Farm Spotlight: Clover Hill Harvest LLC

On a crisp March morning, Jen Brevard fires up the UTV she has nicknamed “the feed cart” and heads towards the pastures of the family’s 120-acre farm outside of Helenville, Wisconsin. Her pigs are anticipating her arrival and run to greet her.

“I love watching them dance through the pastures when they hear me coming,” Jen says. “They look as if they’re about to take flight!”

Remember those impossible tasks you promised to do when pigs sprouted wings? Well don’t worry folks, you’re still off the hook. Jen is referring to the sizable floppy ears her heritage pigs, Large Blacks, are known for. This unique feature helps protect their eyes while rooting and foraging on pasture.

“This breed was really built for utilizing forages,” Jen explains. “We keep a mix of red clover, alfalfa and pasture grasses, which they really like. They also enjoy munching on dandelions and thistle. So, they actually help keep the pastures healthy by doing a little weeding for us.”

Jen keeps her Large Black pigs on pasture year-round. The pastures are equipped with straw porta huts, so the pigs have a cozy spot to go in inclement weather. She says she has noticed a considerable improvement in the pastures since she started raising pigs in 2014.

“Every year the pastures seem to get a little better,” she says. “We move pigs frequently to ensure that manure is dispersed evenly in each area. The pigs have really helped turn this piece of land around.”

Jen became interested in raising heritage pork after reading a book about backyard homesteading. She’s now a full-time farmer and says she really enjoys spending time with her pigs.

“Aside from just being able to do what I love, there’s a real preservation aspect to raising these pigs. The demand for these unique breeds ensures that producers can continue to raise animals in a sustainable manner and keep these breeds from being eradicated. It’s a healthy environment for the pigs and a healthy product for consumers.”

Meat Our Team: Chris Scallon

Ever wonder who’s working behind the scenes at Kettle Range Meats? Well wonder no more! Our entire staff works hard to ensure you’re getting the highest quality, best tasting meats in Wisconsin. And we want you to meet them all. First up, Chris Scallon. Chris has become somewhat of a local celebrity in the chili world. With a Golden Ladle from Potawatomi’s Chili Bowl, and a first place win from WMSE’s Rockabilly Chili contest, he’s made Kettle Range synonymous with great chili in 2018.

What do you do at Kettle Range?

I guess my title would be sous chef. I do a lot of food preparation for our heat-and-eat meals. Cutting, slicing, dicing, chopping, packing. I also assist in menu creation, so we can keep adding new items to our overall menu. Oh, and I man the cauldron. The cauldron is what I call our large industrial kettle. It’s where we make things like chicken and beef broth. It’s essentially where the magic begins.

What inspires your award-winning chili concoctions?

I get a lot of inspiration from the incredible products we have access to. Right from the start, we’re sourcing quality meat from local farms. We have a talented butcher staff here that can create amazing products from those meats, like sausages. Those flavors inspire innovative ideas for meals, chilis and side dishes. The Ropa Chili (Rockabilly Chili contest winner) stemmed from one of our heat-and-eat meals, Ropa Vieja. The distinct flavors were incorporated into what turned out to be a delicious and unique chili.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The freedom to create new things. We love getting feedback about our meal program. It’s a great feeling to put out a new meal and get a positive response from our customers.

Thanks for all you do, Chris!

Grazing for Greener Pastures

We’re all familiar with the health benefits of grass-fed beef. Lower in overall fat and calories, higher in Omega-3 fatty acids. But what about the health benefits shared between grazing animals and their ecosystems? How do cattle improve the health of the land, and how does the land reciprocate?

Imagine a lush prairie speckled with wild grazers like bison and deer. The symbiotic relationship between flora and fauna allowed these ecosystems to prosper in their natural state for thousands of years. Animals grazed on native forages for short periods and moved (or were chased by predators) on to greener pastures. The brief time spent grazing each area stimulated root growth and increased species diversity necessary for protecting against elements like drought and flooding.

Grass-fed cattle producers understand that delicate balance and do their best to recreate a similar environment with livestock. This sustainable practice is referred to as rotational grazing and promotes both plant and animal health. Farmers set up small paddocks of pasture and move cattle often, allowing grasses to recover and grow. Moving herds frequently mimics the natural movement of animals on prairie.  Let’s take a more detailed look at the benefits of managing pastures using rotational grazing.

Soil Quality and Plant Diversity

In 2011, a devastating drought swept the southwest United States. Conventional cattle producers struggled to keep animals healthy amidst fluctuating grain prices. But one Texas grass-fed producer, Joh Taggart, managed to keep cattle on pasture, even improving soil quality in the process.

“I’m proud to say that we harvested cattle every week of the year through that entire drought,” Taggart told ABC News in a recent interview.

Taggart attributes his success to a diversified plant population. An increase in the number of species can reduce weed invasion and create strong root systems for plants. These root systems are important for surviving drought conditions. Cattle act as catalysts for increasing plant diversity by digesting and depositing seed in different paddocks. They further increase the health of forages in rotational grazing systems by leaving more plant stubble and forage residue that can be beneficial for insect and soil microbe populations.

