Tag: Heritage Pork


On the Road with Cesare Casella —  #ProsciuttiForTutti Tour Goes to LaLaLand!!!

Following our perfectly insane foray into San Francisco armed with Cesare Casella’s new line of amazing prosciutti, we returned to the left coast to introduce these Italian-style cured hams to Los Angeles’ best chefs and culinary luminati.

These are truly the very best heritage hams, prepared naturally in a traditional style – cured in only salt, and (unlike American-style hams) never smoked. Casella’s hams are always cured on the bone for extra flavor.

So what do we do when a product is this good? We share it!

We visited our Los Angeles distributor Premier Meats where Patrick wowed the sales reps with Tales of Carnivorous Adventurous and rare-breed preservation (“you have to eat them to save them”) and we hosted a rare breed tasting of porterhouse pork chops, country ribs, and of course Cesare’s finest prosciutti and salami. Special shout outs to Harry, Udi, Omer, Martha and Stacey at Premier, truly an A-Team! Thanks guys!

We spent three days eating, visiting, tasting, and making friends.

Our first night kicked off with a special event at chi Spacca, Nancy Silverton’s meat mecca of the Mozza group — a celebration of all things Heritage Foods. Cesare sliced his prosciutto and cooked an entire course of braised ribs, and superstar Chef Ryan Denicola blew our minds with his presentations of our Silver Fox rabbit and Tunis and Dorset Horn lamb.

We met with old friends and new friends — Neal Fraser at Redbird, Mary Sue Milliken at Border Grill; the amazing Akasha Richmond at AR Cucina; Jon and Vinny of Animal; Chef Steve Samson of Sotto and the forthcoming RossoBlu. We had breakfast at Sqirl with Chef Jessica and Javier; snacks with Chef Javier at Lucques and later cured meats with Alex at Gwen’s gorgeous butcher shop. We can’t forget the famous Papi Chulo (Roy Choi) and Chef Diego at Commissary at The Line Hotel and then somehow we made it to Gjusta for pizza before dinner in Santa Monica at Cassia. And along the way we snuck in drive-bys at Here’s Looking at You, where Red Wattle bellies rule the roost, and the Tasting Kitchen, whose pork rillettes was one of the most memorable flavors of an astonishing, decadent trip.
Did you miss us in LA? Want to taste Cesare’s prosciutto for yourself? We are going to be in Las Vegas in April!

Come eat with us on Saturday, April 1st when Carnevino hosts its first guest chef dinner with Cesare Casella. A one-night only twist on signature dishes featuring three Heritage breeds of pig. Tickets are available at https://cesarecasella.splashthat.com/.

 

porkshanks

Braised Pork Shanks for Family Meal at Untitled in NYC

It’s always fun and interesting for us to see what the chefs in our network are cooking up for their off-the-menu Family Meals.  Our chefs from Untitled in NYC have provided the first recipe for our new Family Meal series. Although brining before cooking is not absolutely necessary, we have added their optional instructions on how to brine the shanks for incredible flavor and texture!

In the Kitchen with Executive Chef of Marta Restaurant, NYC, Joe Tarasco

Check out Executive Chef Tarasco, a great supporter of heritage breeds, as he talks meat marbling and cooks a beautiful thick-cut heritage pork chop on the wood-fired grill at Marta!

Saving the World, One Ham at a Time

Twenty years ago, the bulk of American charcuterie was cheap, commodity product. You could get a domestic prosciutto in a supermarket for half the price of Prosciutto di Parma. More recently, charcuterie in the United States is following the same trend we have seen with wine, beer, cheese, and bread. The talent chain is expanding and quality ingredients are becoming more accessible.

Says Martins, “Two decades ago, if you wanted to buy an imported beer, you paid a premium. American beer was cheap. Now the most expensive and sought-after beer is domestic, handcrafted beer, made in smaller quantities, with the best ingredients.

“The same thing is happening with high-quality charcuterie. Largely because of a new dedication to responsibly-sourced ingredients — heritage breeds, raised on pasture, humanely. The domestic version will be the sought after product. Imports will dwindle. We’ll still love our Italian and Spanish hams, but they won’t be nearly as prevalent, they’ll be nostalgia. The market is changing right before our eyes.”

This new wave is more sophisticated because of the quality of the farming. We are determined to change the taste through better ingredients — and you can’t make a great ham without starting with a great pig.”

There are two approaches to making a great ham — the Old-World style, best-known as Prosciutto di Parma or Jamón Serrano, and the American traditional style that comes out of the deep South, with the added step of smoking — and Heritage Foods is working with outstanding proponents of both:

Broadbent Hams, under the direction of Ronny and Beth Drennan, in Kuttawa, Kentucky, have won championships from the National Country Ham Association. They have recently added a new line of heritage breed, pasture-raised hams to their existing line of Southern Style hams, which goes back 100 years. They represent a new American style of prosciutto — lighter, with a uniquely sweet and salty flavor. The first wave will be available beginning this fall.

