Recipe: Autumn Pork Stew

Ingredients:

1-pound fingerling potatoes

3 carrots, cut into 2-inch chunks

2 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch chunks

3 cloves garlic, smashed

1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

3 bay leaves

1-2 lb. bone-in pork shoulder

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

 

Directions:

  1. Combine the potatoes, carrots, celery, garlic and ginger in a slow cooker. Toss in half of the flour and season with salt and pepper. Scatter the bay leaves over the vegetables.
  2. Season the pork generously with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the thyme and allspice and toss with the remaining flour to coat. Place the pork over the vegetables in the slow cooker. Add 2 cups water and the tomatoes, cover and cook on low 8 hours.
  3. Discard the bay leaves. Remove the pork roast and slice or pull the meat off the bone into large pieces. Serve in bowls with the vegetables and broth.

Pork Chops 101: Know your Chops

Sirloin chops, rib chops, porterhouse chops. You’ve seen them all in your Kettle Club share. That’s because we like to ensure you’re getting a variety of our premium heritage pork cuts. But we understand all the different names can be daunting. So, let’s talk chop.

What is a pork chop anyway?

All pork chops are cut from the loin, the section of the pig that runs from the shoulder to the hip. Here’s where things can get a bit confusing. Each pork chop goes by a different name depending on the area of the loin it’s cut from. Let’s start with a few popular chops from the front end of the loin and work our way towards the tail.

Rib Chop

Sometimes referred to as the center-cut chop or rib end cut, this chop is cut from the center of the loin near the rib area. It will contain a large eye of lean meat with no tenderloin. The rib chop is primarily cut bone-in, with the bone running along the side.

Boneless Chops

Our featured Kettle Club chop for August is the boneless chop. Sometimes referred to as the New York Chop, these cuts are located near the top of the loin. These chops are lean and taste amazing after a good brine bath.

Porterhouse Chop

Porterhouse chops are cut from the lower back behind the rib chops. They are identifiable by the centered bone that divides the meat from the tenderloin muscle. These chops can present a challenge when cooking as the tenderloin tends to cook faster than the loin section. But the intense flavor and beautiful presentation is worth mastering. Be careful not to overcook. A brine also works well for these delicious chops.

Sirloin Chops

These chops are cut from the hip area towards the back of the loin. Despite the fact that this chop packs a ton of flavor, it’s often overlooked because of its appearance. The cut contains various muscle groups, giving a bit of a mismatched look. The sirloin chop takes quite well to braising and will take on a ton of flavor from your favorite marinade.

Tips for the Perfect Pulled Pork

Time to say goodbye to those savory slow cooked roasts and hello to everyone’s summertime favorite, pulled pork sandwiches. Lucky for you Kettle Club members that receive pork shoulders in your shares, you’re equipped to make everyone’s summer a little more delicious.

Check out our simple tips for perfect pulled pork that will have your BBQ guests putting in special requests for every summer come.

Season that Shoulder!

Don’t be so tense! It’s only dinner. Nothing helps loosen those muscles quite like a massage. Your pork shoulder agrees! A spicy rub down with a salt-based seasoning can help tenderize your shoulder while adding some delicious flavor. Salt is comprised of sodium and chloride ions that denature or unwind the proteins of highly worked muscles. These altered proteins can then retain more water, keeping the meat moist during the cooking process.  Check out one of our favorite BBQ rubs, perfect for a smoked pork shoulder.

Fat side up

Let gravity do its thing! Whether your smoking, braising or slow cooking, the fatty cap of the shoulder will add incredible flavor and tenderness to your finished product. Set your shoulder fat side up and let the flavor rain down!

Use your trusty tools!

Dare we say it again? Okay, we will, use your thermometer! Whatever your cooking method, 225 degrees is a solid sweet spot for cooking low and slow. We recommend checking your shoulder often until it reaches 180-185 degrees. This is the temperature in which the fat will begin to render adding flavor and tenderness. For a 2 lb. roast, this will take around 4-5 hours depending on your cooking method.

