Tag: Heritage Pork


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.”

Help Us Protect the Healthiest, Most Ethical, and Tastiest Meat Available!

Dear Heritage Foods Supporter,

It has been a tremendous year for Heritage Foods, heritage breeds, and heritage farms.

With success comes challenges: Right now there is a movement in the commercial food industry to change the definition of the word “heritage,” and attempt to lay claim to the very thing that has defined us and sustained our farmers since we began selling heritage breeds in 2001.

It’s funny that “heritage,” a word that meant little to big business when we started, is suddenly so appealing.

The definition of “heritage” is simple, and tied to a proud history:

HERITAGE livestock and poultry are purebred genetic lines that can be traced back unchanged to an original herd or flock prior to the beginning of industrial farming.

There is no such thing as a new heritage breed. We understand trendy marketing, but “heritage” means something significant to us, to our farmers, to our customers, and to our industry.

As we look to 2018, we will continue to fight for genuine heritage farms and breeds.

It’s important to remember that when our partner farmers originally decided to raise heritage breeds, they were taking a huge risk. Traditionally, the only established, secure, and reliable sales outlet for farmers was the commodity market — venues like commercial supermarkets and the fast food industry — which pays pennies on the pound for product and demands the very worst of industrial farming protocols just to make a profit.

By committing to heritage breeds and slow, traditional farming practices, our farmers have become entirely dependent on those who understand the value of genuine heritage breeds. Call it community-supported-agriculture, or chef-supported-agriculture if you like, but at its heart Heritage Foods is a network of hardworking American family farmers who believe in your right to the healthiest, most ethical, ecological, and tastiest food imaginable.

By buying certified heritage you can be certain that not one penny goes to industrial farming. Your continued support ensures heritage breeds gain in strength, numbers, and importance in our national dialogue on food.

We are always on the lookout for new and exciting culinary adventures — especially in the charcuterie world and with our oven-ready creations — but our brand is based on time, tradition, history, and respect. That is the true meaning of heritage.

We hope to hear from you early and often in 2018!
Thank you for your support.

Sincerely,

Patrick Martins
Founder

Leftovers!

One of the best things about making big dinners is having leftovers for lunch the next day.

Usually, if we have some steak or lamb left over, it is going into a sandwich. But have you thought about making hash? Lamb hash is a very special treat indeed — just like beef hash all you have to do is chop some potatoes and onions and peppers and have at it (you can always find a recipe online if you don’t feel like free-styling)… with lamb you can add a bit of curry, and it still goes great with eggs or just on its own.

Doing unexpected things with the leftovers is the hallmark of a great chef. Ham sandwiches are great, of course, but how about whipping up a cordon blue? And if that ham has a bone-in, you are looking at the beginning of some great soup.

Here’s an easy tip: pretty much all leftover meat is good on pizza.

Here is another: pretty much all leftover meat is great in a taco.

Leftovers are definitely an art form in themselves. But as ever, it all starts with the ingredients!

When is a Ham Not a Ham?

When it is a classic, Heritage maple sugar-cured ham it is so much more than a ham that the old descriptors no longer apply.

This is a holiday waiting to happen. This is the thing that brings families together. This is the thing that puts smiles on faces. This is wholesome, pasture-raised, maple-cured ham, the cornerstone of American cooking, loved universally as a centerpiece for a holiday meal, casual dining, or as the main ingredient in an iconic ham sandwich.

The Heritage maple sugar-cured ham is a stone cold classic, any time of year. It is your Christmas ham, but we won’t look twice if you enjoy it on a Fall night or summer picnic.

These hams are already cooked so they are ready for eating, but a little heat will help bring out the delicious juices of the heritage meat. You can add a family favorite glaze, or stud it with cloves, cover it with cherries and pineapples — there is no spice or seasoning this delicious ham won’t welcome.