Cesare Casella was trained by the Norcini, the great Tuscan traveling butchers. He is a famed New York restaurateur, and Dean of Italian Studies at the International Culinary Center. His Casella’s pasture-raised salami is an astonishingly nuanced example of the artform. His line of Old World-style heritage prosciutto will be available beginning in March and are sure to be a formidable presence, bringing three-hundred years of Italian tradition to the vanguard.

Antonio Fiasche from ’Nduja Artisans continues a great tradition of Italian charcuterie. His family has run Ristorante Agostino in Chicago for over thirty years, and Antonio has led the charge towards expanding a curing business anchored by a wide variety of salamis and their family specialty, ’nduja, a spreadable, spicy, Calabrian pâté, which they have been making for five generations.

Al Benton cures his hams in an ancient smokehouse in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with little consideration for the modern world. Even though Benton is a household name in the South, he is still hands-on and present in all steps of the curing process. He is another famed traditionalist who is forwarding the cause of the American charcuterie renaissance. His strong, salty, smoky hams have always enjoyed a huge following.

In addition, the Heritage Foods roster of great curemasters includes Nancy Newsom, whose grandfather started a curing tradition in his old Kentucky home that allowed seasonal change to flavor the ham naturally; Armondino Batali in Seattle, who creates bold, charismatic salumi from pasture-raised meat; Johnny Hunter, from Underground Meats in Wisconsin; Sam Suchoff and Rufus Brown, from Lady Edison in North Carolina; and Paradise Locker Meats whose injection curing process produces delectable maple sugar hams.

Long-aged hams, salami, and other heritage breed, pasture-raised charcuterie is available directly from Heritage Foods USA.

Slow Meat Symposium 2015

A vegan, a butcher and a cow walk into a room… And started talking

 

IMG_1727

 

From Thursday, June 4th through Saturday, June 6th over 200 delegates from 40 states and 12 nations gathered in Denver for roundtable discussions aimed at progressively revitalizing a meat system that is currently wasteful, inhumane, and… well, not as delicious as it could be.

 

  The diverse group included producers, policy makers, distributors, retailers, press, chefs, farmers, & ranchers. Discussions were focused on points of transition and difference, collaboration and future partnerships –the take away was action based.   

  One theme of the conference raised in many conversations was: How do we organize local and regional collaboration to increase the national impact of the better meat movement? To begin, we can support each other through industry – sharing resources and knowledge, and helping to create trade for better meat so it becomes a larger percentage of what’s available on the market. Another discussion central to the conference and Slow Meat movement was: What might we have to forgo as a broader community to have better quality meat available on our tables? Does it mean not eating meat one or two days a week? Does it mean only eating a certain quality of meat? Erin Fairbanks dives into this discussion in Episode 236 of The Farm Report. Changing the way we consume meat might mean spending the same each month on meat as families are now, and just eating less of it. Interpretation of the Better Meat, Less Campaign was a hot discussion amongst delegates.  

 

Producers in attendance wondered if the positioning would discourage consumers from supporting an already small segment of the meat supply chain rather than disrupting the unabated consumption of cheap meats made available by the commodity market.  One aspect of the campaign delegates were able to agree on was that eating Better Meat, Less might also mean moving away from the quick fix of the prized loin to eating more braising cuts, which pack a ton of flavor and are a fortifying addition to vegetable and grain based dishes.

One point well received was that our guiding light should, in part, be supporting the efforts of farmers who are working to improve the flavor of meat, as well as the health of the land and animal.

The Symposium was followed by the Slow Meat Fair, which was open to the public on Saturday. Temple Grandin gave the opening keynote. Temple continues to point out aspects of animal husbandry many of us overlook. Find her insightful keynote speech on Heritage Radio Network.

 

  During the fair Heritage Foods USA collaborated with Steve Kurowski, President of the Colorado Brewer’s Guild, and Great Divide Brewery to produce a breed and brew tasting. At the tasting Mary McCarthy, Director of Operations at Heritage Foods presented historic and breed specific information on Berkshire, Red Wattle, Old Spot, and Tamworth breeds while guests tasted the four breeds of pork side by side. The meats were carefully prepared by Chef Matthew Raiford, who weighed out the same salt and pepper for each loin.  

 

The 3rd Annual Slow Meat is scheduled to be held in 2017, but you can get involved now through your local Slow Food chapter. Visit Slow Meat online for more information.

