Category: Community Table

Split Pea Soup from Mary O’Grady

Nose-to-tail doesn’t just mean eating all the cuts of the animal, it’s also about making the most of each of those cuts. In all aged culinary traditions, especially those with particularly rich peasant foods, the most delicious dishes are the result of several phases of cooking. This recipe is the prime example of creating a meal to be cherished from what would otherwise be considered an off-cut and discarded.

Mary O’Grady provided this recipe and is an old friend and the founder of Slow Food Austin in the early 2000s. Mack is the man behind the lens and drove a taxi in Austin for decades. Now they eat and travel the world.

Rendering ham fat:ham fat

1. Get a lot of ham fat, preferably in pieces about half the size of your palm or larger, and place them in a large saucepan with a big volume of water.

2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for a couple of hours.

3. Chill until fat congeals on the surface of the liquid.

4. Remove floating connective tissue and scrape off solidified fat into a storage container, or use it immediately .

5. Skim the rest of the fat and store or use. Reserve the broth for soup- or sauce-making.ham carving

6. Fat and broth can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Use refrigerated broth within 3 days.

Split Pea Soup with Ham

Serves 8-10



4 Tablespoons rendered ham fat or olive oil

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

4 medium carrots, peeled and diced

Broth from rendering ham fat, plus enough water to bring the volume to 16 cups

2 pounds split peas, picked over to remove any foreign objects

1 ham bone

2 Tablespoons dried thyme


To Prepare

1. Melt ham fat over low heat in large soup pot or kettle, or heat olive oil.

split pea2. Add chopped onion and diced carrots. Cover pot and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent.

3. Add ham bone, split peas, and ham broth/water mixture. Stir well.

4. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer.

5. Cook over low heat until the peas are soft and the liquid has taken on the deep green color of the peas. Stir occasionally. Expect this to take at least two hours, but the soup really does not take much attention at his stage.

5. When peas are soft, add the thyme and simmer another 30 minutes.

6. Remove ham bone and cut off any remaining ham. Dice the ham and add it back to the pot. Discard the bone.

Salt and pepper can be added at the table according to the individual’s taste.

This soup freezes well.

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)


Embden Goose Tasting

The team at Heritage Foods USA prides ourselves on providing the best products available while supporting a network of eighty farmers who raise heritage and rare breeds. We are determined to lead the pack with the best tasting items available. To date we remain the largest meat purveyor with the mission of increasing agricultural biodiversity. We are always seeking promising competition to challenge our standard of quality as this would be a sign of a tipping point in the larger food system.

Two reasons heritage breeds are important is their flavor and mouthfeel, traits which traditionally were a main focus of breeders. In contrast, modern genetics are selected for production capacity and leanness. True to the history of the animal, the farmers we work with value and promote flavor and intramuscular fat in their brood. To ensure we really are providing the most delicious products available we have regular taste tests. Each week the team breaks from logistical chores for a special lunch where we sample our products in comparison with one of our leading market competitors’.

Embden Goose, Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch
Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch

This week we sampled Embden goose from two producers. One from the largest goose producer in the U.S. and the other from heritage poultry expert Frank Reese. We have been working with Frank for over a decade as he increased the varieties of poultry raised on Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch. We seared a breast from each in our cast iron pan and were legitimately surprised by both the difference in appearance and taste between the two.

While the goose from our competitor was nicely packaged, when you peeled back the plastic the goose was pure white with fat. The bird itself was plump, and the maroon breast meat had over 2” of depth by the bone.

The first thing we noticed about the Embden goose from Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch was it’s size, which was considerably smaller than the other. The skin was the color of brown butter and clearly visible over the lightly golden fat. The breast was comparatively thinner and the meat was a brilliant shade of red. When sampling this goose a savory balance of minerals coated the palette and a herbaceous, nutty, and buttery aftertaste lingered in your mouth. All of us were tempted to return to the table for more.

The other goose was a one trick pony. The high amount of surface fat had rendered out during cooking. The taste of liver and iron were high and hit the palate with force, but left hardly a trace after the bite. It was not the taste of goose we would hope consumers associate with goose. It would not have the party circling back for seconds in the way Frank’s Embden goose did.

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