Author: Patty Lee


When is a Ham Not a Ham?

When it is a classic, Heritage maple sugar-cured ham it is so much more than a ham that the old descriptors no longer apply.

This is a holiday waiting to happen. This is the thing that brings families together. This is the thing that puts smiles on faces. This is wholesome, pasture-raised, maple-cured ham, the cornerstone of American cooking, loved universally as a centerpiece for a holiday meal, casual dining, or as the main ingredient in an iconic ham sandwich.

The Heritage maple sugar-cured ham is a stone cold classic, any time of year. It is your Christmas ham, but we won’t look twice if you enjoy it on a Fall night or summer picnic.

These hams are already cooked so they are ready for eating, but a little heat will help bring out the delicious juices of the heritage meat. You can add a family favorite glaze, or stud it with cloves, cover it with cherries and pineapples — there is no spice or seasoning this delicious ham won’t welcome.

So… when is a ham not a ham?? OK, so it’s a trick question. But our customers agree, that after tasting Heritage ham, those other, ham-shaped objects in the supermarket just don’t make the grade.

Give the Gift of Good Taste! by Walker Martin

Many years ago, before the Internet had connected us (and deconnected us in may ways, as well), a friend brought me a steak for my birthday. It was a massive rib-eye, cut thick, straight from the butcher’s case, except he wrapped it in holiday wrap and put a bow on it. When he brought it by, he told me to put it in the fridge.

At the time it seemed like an odd gift. My wife thought my friend was nuts, “Who does that?” she wanted to know. “He can’t just be normal and get you a book or a CD or a new tie?”

Thank god he didn’t get be any of those things, because he has horrible taste (I would have ended up with a self-help book, or a Wayne Newton CD he ironicall thought was “the greatest thing ever”), instead I got a fantastic dinner for two built around an aged ribeye that would have cost just by itself about $200 in a decent steak house.

I bought some very good wine to go with it – the kind of stuff that sells $100 a bottle in a restaurant, but only a third of that from a local bottle shoppe – and now my wife the naysayer is still talking about that dinner as one of the most romantic and satisfying we ever had at home. Moral of the story? My friend the weirdo is now my friend the genius.

-Walker Martin
(Bon vivant, food writer, raconteur)

The Magic of the Porchetta

The magic of the porchetta, the old-world roast perfected by third generation artisanal butcher Thomas Odermatt, is that it makes everyone look like a genius.

This oven-ready roast is a taste epiphany that only old world techniques can create: skin-on belly is wrapped around the center-cut de-boned loin roast, and generously seasoned throughout. The porchetta is perfectly seasoned with garlic and fresh herbs, and sourced from our elegant, luscious and smooth Berkshire pork. All you have to do is put it in the oven.

Truly, there is not much more to it than that. And then watch your guests ooh-and-ahh over your great taste and magnificent technique!

Let the Turkey do the Talking, and Other Lessons from the Heritage Holiday Table

The story of how your holiday dinner got from the farm to your plate is one of the best you will ever tell. And the truly fantastic part is, it’s all true.

When it comes to Heritage breeds — of pork, of lamb, of beef, you name it — each meal is only the last chapter in a culinary epic. Our Red Wattle pork, for example, comes from pigs that once were staples of New Orleans stockyards and were once nearly extinct as industrial farming took over and cyncically favored only select breeds of genetically engineered pigs. Now Red Wattles are a favorite of knowledgeable pork lovers, saved by aware diners and discerning chefs.

Our Tunis lamb can be traced back to Bible times and were once shepherded by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The ancestors of the cows that produce our Wagyu steak were originally flown to Texas on the same kind of luxury plane that is favored by touring rock bands.

Not only that, when you are eating Heritage meats you are celebrating biodiversity, supporting family-owned independent farms, and continuing a legacy of traditional American farming that stays far away from antibiotics and hormones and commercial farming practice.

And you can boast that our meat is the very same stuff being prepared at Gramercy Tavern, Del Posto, and some of the best restaurants in NY, LA, and San Francisco, championed by visionary food stars like Alice Waters and Mario Batali!

In Celebration of the Feast!

