Featured Farmer: Hayden Holbert, Avrom Farms, Green Lake, WI

We don’t often think of farms as ecosystems. The word itself conjures up diagrams from eighth grade biology in which the fox devours the rabbit, that munches on the clover, that feeds off the sun. But Hayden Holbert, owner and operator of Avrom Farms, explains how his farm is just that, an ecosystem. Each living thing is an instrument playing its piece in the harmonious song of the land as Holbert orchestrates.

“Every organism here has a job,” Hayden explains. “Today we’re moving a group of younger pigs to a two-acre paddock where we’ll soon be planting corn. We’ll let them root up the cover crop (a crop planted strictly for enriching the soil) and distribute their manure for fertilization. This will reduce the amount of tilling we’ll have to do with the tractor. We’re essentially using the behavior of the pigs to benefit the health of the crops and reduce our manual workload.”

To say that Avrom Farms is diversified is an understatement. The farm produces heritage pork, heirloom chickens, grain, vegetables and even a variety of mushrooms. The land has been in Holbert’s family since his grandfather purchased the property in the 1950s. Hayden took over the operation a little over a year ago.

“I’ve known since the age of six that I wanted to be a farmer,” Hayden says. “I grew up in Chicago, but spent many summers enjoying the country life. Driving tractors, taking care of livestock – so agriculture has always been a big part of my world.”

Holbert studied sustainable agriculture in college and even spent time in France apprenticing under a charcuterie craftsman and pig farmer.

“Klaus really stressed the importance of finishing pigs on barley,” he explains. “The practice lends to a firm but buttery quality in the fat. I think this really comes through with the Mulefoot breed.”

Mulefoots are one of the many heritage pork breeds that Avrom Farms specializes in. Besides being the rarest of American swine breeds, Mulefoots have an interesting physical characteristic for which they are named. Instead of a cloven hoof like other swine breeds, these pigs have a solid hoof like that of a mule.

Hayden is just one of the many independent farms we work with to source quality, responsibly raised heritage pork.

“I love waking up each day and facing a new set of challenges,” Holbert says. “Not only working through the planning process of balancing all these enterprises and making this ecosystem function, but just the day to day work is really enjoyable for me. Producing really exceptional food on land that I know will be improved by the practices we’re doing is important.”

Thanks, Hayden!

Recipe: Red Pepper Italian Sausage Frittata

Our butcher staff has prepared a deliciously sweet sausage that’s perfect for a Mother’s Day breakfast in bed. Let mom sleep in this Mother’s Day, while you whip up an easy frittata with May’s sausage of the month, Red Pepper Italians.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Kettle Club Red Pepper Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 1 large sweet onion halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 orange pepper thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt divided
  • 8 extra large eggs
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. In a large (15-inch) oven-proof skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Cook the sausage over high heat, breaking it apart with your spatula into 1-inch pieces until browned. Remove to a plate.
  3. Add the remaining oil to the skillet. Sauté the onion and peppers over medium heat, scrapping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan, until very soft and caramelized.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the remaining salt until the yolk and whites are very well combined.
  5. Add the sausage back to the pan, season with ½ teaspoon salt, and arrange the in an even layer. Reduce the heat to low and pour the eggs over the sausage and vegetables, making sure the pan is evenly coated with eggs. Cook until the sides are set and there’s just a shallow layer of uncooked eggs on the top, 5 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle the mozzarella and oregano over the top and transfer the pan to the broiler. Cook for 2 minutes, until the top is cooked and beginning to lightly brown. Remove from the oven and allow the frittata to sit in the pan for 5 minutes before slicing. Cut into wedges and serve.

Recipe: Cajun Pork Shoulder with Maque Choux

It’s Mardi Gras season! And we’ve got a great Cajun recipe for your Kettle Club pork shoulder. Marque Choux (pronounced Mock Shoe) is a classic Southern Louisiana dish comprised of braised corn, tomatoes, peppers and spices. Though traditionally served as a side dish, you can create a fantastic entrée in your slow cooker with this Cajun pork shoulder recipe.  Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Ingredients:

2 lb. Kettle Club Pork Shoulder

1 tablespoon Cajun or Creole seasoning seasoning

1 10 – ounce package frozen whole kernel corn

1 large green sweet pepper, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon bottled hot pepper sauce

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 14 1/2 – ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained

Directions:

  1. Season pork shoulder with Cajun or Creole seasoning coasting all sides of the meat
  2. Place meat in the slow cooker. Add frozen corn, sweet pepper, onion, sugar, hot pepper sauce, and black pepper. Pour tomatoes over mixture in cooker.
  3. Cover; cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours.
  4. Remove meat from cooker. Drain vegetables, discarding cooking liquid.
  5. Serve meat with vegetables over white rice.

