Kettle Club Sausage of the Month: Uncured All Beef Hotdog

You’ve spoken and we’ve listened. We’ve prepared a special summer classic for our Kettle Club members this month, uncured all beef hot dogs! But what does “uncured” mean anyway? And why are they considered healthier than cured meats?

Cured vs. Uncured

A typical hot dog that you buy in the store has most likely been cured unless otherwise labeled. This means that a form of nitrates and nitrites have been added to enhance the color, flavor and shelf life. These are still important qualities that we all want in our hot dogs, but we can get the same results by adding nitrates in their more natural state. At Kettle Range, our butchers prepare your delicious hot dogs by adding celery juice powder. This helps stabilize the meat and adds flavor. These naturally occurring nitrates tend to be healthier as well. According to the Mayo Clinic and other health sources, artificial forms of sodium nitrates can be detrimental to your health and may cause damage to veins and arteries.

Does this method of preservation mean you need to cook your hot dogs any differently? Nope! The dogs are fully cooked and ready to be grilled or heated.

Kettle Club: What’s for Dinner This Month?

Skirt and flank steak are often underappreciated despite their great flavor profiles. These cuts both come from well exercised areas of the cow which means they get a lot of blood flow. That also means they pack a lot of flavor! For those of you that receive regular steaks in your monthly Kettle Club share, you’ll be getting a 1 lb. package of flank or skirt steak this July. Let’s learn a little more about these steaks and walk through some cooking tips to ensure you’re getting the most out of these flavorful cuts!

Skirt Steak

Skirt steak is cut from the plate, or underside of the cow. It’s the cut of choice for making fajitas and stir fry due to its great flavor. Because it comes from a very muscular area of the cow, it can be tough if not prepared and served properly. To ensure you’re getting maximum tenderness, you can marinate skirt steak before cooking. Be sure to use a marinade that includes some an acid (lime or lemon juice, soy sauce or vinegar). The acid helps break down some of the touch muscle fibers making the cooked steak more tender.  You can quickly pan sear or grill or broil skirt steak slowly to reduce any tough texture.

Flank Steak

The flank steak is cut from the abdominal muscles of the cow. Like skirt steak, it’s known for its flavor but can be chewy if not prepared properly. One of the most important aspects of serving flank steak is ensuring that it’s cut against the grain. “Grain” is a term that refers to the direction in which the muscle fibers are aligned. It should be relativity simple to determine the direction of the grain by looking at the cut. Cutting against the grain helps loosen long muscle fibers that can make cooked meat chewy.

Now that you’re an expert on flank and skirt, let’s enjoy some summery fresh carne asada tacos!

Carne Asada Tacos

1 pound flank or skirt steak

Olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Marinade:

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 limes, juiced (about 2 Tbsp.)

2 Tbsp. cider vinegar

2 Tbsp. sugar

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin seed (if have whole, toast and then grind)

4 garlic cloves, minced (4 teaspoons)

1 jalapeño chili pepper, seeded and minced

1/2 bunch fresh cilantro

 

Fixings:

Chopped avocado

Lime wedges

Corn or flour tortillas

Thinly sliced radishes

Thinly sliced lettuce

Pico de gallo salsa

 

Marinate the steak: Whisk to combine the olive oil, soy sauce, lime juice, vinegar, sugar, black pepper and cumin. Stir in the minced garlic, jalapeño and cilantro.

Place the steak in the marinade and refrigerate for 1-4 hours or overnight.

Preheat grill: Preheat your grill for high direct heat with part of the grill reserved with fewer coals low, indirect heat.

Sear steak on hot side of grill: Remove the steak from the marinade. Lightly brush off most of the bits of cilantro and garlic.

Place on the hot side of the grill. Grill the steak for a few minutes only, until well seared on one side (the browning and the searing makes for great flavor), then turn the steak over and sear on the other side.

Move steak to cool side of grill: Once both sides are well seared, move the steak to the cool side of the grill placing the thicker end of the steak nearer to the hot side of the grill.

