Category: Breeds


The Perfect Roast for You and Yours

This Holiday Season, Go Big with a Classic Heritage Centerpiece!porchetta

The biggest occasions deserve the best meats in America. Like all of our meats, our centerpieces are raised humanely, on pasture without antibiotics or hormones, and produce the best natural flavor and texture you have ever experienced. These are not your grandma’s pot roast — our beef ribeye, rack of lamb, tenderloin, porchetta, and cured hams are the best of their kind, easy to cook, and sensational to serve for family dinner or the most elegant holidays. And did we mention the leftovers?

Know Your Roasts!

Some meats just seem more festive than others, but you can always count on pleasing the crowd with a Heritage roast or centerpiece. We find beef tenderloin, aka filet mignon, to be perfect for elegant dinner parties. Pork tenderloin, too, is an exquisite focal point for any occasion. Our custom made, hand-rolled porchetta, is a rare treat — crispy and rich and an impressive showstopper for even the meat connoisseur. Leg of lamb, and the celebrated rack of lamb, are perhaps the most festive centerpieces of them all, fit for a royal banquet! Of course cured hams and whole chickens never fail to please, whether it’s a holiday, Sunday dinner, or just a weeknight treat. The best part is that they are all easy to prepare — and spectacular to present!

Prepare Simply for Spectacular Results

A ten pound leg of lamb may seem like a challenge next to a 14 oz. pork chop, but we are here to tell you, don’t worry! Here is the best advice from the Heritage Team and our network of chefs:

There is no wrong way to cook great meat, but we recommend keeping it simple. Just use salt and pepper and your favorite herbs as primary seasoning. We love beef with just salt and pepper, but lamb also loves rosemary and thyme. Pork, too, loves a creative touch, but remember: this is the very best heritage meat in the world, and the flavor is already there, a product of the best breeds, farmed traditionally. There is nothing to hide, the taste says it all.

Click here to shop our selection

The Oldest Domesticated Livestock in the United States: Navajo-Churro

This is an EPIC story about the oldest domesticated livestock breed in the United States, a story that spans 500 years, and hopefully ends on on your plate.

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Antonio Manzanares is one of the last remaining Churro shepherds in the Southwest, and he herds these animals in the traditional style, with little concession to modern farming.

Antonio Manzanares is one of the last remaining Churro shepherds in the Southwest, and he herds these animals in the traditional style, with little concession to modern farming.

This year, for the first time, Heritage Foods USA is proud to announce that it is making Navajo-Churro lamb a featured product for its retail and restaurant customers, a giant step in saving this rare and exquisite breed. Navajo-Churro lambs are prized for their incredible depth of flavor, as well as their long wool, which commands top prices in woven Navajo rugs.

The Navajo Sheep Association, dedicated to the preservation of these sheep, says that “No other sheep population in the history of the world has survived such selective pressure with such dignity and spirit.”

From Noble Roots
The Churro were brought to America from Spain by Francisco Coronado in 1540. The sheep were bred largely for food for the explorers and the missionaries who followed them throughout the region that is now Mexico and the southwestern United States. By 1807 a single flock of Spanish sheep could number 20,000.
At that time Native Americans had no livestock agriculture of their own — there were no domesticated animals in North America yet. Native Americans were still largely hunters and gatherers, but they quickly learned how to raise sheep both for the meat and the Churro’s thick, double-sided fleece and long haired wool.
In the 1860s, the Navajo-Churro sheep population was nearly destroyed as part of the United States government’s efforts to punish the Navajo people who resisted the new wave of Western settlers moving onto their land. The government ordered military action, led by American “heroes” Kit Carson and John Carlton, with instructions to destroy Navajo orchards and flocks. The results were a bloody swath of death and pain.

The Return of the Navajo-Churro
This year, Heritage Foods, in cooperation with John Sharpe, a pioneer in the preservation of rare breeds and the chef at the Turquoise Room at La Posada hotel — a gorgeously restored train station and historic site in Winslow, Arizona — is working to bring this breed back to the American market.

