Category: Community Table


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

Charcuterie

Long-Aged “Prosciutto-Style” Ham
When we first started buying whole heritage pigs for our restaurant accounts and home chefs we didn’t know that hams make up 30% of the body weight of the pig. When we looked at our profit and loss statement, we realized that unless we found a great outlet for hams, we would fail as a nose-to-tail business, especially considering that we pay our farmers at least four times the commodity rate for pork, a price determined by a group of old men in Chicago that we think is too low.

In a nose-to-tail operation, the ham is a cut that almost always needs value added to not lose money overall. Curing hams and turning ham into sausage are ways of moving hams for a fair price. Unfortunately, our business relationships did not include the supermarkets or delis where so many of the nation’s hams are sold! The solution? Find buyers who had their own outlets to sell hams!

Over the past decade, our greatest buyer of hams by far has been Sam Edwards of S. Wallace Edwards and Sons, a company that started in 1926. Edwards purchases 250 pieces of ham totaling over 6250lbs every week, operating 40 weeks of the year under the name Surry-ano. We are so fortunate to have a relationship with the Edwards family, not only because it’s nice to walk to the bank with a big check, but also because Sam is producing one of the greatest American long-aged hams ever made on these shores. Sam uses the traditional American method of curing hams, which involves the added step of smoking. As a dedicated proponent of heritage breeds, pasture-raised systems, and slow curing methods, Sam has moved American gastronomy forward through his curehouse.

We are also fortunate to work with chef and curemaster Cesare Casella who cures hams in the traditional Italian style (which does not involve smoking) under the company name Casella’s Salumi Speciali, in New York. Cesare, who holds a Michelin Star for his Italian trattoria in Tuscany, started his long-aged ham line (he already had a very successful salumi line) after the recent fire at the S. Wallace Edwards plant. The fire temporarily put Edwards out of the curing business and forced Heritage Foods to find an emergency outlet for all those hams! Surprisingly, the fire has led to the creation of the best Italian prosciutto outside Italy.

Heritage Foods USA is also proud to partner with other great American curemasters with businesses and traditions that can be traced back decades and centuries. These ham producers are household names in the South and produce products that are inextricably linked with our collective Southern food tradition. These producers are Ronnie Broadbent (Kuttawa, KY), Al Benton (Madisonville, TN) and Nancy Newsome (Princeton, KY). These artisans now offer pasture-raised lines of Berkshire and Red Wattle long-aged hams that are among the most delicious you will ever try.

The Heritage Foods USA line of prosciutto-style hams is always growing and evolving. For now, enjoy our sliced and whole Surry-ano line. In the fall and winter we will add our first pastured rare breed hams from Broadbent Hams, Colonel Newsom’s Aged Kentucky Country Ham and Benton’s Smokey Mountain Country Hams. And next Spring Casella’s Salumi Speciali will debut for the first time in the U.S.

We hope more Americans will consider leaving some of our long-aged hams on their kitchen counters year round! Long-aged hams do not need to be refrigerated as all the moisture is removed during the curing process. They can also be used in any recipe that calls for ham. Even a little sliver will bring extreme pleasure and satisfy any hunger craving!

Salumi
giorgio-salumi-trio-2839Sadly, in the United States, USDA regulations have slowed the development of America’s curing industry to a crawl, leaving little room for a great salumi tradition to even begin on these shores. Luckily, there are exceptions. On the West Coast, Fra Mani makes very good salumi as does Salumeria Bieliese on the East Coast. The Pacific Northwest boasts the excellent Olympia Provisions amongst others. Despite the restrictions facing the industry, American curing is progressing.

Heritage Foods USA does not cure meat; we simply sell raw ingredients to artisan curemasters, so it was very hard for us to break into the salumi market with a good product that we could call our own. That is until we partnered with our old friend Cesare Casella! Chef Casella won a Michelin star for his family trattoria in Tuscany, Vipore, and came to America to open two legendary restaurants in New York City, Beppe and Marema.

Today, Cesare has dedicated himself to the pursuit of curing meat in the Italian, more specifically Tuscan, tradition and style. The charcuterie he produces has quickly become known as some of the greatest that America has to offer. Cesare uses pasture-raised heritage breeds like Red Wattle, Berkshire, and Gloucestershire Old Spot, all sourced from Heritage Foods USA, in the production of his cured meats.

