Category: Breeds


Clover Creek Katahdin Shoulder

tender shoulder350

clean

mineral

perfectly balanced

sticky fat

mint

cream

herb

cinnamon

olive

grassy

clove

delicate

Chris and Ray Wilson, along with their daughter Sarah, have been raising sheep on their farm in Northeastern Tennessee for nearly 20 years. As a child of farmers, Chris hopes to one day pass down the farm to her own daughter. As she explained, “That is what you farm for – to pass it on to the next generation.” Clover Creek Farm spans 50 acres of land at an elevation of about 1650 feet. Chris, Ray and Sarah practice sustainable agriculture but when Chris found the land nearly 20 years ago, the land had been depleted by previous conventional farms and was completely over grown. Chris spent 5 years restoring the land and creek; with a focus on soil recovery and establishing the native grasses so it would be a sustainable farm. Chris was named Conservation Farmer of the Year in 1999 for her efforts.

Clover Creek Katahdin sheep graze on native grasses, such as blue grass, and clovers that are abundant in the Tennessee area. They are born outside and spend their entire life grazing with their mothers. Following the motto “farming in harmony with nature,” Chris raises her sheep using rotational grazing methods. Chris and Ray take pride in their lambs, explaining, “The lamb are not a commodity. We put a lot of work and effort in to give them the best life possible.”

The Katahdin sheep is the result of the innovative thinking of a Maine farmer named Michael Piel. In the 1950’s, Piel brought three sheep from St. Croix in the Caribbean to his farm. He crossed these “African hair sheep,” as they were known, with his own flock of “Down” breeds (more typical wooly meat sheep found in New England), producing a lambs he called Katahdin after the highest mountain in Maine. The Katahdin does not need to be sheared and produces a well-muscled, lean but meaty carcass. The Katahdin lamb is a meat breed and not a wool breed, making it especially flavorful and delicious with nutty, full flavor.

Heritage Turkey Photos from Judy

We LOVE when our friends share their culinary adventures with us. Here are some great photos of an innovative way to cook-up the traditional American Thanksgiving centerpiece.

Dr. Judith Mazza is a long time supporter and wonderful photographer. She is President of the DC Chapter of La Chaîne des Rotisseurs, the world’s oldest and largest international food and wine society. 

Send us your photos, recipes, and stories and we’ll feature them here at our Community Table, the place where we gather to share our thoughts and ideas and everything we learn from you!

Thanks Judy for these wonderful Heritage Turkey photos!

 

Mazza Heritage Turkey (1 of 11) Mazza Heritage Turkey (4 of 11)Mazza Heritage Turkey (10 of 11)

YUM!

What’s With The Goose? The History Behind Eating Goose At Christmas

Goose, the once-common farm bird, has a rich legacy of multi-purpose value. Geese proudly boast down feathers, dark flavorful meat, and rich high-temperature cooking fat.

As natural foragers, geese are more content grazing than feeding on grain alone and require the freedom to roam in search of tender grasses. Their preference for grazing has made them difficult to adapt into factory farm conditions.

Ducks were more easily adapted to commodity food production. However, the hybridized commercially raised duck is a different bird than it’s predecessors, which were selected over centuries for flavorful dark meat and the perfect amount of fat. Frank Reese, our heritage poultry farmer, can trace his Rowan, Buff, Aylesbury, and Appleyard ducks back over 200 years.

The duck and geese raised by Frank at Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch, spend 6 months sauntering through meadows, foraging, and swimming. Their active lifestyle and diverse diet develop flavor in the birds – something factory farms will never be able to replicate.

Traditionally duck and geese were harvested in Winter, Frank Reese explains –

In the old days you’d never harvest a duck or a goose until after you had freezing weather. The old people really felt that the cold weather allowed the duck to put down or the goose to put down that important layer of fat that was needed to make it taste like it was supposed to.

The longer it takes to grow the better it is.

Goose and duck should have a lot more fat [than other poultry] – that’s how the animal stays warm, but that’s also where all the flavor is. That gives the meat it’s taste. The fat should be kept and used for frying potatoes and all kinds of stuff. It’s very very rich and it doesn’t take much.

Because our birds have lived longer, that means you are going to have to really be careful when you cook them because you can overcook them and dry them out. You can get too much fat out of them. And because these are ducks that have actually been in water and swam and have been active you are going to have to cook them a little longer and slower.