Makes: 4-5 servings

Heritage bronze turkey on platter

Local Heritage Turkey: Reserve Today!

We’re excited to announce that we have laid in a limited supply of local Turkey for this year’s Thanksgiving feast, including the delicious, locally raised Heritage Bronze Turkeys that were such a hit last year, as well as Classic White Turkeys.

RESERVE YOURS NOW

Heritage Turkey Raised On Wisconsin Pasture

This year’s Heritage Bronze Turkeys are being raised for Kettle Range on a beautiful farm in southeastern Wisconsin. While the weather permits, our birds are given unrestricted outdoor access where they can wander, socialize, and graze on grass, bugs, and other autumn forages.

Heritage Bronze Thanksgiving Turkeys on Pasture
This year’s Heritage Bronze Turkeys on the farm.

And if you prefer a more modern, broad breasted white turkey, we’re offering premium quality, reasonably Amish-Mennonite raised Classic White Turkeys from a trusted source in Pennsylvania.

What is Heritage Turkey?

Heritage breeds are varieties of domestic turkeys that retain historic characteristics of appearance and meat quality that are no longer present in the majority of modern turkey breeds raised on large, industrial scale farms. These breeds often grow more slowly and attain smaller average sizes than more modern breeds that have been optimized to be fast-growing and high-yielding.

Our favorite heritage breed, the Heritage Bronze, is notable for it’s smaller breasts, as well as it’s flavor-forward, juicy, finely-textured, darker meat.

We’ll Even Help You Prepare It

Short of time? Looking to try something new? This year we’re offering you a couple of new options.  You can have your heritage turkey brined and smoked in our professional smoker.  All you need to do is warm it up! Or, if you want to try something new, we’ll spatchcock your turkey for you.

Delicious House Made Sides

Impress your friends and family with an memorable holiday meal. Our chef is preparing some savory Bread and Sausage Stuffing made with our mild house made sausage, savory Turkey Gravy, and a few other surprises.

Reserve Yours Today

We have a limited number of these special birds, so CLICK HERE TO RESERVE YOURS while supplies last.

New Segment: Ask the Butcher

Got a question about one of our farms? Need a recipe for that cut you’re just not sure how to prepare? How about a grilling tip from one of our skilled butchers? We’re here for you! We love chatting with our Kettle Club family about everything from heritage breeds to marinades. The butcher is in, and we’re excited to feature your inquires in a new segment of our newsletter entitled Ask the Butcher. Email your questions to support@kettlerangemeats.com.  If we choose your question, we’ll send you a special surprise in your next share!

We’ll kick things off this month with a question we frequently get in our store.

Where does your meat come from?

At Kettle Range, we work to source the most sustainably raised, antibiotic and hormone free the Midwest has to offer. Some of these farms are ours, and some are owned by independent family farms located in Wisconsin (remember the Schlimgens from last month’s newsletter?)

We want all our Kettle Club members to feel like part of our farm family. Which is why we’ll continue to feature our producers in future newsletters.

Fire away Kettle Club members. You’re answers await!

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!

 

 

 

Heritage Holiday Ham

Heritage Holiday Hams Are Here

A delicious Heritage Holiday Ham is a classic way to celebrate the holidays.

Kettle Range is preparing a limited number of 8-10lb Holiday Bone-In Half Hams made from delicious heritage Duroc pork. Each Heritage Holiday Ham is traditionally cured using a time-honored recipe and then hickory smoked with just the right amount of sweet and savory maple flavor.

This beautiful Heritage Ham will make a beautiful centerpiece for your holiday feast. Each half-ham is fully-cooked and and ready to serve 10-15 hungry guests. No cooking is required. All you need to do is warm it up.