Cesare learned the art of curing from Tuscan butchers who traveled the countryside before winter to help families prepare for the long food-scarce period before spring. His salumi never overdo it on flavor and they are exactly like the salumi you can find in Tuscany. Cesare has perfected two of Tuscany’s most classic salami for us: Finocchiella and Salametto Piccante. Each of Cesare’s salame is perfectly balanced in flavor and texture.

The original everyman’s food, salami are great to have on hand for delicious snacks, last minute entertaining, or thoughtful wine pairings.

Paté
DSC_1882It’s amazing that paté is not consumed more in America! After all, it’s delicious and Americans love spreading any kind of food. A paste of meat is a new format to many, but perhaps nothing in the meat world is more satisfying. It’s really a good option when you decide not to have meat as a centerpiece for the main course!

In French cookery, paté is a paste or spread made of puréed or finely chopped liver, meat, fish, game, etc., served as an hors d’oeuvre. Paté, in French, literally means paste and comes from the Old French word for paste.

We have our two favorite patés featured on our site year round.

Heritage Paté – This rustic paté is made with bacon and onion, creating a delicious full flavor profile. Patés are perfect for spreading on toast or fresh bread of any sort and also function as an excellent appetizer when served with pickles or cured meats.

Our signature paté is made by Nello of Nello’s Specialty Meats, one of Pennsylvania’s great curemasters. Nello’s is a community fixture and processes and cures for dozens of farms local to him, mostly in the German tradition.

The Berkshire pork Nello uses is elegant, luscious, and smooth. The meat boasts a round and buttery flavor that melts on the tongue. Berkshire pigs are pasture-raised and antibiotic-free.

American Braunschweiger is a type of liverwurst. The USDA requires that the product contains a minimum of 30% liver to be called Braunschweiger. Added seasonings often include salt, white pepper, and onion powder or chopped onion.

Our version, produced by Paradise Locker Meats in Trimble, Missouri has liver, bacon, maple sugar, onion powder, mustard, and garlic. It is flavorful and irresistible! Everyone will love this sweet and savory pate.

2016 Farm Tour

2016-farm-tour
The 2016 Heritage Foods USA Farm Tour kicked off May 4th with a historic meeting at the Memphis airport headlined by a 15-passenger van, which was at the ready for a 5-day chef tour. Since 2005, an annual farm trip provides the chance for chefs and curemasters to meet the people and animals behind their center-of-plate ingredients.

A trip dedicated to the theme of traceability, the tour has hosted almost 100 chefs to America’s greatest and most respected restaurants to the same farms Heritage Foods USA began working with since 2005. Nothing is forever but for the sake of animal welfare, gastronomy, the environment and independent businesses, we kind of hope this is forever!

The Adventurers for the Heritage Traceability Tour 2016

From the West:

Jonah Rhodehamel of Oliveto Restaurant, Oakland. Professional racecar driver and chef.

Taylor Boetticher and Ren Rossini of California’s famed Fatted Calf Charcuterie, which moves over a ton of pasture raised heritage meats a week and more during the holidays.

Jason Neve, Jon Littleton, Nicole Brisson and Danny Herrera of the four Batali & Bastianich Vegas restaurants: Carnevino, B&B Ristorante, Otto Pizzeria and B&B Burger.

From the East:

Cesare Casella, holder of a Michelin star and true master of Salumi and Proscuitti. Cesare learned the art of cutting meat from countryside-travelling Tuscan butchers in the 1970’s and 1980’s ­— he’s a true salumi-nary!

Paul Wetzel of Gramercy Tavern in NYC. Chief charcutier to Zagat’s top restaurant in New York, Paul is at the forefront of the new American meat movement.

Joe Tarasco, Executive Chef of Danny Meyer’s Marta restaurant, the phenomenal pizza and pasta spot in New York’s midtown neighborhood.

Team Heritage: Catherine Greeley, Alexes McLaughlin, and Patrick Martins.

From the Midwest:
Howard Hanna, chef of Kansas City’s Rieger Restaurant, a world site of gastronomy where they produce their own gin and whiskey in a building whose history can be traced back more than 100 years .

Michael Beard of Meat, LLC, distributor of pasture-raised heritage meats to the Mid-West – places like Oklahoma and Nebraska.

First stop, Memphis and the famous Peabody Hotel for cocktails and to watch ducks make their way across the hotel lobby to bathe in the central fountain. Then Beale Street for Blues City Café BBQ, delicious shrimp and ribs.