The Churro is smaller than many other sheep and is noteworthy for its especially herbaceous and savory flavor, with a lower lanolin content than many lambs, which can give the meat a gamy flavor. The Churro is also remarkably tender – even cuts like the shoulder and legs that sometimes call for braising can be roasted and served medium rare like the loin chops or the rib rack.

Shepherding: The second oldest profession
These animals are a reflection of the ground upon which they were raised. Heritage Foods’ Churro lamb is truly free range, raised in Navajo country and in the mountains of New Mexico, and herded in the traditional style. There is very little hay feeding in the winter, as they are grazed at lower elevations.

Antonio Manzanares is one of the few shepherds left breeding Navajo-Churro: “We trail through the mountains in the summer and back in winter. They can get a little wild, but they herd well. The Churro is a smaller animal, leaner than other sheep – I have many customers, such as John Sharpe, who swear that the Churro is a very different tasting lamb.”

It’s no secret that the back story helps sell the lamb — from its arrival to the New World, the drive to save the breed from extinction, and traditional shepherding practices.

Heritage Foods works closely with John Sharpe on our Navajo-Churro project. John is a pioneer in the preservation of rare breeds, and the chef at the Turquoise Room at La Posada hotel — a gorgeously restored train station and historic site in Winslow, Arizona.

“My other shepherds are both women, and both weavers,” says John, who serves Churro, nose-to-tail, in tacos, posole, and grilled. “Irene Bennally is actually a famous shepherd and weaver, she was featured in the New York Times – you can pay her and she’ll take you with her shepherding and camping.”

You can read the New York Times article here

And please contact Heritage Foods to get a taste of this incredible lamb, as delicious as it is part of a great American legacy.

Click here to order The Southwest Navajo-Churro Package.  13-15 lb, All cuts are individually packed!

Roasted Leg of Lamb with Potatoes, Apples, & Citrus

We love hearing from our network of chefs!  Recently, Ryan DeNiccola, Executive Chef of chi Spacca wrote us about his experience with our Navajo-Churro lamb.

I enjoyed the Navajo-Churro lamb legs.  They ended up being fantastic.  I loved the richer, gamey flavor they had.  We de-boned them, rolled into a roast, slow roasted in the oven, and finish on the grill with pecorino polenta and rosemary lamb jus.  The wine dinner customers loved it.  It’s a great story to tell, too!

Ryan’s recipe sounds delicious!  We love the simplicity of Roasted Leg of Lamb.  Try this recipe for a citrus twist on an old classic.  The key is marinating the meat overnight and cooking the roast low and slow.  This recipe is great in the oven, and also does wonderful on the grill.

Ingredients

1 5-7 lb lamb leg
1/2 lb fingerling potatoes
2 medium apples
2 lemons
1 orange
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt
2 cups white wine

Marinade

  1. Zest the lemons and cover the leg with the zest.
  2. Season meat liberally with salt and pepper.
  3. Slice the potatoes, apples, and citrus and arrange the slices so the leg is covered from top to bottom.
  4. Wrap tightly with foil and place on a baking sheet.
  5. Allow 24 hours to marinate in the refrigerator.

Roast

  1. Remove from the refrigerator 2-3 hours before roasting, allowing the leg to come to room temperature.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 250°F.
  3. Unwrap the leg from the foil, and place back on the baking sheet or in a roasting pan if you have one large enough.
  4. Add the fruit and juices from the marinade to the pan. Pour one cup of wine into the bottom of your pan and tent the leg with foil.
  5. Place the leg in the oven and reduce temperature immediately to 200°F.
  6. Roast the leg for 5-6 hours keeping a close watch. When the bottom of the pan is dry add the second cup of wine.
  7. Once the leg reaches an internal temperature of 120°F remove from the oven. Turn the broiler on to high. Allow a few minutes for your broiler to heat up then place the leg uncovered back in the oven to brown.
  8. When the meat reaches 130°F internal temperature remove from the oven, and let rest for 15 minutes.
  9. Slice against the grain & serve.

“Chick-etta” Rolatina Recipe

Pasture-raised chicken breasts deboned and stuffed with award-winning cheese, our “Chick-etta” is the perfect storm of taste and earthy sophistication. Cordon Bleu-meets-porchetta in master butcher Thomas Odermatt’s newest creation.