About Our Heritage Holiday Hams

Our heritage Duroc hogs are raised using traditional methods and are never given sub-therapeutic antibiotics. Kettle Range hams are Ractopamine free, just like all of heritage pork.

A Perfect Local Gift For Your Favorite Foodie

Kettle Range Meat Co. is Milwaukee’s premier farm-to-table butcher shop.

Holiday hams can be picked up at our Milwaukee butcher shop (5501 West State Street) any time during the week of December 19th. They can be shipped fresh anywhere in the continental United States (additional charges apply) up to our December 18th shipping cut off date.

Limited Supply – Reserve Yours Today

Each holiday season, we cure and smoke a limited number of heritage half hams and we expect to run out well before the holidays. If you would like to get ahold of one of these delicious and unique, locally produced hams, place your order soon!

Click here to RESERVE YOUR HOLIDAY HAM.

Picture of a turkey in brine solution

How To Brine Your Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving is on the way and we’re fielding lots of phone calls about how to properly prepare a turkey brine for the amazing Heritage turkeys that our friend Lynn raised for us this year.

Different people have different philosophies about the necessity and benefit of turkey brine, but plenty of adherents believe that brining not only seasons the meat, but that it also keeps it moist and tender during cooking.

If you’d like to give it a try this year, Joe has graciously offered up his recipe and instructions for the perfect Thanksgiving turkey brine.

Joe’s Turkey Brine

This is a simple method to make a moist, flavorful turkey that you will be proud of. You need to do this the day before you want to roast your turkey, so plan ahead. If your outside temperature is below 40 degrees you can store the turkey in a shady spot or in the garage while it brines, otherwise you will need to clear out a spot in a refrigerator… Not an easy task the day before Thanksgiving.

Brine Ingredients

  • 1 cleaned and sanitized 5 gallon bucket with lid (I buy one from Home Depot for this and sanitize it)
  • 10-16lb turkey (if frozen, thaw it first!)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups Kosher salt
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 3 gallons cold water
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon rubbed sage
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder

Brining Instructions

To make your brine solution, bring the water to a boil in a large soup pot. Add the salt and sugar and stir to dissolve. Add the seasoning and the cold water. Let the brine mixture sit for about 30 minutes before you add your turkey.

Place the turkey in the cleaned and sanitized 5 gallon bucket and pour the brine mixture over it until the water covers it completely. There may be more brine then you need. If so, discard the leftover. Cover the bucket and put it either in the refrigerator or in place where the temperature is below 40 degrees. Leave the turkey to sit in the brine 18-24 hours

Brined Turkey Cooking Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Take the turkey out of the brine and put it on roasting rack in a roasting pan. Allow to dry for 15 minutes, then rub a little oil or butter on the skin. DO NOT SALT THE TURKEY. Put 2 cups of water or broth in the bottom of the roasting pan and tent the turkey with foil.

Roast for 2 ½-3 hours or about 13 minutes per pound

Remove foil tent when you have about 1 hour of roasting time left.

Remove the turkey from oven and place on cutting board where it should rest for 20 minutes before you carving.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Grass Fed Filet Mignon

Grass Fed Filet Mignon: 3 Delicious Sauces

There is something so elegant about grass fed Filet Mignon medallions drizzled in a savory pan sauce reduction.  And it’s so easy! In just 30 minutes, you can prepare a dazzling grass-fed beef entrée.

But first, let’s review the basics: Filet Mignon is simply a cut portion of the beef tenderloin. The tenderloin comes from the middle of the cow and, as it’s name suggests, is the tenderest part of the animal. Tenderloins are also one of the least used muscles of the animal which lends to its attractive texture. Finishing your filets with a sauce reduction creates a delicious, sophisticated entrée.

Here are three sauce reduction recipes suggested by Jessica to top off your Kettle Range filets: Cabernet Sauce, Peppercorn Sauce, and Balsamic Sauce.

Grass Fed Filet Mignon with Cabernet Sauce

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) chilled butter
  • 4 filet mignon steaks
  • 1/3 cup chopped shallots
  • 2/3 cup Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1 generous tablespoon drained capers
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

Preparation

  1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle both sides of steaks with salt and generous amount of ground black pepper. Add to skillet and cook to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium. Transfer steaks to 4 plates. Tent with foil.
  2. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots; sauté 1 minute. Add wine, capers, and mustard; simmer until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in parsley. Reduce heat to medium-low. Whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Spoon over steaks.