Let it rest

Resist the urge to jump right into that amazingly cooked roast. Give the shoulder 20 minutes to lock in the juices and flavors. You won’t be sorry!

Get your hands dirty

Okay, so maybe for your guest’s sake, use gloves. But, under no circumstances should you begin cutting up that beautiful roast you just worked so hard on! Use your hands to gently pull the meat apart and separate through any connective tissue. Every bit of your sandwich should melt in your mouth.

Easy on the sauce!

Don’t get us wrong, we love our BBQ sauce, but we love the taste of heritage pork even more! Getting too heavy handed on the sauce can hide the delicious flavor of the pork and your yummy spice rub. Let eaters choose how saucy they get with it.

Underrated Cuts We Love!

Let’s hear it for the underdogs! Those beautiful little hidden meat gems that are often passed over for a thick cut beef ribeye or pork tenderloin.  Check out our favorite underrated cuts!

Beef Cheeks

Talk about a well worked muscle! Cows can chew up to 7,000 times per day! This means a ton of flavor for those cheek muscles. For best results, chargrill or cook direct for up to 40 minutes with constant movement. Try this as a substitute protein for beef tacos!

 

The Chuck Eye

Often called the “poor man’s ribeye” the chuck eye steak is located at the rear of the steer’s shoulder just in front of the ribeye primal. Because of its close proximity to the ribeye, it shares many qualities and characteristics. It’s tender and flavorful just like it’s close relative, but petite in comparison. A perfect meal for one!

 

 

Pork Brisket

Not quite as popular as the beef brisket, this cut is just as tender and flavorful. It responds well to a slow and low environment on the grill or a perfect fit for your smoker.

 

 

Pork Skirt Steak

Cut from the inside of the spare ribs, this cut is extremely versatile. Give it a nice soak in your favorite marinade and a hot, fast ride on the grill. Serve over rice and veggies or top a fresh salad.

Featured Cut: Beef Cheeks

We have a fantastic cut lined up of those of you that receive regular steaks in your Kettle Club share, grass-fed beef cheeks! Not only are they healthier than many traditional and familiar beef cuts, cheeks pack a ton of flavor! Let’s take a deeper look at what makes this cut so versatile and delicious.

The Chew about Cheeks

Cows love to chew! Unlike other mammals, cows have the unique ability to digest cellulose, or plant fibers such as those found in grass. Structurally, these fibers are super strong, and take a bit of work to unlock their viable nutrients. Cows accomplish this quite well with the use of two important body parts. The rumen, a compartment of their stomach that acts as a fermentation vat to break down strong plant fibers, and their mouths. Ever notice that when you see a cow it’s chewing? Cows chew a bit harder than other animals because food needs to be chewed twice before entering the fermentation vat of the rumen. This helps break down the fiber and unlock nutrients faster. Cows spend nearly eight hours every day chewing their food. This can total upwards of 40,000 jaw movements per day!!!

What’s this mean for cheek muscles? They’re super strong! The continuous chewing movement means more blood flow to the area and toned muscles that result in an enormous amount of flavor for the cut!

 

They’re Healthy!

It’s almost swimsuit weather! And we’re all looking to cut a few calories we might have gained over this long winter. Substituting beef cheeks for more traditional cuts can help! Beef cheeks are lower in fat and calories, and higher in protein when compared to most roasts and popular steaks. Cheeks also have more immune-supporting vitamin C and vitamin B and more than 200% more iron! Check out the nutritional comparison below:

Beef roast: (100 g)

  • Calories: 244
  • Fat: 18 g
  • Protein: 19 g

 

SWAP FOR

Beef cheeks: (100 g)

  • Calories: 145
  • Fat: 4 g
  • Protein: 25 g

 

How to I cook them?

Unlike other muscles that don’t get as much of a workout like tenderloin and shoulder (chuck), these cuts need proper preparation to break down strong muscle fibers for fall-off-the fork tenderness. We recommended braising, or cooking with a mixture of both quick, high, heat and low, slow heat. Check out this recipe for Braised Beef Cheek Tacos!  A fantastically fresh and healthy meal for spring!

