Category: Breeds


The Heritage Turkey – Two Ways

Sunny Turkeys

Thanksgiving is the traditional time to enjoy turkey. But everyone wants the Thanksgiving meal to be cooked in the traditional way – so you get a roasted turkey with stuffing. Delicious, but there are a million other ways to prepare turkey. Really, anything you do with chicken, you can substitute turkey. The flavors will just be more robust and flavorful.

The best way to experiment with cooking turkey is to buy the whole bird. It is not only more economical, but it also gives you the ability to play around with flavors and enjoy the meat throughout several dishes – or meals.

Here, we have two tasty and very different turkey preparations using the whole bird. One of our own HFUSA staff created both recipes, so we can attest to the cheers that erupted at the table when they were presented!  One is a sweet and sour turkey dish over cold noodles (using the thighs, legs and wings) while the other is a spicy coconut turkey dish served over rice or with lettuce wraps (using the breasts).

Be sure to keep any extra turkey trimmings, the back and all the bones to make a lovely poultry stock. Homemade stock is my favorite thing to keep in the freezer. I use homemade stock for risottos or the base for numerous sauce and soups. You can also substitute stock for water when cooking rice, couscous or other grains for a richer flavor.

Enjoy our whole Heritage Turkey today and try these two very different, very delicious preparations.

Sweet & Sour Turkey

Ingredients:

Marinade

½ cup sugar

½ cup soy sauce

¼ cup rice vinegar

3 cloves of garlic (roughly chopped)

1.5 tablespoons fish sauce

1 inch chuck of garlic (chopped into 3 pieces)

2-8 red chilies (depending on amount of heat you want!)

zest of 1 lime (peeled in strips, not grated)

 

Dressing

½ cup sugar

½ cup soy sauce

¼ cup rice vinegar

3 cloves of garlic (diced)

1.5 tablespoons fish sauce

1 inch chuck of garlic (diced)

2-8 red chilies (depending on type and amount of heat you want!)

zest and juice of 1 lime (grated and juiced)

fresh lemon juice to taste

handful of fresh mint

 

Thighs, legs, and wings of the Heritage Turkey

1 head of Napa Cabbage

Rice noodles

 

  • Preheat the oven to 350
  • Separate the thighs, legs and wings from the remainder of the Turkey (save breasts for other dish and remaining pieces for stock)
  • Season the pieces with salt and pepper
  • Sear turkey in cast iron pan, skin side down, until you get a nice browned color across the skin side
  • While the turkey is searing, prepare your marinade
  • In a bowl combine the marinade ingredients, taste and adjust as needed
  • Flip turkey pieces over so flesh side is against the pan
  • Add marinade mixture plus 1 cup water to the pan
  • Cover with tin foil and braise in the oven for 2 hours, until the meat falls off the bone
  • Check turkey every half hour, scoop marinade liquid over turkey pieces to maintain moistness
  • As the turkey cooks, the marinade should reduce to form your sauce but you may need to add water as you go so turkey is not cooking dry
  • While the turkey cooks, prepare your rice noodles according to package instructions and shred the Napa cabbage.
  • Also, make the dressing for your noodles. You should notice the dressing and marinade ingredients are very similar so the flavors will be complimentary.
  • Once done, take pan out of oven and allow turkey to rest for 10-15 minutes
  • Taste the pan sauce and adjust as needed. Use to glaze the turkey.
  • Dress cabbage and noodles with dressing mixture then garnish with the chiffonade of fresh mint

GSTR_TurkeyBreed2

Coconut Turkey

Ingredients:

Turkey breasts

2 cans coconut milk

zest of 1 lime (peeled in strips, not grated)

1 bay leaf

1 inch ginger (sliced thin)

3 onions

3 tablespoons curry powder

1-2 cloves of garlic

1 tablespoon sugar

2-3 red chilies (depending on type and amount of heat you want!)