Heritage Pork Taste Chart

Pork Breed Histories and Heritage Pork Taste Chart

TasteChartPork

Berkshire [Fatty] smooth and creamy flavor

Berkshire pork is elegant, luscious and smooth. The meat boasts a round and buttery flavor that melts on the tongue.

Red Wattle [Fatty] flavorful, earthy, minerally, bold

Red Wattle meat is charmingly inconsistent and can be earthy, vegetal and herbaceous with a hint of cinnamon. Its expressive porky flavor is concentrated and bold.

Duroc [Lean] clean, mild flavor, lean

Duroc meat is clean and crisp. Its taste and texture are polished and easy on the palate. Duroc pork is a standard, not to fatty, not too strong pig.

Old Spot [Very Fatty] milky, nice marbling and fat ratio

Old Spot has the creamiest taste of any of the pig breeds. The Old Spot tastes like a tour of the fruit orchard where they famously grazed in old England!

Tamworth [Very Lean] balanced flavor, sweet, very lean

Tamworth is the leanest of the pork breeds that we sell, but still has incredible tenderness and flavor. It is rootsy like the woods it ranges on and has a clean finish.

We had a great time taste testing these breeds and hope we have come up with some words that truly describe the characteristics of the pork. We would love to hear your thoughts!!! Please send us your taste comments to info@HeritageFoodsUSA.com so that we can add your words to the list!

Taste the difference with one of our breed variety packs!

 

Brief History of the Ham and a Recipe for Brown Sugar and Mustard Glazed Ham

The ham is everywhere — in every deli in America — but what’s its real deal?

Hams weigh about 30 pounds. Every pig has two hams on him or her. For an average sized pig (about 200 lbs), the hams represent 1/3 of their overall weight. That’s a big portion, especially when you consider that the center cut pork loin only weighs about 8lbs for a total of 16lb per animal. It’s easy to understand the reasoning behind the axiom that pig profits go the way of the ham.

Hams are part of the hind section of the pig, and should not be called a leg since the leg could also come from the front shoulder. The hind shank is often left on the ham adding even more weight to the total product (hind shanks are about 3lbs each and fore shanks about 1.5lbs). In Europe the ham commands the highest per pound price on the animal while the loin commands the lowest. In the USA it’s the exact opposite. Now bacon has become one of the most expensive cuts.

At Heritage most of our 400 hams a week go to the curemaster Sam Edwards who has a family tradition of curing them that goes back almost 90 years. In 1926 S. Wallace Edwards, young captain of the Jamestown-Scotland ferryboat, began serving ham sandwiches to his ferry passengers …. sandwiches made from ham, salt-cured and hickory smoked, on his family farm. The demand for his ham grew so quickly that Captain Edwards soon began curing and selling hams on a full-time basis.

Today, Sam’s new Surry line has met with critical success thanks to an aging process that takes about 400 days. Heritage Foods USA also cures its own hams, bone-in or bone-out, using an injection cure that has been perfected by our partners at Paradise Locker Meats.

Mario Fantasma with his sons Nick and Louis
Mario Fantasma with his sons Nick and Louis

Injection cured hams are for everyday ham sandwiches or for breakfast with a sunny side up egg on top. Dry cured and smoked hams are the big ol’ legs of ham that sit on the bars or hang from the ceilings in pretty much every restaurant or hole-in-the-wall bar in Italy and Spain. Most hams in America are injection cured. But a few producers still dry age and smoke in the American tradition: Sam Edwards, Allan Benton, Nancy Newsome, Burgers Smokehouse and Finchville are among the top in their field.

How did the ham come to be the ambassador of dry curing around the world? The answer as with so many food traditions is that it came out of necessity. Typically when a pig was slaughtered, it was not all consumed in one sitting. As a result curing became an important process used to preserve the meat for future consumption. Because of the size of the ham it made sense that it was the chosen cut.

Pig breeds of years past had more marbling — marbling makes for better curing by helping with the fermentation process (marbling gives it the “twang”), as well as preventing the meat from drying out. This characteristic makes our heritage breeds  especially suited for the curing process.

Easter and Christmas are hams’ biggest days, and as gastronomes around the country find new ways to incorporate ham into their menus we can’t help but love a good traditional glazed ham.

For the perfect balance of sweet and tangy try a simple recipe for Brown Sugar and Mustard Glazed Ham this year.

Mix equal parts Brown Sugar with Dijon Mustard (about a 1 1/4 cups of each will make enough glaze to coat a full ham) and add a Teaspoon of Ground Clove for added character and depth.

Coat the ham about 30 to 60 minutes before the end of cooking. Be sure to check on the ham as the glaze caramelizes to ensure the sugars don’t begin to burn.

Serve and enjoy! Happy Holidays.

 

Page 3 of 41234