Test with a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the steak. Pull the meat off the grill at 115°F to 120°F for rare, 125°F medium rare, 140°F for medium. The meat will continue to cook in its residual heat.

Note that lean flank steak is best cooked rare while skirt steak can be cooked well without losing moisture or flavor because it has more fat marbling.

Tent with foil and let rest: Place the steak on a cutting board, tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.

Slice steak across the grain of the meat: Use a sharp, long bladed knife to cut the meat. Notice the direction of the grain of the meat and cut perpendicular to the grain. Angle your knife so that your slices are wide and thin.

Serve with grill toasted tortillas: Warm the tortillas for 30 seconds on each side in a dry skillet or on the grill until toasty and pliable.

Enjoy!

Heritage Breeds: What’s in a Name?

Our patrons often ask us about the breeds of swine we source for our delicious pork products. The simple answer, heritage breeds. But what are heritage breeds, and why are they important for genetic preservation of the swine species?

What is a Heritage Breed?

While there is currently no set definition for the phrase, heritage livestock breeds are the breeds that flourished in the agrarian societies of our ancestors. Long before the modernization of agriculture when pigs were raised primarily on pasture, it was important that these animals possessed the necessary skills needed to thrive in specific environmental conditions. Genetically speaking, we refer to these skills as traits, and keeping these traits intact ensured that our forefathers could produce a bountiful supply of meat to feed their communities.

Why are Heritage Breeds Important?

But modern agriculture has moved away from raising pigs on pasture, and hardiness, sturdiness and adaptability are no longer desirable attributes. Instead, commodity pork producers seek faster-growing animals that reach market weights in record time. The shift in genetic selection has led to an overall decrease in the swine breeds of the past. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization reports that 20% of the world’s cattle, goats, pigs, horses and poultry are currently at risk of extinction. A consequence of this potential extinction would be the loss of unique traits that could help these animals thrive in any future, harsh conditions.

What Kinds of Breeds Do We Source at Kettle Range Meat Company?

Here at Kettle Range Meats we work to source these important heritage breeds. We source these breeds not only because they’re great tasting when compared with commodity pork, but we also want to support the farmers who work hard to keep these breeds intact for the future success of our agriculture systems. Let’s look at just a few of the breeds we serve up:

Duroc

Originating in the United States, the Duroc is one of the fastest-growing heritage breeds. They tend to put on a lot of intramuscular fat making them knows for the tender shoulder roasts.

Red Wattle

Characterized by a fleshy wattle on either side of their neck, these breeds are best known for their rich textured and delicious hams.

Hereford

Developed in the United States, this breed was named for its shared coloring with Hereford cattle. Their pork is tenderly delicious due to a high proportion of intramuscular fat.

Berkshire

This breed is sometimes referred to as kurobuta, which is Japanese for black pork due to their hair color. They are known for their savory, umami flavor.

Kettle Club Sausage of the Month: Italian Beef

Joe the butcher has created a unique twist on a Chicago delicacy for our Kettle Club members this month. June’s Italian beef sausage has been prepared with mozzarella, fresh basil, oregano, and hot giardiniera. It makes a great sandwich right off the grill, or incorporate the flavor kick to your favorite pasta or pizza recipe.

What is Giardiniera?

Before you begin enjoying June’s distinctively delicious sausage, let’s talk a little about giardiniera. First off, let’s all say it together, “JAR-DIN-AIR-AH.” There, that’s better. Originating in Italy, the word giardiniera translates loosely to “female gardener” or “one who pickles vegetables.” And why not with all its fresh ingredients? Recipes differ, but most variations of the condiment include hot or mild peppers, celery, carrots, cauliflower and olives. Italians used the method of pickling to preserve vegetables for the winter. It is thought that giardiniera was introduced to the United States in Chicago during the late 19th century following a wave of Italian immigration. The fiery condiment quickly became synonymous with Chicago’s famous Italian beef sandwiches and made its way into the hearts and refrigerators of area residents. For years, Chicago chefs and foodies have been perfecting their recipes and pickling techniques to bring giardiniera lovers a more heated version of the Italian original.