This legend-in-the-making begins with gorgeous, pasture-raised chickens and the very finest blue cheese from one of the most decorated dairies in America, Jasper Hill Farm. It is then seasoned, rolled and tied by hand in the Old-World style. The result is a towering feat of gastronomic art, a truly impressive centerpiece that Heritage Foods USA is proud to help shepherd from farm and dairy direct to your table. This sweet and tangy roast is delivered perfect and ready for your oven.

READY TO ROAST:

In the Oven:

The “Chick-etta” is so easy to prepare: just season liberally with salt and pepper, and cook in a 325 degree oven until the internal temp reaches 165 degrees. We recommend pulling your roast from the oven five degrees before as the internal temperature of your roast will continue to rise even after coming out of the oven. Don’t forget, always let your roast rest before carving to allow the juices to redistribute.

To Ensure Perfect Browning, start on the stovetop:

Start the “Chick-etta” on the stovetop and transfer to the oven: drizzle a tablespoon of cooking oil into a hot pan and let it roll around in the pan until it creates a thin coat.  Season the Chick-etta liberally with salt and pepper, and sear it in in the pan until all sides are golden brown. This will take about five minutes.  Cook it in a 325 degree oven until the internal temp reaches 165 degrees. We recommend pulling your roast from the oven five degrees before as the internal temperature of your roast will continue to rise even after coming out of the oven. Don’t forget, always let your roast rest before carving to allow the juices to redistribute.

“Chick-etta” Rolatina, Two 1.5-2lb pieces $60

“Chick-etta” Rolatina, Four 1.5-2lb pieces $110

 

Heritage Turkeys : From Farm to Ark to Table

In every family, there is a pride of history and lineage. This is no different for poultry or livestock. Heritage turkeys are the progeny of poultry that was bred for flavor.

Norman Kardosh, Frank Reese’s mentor, spent his life teaching Frank how to raise heritage turkeys responsibly. He knew he was leaving his legacy to Frank, and he stressed the importance of pure genetics. Norman said, “If you mess them up it will take fifteen years to straighten out… if it’s even possible.”

The Standard Bronze is the perfect heritage turkey — flavorful, healthy, and robust — and represents not just a line of genetics, but the farmer’s love and care in breeding the best heritage turkeys in the world.

By the early 1970s, factory farming would take over, and turkeys were most commonly bred for traits that would genetically deform them and destroy their flavor, namely how fast and how big they could grow. Within twenty years, turkeys shot up with chemicals to keep them alive and so top heavy they could not walk were the norm. In fact, they were growing so fast that turkeys became so inexpensive as to nearly bankrupt the industry.

The American Poultry Association is America’s oldest agricultural association and the keeper of the standards for poultry breed identification. Frank is the first farmer to receive accreditation by the APA certifying his heritage turkeys as purebred to the standards set in 1873.

Patrick Martins, Founder of Heritage Foods USA explains, “In 2001, when I was running Slow Food USA, I put the Standard Bronze turkey on the Slow Food “Ark of Taste” — a metaphoric vessel designed to highlight agriculture on the verge of extinction — and suddenly I found myself in the turkey business, launching Heritage Foods USA to help Frank expand and successfully deliver his flock of heritage turkeys, now numbering around 10,000 birds per year.

Frank’s birds are not only a model of responsible farming but also delicious. They bring a character of flavor and juiciness that could never be found in anything produced by Big Agriculture. They do cost more, but the price reflects the true cost of raising a free-range bird that has not been genetically redesigned to flatter the bottom line rather than the taste buds.

Modern, industrially raised adult turkey’s breasts are so unnaturally large that they cannot reproduce without assistance, and need to be artificially inseminated, which is why cheap turkey meat is available in the supermarket all year long. Frank’s turkeys mate naturally and are only ready to be harvested for Thanksgiving.

Frank Reese’s heritage turkeys are now available for pre-order for Thanksgiving directly from Heritage Foods USA, including the Standard Bronze as well as Bourbon Red, White Holland, Black Narragansett, Royal Palm, Jersey Buff, and Slate breeds.