So… when is a ham not a ham?? OK, so it’s a trick question. But our customers agree, that after tasting Heritage ham, those other, ham-shaped objects in the supermarket just don’t make the grade.

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!

Paul Wetzel, Sous Chef and Visionary Charcutier of Gramercy Tavern

Paul Wetzel, visionary charcutier of Gramercy Tavern — Danny Meyer’s pioneering, Michelin-starred seasonal restaurant in Manhattan — is like a troubadour of cured meat, traveling from town to town to share the ancient art, listening and learning as he goes.

“I’ve gotten to the point at Gramercy that I have a strong team that supports me – so when I take time off, I plan trips to go to Italy to see salumi being made, or I visit butcher shops and processing plants… I grew up on a farm in North Ohio, and that was the foundation for what I’m doing now… it’s great not to just come from just the chef aspect, — a lot of chefs don’t understand what its like to be on the farm 365 days a year, getting up at 5 am, everyday, what it takes to raise an animal… , you can’t just say, Oh I want the fat this way, when you don’t really see how it happens.”

There is a charcuterie renaissance happening in America, and Paul is at its very foundation. Like his mentor, Swiss-born charcutier Francois Vecchio, Paul takes a “holistic approach” to his art — his respect for the animal goes back to the farm. “In just the past 6 or 7 years there’s been a shift in whole-animal butchers shops and artisanal charcuterie. There are more small producers doing fine product and it puts pressure on big scale producers who are basically cut off from the earth. This is where a lot of our problems have come from. They don’t understand that animals need to be grazing and healthy.

“And we try to buy nose to tail for a lot of reasons —we try to use as much of the animal as possible , from confit to sausages to curing meats, maximizing utilization. It’s less money than buying parts, of course, and it drives menu development — If you are just buying bellies and chops, you’re more likely to stay in a rut.”

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.”

Chili Montes of Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco

We talk a lot about restaurants, probably too much! 

As much as we love the luminaires who put Heritage Foods front and center on their menus, we want to sing the praises of something just a little bit closer to street level: the supermarket!

And not just any supermarket – the Bi-Rite family of markets in San Francisco is at the heart of their communities. Almost Sesame Street-like in its neighborhood friendliness, Bi-Rite remains an idyllic outpost of what an old-fashioned market should be. Customers talk to each other while waiting on line. Across the street is their legendary ice cream shop, the Bi-Rite Creamery.

Chili Montes is Meat and Seafood Buyer for the Bi-Rite family, and head of the Bi-Rite butcher program where for over twenty years he has distinguished himself not only as an educator and advocate, but as an ally, and one of our favorite guys ever to wear a white apron.

“Every month of the year in San Francisco there is some sort of food-centric holiday — except for August,” says Chili, “so for the last two years, we’ve worked with Heritage Foods on “Hog-ust,” and bring in as many breeds as we can during that month. It gives customers a chance to try them all and celebrate the differences between animals that may have been at the brink of extinction. It has been a huge conversation starter. People really get into it.

“Heritage Foods, as much as they are a business partner, they are also a facilitator in education — I have visited their famers, they’ve helped me learn what it takes to produce meat, and the difficulties and rewards of agriculture, especially on a smaller scale with farmers committed to doing things the right way — a focus on quality rather than quantity. I buy a lot of pork from Heritage, but we’ve bought turkeys, goat, steer. We also have local farmers and ranchers we support, and I spend time with them as well.

“There is a very specific consciousness in the way we converse with our guests at Bi-Rite — early on there needed to be a justification for why our product wasn’t the same price as in a chain supermarket, but once they purchase our meat and produce, the taste and the flavor speak for themselves, They just needed a connection to understand why things are a few dollars more.

“I’ve got the best job in the world. At Bi-Rite our customers reward us for the work that we put in with their support for us and what we do, and their willingness to engage in conversation, to have a dialogue with the people who produce their food – It’s amazing, especially in an age when people don’t like to talk to other people!”

Page 1 of 512345