So, let’s tip our hats to our neighbors to the south and enjoy some great sausages this month!

Recipe: Perfect Pulled Pork

Let’s all enjoy the heritage pork breeds featured at Kettle Range this month and cook up a summer favorite, pulled pork! Check out this recipe that includes our own Chef Jeff’s famous BBQ rub.

Perfect Pulled Pork

Ingredients:

1 pork shoulder

Chef Jeff’s BBQ Rub, or any other that you are fond of

Brine Solution

  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 quarts cold water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons dry rub mix

Directions:

FOR THE BRINE SOLUTION

  1. Add salt to cold water, and stir very well until all the salt is completely dissolved. Then add the brown sugar, dry rub, and bay leaves, and stir well to combine.

PORK SHOULDER PREPARATION

  1. Rinse the pork shoulder, and place in a large container. Pour in the brine solution until the shoulder is completely covered. Cover the container, and place in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.
  2. Remove pork shoulder from brine solution, and pat dry with paper towels. Place the pork shoulder in a baking pan that is at least 3 inches deep and that is bigger than the shoulder by at least an inch in length and width. Sprinkle dry rub onto the surface of the shoulder and massage in such that it adheres to the surface. Coat all sides. Make sure the fat layer on the shoulder is facing up before cooking! Place baking pan uncovered in a 225° F oven on the middle rack. Insert a probe thermometer into the center or thickest part of the shoulder, but not touching the bone. Monitor the temperature throughout cooking (a digital thermometer with an alarm function is the easiest way to do this). Do not remove from the oven until the center of the shoulder reaches 200°.
  3. When the shoulder has reached 200°, shut off the oven and let the roast cool for a couple of hours before removing from the oven. If the bottom of the pan is dry (or crusted with dried spices) then cover the pan with foil to retain internal moisture of the meat during the cooling period. When the temperature drops to 170 degrees or slightly lower, remove from oven. Place on a large, clean work surface such as a cutting board, and remove the large sheet of crusted fat on the top. Pull apart with two forks, it will pull apart very easily. Serve for friends and family!

Meet your New Kettle Club Coordinator

Please welcome your new Kettle Club Coordinator, Nikki Barr. A Missouri native, Nikki grew up on a diversified farm where she took a special interest in raising and showing heritage swine breeds. By age ten, she had raised her first grand-prize-winning Hampshire!  She continued to foster her passion for agriculture by attending the University of Missouri where she earned a degree in animal science. Nikki joins us after holding several positions related to pork production, including reproductive specialist and producer communications coordinator in the veterinary medical field.

Please reach out to Nikki at any time with questions or inquiries regarding your Kettle Club subscriptions. You can also chat with Nikki at the Kenosha Harbor Market where she’ll be tending to the Kettle Range booth every Saturday morning.

Classic Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe

Adapted from Irish Traditional Cooking by Darina Allen, (C) 1995 (reprinted 2005) and Epicurious.

Ingredients:

  • 4 lb corned brisket of beef
  • 3 large carrots, cut into large chunks
  • 6 to 8 small onions
  • 1 teaspoon dry English mustard
  • large sprig fresh thyme and some parsley stalks, tied together
  • 1 cabbage
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Instructions:

Put the brisket into a saucepan with the carrots, onions, mustard and the herbs. Cover with cold water, and bring gently to a boil. Simmer, covered, for 2 hours. Discard the outer leaves of the cabbage, cut in quarters and add to the pot. Cook for a further 1 to 2 hours or until the meat and vegetables are soft and tender.

Serve the corned beef in slices, surrounded by the vegetables and cooking liquid. Serve with lots of small boiled red or yellow potatoes and good mustard.