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 4.14.15 PMWe then headed North at lightening speed, and then slower speed once we got pulled over (just a warning)! When we arrived at Newman Farm we gasped at how stunning this farm is. Rita, David and Chris Newman operate in the Ozarks Mountains a farm that is home to 1300 of the best Berkshire pigs in the world – with genetics that are untouchable, from the old lines that can be traced back centuries in the Old World. This farm is at the cutting edge too of an English pasture raising system using outdoor huts for the mothers and babies. The food was marvelous, a true taste of the Ozarks where blackberries and cherries explode from the forests.

After 2 nights, we woke early and drove Northwest at lightening speed (no police stops) to Paradise Locker Meats in Trimble, Missouri. We arrived just in time for the staff lunch, which featured BBQ from Oklahoma Joes. There we met the entire team at Paradise who cuts and portions much of the heritage pork used at the restaurants and curehouses. It was nice for the cutters to put a face to the unusual cuts they craft each and every week, and for the chefs to meet one-by-one the team that makes what they do possible in places like NYC, Vegas and San Francisco. We toured every inch of the plant from the kill floor to the processing room, coolers and cure rooms led by plant manager Lou Fantasma and his father Mario.

Then we were off to dinner at the Rieger Hotel in downtown KC. Located in the historic Crossroads Art District, The Rieger can be summed up as a “Classic American Grill”. The Rieger Hotel opened in 1915 and was home to many traveling salesmen, railroad workers, and passersby during Kansas City’s formative years. Today Chef Howard Hanna believes that Kansas City is in a prime position to develop a cuisine that speaks to its people, celebrates the bounty of the region, and can be unique and special.

Then we sleep a deep sleep and rise again to travel due west on highway 70 towards the center of the state.

Frank-GSPR_4737Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch was our next stop. Visiting GSPR and farmer Frank Reese is almost a religious experience. When you arrive Frank begins speaking about the connection between strong and non-industrial genetics with animal welfare. He talks about American history, on the farm, and in the barn. And he explains how each animal we see conforms to traditional body types that populated farms for centuries. He is the Wendell Berry of poultry. Frank took us to see the roughed up breeders who were fighting for mates, and the cute babies they produced. We saw so many different chicken varieties mingling in the dust. And we tasted two of them: the Jersey Buff and Wyandotte, prepared by Frank low and slow. These are the best chickens on earth.

Good Farm, Farm Tour
Good Farm, Farm Tour

When we left Frank’s farm we were silent for awhile as most people tend to be. But we picked up energy again at our last stop for Traceability Tour 2016, Good Farm just outside of Manhattan, Kansas. Here everything fits comfortably like an old baseball glove. We feasted, thanks to chef Michael Beard and Amy Good herself, we shot guns, we toured the farm on a big trailer and 4x4’s and saw pig breeds including Gloucestershire Old Spot, Tamworth and Duroc. The breeding boar was massive and intimidating! The babies and teenagers were clean and alert and beautiful.

Then it was back home the next day and to work the day after that, but we returned with a renewed appreciation for the American food supply and the potential it has to feed the world. The energy created on the tour is perhaps best represented by these quotes from the farmers and chefs:

“We are all fortunate to work with such amazing people and it’s trips like this that re-center us and bring into clarity why it is we do what we do. For myself, it was great to see old faces and meet some new ones, and hopefully, we will see you all very soon.”

“I’m not even joking, that trip was one of the highlights of my career so far. To say it was inspiring and invigorating would be a huge understatement. It was great to meet all of you!”

“We are blessed to have the opportunity to work with such good, talented people who are committed to their passion of serving the very best food to their friends and clients. We are so fortunate to be a part of something that has so many people that truly care about quality and the people who work hard to produce the products that they desire. We are a part of something that is greater than just us. Having you visit our farm and visiting with you gives us “extra energy” to keep on doing what we love to do.”

And finally… “Damn, that food is good.”

Stay tuned to our blog for more pictures and stories from the Heritage network!!

Meet the Folks at Paradise Locker Meats

In 2004, our founder Patrick Martins walked up a dirt road in Trimble, Missouri to meet the Fantasma family for the first time and discuss the possibility of working together. Mario, Teresa, Lou and Nick opened the doors of their facility to Heritage Foods and processed 5 Tamworth pigs raised on Metzger Farm, which were then sent to chefs in New York and San Francisco.

Every week since that initial meeting 12 years ago, Paradise Locker Meats and Heritage Foods USA have worked together to bring heritage breed pigs raised on pasture to chefs in restaurants and homes across America. Paradise has grown to process 200 Red Wattle and Berkshire pigs a week for Heritage Foods clients, as well as other livestock, and is now a major force in supplying good, clean and fair food to their local community. Paradise is credited with elevating the quality of the Kansas City restaurant scene by providing a tastier and more sustainable alternative for center of the plate options.