Optional: 1/3 cup coconut milk powder

Diced scallions and cilantro for garnish

  • Preheat the oven to 350
  • Separate breasts at the bone and put them on a rack in a roasting pan
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Pour can of coconut milk over the turkey
  • Add the peel of 1 lime, 1 bay leaf, the sliced ginger, 1 onion quartered
  • Cover in tin foil and cook in oven until tender and done, about 2 hours
  • While the turkey cooks, pull out a separate pan to sauté 2 whole diced onions
  • When clear and fragrant, remove onion from pan and keep in small bowl
  • In same pan, toast 3 table spoons of curry until fragrant
  • Add onions back to pan and diced ginger, 1-2 cloves diced garlic, chilies, 1 can of coconut milk and tablespoon sugar
  • Warm the sauce in pan to thicken
  • When turkey is done, rest for 20 minutes
  • Strain the cooking liquid from the turkey and add to sauce pan
  • If you want to thicken the sauce more, you can add another 1/3 cup coconut milk powder, but it is not essential
  • Pull turkey off the bone and slice on a bias. Add meat to the coconut mixture
  • Put in a serving dish and garnish with diced cilantro and scallions
  • Serve over rice along with lettuce wraps if desired

Heritage Cowboy Chicken

So you’ve just gotten your Columbian Wyandotte Chickens and are looking for some recipe ideas. Here’s another great one from Chef Cheryl McCleary:

_cowboy chicken

Ingredients

1 3 to 4 lb Whole Heritage Chicken
1 Tbsp Olive Oil

Rub:
2 Tbsp Kosher Salt
2 Tbsp Sugar in the Raw (can use brown sugar)
2 Tbsp Ground Chili’s (ground roasted New Mexico chili’s)
1 Tbsp Large Grind Black Pepper
1 Tbsp Five Spice Powder
½ Tbsp Granulated Garlic
½ Tbsp Onion Powder
½ Tbsp Lemonade Powder
¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper
¼ tsp Celery Seeds

Glaze:
½ cup Melted Butter
½ cup Balsamic Vinegar
½ cup Honey

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix all ingredients for rub and set aside until you prepare chicken. Cut chicken in half down center on back, open it up and lay it flat. Put light coat of olive oil all over chicken, on bottom side of chicken (would be the inside) lightly cover with rub. On top side of chicken generously coat with rub. Put seasoned chicken on top of broiler pan, bake to 165 degrees internal temperature. Turn oven up to 450 degrees to crisp the skin cooking until chicken reaches 175 internal temperature it take about 5 minutes, take chicken out of oven, glaze, let rest 10 – 15 minutes and let internal temperature rise to 180 degrees, glaze one more time and serve.

Remember, Heritage chickens cook differently than supermarket birds, so times and temperatures may need to be adjusted based on your oven.

Summer Grilled Heritage Chicken

photo-10

 

By Dick Bessey

1 Columbian Wyandotte Chicken

2 tsp salt

Olive oil for coating grill

Cut chicken into pieces and sprinkle with salt. Heat grill to low to medium heat. Coat grill with some olive oil to prevent sticking. Lay chicken skin side down on grill and cook for about 15 minutes until the skin is nicely browned. Flip pieces over and cook another 15 minutes. The chicken is done the moment you cut it and the juices run clear (The USDA recommends an internal temperature of 165 degrees, but many of our chefs say a few degrees less is safe with Heritage chicken).

Serve with your favorite grilling sides and beverages (everything from beer and potato chips to champagne and grilled asparagus) and enjoy!

Heritage Chicken Tour Takes Flight!

GSTR_ColumbianWyndotte

Heritage Foods USA is proud to announce our historic effort to revive 24 rare, heritage chicken lines and create an alternative market for non-industrially bred chicken.  We are partnering with Frank Reese, the country’s preeminent poultry farmer, to show our customers what real chicken tastes like.

Heritage Foods USA will offer a rotation of 24 heritage chicken varieties every 3 months starting immediately.  Numerous heritage breeds of chicken are on the brink of extinction and we must create a market for them by eating them. Heritage Foods USA is the only place you can taste these special heritage birds today.