A Few Notes:

To keep your carrots, onions, and cabbage from turning to mush, be sure to use large pieces. Use carrots that are two inches in diameter and cuts them into chunks three or four inches long. Cut large onions into quarters or use whole small onions, and quarter a whole cabbage and add it after the meat and other veggies have stewed for a while. If you’d like, you can also add white turnips, rutabaga, or celeriac. To stop the meat from getting tough, keep it covered with water at all times (add more hot water if it cooks down), and once the liquid comes to a boil, reduce the heat, cover the pot, and let it simmer. “Don’t have it at a mad rolling boil all the time,” says Allen. “Once it comes to the boil, it can just simmer along gently then. That will keep it nice and tender and won’t toughen the meat.”

Allen offers this excellent tip for telling when the meat is cooked: “Before it’s cooked, if you put a skewer or carving fork in the meat, you will be able to lift the piece of meat up on the carving fork, but when it’s cooked, the skewer will come straight out of it without lifting it up.”

5 Roast recipes we are craving this month.

Tired of traditional pot roasts? Looking to keep your creative juices flowing in the kitchen? Check out these five recipes we are craving this month.

Slow-braised pork shoulder with cider & parsnips

Image via Good Food
This simple recipe blends a variety of flavors of winter ready staples. Blending the savory juices of the braised pork along with the sweet cider and parsnips, this recipe is bound to impress the entire family. For full recipe click HERE.

Texas Clod (Barbecued Beef Shoulder)

Image Via Barbecue Bible
The Beef Shoulder Clod is the upper portion of the chuck primal and it sits atop the brisket. This roast is leaner than a brisket and requires the same low and slow cooking method to break down the fats and collagen. Typically you need to allow one hour of cooking time for every pound of beef clod, smoking temperatures at or below 250. Let the inner grill master loose for this delicious Texas Clod. For full instructions and recipe Click HERE

Slow Cooker Mexican Brisket

Image Via House of Yumm
Kick Taco Tuesday up a notch with House Of Yumm’s Mexican Brisket. This blend of pablano chile, garlic, onion and spices will inspire a variety of meals. Use this recipe to have a build your own nacho night or a round of flavorful street tacos. Discover the full recipe HERE and getting planning your next Taco night now!

Southwest Cowboy Chili

Image via Nom Nom Paleo

Change up your chili with this Paleo inspired recipe. Swap out your typical ground beef and enjoy this chili featuring tender chuck roast. This recipe from Nom-Nom Paleo is sure to fill you and keep you steady on your New Year resolution. Click HERE for the full recipe and instuctions.

Tasty Cuban Pork Roast

Image Via The Noshtastic Blog

Spice things up with a little Cuban flare! A unique blend of citrus and herbs will have you dreaming of summer, while keeping you warm and full. Hop over the Noshtastic’s blog and get this recipe HERE.

I hope these recipes help inspire you. May they keep your warm and toasty all month long!

grass fed steaks gift boxes

Give the Gift of Local Grass Fed Meat

Did you know that Kettle Range offers grass fed gift boxes? It’s an excellent gift idea for your favorite foodie or local grass fed beef and pork fanatic, and we’ll ship it right to their door.

Curated Gift Boxes

Whether you are shopping for a barbecue master or a local food fan, we have a perfect gift box.  Each grass fed gift collection includes a hand-picked selection of our premium, locally raised and locally processed grass fed beef or pork.

A few of our most popular options include:

VIEW THE COMPLETE GIFT BOX CATALOG

Ship Anywhere

Our grass fed steaks and other goodies are flash frozen for freshness and lovingly packed in an attractive insulated shipping cooler. They can be shipped anywhere in the lower 48 states. Online prices already include the costs of handling and dry ice. Shipping charges apply.

Holiday orders must be received by December 18th in order to arrive by December 24th.

Pick Up At Our Milwaukee Butcher Shop and Save

Shipping boxes of grass fed beef around the country is complicated and expensive. If you live in Milwaukee and want to save some money, you can pick up your gift box at our Milwaukee butcher shop (5501 West State Street). We’ll give you a 10% discount and you won’t be charge shipping.

Happy Shopping!