From the “Carnivore’s Manifesto” by Heritage Foods USA founder Patrick Martins
In the words of Mae West, “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!”
As in all things, of course, a little common sense could prevail.
But I’m sick of people telling me to eat only plants. Sure, health is wealth and all we want is for everyone to live a long life, but we also need to have times of wild abandon.
In the Middle Ages, feasts happened when food was abundant: the festivals of spring, summer, and fall. Feasting was a way of allowing yourself a temporary respite from your troubles, sometimes to a point bordering on revolution—during Carnival, kings behaved as paupers in a complete inversion of society, while the proles ruled the roost. The idea was, better to go all out tonight because you never know what tomorrow will bring.
I eat healthy, responsible food. Mostly. But as Oscar Wilde once said, “Where there is no extravagance there is no love, and where there is no love there is no understanding.”
So for dinner tonight I think I’ll order two hundred portions of grilled octopus shipped in from Spain, drizzled with olive oil from Sicily, and gilded with a few grains of sea salt from off the coast of Portugal.
Once my appetite is piqued, I’ll dig into a plate of carne cruda, a ball of raw meat no smaller than a watermelon. It’s better than steak tartare, prepared with olive oil and lemon instead of a cracked egg so it’s that much lighter. See? I am very sensible about these things.
For the next round, more meat, of course, but nothing too heavy, as I am still just prepping my incisors for the main event. Perhaps just thirty or forty appetizer-sized portions of Akaushi eye of round carpaccio, served with a deli- cate Parmigiano-Reggiano, aged for exactly two years, no more and no less, to give the whole thing some legs and help it dance on my palate.
Clearly, I’m going to need some wine to wash this down with — I think we’ll start with some Bandol Tempier. Two cases should be just fine, it is so easy to drink! And then something a little bigger, perhaps a Barbaresco. Along with sparkling water, I am thinking a few cases of Budweiser— it really does go with anything.
While waiting for the main course I always like to amuse myself, and I think, in this case, a half dozen or so of New York City’s greatest gastronomic gift to the world of noshing ought to do it: the everything bagel with lox. And of course, wild Alaskan salmon is the only salmon that can stand up to a bagel covered in seeds, red onions, capers, and cream cheese.
And now I am ready to rumble.
For the main course, a bit of Eastern flair would be a good turn: two dozen Pekin ducks from Good Shepherd Ranch in Lindsborg, Kansas, prepared Peking style with pancakes and plum sauce and scallions, which I’ll roll up like fat, duck-filled doobies and wash down with a dark beer from North Coast Brewing Company that is just bitter enough to groove with the sweet meat and not fight it.
Just to prove to everyone that I am not crazy, this will be the time for something green. Three Caesar salads will do, prepared tableside, and don’t be stingy with the ancho- vies, preferably from SeaLab Italia, in Bra. Now the way is clear for the cheese course, which I prefer in the form of a hot tub of fondue of raw-milk cheeses from my favorite East Coast dairies—Meadow Creek Dairy, Spring Brook Farm, and Landaff Creamery.
For dessert, a baker’s dozen of quindim pies — a custardy Brazilian delicacy that is so time intensive to make, what with its hundred-eggs-per-pie mandate, that hardly anyone besides my mom makes it anymore. She whipped one up for me last year for July Fourth — you would know it by the trail of comatose bodies it left in its wake.
But before I call it a night, I’ll take my time with three bottles of Fernet Branca. No matter how popular it gets with the trend chasers, it’s still the one thing I can count on to help calm the ol’ gullet after a snack like the one I just imagined. It’s kind of like Jägermeister for adults.

Why a Duck? Ask Dickens!

The best thing about the holidays is always the food, that is, if you are doing it right! As we say here, let nature lead the way — great food is seasonal and should be celebrated in its own time. Look no farther than the books of Charles Dickens and ask why they always seemed to be eating geese at Christmas? Because that is when naturally mating geese and ducks are ready for harvest. It is nature’s way of writing a menu.

Our Aylesbury ducks, by the way, are the most incredible birds ever to make it all the way from London to your table! And their story is one of the best you will hear at the table.

The Aylesbury duck reached its peak popularity in the late 1800s when thousands of ducklings were sent from the town of Aylesbury to London and served by the top restaurants of the day.

Since then, the Aylesbury was crossed with other breeds like the Pekin, which fared better in industrial settings. If it were not for a few dedicated farmers who kept it pure, it is likely the breed would have disappeared for good. The Aylesbury Duck is listed on the Most Endangered List with fewer than 500 breeding birds left in the U.S. We’re proud to be offering these ducks this season — and no matter what you have heard, they are simple to prepare, not much different than roasting a chicken, and they are sure to make you a superstar in the kitchen!

The Aylesbury boasts a bouncy texture and rich, creamy fat. Its robust flavor with nutty and herbaceous notes make this the most flavorful duck on the market today. These ducks are raised outdoors on ponds and pasture with no hormones or antibiotics.

Americans consume less than 1/3 lb. of duck per year but we hope to restore the bird’s presence on the farm and at your dinner table.

Still need convincing? Here’s our recipe for a simple whole roast duck. If you love duck, and want a truly spectacular bird beyond what is even available in restaurants, you can’t possibly go wrong!

Click here for a simple duck recipe.

Jive Talkin’ Turkey , Part II

We were having so much fun talking about “turkeys of the 1970s” – a time when real Heritage turkeys were having a tough time fighting against the influx of industrial farming and a trend towards growing everything cheaper and faster, no matter what the ultimate cost — that we thought we’d go back and look at some of favorite TELEVISION TURKEYS of the 1970s!

Our favorites are failed copycat shows, and no one had more losing imitations than the original SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN! Two of our favorites are the shameless copy GEMINI MAN, and the completely unfunny HOLMES AND YOYO about a robot cop named YOYO!!! Don’t remember them?? They were true TURKEYS!!!