The processor is often overlooked when reflecting on the agricultural supply chain but they play a crucial role in connecting the farmer to the consumer. Every single piece of meat, every chop, steak and ham passes over their butcher block is expertly cut, portioned, packaged and shipped. Paradise Locker in particular also acts as liaison to farmers. They carry heavy and dangerous objects, they navigate the many challenges of maintaining the strict protocols of the U.S.D.A. and Certified Humane® and they operate an award-winning curehouse. Considering the work of the processor, it is remarkable how consistent and beautiful every cut is that comes out of their plant.

Paradise Locker was founded in 1946. The Fantasma family purchased it in 1995 but a smokehouse fire burned it down in 2002. The family was at a crossroads but decided to re-open. The relationship with Heritage began in 2004. And this year, Paradise Locker has undergone a major expansion, doubling the size of their facility. Paradise Locker is now a larger job creator for their staff and for family farmers who now have a quality processor for their livestock. They are also expanding the amount of good meat available to all Americans from coast-to-coast.

The Paradise Locker/ Heritage Foods USA collaboration has endured every week for 12 years and serves as a bellwether to the nation that the industrial meat complex has already reached its apex and is at risk of a sustained downward trend unless they improve their practices. We stand with all butchers, processors, curemasters and especially chefs who respect gastronomy, taste and all the players that go into making it possible.

Roberta’s Style Ribs

Roberta's Pizza RibsRoberta’s Pizza in Bushwick, Brooklyn has become famous for their legendary pies but our favorite dish is their Smoked Ribs. The secret is in the honey vinegar and togarashi sauce. Chef Carlo uses a simple salt and pepper rub before smoking the ribs. If you don’t have a smoker we recommend using this sauce on simple low and slow grilled ribs.

Togarashi is a common Japanese spice blend which brings heat from red chili peppers as well as bright citrus notes.

Honey Vinegar and Togarashi Sauce

INGREDIENTS
1 cup honey
1 cup apple cider vinegar
About 1 tbsp togarashi spice blend (or to taste)

*If you can’t find this Japanese spice blend, we recommend substituting a mixture of ground red chili pepper, orange zest and black or white sesame seeds.

Combine the honey and apple cider vinegar in a small sauce pot and warm over a low heat allowing the honey to melt. Add togarashi to taste.

After the rack of ribs has been cooked and rested, cut into individual ribs. Serve in a bowl dressed generously with the honey vinegar and togarashi sauce.

Giorgio's Salumi

Salami by Cesare Casella

Cesare Casella is an iconic Chef and Salumiere renowned for his authentic Tuscan cuisine. Chef Casella became legendary in New York City’s restaurant scene with the opening of Beppe several decades ago, delighting diners with new standards of Italian fare in America.

Chef Cesare CasellaChef Casella is truly a master of his trade. Cesare grew up working in his parents’ trattoria, just outside of Lucca, Italy before enrolling in the Culinary Institute Ferdinando Martin at the age of 14. He returned to the same trattoria after school, leading the team to earn a place in the prestigious Michelin Guide. Cesare has followed his own path, repeatedly demonstrating his attention to detail and true love for crafting extraordinary foods.  Throughout his many accomplishments, Cesare has personally directed his talent back into his community. We are grateful to have such a gifted friend continue to take on new projects – seeing Italian-American cuisine to new heights.

2016 is a landmark year for Cesare. It marks the debut of his signature line of salami.  Each salami is hand-crafted using 300-year-old traditions passed down directly to Cesare by the “Norcini”, or local butchers of Cesare’s hometown. The Norcini traveled the countryside to help harvest and cure the family pig before winter.

Historically, families would have one hog processed each year. The butcher would make house calls, crafting the hog into salami and other cured products. The pork would then cure for several months before becoming a staple at family meals and snack times. Once you taste these impeccably crafted salami, we expect you too will find good reason to keep them on hand for your family’s table.

There are three flavors available, each an exceptional example of Old World tradition – Dolce: heritage pork, salt and pepper; Piccante: red chile peppers; and Finocchiella: Cesare uses a specific variety of petite fennel to give this salame a fresh, full fennel flavor.

Giorgio's Salumi

Handeling Instructions

STORAGE: Giorgio’s Salami is best stored wrapped in butcher or parchment paper and kept at a cool temperature inside your refrigerator. Should your unpeeled salami start to grow mold, do not worry, this is normal with natural salami! Simply wipe off of the salami with a paper towel and peel off the skin before eating.

