Ask the Butcher: What is Your Favorite Holiday Meal?

Many of you know Joe Parajecki, our master butcher and head of production. Joe works tirelessly to prepare amazing goodies for our customers to enjoy with their families. But this holiday season, we want to know what Joe is having for dinner.

I come from a Polish family deep rooted in tradition—especially when it comes to holiday meals. Fresh Polish sausage, sometimes with sauerkraut, sometimes with fresh grated Horseradish, has always been a staple at our holiday table. I remember fondly the smell of garlic and marjoram filling the house as my grandmother made sausages on the days that would lead up to Christmas. The smell would linger on and we’d wait in full anticipation during Wigila Dinner Christmas Eve (a tradition including foods that come from the four corners of the earth: forest, sea, field, and orchard).  But, we would have to wait until after Midnight Mass to enjoy it.  Each year I continue this tradition with my family using the time-honored recipe passed down from my grandmother. And this season, I’d like to share it with you. I’ve prepared fresh polish sausage using my grandma’s recipe for our Kettle Club members this month. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have over the years.

Dziękuję Ci (thank you) , Joe!

Featured Cuts: Flank and Skirt Steak

Flank and skirt steak are back for the holidays! We received some amazing feedback this summer after featuring these cuts in Kettle Club shares that included regular steaks. Since you’ve all become flank and skirt experts, we’re taking your skills a step further this month.

Holiday feasts are all about presentation. Imagine how impressed your guests will be when cutting into a tender roll of skirt or flank to reveal an exquisitely tasty stuffed center. What they will know is that it’s delicious. What they won’t know is how easy it was. Be the shining star of your holiday gathering with this easy steak pinwheel recipe.

Ingredients

1  lb. flank or skirt steak, pounded
1 clove garlic, cut in half plus 1 teaspoon minced garlic
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 (1 pound) bag spinach, sautéed
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 small red bell pepper, seeds and membranes removed, cut into small dice (1/4 cup)
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 1/2 cups packed freshly grated Italian cheese  (Asiago, Parmesan, Pecorino, or Mozzarella)
Kitchen twine as needed
2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

  1. Place the steak between two pieces of plastic wrap. Using a meat tenderizer, pound outthe steakto 1/4″ thickness. Remove the plastic wrap and place the steak on a cutting board
    2. Make a marinade by whisking together oil and vinegar. In a zip-lock bag or container large enough to accommodate steak, let meat marinate in vinaigrette at least two hours and up to six, refrigerated, turning once.
    3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    4. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the spinach by the handful and toss with tongs until it wilts (3 to 5 minutes). Mix spinach with minced garlic, egg, rosemary, bell pepper, bread crumbs, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper.
    5. On a flat surface, lay out steak and spread out so the grain is running in front of you, left to right. Evenly press spinach mixture into entire flank steak. Sprinkle and press cheese mixture into spinach mixture, then tightly roll up, jelly-roll style, into a log.
    6. Cut a long piece of twine. First, wrap around the length of beef then wrap around the roll, securing it every couple of inches. Knot the twine and cut off dangling ends.
    7. In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat oil over high heat. Sear flank steak on all sides, about 5 minutes total cooking time. Place flank steak on foil or parchment-lined cooking sheet and roast on center rack of oven 25-30 minutes, or until cooking thermometer registers 135 degrees, for rare and medium rare pieces.
    8. Remove to a cutting board with a well, and tent with foil. Let rest 15 minutes. Remove foil and, with a sharp knife, cut into 3/4-inch pieces. Remove twine and serve.

Ask the Butcher: How Can I Get the Most from My Roast?

This month’s Ask the Butcher question wants to know, “What else can I do with this beef roast?”

Hey, we get it. You’re tired of eating the same old traditional pot roast. We’re here to help. Here’s a few ideas on how you can take stretch that boring beef roast into some easy and delicious weekday meals!

Sunday: Cook Your Roast

Cook your beef roast on Sunday for easy prepping throughout the week. A good rule of thumb for cooking a roast in a crock pot is three hours per pound of roast (6 hours for your 2 lb. Kettle Club roast) on low.

For oven preparation, preheat oven to 350 degrees and cook 20 minutes for each pound of roast (about an hour for your Kettle Club roast).

Be sure to season your roast with salt and pepper and add liquid to tenderize and enhance flavor. Our famous Kettle Range beef bone broth works wonderfully for this!

When your roast has cooled, shred for easy preparation throughout the week. Store the beef in an airtight container with a little of the cooking juices to keep it tasty and tender.

Monday: Philly Cheese Steak Dip

Mondays can be rough. Make dinner easy. First, dice an onion and green pepper. Sauté the veggies in a hot pan with oil. When the onions are translucent, add 8 oz. of cream cheese and stir until the mixture reaches a creamy consistency. Add ½ cup sour cream and about 1 cup of your cooked, shredded roast (more if you’re wanting a meatier dip).

Dip using crackers or toasted French bread.