Speaking of copycats, who remembers DOG AND CAT, a completely failed cop show starring KIM BASSINGER??

Television shows come and go, but Heritage Turkeys have stood the test of time, simply because they cannot be beat.

The industry does a great job of confusing the market by co-opting buzz words. The word “natural” can mean almost anything. And all of these turkeys have salt water added — they call it flavor enhancers. These are what we call “jive turkeys.” They are simply not the real thing. If you want the true tast of turkey, Heritage is the way to go.

Heritage Turkeys are the genuine item. Not copycats, not cheap imitations, not bionic robots or clones or anything produced in a laboratory like so many commercially farmed birds.

Heritage Turkeys are raised using traditional farming methods from birds with tremendous genetics. There are never any chemicals, and the birds get to roam and roots naturally. All of this goes to make Heritage Turkeys are the very best birds in the world, the most flavorful and juiciest birds on the market today.

Don’t trust us: Alice Waters says “These birds are without a doubt the tastiest birds you can possibly serve,” and Mario Batali, proudly claims “I’ve served these birds for my Thanksgiving every year for the past 12 years and always will.”

Just try calling Alice or Mario “jive” and see what happens!

HERITAGE HOLIDAY PARTIES! (SPOILER ALERT!)

The Heritage warehouse in Brooklyn is always a beehive of activity, filling orders, taste-testing, talking to our customers, always on the look-out for new treats and rarities, but holiday time is like no other. Gearing up towards Christmas and New Year’s, everyone here is mad to throw dinner parties, cocktail soirees, and to never show up empty handed at the non-stop holiday fiestas that are part of life during the holidays!

Here, quickly, a survey of what Team Heritage is taking home with us, almost on a daily basis!

Mike: “The pork tenderloin is money in the bank for a sophisticated dinner party… the filet mignon of Heritage pork, complete to prepare with a few aromatics – rosemary, sage, thyme – makes the house smell great. Everyone is always impressed.”

Catherine: “The Porchetta! I love the combination of textures… it is so easy to cook and makes me look like a genius. Greatest centerpiece EVER!”

Patty: “I always take home bacon. But when I’m REALLY having a party, I love the Heritage strip roast. That’s dinner for eight. I roast it whole in the oven, it’s marbled and delicious and you just put it in the oven… you don’t really have to do anything.”

Elizabeth: “I always take home the ground beef… but if I’m going to a party, Casella’s prosciutto. So easy, so good.”

Patrick: “I like to bring a duck to a party. People will cry FOUL! But after I roast it for them I am their hero for life.”

Jive Turkeys, Part 1

Oh, those wacky 1970s, when it seemed that just everyone was wearing white bellbottoms and dancing to the Hustle. That may have worked if you were eighteen-years-old and could get around on platform shoes, but when it was your uncle Murray trying to act hip, pretending to be younger than he was (by a lot!), we had an expression for him: Jive turkey!

Being a turkey in the 1970s was NOT such a good thing, on the disco floor, or even on the thanksgiving table — By the early 1970s, factory farming had taken over the American poultry farming system, and turkeys were most commonly bred for traits that would deform them and destroy their flavor, namely how fast and how big they could grow. Turkeys were shot up with chemicals to keep them alive, and were so top heavy they could not walk had become the norm. In fact, they were growing so fast that turkeys became so inexpensive as to nearly bankrupt the industry.

Sadly, these kinds of “jive turkeys” – birds that really had no business representing American agriculture, became the norm, and it is still true. Like your desperate uncle trying to do the Hustle at the disco, commercially farmed turkeys cant be trusted.

The people behind this type of farming, growing everything as fast and as cheap as possible, think they can outsmart mother nature, but the there is always a price to pay: sick, inhumanely raised turkeys, and family farms that cant compete with this sort of mass production.

Thankfully, Heritage Turkeys are no jive.

(And after dinner, why not screen the classic comedy, JIVE TURKEY starring PAUL HARRIS?)

But when it comes to dinner, stick to Heritage. You don’t want anyone to call your turkey “jive” at the Thanksgiving table!

FRANK REESE, AMERICA HERO

A turkey is no better than the farmer behind it.

Long-time Heritage customers know that we got our start selling Frank’s turkeys, raised traditionally and responsibly on his Good Shepherd Farm and our relationship with him remains the cornerstone of our business.

Frank is a true hero of the Heritage food movement — he is the first and only sustainable commercial farmer to receive certification by the American Poultry Association for his birds as purebreds, standards that were set in 1873 — 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.

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

“But here are more and more people who want our birds — Some people who have had Heritage birds have tried to find something else, but they always come back.”

And it’s true, once you have experience the true taste of a Heritage bird, one that hasn’t been juiced with salt water and flavor enhancers, one that has been raised naturally and allowed to roost and roam and mate naturally, you will never look at another supermarket bird the same way.

Heritage turkeys are available now for Thanksgiving delivery. Isn’t it time you became part of this great tradition?

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