Environmental Benefits

Grass-fed systems are also better for the environment. Studies have shown that well managed systems can increase soil carbon sequestration. The grazing process, which causes plant roots to continually die back and deposit their carbon in the soil, allows for plants to draw significant amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere. The CO2 is then deposited in the soil as organic carbon, reducing the levels in the atmosphere.

Bringing It All to the Table

As a Kettle Range customer, we know you want the best and most responsibly raised meats for you and your family. That’s why we partner with producers who champion the highest standards of environmental stewardship and animal well-being. Thanks to your support, our producers can raise healthy protein in a sustainable manner that promotes our shared values. Thank you, Kettle Club!

Recipe: Shepherd’s Pie

While our own Chef Erik is sometimes reluctant to give out all his secrets, in light of this delicious holiday, he’s agreed to share his recipe for one of our most popular heat-and-eat meals, Irish-inspired Shepherd’s Pie. Enjoy, Kettle Club!

Ingredients for Mashed Potatoes:

2-3 large, Russet potatoes

Kosher Salt

3 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup heavy cream

 

Ingredients for Filling:

3/4 cup chicken stock

1 lb. ground beef

1 small, yellow onion diced

1 large carrot, diced

4 garlic cloves, crushed or diced

 

¼ cup dry red wine

2 teaspoons fresh thyme chopped

1 bay leaf

2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

 

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1-pound peas

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

For Mashed Potatoes:

Peel and rough-cut potatoes. Transfer to a large pot and cover with cold water by at least 2 inches. Season water with salt. Boil 10-15 minutes until potatoes are easily pierced by knife. Drain potatoes in colander and transfer into large bowl with butter. Whip on high until light and fluffy. Turn mixer to lowest setting and slowly add cream until smooth (you may not need all the cream).

For Filling:

Heat oil in large Dutch oven over high heat until shimmering. Add ground beef and cook until browned. Add onion, carrots, celery and garlic and cook stirring and scraping bottom of pot until vegetables are softened (about 4 minutes).

Add red wine and bring to a simmer over high heat. Cook until wine has almost evaporated. Add chicken stock, thyme, bay leaf and Worcestershire. Sprinkle corn starch over mixture in pot and stir. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to low and simmer until sauce has thickened (about 20 minutes). Discard Bay Leaf. Stir in peas and season with salt and pepper.

Cool filling and cover with mashed potatoes. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Enjoy!

Sausage of the Month: Kettle Range Hot Dogs

We’ve officially hit the half way mark of winter! And we want to celebrate by bringing back our famous Kettle Range hot dogs. Just because it’s still a bit chilly for grilling doesn’t mean we have to miss out on these house-made specialties. Stay warm indoors and try this delicious twist on the classic corn dog.

Ingredients:

1 cup cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten

1 cup milk

1/4cup canola oil

1 can green chilis

1 package Kettle Range Hot Dogs

½ cup Cheddar Cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin pan or line with paper muffin liners.
  2. Dice Kettle Range hot dogs into bite-size pieces. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add egg, oil and milk; stir gently to combine.
  1. Add diced hot dogs, green chilis and cheddar cheese.
  2. Bake 15 minutes or until cooked through.

Sweetheart Strip Steak

Preparing a Valentine’s Day meal for that special someone? How about a steak dinner? Better yet, a heart-shaped steak dinner. Create a beautiful presentation by butterflying your Kettle Club premium New York Strip Steak into a heart. Follow these easy instructions to impress your carnivorous companion. We’ve even prepared a savory tarragon and red wine steak butter to top off your masterpiece. Enjoy!

  1. Place the steak fat side down on a cutting board
  2. Cut the steak in half length-wise without cutting all the way through to within ½ inch of the edge of the fat
  3. Open the steak by pressing each flat side down
  4. Season the steak with salt and pepper and cook to the temperature of your liking
  5. Top with Chef Eric’s savory red wine and tarragon steak butter
  6. Enjoy!

Recipe: Bold Black Bean Pork Chili

Baby, it’s cold outside! Not to worry, we’ve got the perfect recipe to conquer those winter woes. Nothing combats chilly like chili, and we’re arming you with a pork shoulder roast and our special blend of seasonings that balance heat with sweet. Stay warm everyone!

Bold Black Bean Pork Chili

Ingredients:

2 pounds Pork shoulder cut in to 1” cubes

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 large Onion (small diced)

2 Red Bell Peppers (small diced)

4 Garlic Cloves (minced)

1 tablespoon Tomato Paste

1 – 14 ounce can Petite Diced Tomatoes (or crushed Tomatoes)

1 package Kettle Range chili seasoning

1 1/2 cups Tomato Juice

2 cups Chicken Stock

2 15 oz. can black beans

Cilantro Leaves (to garnish)

Sour Cream (to garnish)

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add pork and season with salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes or until brown on all sides, stirring occasionally. Remove from saucepan; set aside.
  2. Add onion, garlic and peppers to same saucepan. Cook 4 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in browned pork, undrained tomatoes, black beans, tomato juice and broth.
  4. Add Kettle Range chili seasoning blend and tomato paste.
  5. Bring a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until pork is tender, stirring occasionally.
  6. Garnish individual servings with sour cream and cilantro.

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!