Tuesday: Beef Tacos

Ever wonder why taco Tuesday at Kettle Range is one of the most delicious days of the week? Probably has something to do with the amazing shredded beef our chefs use to create our heat and serve meals. What cuts do we use you ask? Roasts, of course! Shredded beef roasts make fantastic tacos and unlike traditional ground beef tacos, shreds can take on a ton more flavor when heated with your favorite taco seasonings.

Wednesday:  BBQ Beef Stuffed Potatoes

Is your twice baked potato missing something? Turn that side dish into a filling meal by adding BBQ beef.

Rub 2 potatoes with oil and salt and bake at 300 degrees for 90 minutes or until tender. Split cooked potatoes lengthwise and spoon out insides. Combine potato mixture with 2 tablespoons of sour cream, cheddar cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Add your favorite BBQ sauce to the cooked shredded beef. Combine the BBQ and potato mixture and return to potato skins. Cook at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until warm. Enjoy!

Lard: The Comeback Kid

What used to be a household staple has gradually disappeared from kitchens in recent generations. But don’t worry, pork lard is making a comeback and new research shows that it may be healthier for you than its recent substitutes.

Why pork lard?

Lard is High in Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a key role in calcium absorption and keeping our bones healthy and strong. Lucky for us, we can get this essential mineral from a delicious source, lard. Lard is the second highest food source of Vitamin D, after cod liver oil. The catch? The pork lard must come from pigs raised outdoors. This allows pigs to access sunlight to synthesize considerable amounts of Vitamin D to store in their fatty tissues.

Lard is neutral flavored

Coconut oil has become a popular choice for cooking because like lard, it’s extremely heat stable. But how about the taste? Many find that although coconut oil has a mild flavor, the taste doesn’t mesh well with every meal. Lard on the other hand has a very neutral flavor and can sustain elevated temperatures needed for frying without smoking up your kitchen. It also tends to bring out amazing flavors in baked goods like pie crusts (more about that later).

Cooking with lard is sustainable

At Kettle Range we believe in sustainable utilization of the whole animal. That’s why we’re your go-to source for pasture raised pork lard. As a whole animal butcher, we use every delicious part of the animal. Especially the fat!

Lard is great for baking

The holiday season wouldn’t be complete without traditional apple pie. That’s why we’ve prepared a special treat for our Kettle Club members this month. We’ve packed each of your shares with 8 oz. of pork lard and a delicious apple pie crust recipe. We hope you enjoy this traditional classic as much as we do!

Recipe: Pie Crust with Lard

YIELD: Makes 2 pie crusts with lattice topping

INGREDIENTS

5 cups unbleached all purpose flour

3 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoon salt

1 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 cup chilled pork lard, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

10 tablespoons (or more) ice water

PREPARATION

Blend flour, sugar, and salt in processor. Add butter and lard; using on/off turns, blend until mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer mixture to medium bowl. Add 5 tablespoons ice water and mix with fork until dough begins to clump together, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dry. Gather dough together. Divide dough in half; flatten each half into disk. Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep refrigerated. If necessary, soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.

Sausage of the Month: Seasoned Sausage for Holiday Stuffing

We’re helping our Kettle Club members check a few items off their  grocery lists this Thanksgiving! This month’s sausage is perfect for that holiday stuffing recipe just like mom use to make! Here’s a holiday favorite from us.

Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish
  • 2 pounds good-quality white sandwich bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (20 cups)
  • 4 inner celery ribs, finely diced (1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 large carrots, finely diced (1 cup)
  • 1 sweet onion, finely diced (2 1/2 cups)
  • 1-pound bulk pork sausage
  • 2 tablespoons chopped sage
  • 2 tablespoons chopped thyme
  • 3 cups Turkey Stock
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and butter a large baking dish. Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and toast for 25 minutes, stirring, until lightly browned and crisp.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, melt the 1 stick of butter. Pour half of the butter into a small bowl and reserve. Add the celery, carrots and onion to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and just beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Scrape the vegetables into a large bowl. Add the sausage to the skillet in lumps and cook over moderately high heat, breaking it up with a spoon, until lightly browned and cooked through, about 6 minutes. Return the vegetables to the skillet, add the sage and thyme and cook for 1 minute. Add 1 cup of the stock and cook, scraping up any bits stuck to the pan, until nearly evaporated, about 5 minutes.
  3. Scrape the sausage mixture into the large bowl and add the toasted bread cubes. Add the remaining 2 cups of stock and stir until the bread is evenly moistened. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Spread the stuffing in the baking dish and brush with the reserved melted butter.
  4. Bake the stuffing in the center of the oven for about 1 hour, until it is heated through and the top is browned and crisp. Let the stuffing stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Featured Cut: Spatchcocked Chicken

Nothing makes the weekend dinner table quite as welcoming as a whole, roasted chicken. But that Sunday bird requires quite a bit of preparation and cook time. Well Kettle Club members, we’ve prepared a special treat that’s going to make that chicken an easy Monday meal! We’ve spatchcocked it!

What it is Spatchcocking?

Spatchcocking is a preparation method in which the backbone of the bird is removed. This allows the bird to lay flatter when cooking. What does that mean for you? Well for starters, it cuts down the cooking time by almost half! Approximately 35-40 minutes compared to a the traditional whole bird that takes at least an hour.