PEELING: The key is to only peel as much of the skin as you are going to eat. To peel off the casing, gently score/slice the salami lengthwise and then peel off that portion of the peel with your fingers. If the peel is dry or difficult to get off, you can wet the skin slightly. Please note that peeled salami should be eaten within a few days, as it will begin to dry out.

 

Swiss Roast

Swiss Roast

We sat down with Thomas Odermatt to get the inside scoop on on his family’s Swiss butchery legacy – a legacy Thomas is continuing today. With access to 4 generations of experience based knowledge, Thomas has become one of America’s foremost butchers. He relies on traditional techniques to produce these specialty roasts, which pack uniquely supreme flavor in every bite.

 

Swiss Roast

 

Laura del Campo: How far back can you trace your butchery lineage?

Thomas Ottermatt: Definitely back into the 1920’s – close to 100 years… My great grandfather, so I am third generation, he was in the Alps in the town of Dallenwil farming and butchering. He was self-taught, but after that every generation went to school. My father was a master butcher so that’s where I started learning the trade from two years old.

Pretty much everything I cook or butcher reminds me of my heritage. So I don’t do any new type of butchery or new type of recipe development. Usually everything we do is going back to really traditional, old fashioned, old-style European butchery.

 

LdC: Can you share one secret from your sausage making?

TO: I think what is really important is the temperature of the meat. That’s definitely one of the keys to making your sausage stand out. Of course you observe the USDA regulations – nothing can be above 41°F, which is true and correct. A lot of people use ice to cool down the dough, the sausage stuffing. I strongly believe there is no ice needed so long as you are using the right components of meat at the right proportion and temperature. It’s definitely one of the secrets to making a really fantastic sausage.

And then again following the principle of only using five ingredients. You cannot have more than five ingredients, absolutely not. In other words, I don’t use artificial ingredients. Absolutely not.

 

LdC: Can you speak to the history of incorporating cheese into Swiss roasts?

TO: Ham and cheese is very traditional to the Swiss cuisine. So in our butcher shop we made our own ham. We made two types of ham. One is a smoked ham, one is a cured ham – but not a prosciutto, just a wet ham. So like a classic centerpiece. The cheese is another component that brings us back to the heritage of Switzerland, way back when. Cheese was one of the first economically traded commodities with the European Union or with the European countries such as Italy, France, and Germany. And the cheese is a staple to our daily diet.

And combining the cheese, ham, and pork – you have three absolutely top ingredients. When they are laid in the right proportion each one brings out different flavor profiles and in the end you have one flavor. And that’s like… You know the milkiness, the creaminess of the cheese, plus the healthiness of the ham, plus the sweetness of the pork.
And again, the roasts have only four ingredients. It’s the pork, it’s the cheese, it’s the ham and a few spices. That’s it.

Ted's Braised Short Ribs

Ted’s Braised Short Ribs

Our friend Ted made the most of Winter Storm Jonas, cooking up these delicious short ribs. He’s been kind enough to share his recipe with the Heritage Community!

I sliced them down trying to center the meat on each side of the bones. I let them rest and warm up to almost room temp, salted and peppered each side, and browned them quite well –  two at a time. I poured off the excess oil and tried to squeeze these beauties into a large cast iron Le Creuset pot.

Here is where I cheated. I used pre-made Williams-Sonoma Short Rib braising sauce. It took two jars and some extra beef broth and rich dark wine to cover the ribs. I turned the ribs once during cooking, but about 5 hours later we had an absolutely fabulous dinner. I skimmed off the excess fat, reduced the remaining sauce down by about half while the pasta and beans cooked.
I lit a couple candles, poured the wine, and didn’t plan on shoveling after dinner.
Yum!!

Freyja & Susan's Heritage Turkey

2015 Heritage Turkey Photo Contest

A huge “Thank You” to all participants for sharing your holiday feast with us!

We are thrilled to announce the winner of our 2015 Heritage Turkey Photo Contest!

Each family submitted photos of their Heritage Thanksgiving Turkey for a chance to win an 18-20lb Heritage Turkey for Thanksgiving 2016. Our inbox was flooded with your submissions, here are the best of the best:

2015 Turkey Photo Contest Winner:

Freyja & Susan

South Berwick, ME

Freyja & Susan's Heritage Turkey
Freyja & Susan’s Heritage Turkey

 

Honorable Mentions:

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To all of you who support the Heritage Turkey Project, you have truly made this project a success. Thank You!

It would not be possible without your support and enthusiasm over the years.

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