Heritage chickens are breeds that have been around since before the industrial era.  Their genetic lineage has been preserved from genetic modification.  Heritage birds grow at a healthy rate, while industry chickens are genetically manipulated to grow at an unnaturally fast rate that is harmful to the skeletal, cardiovascular, and immune systems of the bird.  Industrial chickens are bred as dead end animals that cannot reproduce or survive on their own. 

chickens

Mr. Reese explains, “It is not the antibiotics. It is not the hormones. It is not the feed. It is the genetically engineered animal” that makes the difference in the poultry industry.  If we focus on animal welfare while ignoring the genetics of these birds, we are not changing a thing. 

Mr. Reese’s poultry not only look and taste different from commodity poultry; his birds have double the protein and half the fat.  He told us, “The skinnier the bird, the longer the leg, the darker the meat, the higher the nutrition. The bigger and fatter and plumper it is, the more worthless the meat is.”

Our inaugural breed is the Wyandotte of the Columbian variety.  This very old American breed of chicken was first exhibited in 1890 at the Columbian World’s Fair in Chicago.  There are fewer than four breeders in America who raise the Columbian Wyandotte to the true old standards, and most have fewer than 25 hens. We hope you will support our commitment to revive heritage chickens and establish an alternative poultry market.

The Chicken of Tomorrow needs to be the Chicken of Yesterday

GSTR_Chicks  GSTR_ManyChixBreeds

By Janani Lee

“The better the breeding, the better the eating,” Frank Perdue declares in an old commercial from Perdue chicken. He walks us through the breeds of chicken the Perdue company has raised throughout its history, listing the relative merits and drawbacks of the Barred Plymouth Rock through the Rhode Island Red, None of them, he claims, are up to his standards of “tender meat, plump breasts, [and] well turned legs.” So he had to develop his own. It is telling that a generation later, the breeds of these chickens are not nearly recognizable enough to be used in a television advertisement. In fact, the general pubic does not distinguish one breed of chicken from the next because they rarely encounter chicken that is not ready to cook or eat. The broiler industry came to rely on uniformity in size, growth rate, and behavior of its chickens in order to maintain a consistent supply for the consumer, and a bird was needed that could meet those specifications.

            Beginning in the late 1940’s, A&P Groceries sponsored the “Chicken of Tomorrow” contest for the “development of superior meat-type chickens.” The growing chicken industry sought ways to maintain and expand upon this boom by developing a chicken that would appeal to the consumer’s demands. The purpose of the contest was to find a “broader breasted bird with bigger drumsticks, plumper thighs, and layers of white meat,” which grew quickly with a high feed-to-weight conversion – a contrast to the slower growing, leaner hens that had been used mostly as laying hens in years past.

The chicken to come out of the contest victorious was a Cornish and White Rock cross-breed, which has been further refined by the broiler industry over the past few decades for “rapid growth, efficient feed conversion, broad- breastedness, limited feathering (for ease of plucking) and other traits considered desirable for rearing very large numbers of birds in confinement.” Most commercial and pasture raised chickens today are Cornish crosses, with breeding companies (many of them vertically integrated into meat producers) cross breeding to produce specific traits in male and female lines whose offspring is an ideal meat chicken. This crossbreeding also means that the offspring of the resulting chicks will not be true to either parent, protecting the breeding companies’ genetic research. While these crosses serve the meat industry well, they are far from the optimal breed of chicken.

chickens           Food Inc (2009)

Commercial chickens reach market weight of five pounds live in four to seven weeks; compared to the sixteen weeks it took in the 1950s. The physiological changes include the distribution of muscle mass (most of their weight is now located in their breasts) and the digestive and nervous system shift to give the birds “an insatiable appetite.” This bulky, hungry bird is highly susceptible to stress, cardiovascular failure, skeletal problems, and poor reproductive capabilities. One study showed that a modern chicken’s heart muscle was less developed than a heritage breed chicken of the same age and hypothesized that the “modern selection has diverted resources originally destined to maintain balanced heart growth into increased breast muscle mass.” The same study goes on to link the early development of the chickens’ livers and the increased length of their intestines to their need to metabolize feed quickly.Because these chickens are slaughtered at an early age, most of these health issues pose only a limited problem, but when other farmers raise the birds on pasture, the weak hearts and legs become more apparent since it takes longer to bring them to market weight. These farmers are showing a renewed interest in purchasing heritage breed chicks that are more suited to be raised on pasture.