How does it taste?

Ever wished you could get a more even crisp on the whole bird? Well spatchcocking does just that. Flattening allows for the entire bird to be exposed to the heat source, creating an evenly crisped skin.  It also allows the bird to cook more consistently. Breast meat can often dry out before the dark meat is finished cooking. A spatchcocked chicken will cook more evenly, leaving all your favorite pieces tender and juicy.

How about carving that bird? That’s a breeze too. Because the bird is lying flat, it’s much easier to determine where to cut without hitting any bone or cartilage. Now that you know all about the preparation, let’s move on to the best part, dinner. To roast a spatchcocked chicken, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Line a baking dish with foil and insert a rack. Place chicken on top of the rack and rub with oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper or, your favorite chicken seasoning.  Bake skin side up for 35-40 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers at 165 degrees at the thickest part of the breast. Allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes before serving to seal in the juices. If you want to fire up the grill, check out this great recipe, Chicken Under a Brick.

Ask the Butcher: Are Your Cows 100% Grass-Fed?

This month’s Ask the Butcher questions wants to know, “If your cows are 100% grass-fed, what do they eat in the winter when there’s no fresh grass available?”

Great question! This is another question we receive quite frequently. We love our Wisconsin summers, and so do our cows. During the spring, summer and fall months, our cows graze on the luscious rolling hills that make our state so beautiful. But winters can be rough. That’s why our producers work hard during harvest season to ensure cows are meeting their nutritional requirements in colder months without supplementing grains. This is done by producing hay and haylage. Let’s take a deeper look at some of these feeds and how they’re produced.

Hay

Hay is a great way to preserve fresh grasses and keep cows healthy in winter months. In Wisconsin, farmers typically seed with a mix of clover, ryegrass, alfalfa and fescue. When forages are at their peak nutritional value, they’re mowed and dried in the field for 3-5 days. Ever heard the adage, “If the sun is shining, make hay?” The sun is an important part of drying the freshly cut forages for storage. Hay typically has a moisture content of 15-20 percent. This ensures that it is dry enough to keep from producing harmful bacteria, but wet enough to avoid combustion. The dried grass is raked in the field and formed into bales for winter storage.

Haylage

Haylage is made much in the same way hay is, but dried for a shorter period. It typically has twice the moisture content of hay, about 40-60 percent. After the grasses are cut and baled, they are wrapped to eliminate exposure to air. The high moisture levels and airtight environment results in a fermentation process. The fermented forages produce natural acids that preserve the feed throughout the winter. The entire preservation process results in a high-quality feed that provides more nutritional supplementation for cattle.

Thanks for this month’s question regarding winter feeds! Keep those questions coming, Kettle Club Members!

Recipe: Chicken under a Brick

Ingredients

For the Brine

  • 2 quarts cold water
  • 1/2 cup Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 whole chicken, spatchcocked
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 brick, wrapped in heavy duty aluminum foil

 

 

Directions

  1. To make the brine, whisk water, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl until salt and sugar are completely dissolved. Place chicken in brine, breast side down, and set in refrigerator for 1 hour.

 

  1. While chicken is brining, place garlic and salt in a mortar and pestle and work into a smooth paste. Transfer to a small bowl and whisk in lemon juice, olive oil, and rosemary. Set aside.

 

  1. Remove chicken from brine, pat dry with paper towels. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, place brick directly over fire, cover gill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place chicken over hot side of grill, skin side down. Place brick on top of chicken and cook until skin browns and crisps, 10 to 15 minutes.

 

  1. Remove brick, flip chicken over, and move to cool side of grill. Brush chicken with garlic and rosemary mixture. Cover grill and let cook until an instant read thermometer registers 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the breast, about 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer chicken to cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Carve and serve.

Sausage of the Month: Apple Cider Bratwurst

Nothing pairs with pork like apples. And our butcher staff has prepared another seasonal delicacy for our Kettle Club members this month, Apple Cider Bratwursts. Made with fresh apple cider from Jacobson Orchards in Waterford, these delicious fall bratwursts are perfect for that last cookout or even this hearty breakfast casserole. Don’t skip out on these sweet and savory brats folks!

Apple Cider Bratwurst Breakfast Casserole

Ingredients

  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 cup non-fat or low-fat milk
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons chopped sage
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 pound sourdough sandwich bread crusts removed and cubed
  • 2 apples peeled, cored and finely diced
  • 1 lb. Apple Cider Bratwurst cut into half rounds
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese shredded and divided

Instructions

  1. Beat eggs, milk, mustard, sage, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a large bowl. Coat a large 9 by 13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Layer half the cubed bread into the casserole dish. Top with half the apple, half the sausage and half the cheese. Top with the remaining bread, apple and sausage. Reserve the remaining cheese in the refrigerator for step 4.
  3. Pour the egg mixture over the casserole trying to moisten evenly. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate 8 to 12 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Bake casserole, covered, until it is steaming hot and the center is starting to puff, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Remove foil, top with the reserved cheese and continue baking until the cheese is melted and the top is golden 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool 10 to 15 minutes before serving.