2016 Heritage Turkeys
Delivered fresh November 22nd with neck and giblets
8-10lb turkey … $99
10-12lb turkey … $119
12-14lb turkey … $139
14-16lb turkey … $159
16-18lb turkey … $179
18-20lb turkey … $199

wagyu ribeye

Wagyu Beef: Japanese and American Heritage

wagyu ribeye

According to the American Wagyu Association, only four Japanese breeds are truly considered Wagyu: Japanese Black (the predominant Wagyu exported to the U.S), Akaushi (also known as the Japanese Red Cow), Japanese Polled, and Japanese Shorthorn. In Japan there is strict regulation on labeling and export of this prized livestock – even in Japan true Wagyu accounts for only .06% of beef consumption.

These cattle were originally raised as draft animals—selected for their endurance, which was fueled by their great capacity to store fat. As gastronomy became the main indicator for selection, unique breeds of Wagyu began to develop in prefectures including Matsusaka, Kobe, and Shiga.

Wagyu beef is known for its abundance of intramuscular fat and grades levels above USDA Prime. A special grading system has been developed for this beef based on a Beef Marbling Score, or BMS, ranging from 3–12. To give you an idea, USDA Prime steak might come to 11% fat whereas a level 3 BMS must have a minimum of 21 percent intramuscular fat, according to Steven Raichlen, BBQ Bible.

The first Wagyu cattle were imported to the US in 1975 when a Japanese Emperor gifted four bulls to a Hawaiian. The meat is steadily becoming more popular among American chefs and home cooks. In the United States Wagyu is often crossed with Angus, but as the American interest in Wagyu grows it’s being raised with increasingly pure genetics.

The Akaushi beef we carry is from Heartbrand Beef in Texas. This family-owned ranch has been raising Japanese cattle since 1992.

If you’re interested in sourcing some of the best Akaushi and Akaushi/Angus Wagyu beef available in the United States please visit our storefront HeritageFoodsUSA.com/Beef. And if you’re really serious about amazing beef, check out our Ribeye Variety Pack—our curated selection of the most exquisitely marbled steaks.

wagyu ribeye

What is Wagyu Beef?

The name Wagyu refers to any Japanese breed of beef. Kobe is a type of Wagyu, as is Mishima. For the past decade Heritage Foods has sourced Akaushi, a spectacular breed of Wagyu, arguably the most intensely marbled beef breed in the world. Akaushi is the Japanese Red Cow, a national treasure in Japan.

wagyu ribeye
wagyu ribeye steaks, Akaushi/Angus

The first Akaushi cattle arrived to the United States in 1992. Three bulls and eight cows left Japan on a custom equipped Boeing 747, headed for the Texas heartland, where they have been treated as celebrities since day one. Our Akaushi steaks are sourced from the very same family of farms that first brought the breed to the United States.

Purebred Akaushi is the authentic taste of Japanese beef, lighter than you might expect, with a silky quality and a surprising elegance.

Akaushi/Angus steak is a Wagyu that results from cross breeding the revered Akaushi with America’s mighty Angus, creating a profound steak experience. Boasting a bold, classic steak flavor, punctuated with the nuance of perfect marbling, this is our top selling steak.

Beyond the legacy of two great beef cultures — Japan and Texas —it’s also nice to know that Akaushi beef has among the lowest cholesterol of any meat sold in the USA, making these Heritage steaks a healthy indulgence as well as a sure-fire crowd pleasers.

Ribeye Steaks, boneless, Akaushi/Angus four 14-16oz steaks $119
NY Strip Steak, boneless, Akaushi/Angus four 14-16oz steaks $119
Ribeye Steaks, boneless, Pure Akaushi four 12oz steaks $157
NY Strip Steak, boneless, Pure Akaushi four 12oz steaks $157
NY Strip Steak, bone-in, Akaushi/Angus two 18-20oz steaks $99
Porterhouse Steak, Akaushi/Angus one 32oz steak $89
Porterhouse Steak, Akaushi/Angus two 32oz steaks $170 Continue reading “What is Wagyu Beef?”