       Heritage chickens are defined by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy as recognized Standard breeds of chicken that are “naturally mating, long lived, and slow growing.” Standard breeds are not crossbred and the offspring breeds are true to the parents, allowing farmers to maintain the genetic lines of their own flocks. Breeds like the Jersey Giant or Columbian Wyandotte can reach market weight in sixteen weeks, while some slower growing birds can take up to 24 weeks. Most of these breeds are also adequate egg producers and will live for up to seven years. They have healthier immune systems and are adapted to life on pasture, including the ability to forage for insects. While they are not as efficient at converting feed to muscle, their hearts grow at a proportional rate to their bodies and their skeletal structures are strong enough to support them.

            It is necessary to preserve heritage chickens that are not being farmed by the poultry industry for the same reasons that advocates work to preserve heirloom seeds: biodiversity. Industrial broiler chickens have been bred to grow quickly and efficiently and not do much else. They do not breed, lay, brood, care for their offspring, forage, or grow like chickens have since they were domesticated 8000 years ago. They lack the genetic diversity that would allow them to adapt to a change in their environment. Unlike plants, however, the genes that dictate these traits cannot be preserved inertly in a seed bank. They survive only in living birds and the only way to ensure their continued existence is for farmers raising them. These heritage breeds require increased feed and a longer growing period, meaning that farmers either need government incentives or increased market demand to ensure that they remain economically viable. There is a niche market for heritage chickens and they can sell for a higher price, but that market needs to be expanded. Increasing market demand also brings up a culinary aspect of chicken – as the biodiversity of chicken breeds narrows, we loose variations in chicken flavors. While this loss is unquantifiable, cultural history gets lost when flavors are no longer valued and when chemical additives in fast food replace natural variations in flavor. The philosophical question also needs to be considered: what we view the chicken itself as – an easy source of animal protein for humans or an animal in its own right. Though humans have been subtly altering chicken’s genetics for centuries through domestication and hybridization, it is only in the past few decades that this has resulted in the vast dominance of birds that are not healthy past eight weeks old.

Patrick Martins, Founder & President

It’s the Meat…

Want a hot recipe? Here’s one: choose a lovely, well-sourced piece of meat — from a merchant that you trust, sourced from a farm that you know, and a breed you have come to love, and add fire. Et voila! There’s your recipe. Just remember, the fire is the constant, the meat is the variable. And don’t forget where it came from, so you can do it again.

Columbian Wyandotte

ColumbianWyandotteHen

We are about to begin our Heritage Rare Breed Chicken Tour here at Heritage Foods USA and could not be more excited about working with preeminent poultry farmer Frank Reese to revive these breeds. In the coming weeks we will post more info, recipes, stories, and videos about the project, but we wanted to start with an introduction to our inaugural breed: the Columbian Wyandotte.

This very old American breed of chicken was first exhibited in 1890 at the Columbian World’s Fair in Chicago. Wyandottes are hearty birds that can stand up to cold temperatures and are know for their good disposition in flocks. The Columbian Wyandotte is a medium sized bird with a white feather body and contrasting black and silver neck and tail plumage. There are currently fewer than four breeders in America who raise the Columbian Wyandotte to the true old standards, and most have less than 25 hens.

Columbian Wyandottes are good for frying and are sought after for their fine texture, taste, and healthy lipid fine yellow fat. Like all heritage poultry that are pasture raised, they have well developed legs and wings that respond best to slow cooking at a low temperature.

Stay tuned for more info and recipes!

