Tag: heritage breed


The Voice of a Pork Chop

There is no denying the siren call of a Heritage pork chop, the sort of thing that would have made Homer crash his ship. Or, make a man sing about the Voice of a Pork Chop. Some folks might think it’s weird, but it makes perfect sense to us, and to Bob Dylan, who was a big fan of Jim Jackson, a blues and hokum songster who recorded this song in the late 1920s. Hokum, by the way, means comedy songs and shtick, and was big back in the days of medicine shows and vaudeville. This song was based on a popular gospel theme, bringing religion straight to the dinner table. The Voice of a Pork Chop?? Indeed!!!!!

Sam Edwards Update: STILL FIGHTING!

Sam Edwards is still fighting two years after a fire savaged his entire facility including his home, his smoke house, and literally thousands of hams. It was an incredible blow to everyone that is part of the chain — Heritage had thousands of hams on hand that Sam would normally smoke and cure, and an entire network of family farmers who depend on Sam’s business every year was left stranded.

But Sam was quick to make partnerships, and a new league of American curemasters stepped up and entered the high-end Heritage ham market with purebred, pasture-raised hams.

Sam is still trying to rebuild — hold ups from lawyers and insurance companies are keeping his hands tied, but plans for a new facility are already on the table, and Sam is working hard with partners across the South to produce the famous Edwards product.

“I spend a lot of time going to Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, checking on our different products with collaborators who are working with our original recipe. I’m thankful for what they are doing for us… It’s not a long-term solution but they are keeping us viable.”

The Edwards hams were more intense before our fire, like the difference between a mild cheese and a sharp cheese…

The one new product to look for is dry-cured Heritage Lamb, hopefully ready for late spring.

“Craig Rogers of Border Spring Farm in VA is providing the lamb… We were rolling it out pre fire, had already tested it and think we found the right recipe and were ready to start shipping when the fire hit, so we are anxious to get that online.”

But the big news is that July is when we’ll be getting to the first batches of new Edwards Surryano Hams that began curing in July of 2017 — the ham that started the revolution.

“After our fire, in 2016, we began sending our hams to a smokehouse in Kentucky to be ready in 2017,” Sam reminds us, “but they burned down in Feb 2017 and we lost 6000 pieces of ham…”

It’s been an incredible battle to get back up and keep on doing it — Sam is a true hero to us, one of our favorite partners, not to mention a damn nice guy. We can’t wait.

The Perfect Heritage Porterhouse

This from our friend and in-house scribe Mike Edison:

“Check out these pics of the perfect Heritage porterhouse chops. This was the biggest one I ever saw, probably about 17 ounces, and two inches thick. I used the method Zack from Carnevino told me about — you gotta cook it in two shots, and even though it is as thick as a phone book, I nailed it, perfect medium in the center, perfect salty crust without incinerating it. Had it with collard greens I wilted in the pork fat and my favorite Rioja which they sell at my local steak house for three times what I get it for at the bottle shop.”

A reminder to all of our friends who want to “nail” a pork chop, Zack Allen at Carnevino says, “We let it come to room temperature, then we cook it to 90 or 100 degrees, just mark it on both sides and sear the fat cap a bit, then we let it rest for as long as we can – it might go up another 10 – 12 degrees just resting. The key is not trying to cook it all at one time. The second time it goes on a higher section of the grill and we finish it off… we get it to our medium rare.”

Mike adds: “Zach’s idea of hitting it twice is brilliant. I cook in an iron skillet and it’s not easy to cook a steak or chop that thick…this is the perfect pork chop hack. I sear it and then finish it in the broiler. Not for nothing, this is the best tip I ever got.”

The Magic of the Porchetta

The magic of the porchetta, the old-world roast perfected by third generation artisanal butcher Thomas Odermatt, is that it makes everyone look like a genius.

This oven-ready roast is a taste epiphany that only old world techniques can create: skin-on belly is wrapped around the center-cut de-boned loin roast, and generously seasoned throughout. The porchetta is perfectly seasoned with garlic and fresh herbs, and sourced from our elegant, luscious and smooth Berkshire pork. All you have to do is put it in the oven.

Truly, there is not much more to it than that. And then watch your guests ooh-and-ahh over your great taste and magnificent technique!

Why a Duck? Ask Dickens!

The best thing about the holidays is always the food, that is, if you are doing it right! As we say here, let nature lead the way — great food is seasonal and should be celebrated in its own time. Look no farther than the books of Charles Dickens and ask why they always seemed to be eating geese at Christmas? Because that is when naturally mating geese and ducks are ready for harvest. It is nature’s way of writing a menu.

Our Aylesbury ducks, by the way, are the most incredible birds ever to make it all the way from London to your table! And their story is one of the best you will hear at the table.

The Aylesbury duck reached its peak popularity in the late 1800s when thousands of ducklings were sent from the town of Aylesbury to London and served by the top restaurants of the day.

