmer.
2. As the sauce is simmering, fill a 6 quart pot halfway up with hot water and bring it to a boil. When the water is at a rolling boil, add two handfuls of kosher salt and allow it to dissolve. Add 1 box of dry pasta to the boiling water and cook for about twelve minutes (or longer, depending on the desired doneness), stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.
3. For the Secreto: Bring the Secreto to room temperature before you begin. Drizzle cooking oil into a hot pan. Once the pan is smoking hot, sear the fattier side of the Secreto for about four minutes. Carefully flip the Secreto and sear it on the other side for another four minutes. Remove it from the pan and allow it to rest for about five minutes. Although the USDA recommends pork be cooked to an internal temperature of 145ºF, our chefs suggest cooking until a thermometer reads 135ºF as the temp will continue to rise while resting. Slice thin.
4. Strain the pasta when it is cooked to the desired doneness, reserving two cups of the starchy pasta water. Add the strained pasta and Secreto to the tomato sauce, adding pasta water as needed to loosen up the final product.

Secreto in Your Favorite Party Snacks

Secreto is a term used for a butcher’s secret cut. Crafted exclusively for Heritage Foods by master artisan Thomas Odermatt, our Secreto is cut from the short loin and brings 200 years of butchering tradition to your table.

Use the Secreto in your favorite party snacks to impress your guests. When cooked medium rare and sliced thin, the Secreto is the perfect way to top off your spread of finger foods.  Add some to a cheesy nacho platter, throw some on a plain pizza, put them in fun yet elegant lettuce wraps, or use the thin slices of Secreto to top off a bruschetta platter. One pack will go a long way!

Here is a simple recipe to make a quick plate of Bruschetta:

Ingredients
2 baguettes or sourdough bread
2 tomato, diced
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Basil
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

Procedure
1. Slice baguettes on a slight bias. Dust the slices of bread with olive oil and lightly toast.
2. In a bowl, mix the diced tomatoes, minced shallots, and garlic with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let the mix marinate in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.
3. For the Secreto: Bring the Secreto to room temperature before you begin. Drizzle cooking oil into a hot pan. Once the pan is smoking hot, sear the fattier side of the Secreto for about four minutes. Carefully flip the Secreto and sear it on the other side for another four minutes. Remove it from the pan and allow it to rest for about five minutes. Although the USDA recommends pork be cooked to an internal temperature of 145ºF, our chefs suggest cooking until a thermometer reads 135ºF as the temp will continue to rise while resting. Slice thin.
4. Construct your bruschetta appetizer plate – starting with the tomato mix, top each bite off with a slice of Secreto and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

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