The Angus Breed

Pure Black Angus is the premiere cattle breed for beef in the United States. The breed has ancient origins in Aberdeen and Angus, Scotland. The first Angus bulls arrived in Kansas from Scotland in 1873, garnering negative attention due to their naturally hornless heads. Because only bulls were originally brought over, many cattlemen bred them into existing herds, diluting the genetics. Later, more cows were brought from Scotland to from purebred herds, but it remains difficult to find 100% purebred herds in the US. “Certified Angus Beef” only requires 51% Angus genetics and that the meat and fat ratios are favorable.
Angus is now the most commonly used genetics in America. Black Angus is most common, but a recessive gene makes some cattle Red. Most European and Canadian breeders do not distinguish between Red and Black Angus, but register than as separate breeds in the US. Breeders favor Angus genetics because they are easy to calf and they are naturally hornless.

Craig Good’s Great Livestock

So you’ve enjoyed a grilled heritage Angus steak and have savored the buttery flavor of our Old Spot bacon, but now you want to know more about the origin of these finger-licking cuts? You may already know that Heritage Foods USA works with independent family farmers across the U.S. who serve as the foundation of Heritage Foods USA’s mail order division and supply America’s top restaurants with premium cuts of pork and beef- but who are the masterminds responsible for prolonging the blood lines of the exclusive breeds Heritage Foods promotes? Wonder no more! Introducing one of our hog and beef farmers: Craig Good.

Craig and Amy Good
Craig and Amy Good of Good Farms

For more than 50 years, Craig Good has worked with livestock at Good Farms, located on the northern edge of the Kansas Flint Hills in Olsburg, Kansas. Historically, this area was known as the last vestige of the Tall Grass Prairie- a fertile strip of grasslands that supported untold numbers of bison in our country’s formative years. Given its history, Craig’s father, Don, bought the farm in 1961. Don quickly became a nationally recognized authority on beef cattle – an honor that has been passed down to Craig through hard work and close attention to genetic refinement. Early on, Craig took an interest in the family business, and after graduating with a degree in Animal Science from Kansas State in 1975, he began working for a pure-bred swine breeder. In 1981, Craig and his wife, Amy, decided to move back to his childhood home to carry on the legacy of his family’s farm.

The Good Farm is very diverse – raising various crops, 100% Angus cattle, and several heritage breeds of hogs. The farm’s modest size allows the couple to focus on quality, rather than quantity,  through the enhancement of their livestock’s genetics. Working with Heritage Foods USA allows the Goods to make a living without converting into an industrial-sized farm.

“We feel that true quality is achieved by working with detail and care in breeding our hogs, not just cranking numbers and pounds off the farm,” Craig explains.

Good Farm’s size offers other benefits, too. Recently, Craig had the opportunity to experiment with the diets of his pure-bred Duroc hogs. Instead of the traditional feed, oats, Craig tried feeding these special swines a meal of dried cranberries and plums. Not only did he receive a positive response from the chefs to which he supplies pork (the Duroc’s normally tame fat became much more fragrant), but the pigs enjoyed this tasty change to their daily diets, as well. This experiment  is just one example of how Heritage Foods USA and its farmers are finding creative ways to revolutionize the food industry.

Craig and Pigs
Craig Good and his Duroc Hogs

The Goods are selective with their breeding, and are working to create the best possible future generation of swine. In addition to the Duroc, Craig and Amy raise a small number of Old Spot and Spot Rock pigs – a cross between Old Spot and Duroc pigs. Previously, the couple raised Yorkshire hogs as well, but decided to focus their attention on the Duroc breed due to their rapid growth rates, great muscle quality, and pure, yet mild flavor.

During a recent visit to his farm, Craig told the Heritage Foods USA team that his favorite thing about his farm is being surrounded by his pigs.

“I’ve loved pigs ever since I was in 4H, back when I was thirteen years old. Some people don’t like pigs but I do… I like to think there’s a really good relationship between us and our pigs.”

Craig and Amy feel a strong responsibility to our nation as farmers.

“We are proud of our place in the farm economy and hope that we can continue to serve the producers that have been true to us over the years,” Craig says. “We feel that the family farm has been a true asset to America and we strive to work together with our fellow producers to remain a viable part of the future. We have a strong commitment to produce pigs that are of the highest quality possible.”

 

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