Return of the Bison

The species of grass that are out there, the wildlife, the birds, all of those things – even the contour of the land reflects the hoofprint of the bison. – Dave Carter, President National Bison Association

 

Bison

Dave Carter is the Executive Director of the National Bison Association, a resource for ranchers working to preserve, promote, and market bison as a sustainable industry.

Bison are a keystone species of the prairie ecosystem.

One might say bison are the “keepers of the plains”. The bison’s diet consists of native grasses, maintained by the slight disturbance of the bison’s cup-shaped hoof. In their hay-day two subspecies of bison, the plains bison and the wood bison, grazed from Alaska south into Mexico and out toward the eastern seaboard of the United States. Bison were so incomprehensibly plentiful, millions upon millions of hooves of migrating herds of bison laid the track for what is now highway U.S. 150 – year after year they wore one path, which crossed the Ohio River, running northwest to the Wabash River and into present day Illinois.

Dave Carter: I fly a small plane and it’s interesting when you fly over the prairies and you see these prairie potholes – these small lakes or ponds that are out across the prairies. A lot of those prairie potholes were formed throughout hundreds of thousands of years of buffalo wallowing in the dirt and kind of excavating it out and creating a catchment. When you create the prairie pothole, well then you have got an ecosystem that brings in the birds and the predators. So we feel that this is the animal that belongs in this part of the world. One of the things that we try and promote is that with bison the less that we tinker with the animal, the better.

Four hundred years ago estimates place historic buffalo populations around 50 million head. By one hundred and twenty years ago the American bison had been hunted down and driven to less than a thousand head.

DC: A hundred and twenty years ago there were less than seven hundred animals left alive. And there were five ranchers that essentially gathered up the remnants of the herd and saved them from extinction. People talk about the Bronx Zoo and the animals that were in Yellowstone, but it was really Charles Goodnight, and Samuel Walking, James Phillips, and the Pablo-Allard Group who gathered up the remnants and saved them.

Even though bison are being raised for meat production, the species remains wild in the sense that they don’t require any assistance mating, birthing, and can withstand cold winters without shelter. Today total bison numbers are estimated around half a million. Luckily, ranchers and the National Bison Association are committed to increasing numbers and keeping the species free of antibiotics, growth hormones, and heavy genetic selection.

 

2015 Heritage Turkey Flock

Every morning it’s the same routine for poultry farmer Frank Reese. Frank walks several thousand turkeys from their barn out to pasture, where they spend the day foraging in the rolling Kansas plains. In the evening he opens the large barn doors, cuing the flock to head indoors where they can roost safely for the night.

Exercise and access to natural forage help to keep heritage turkeys strong and healthy. It also enables the birds to develop fat, nutritional content, and flavor. Not too long ago this was how all turkeys were raised, but Frank has gone to great lengths to preserve traditional standards of raising turkeys. Each year, as his flock is developing, he closely watches the birds mature. At the end of the season Frank will select the individuals with the most desirable traits to parent the next generation.

This yearly cycle drives the sustainability of Frank’s operation. All of his turkeys mate naturally, have a long and productive lifespan, and develop at a healthy rate – simple traits that really allow his flock to stand out from commodity production.

Follow our blog for more 2015 heritage turkey updates!

 

 

 

Spring Lambing

 

Tunis Tamarack

Young Tunis lambs at Tamarack Vermont Sheep Farm bask in the warm spring sun.

Farmers affectionately refer to the birthing of baby lambs as ‘lambing’. Early spring is the traditional time for lambing, giving the young lambs time to fully develop before the challenges of winter set in.

In the winter lambs are kept close to the barn so they have solid shelter from storms.  In the spring the growing flock is released into fresh paddocks to enjoy tender clovers and grasses as the forage develops in summer fields. By the time summer comes the flock is has grown more independent and is ready to move on to well established grasses in more distant ranges.

Spring lambing is convenient for the farmer as ewes reach maturity within 5-12 months of birth. Sheep are typically bred once a year, in the fall. Ewes bred in the fall will carry for about 5 months and timed right lambing will occur just after the last snow.

 

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