Grass Fed Filet Mignon with Peppercorn Sauce

Ingredients

  • 4 filet mignon steaks
  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 14 ounzes of beef bone broth (We have this in our store)
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns, coarsely crushed

Preparation

  1. Put the cornstarch into a cup. Add the water, stirring to dissolve.
  2. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the cornstarch mixture and the broth.
  3. Bring to a broil over high heat; cook until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in the bay leaf and thyme.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the sauce is reduced to about 1 cup.
  6. Stir in the wine and peppercorns.
  7. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  8. Remove the bay leaf.

Grass Fed Filet Mignon with Balsamic Sauce

Ingredients

  • 4 filet mignon steaks
  • 1 tbsp olive oil plus oil spray
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • generous pinch cinnamon
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • pinch of sugar
  • ½ tsp of truffle oil (optional)

Preparation

  1. Combine the rub ingredients in a bowl. Rub over the filet mignon to lightly coat the steaks, and set aside on a plate for 10 minutes at room temperature.
  2. Preheat oven to 400.
  3. Place a sturdy skillet on the stove top. Heat the olive oil, tilting the pan so it spreads evenly and spray with the oil if needed to fully coat pan.
  4. Once the pan is good and hot, add the filet mignon to the pan. Sear on one side for about 4 minutes, then flip to cook for about 4 more minutes.
  5. Check for doneness after cooking on both sides. After the 8 minutes cooking, steak can be quite rare. Move the skillet to the oven, roast there for another 4 minutes to get them cooked to the medium/ medium rare. Keep in mind the steaks will cook a bit more when they rest.
  6. When the filets are cooked, remove from the pan, place on a platter to rest, loosely covered with foil. Return the skillet to the stove on medium high heat. Add two tbsp of butter to melt. Stir it in and scrape up the bits of meat and fat to incorporate into the sauce.
  7. Add the shallots, cook about 3 minutes until they begin to soften. Add the balsamic vinegar and sugar, cook for about 3 more minutes so that the sauce thickens a bit. Finish by stirring in the final tbsp of butter until it is melted.
  8. Pour the sauce into a bowl, stir in the truffle oil if you are using. Place one filet on the plate of each of your lucky dinner companions. You can serve it with the sauce or let them take what they want at the table.
Recipe for split pea soup with smoked ham hocks

Recipe: Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup with Smoked Hocks

When the weather turns cool, we like a hearty and nourishing slow cooker recipe that leaves us with plenty of leftovers to heat up during the week. We’ll be sending you some of our staff favorites over the coming months, and we thought we would get a start this week with Mark’s favorite Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup with Smoked Hocks recipe.

This particular recipe is an almost effortless act of alchemy, transforming dried peas and a few simple ingredients into an incredibly creamy, hearty meal that feeds 8-10 people. The ingredients are simple and easy to come by, and the preparation is easier still, requiring only a few minutes of prep time, and then patience… The secret ingredient, of course, is a delicious house smoked pork hock from Kettle Range (antibiotic free, of course!).

Ingredients for this recipe

  • 1lb split peas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery sticks, diced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 sprigs of parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 smoked pork hock, 1lb-ish (available year-round at Kettle Range)
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt and black pepper

How to make this recipe

Layer the peas in the bottom of the slow cooker.  Add the chopped vegetables, garlic, parsley and the bay leaf–you don’t even need to mix it up.  Set the smoked pork hock gently on top.  Add the chicken broth, water, and salt and pepper.

That’s it… really!

Now, if you have the time, set your slow cooker on Low for 8-10 hours and enjoy your day. If you’re in a hurry, 5 hours on the High setting should do it.

After it is done cooking, it should be easy to separate the meat from the bone with a fork.  Be careful not to burn your fingers!  Remove the bone and serve–We like it with some warm corn bread or a crusty chuck of sheepherder’s bread.

Wanna spice it up?

Want a bit more spice in your Split Pea Soup? How about adding some of Jerry’s Smoked Andouille sausage? It’s precooked.  Just slice it into bite-size pieces and add to the slow cooker at the same time you add the hocks.  Delicious!

 

Bon appetit!