You know, as grandma said, “We ate everything but the ‘honk’ ”.

Frank suggests referring to an older cookbook such as Fanny Farmer for heritage goose and duck recipes and preparation techniques.

Heritage Foods USA Goose & Duck prep tips:
1. Before roasting rest your bird at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. Generously salt both inside and out of the bird and fill the cavity with
aromatics like garlic, thyme and sage.

3. Prick small holes all over the skin being sure not to pierce the meat. This allows the fat a chance to render out during roasting and ensures crispy
delicious skin!

4. Cook low and slow. We can’t emphasize the importance of this enough. We
suggest cooking at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

5. Geese and ducks are both red-meat birds, and unlike other poultry their rich breast meat should be served medium-rare. The best way to ensure the dark meat has enough time in the oven to become tender without over cooking the breast is to remove the breast part way through roasting.

6. For extra crispy skin add some of the fat drippings to a sauté pan placed over medium high heat. Remove the leg quarters from the bird and sauté both the legs and the breast skin side down for 3-4 minutes. Do not flip them. Be sure to only sauté the skin side!

Thanksgiving Turkey Mistakes

6 Common Thanksgiving Turkey Mistakes

Thanksgiving! There’s no other meal so rewarding yet so anxiety ridden then this once yearly feast. Your heritage turkey is going to be the star of Thanksgiving dinner. Protect your investment and your reputation this year by avoiding these 6 Common Thanksgiving Turkey mistakes!

American Goat meat.

Goatober is Here!

Americans LOVE cheese. Cheese consumption in the US has TRIPLED since 1970. This trend has been equally true for goat cheese. We’ve also begun to make more artisan cheeses at home here in the States, which is a point of pride for American cheese makers– but there’s still one thing we don’t do a lot of. Eat goat meat….

Glazed Heritage Ham

Our Guide For The Perfect Ham

Glazed Heritage Ham
Honey Mustard Glazed Heritage Ham.

A beautifully cured ham is one of the most convenient, delicious, and versatile additions to any menu. Because cured hams are fully cooked they are able to be enjoyed hot or cold. This allows for easy entertaining while still offering a delicious and impressive centerpiece. Weighing about 11 pounds each, one bone-in ham will serve 18 guests, or as many as 26 when prepared as part of a family style meal.

A cured hams ability to stay fresh in your refrigerator longer then other meats also adds to its convenience and economic value. When sourced thoughtfully from responsible producers, cured ham is a sustainable alternative to deli meats and other daily convenience foods.

Our heritage hams are expertly prepared by the Fantasma family curemasters and have won numerous awards for their flavor and texture. The most important ingredient in our hams is time– both time spent on the farm where our heritage breeds are allowed to grow and mature naturally, and time in the curehouse, where they are patiently cared for and aged.

Our heritage hams are perfectly balanced in flavor and boast a rich buttery texture with a sweet and savory finish. All of our pork is from pasture raised, hormone and antibiotic free animals. The pigs are raised with care using traditional methods guaranteed to produce the very best tasting meat and are processed at a Certified Humane facility.

Our breeds include Berkshire, Red Wattle, Duroc, Gloucestershire Old Spots, Large Black, and Tamworth. Each heritage breed boasts its own flavor profile, and we encourage you to try them all.

Follow our guide bellow for the perfect ham served hot or cold, and leave a comment with your favorite ham tips!

To Serve Warm

Gently warm the ham in a 325° oven with at least 1/2 cup of water, wine, or stock in the pan. You can cover the ham with foil to help ensure it doesn’t dry out. Using a meat thermometer, remove your ham from the oven at 130-135°. Remember, your ham is already cooked; you’re just warming it through.

If you are planning to use a glaze, wait until the last 15-30 minutes of cooking before applying. Any earlier and you’ll risk burning the sugars in the glaze before the ham has time to warm. Heat your ham low and slow, but don’t be afraid to crank it up at the end to get that nice crispy, caramelized bubbling glaze, always being sure to keep a watchful eye the whole time!

PRO TIP: Allow your ham to rest outside of the fridge before cooking. A room temperature ham will require less total cooking time resulting in a juicier ham! And don’t forget– always rest your meat before carving.

To Serve Cold

Our Maple Sugar Cured hams are fully cooked and ready to enjoy. If you are planning to serve your ham at room temperature simply allow it to rest covered on the counter until the initial chill from the fridge has subsided.