Since then, the Aylesbury was crossed with other breeds like the Pekin, which fared better in industrial settings. If it were not for a few dedicated farmers who kept it pure, it is likely the breed would have disappeared for good. The Aylesbury Duck is listed on the Most Endangered List with fewer than 500 breeding birds left in the U.S. We’re proud to be offering these ducks this season — and no matter what you have heard, they are simple to prepare, not much different than roasting a chicken, and they are sure to make you a superstar in the kitchen!

The Aylesbury boasts a bouncy texture and rich, creamy fat. Its robust flavor with nutty and herbaceous notes make this the most flavorful duck on the market today. These ducks are raised outdoors on ponds and pasture with no hormones or antibiotics.

Americans consume less than 1/3 lb. of duck per year but we hope to restore the bird’s presence on the farm and at your dinner table.

Still need convincing? Here’s our recipe for a simple whole roast duck. If you love duck, and want a truly spectacular bird beyond what is even available in restaurants, you can’t possibly go wrong!

Click here for a simple duck recipe.

Larry and Madonna - Lazy S. Farms – La Plata, Missouri

Larry Sorrell, Red Wattle Pig Farmer

When you see Red Wattle pork on a menu, what you are seeing is a five-state, fifteen farm network dedicated to raising a storied breed that was once upon a time nearly extinct.

Larry Sorrell is one of the heroes of this story, an avatar of the heritage food movement, a salt of the earth farmer, a true believer who was destined to become the Guardian of the Red Wattle. He is proof positive of the ethos that when it comes to endangered livestock, “you have to eat them to save them.”

In the beginning, back in 2004 when Patrick Martins began Heritage Foods, a market for the Red Wattle was built on handshake agreement with Mark Ladner, then the chef at Mario Batali’s Lupa, who recognized the high-quality and undiminished taste that came from a Red Wattle pig raised on-pasture, chemical free, humanely, using traditional farming methods. The deal with Ladner, and the partnership with Larry and his Lazy S farms, were truly the origins of Heritage Foods.

“We traveled 18,000 miles to get started,” Larry says matter-of-factly about a Heritage Foods Odyssey whose mission was to search out rare Red Wattle sows and collect a viable genetic lineage of this incredible pig whose American legacy goes back to 17th century New Orleans. “When we began, we had two Red Wattle gilts and a boar, and we had to travel all over the United States to start a herd.

“The Red Wattle was on their way to being extinct, we had to rasise ‘em to eat ‘em or they were going to disappear, that’s where it was at. When I started delivering hogs for Patrick, he had just started Heritage. He’s the one that really got the breed going – he got the meat to the chefs. They loved it and it grew from there….

“Now I’ve kinda retired from raising animals, but we have fifteen Amish growers working with us, and I pick up the hogs and pay for them, and then bring them to the processor, Paradise Locker. I drive a tractor trailer and go around picking up three-hundered pounders, fifty head a week. We have farms in Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa… that’s a lot of traveling, We may have four or five pick-ups every week. You wear out a truck pretty fast.”

Larry, now “pushing eighty,” still does all the driving. “I’ll have to quit sometime but right now it’s going pretty good. The driving is easy. The hard job is you gotta keep fifteen Amish families happy, picking up their hogs, coordinating farmers on the phone, monitoring the size of the animals and making sure we have the right amount— each week we round up fifty pigs. And we’ve been doing it for fourteen years now.”

“When we began,” Patrick says, “farmers were willing to sell their Red Wattle pigs since there was no market for them. Larry went out and helped us begin spreading the word on existing farms, and also got new farmers interested. What Larry has done to promote the Red Wattle breed has literally saved it. Red Wattle is still considered a rare breed by the American Livestock Conservatory, but has been upgraded off their ‘critical list’ to ‘threatened.’

“This is our most powerful statement. People associate Heritage Foods and Red Wattle – no one else sells this breed. We work with fifteen farms and each bite is an epiphany. The New York Times food critic Frank Bruni, in his final article for the paper, wrote that the Heritage Red Wattle country rib at the Brooklyn restaurant Vinegar Hill was one of the best bites of food in his entire career.”

It’s been a long strange trip for the Red Wattle — Legend has it that French colonialists brought the pigs to Louisiana all the way from New Caldonia, so favored were they for their flavor, bold enough to stand up to any local cuisine. Now they are the toast of the town in New York City and gaining popularity across the United States, served in some of the most discerning restaurants, and becoming the go-to pork chop for demanding home cooks.

All talk of animals aside, there are dozens of people involved in bringing thousands of Heritage Red Wattle pigs to market each year, a remarkable consortium of like-minded folks from diverse American cultures, from Larry and his wife Madonna (their nine kids left the roost years ago), to the fifteen Amish family farms who raise these beautiful beasts; the team at Paradise Locker in Trimble, MO, the exalted processor of all this meat; and Patrick Martins, the Pig Man of Brooklyn, who somehow holds it all together. So how does Larry get along with everyone? “Well,” he says, with the coyness of an old-school Kansas farmer, “You can’t work for somebody for fourteen years and not like them at least a little bit.”

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