PRO TIP: Left over ham will keep in your fridge for 3 weeks, or it can be frozen for up to 6 months.

The History of Ham

Vintage Ham Ad from 1922
Vintage American Ham Ad, Morris & Company; 1922

The history of ham traces back to ancient traditions. One of the most important prerequisites for the development of civilization was the preservation and storage of food. Drying, smoking, and curing were some of the earliest methods discovered by the ancients. The advent of curing enabled cities, people and cultures to flourish.

The preserving of pork leg as ham has a long history. Many credit the Chinese as being the first people to record curing raw hams, while other have cited the Gauls. It cannot be argued though that it was certainly a well-established practice by the Roman period. Cato the Elder wrote extensively about the “salting of hams” in his De Agri Cultura tome around 160 BC.

The popularity of ham can also be traced to the producers’ geographic location. The conditions required for curing meat need to be such that it is not so cold that the ham freezes, unable to cure, or too warm causing the ham to spoil. The result is distinct areas around the world renowned for their particular hams. Italian prosciutto and Spanish Serrano, as well as American country ham from Kentucky and Virginia are all located on what can be described as the worlds Ham Belt— a geographic area bound by latitude and historically producing the world’s most revered hams. With the advent of technology, climate control and the mechanization of many of our food production methods geographic location has become less important for the production of ham, but these original ham centers are still prized as being the finest ham producing regions today.

Ham remains one of the most consumed pork products in the world. On average Americans eat 193 sandwiches a year, with ham being by far the most popular choice. The curing process for dry cured ham begins by rubbing the fresh ham with salt and sometimes sugar, spices, and nitrates. Italian prosciutto and Spanish Serrano hams are made with a pure salt cure and no added nitrates or nitrites. Some American hams are also nitrate free. When used, nitrates ensure a pink color and cured flavor in a short amount of time, and provide some anti-microbial benefits as well. Nitrates are not a modern addition to the curing process; they have been added to hams in the form of saltpeter for hundreds of years and in the form of impure salts for millennia.

Meat naturally contains a small amount of nitrates, which allow it to take on a beautiful color on its own. The longer a ham is aged, the fewer added nitrates are necessary. Many American hams are cured with brown or white sugar in addition to salt. The sugar is not added for sweetness, but rather to soften the harshness of the salt and the toughening effects of nitrates. Red and black pepper is sometimes added as well, lending some flavor but also discouraging bugs from attacking the ham. Machines are typically used to rub the cure into factory-produced ham, but as any ham artisan will tell you, the hand of the skilled salter is important.

Whatever your ham of choice, join us in celebrating the rich history and tradition of this ancient food.

Fun Ham Facts

Almost every country in the world produces Hams. Here are of some of the better known hams of the world: prosciutto, Westphalian, Parma, Smithfield, Virginia, Kentucky, Country, Canned, Bayonne, York, Mainz, Prague, Asturias, Toulouse, Dijon, Black Forest, Bohemian, Serrano, presunto, Bradenham, Estremadura, Prazska sunks, and szynka.

-Some ham experts prefer ham made from the left leg of a pig, believing it to be more tender. This idea came about after observing that a pigs scratch themselves with their right leg, engaging those muscles more and deducing that the more muscled right leg would be tougher.

-Pigs are not native to America; Hernando de Soto is credited with bringing the first 13 hogs to the New World in 1525.

-American “city” hams and “country” hams: “City” hams are processed in a wet cure or brine and typically smoked, not aged. “Country” hams are dry-cured and aged, producing a stronger flavor that is saltier and drier.

-On the Apollo 13 mission, the crew managed to create a functioning CO2 filter out of duct tape and glazed ham.

-Due to a Civil War surrender agreement, Virginia Baked Ham was given that name to insult the residents of Virginia.

-Chicago artist Dwight Kalb made a statue of Madonna from 180 pounds of ham.

For more information about hams please visit

 

S. Wallace Edwards and Sons

Cooking Issues

FoodReference.com 

National Ham Council

Heritage Turkey Project

A Closer Look: The Heritage Turkey Project

…year after year it is the Heritage Turkey Project that remains our most important intervention into the American food supply. For one, Frank Reese and his turkeys truly are one of a kind — no one breeds poultry better than Frank who stays true to 19th century Poultry Standards of Perfection.

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