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:

Cinta Senese

This native Tuscan hog is prized for its delicious, extremely tender, buttery flavor and intense marbling. A favorite of chefs and charcuterie makers, the cinta is extremely rare. As recently as the ’90s, the Cinta was considered to be endangered, but a few dedicated farmers, including our partner Ken Kehrli, are working hard to bring it back.

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

Sausage of the Month: Traditional Polish

Our butcher staff has created up a special holiday sausage for Kettle Club members this month, Traditional Polish. Our head of production and Master Butcher Joe Parajecki shares his fondest memories of this classic holiday treat.

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 my grandmother making sausages on the days that would lead up to Christmas, the smell of garlic and marjoram filling the house. The smell would linger on and we would waiting in full anticipation during on 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 I share it this month with you. We’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.

Thanks, Joe!

Recipe: Slow Roasted Holiday Brisket

INGREDIENTS

2 pound Kettle Club Brisket

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 carrots, peeled and sliced into 3/4-inch lengths

1 large onion, cut into quarters

2 ribs celery, cut into 3-inch lengths

3 cloves garlic, smashed

1 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoons brown mustard

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

4 ounces peeled, finely grated horseradish root

1 quarts beef bone broth

1 bay leave

3 sprigs thyme

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Grab an ovenproof braising pan or pot with a tight-fitting lid.
  2. Season the brisket liberally with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in pan. Add the brisket and brown it on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan or pot if needed, then add the carrots, onions, celery and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste; cook for 2 minutes, stirring to coat evenly.
  4. Combine the honey, mustard, vinegar and horseradish in a medium bowl and stir until smooth. Add it to vegetable mixture. Cook for about 3 minutes stirring often dislodge any browned bits from the bottom of the pan or pot.
  5. Return the brisket to the braising pan or pot (still over medium-high heat). Add enough broth to cover the brisket, then add the bay leaves, thyme and parsley. Once the liquid starts to bubble at the edges, cover and transfer to the oven.
  6. Slow-roast until the internal temperature reaches 165-170 degrees F (about 2 1/2 hours)
  7. Let rest for 10-15 minutes and slice against the grain when serving.

Tip: The pan drippings make an excellent gravy for serving your slow-roasted brisket!

Featured Cut: Grass-fed Beef Brisket

The Thanksgiving table is a glorious show with the turkey holding the spotlight. But that doesn’t mean it can’t get a little help from a supporting cast. Get a standing (or reclining) ovation from friends and family this year by adding a tender, slow-roasted brisket to the table.

Our butchers are handcrafting some amazing beef briskets for Kettle Club shares that include beef roasts this month. Before we get into recipes, let’s learn a little more about this diverse beef cut.

What is a brisket?

If we had to say steers had a glamour muscle, the brisket would be it! The brisket comes from the lower chest, or pectoral muscles of the steer and bears about 60% of the animal’s weight as it moves across pasture. Steers use their pectoral muscles at every step. Leaning down to get a bite of nutritious grass, laying down to get some rest, even reaching back with their heads to keep off summer flies. The pecs are always getting toned, which results in a flavorful cut of meat.

Remember back in August when we talked about what makes beef cuts flavorful? Of course you do, but let’s recap. Weight bearing muscles are constantly being toned which means there is more connective tissue and blood flow to the area. This results in the presence of Umami, or protein flavor. What’s important to remember about these delicious cuts is that they need more cook time to break down strong muscle fibers. Let’s talk about some tips for cooking and serving brisket.

 

Relax those muscles with a soak or spicy massage

Wet brine, dry brine, the winner is still up for debate among BBQ enthusiasts. What we do know for certain is that salt applied in any manner prior to cooking helps tenderize flavorful cuts like brisket. Salt is comprised of sodium and chloride ions that denature or unwind the proteins of highly worked muscles. These altered proteins can then retain more water, keeping the meat moist during the cooking process.  If you’re using a dry rub, make sure you’re coating every inch and getting that salt in all the nooks and crannies. For wet brines, ensure you allow at least 12 hours of relaxing soak time.

 

Slow and steady wins the race

Whether you’re oven roasting, smoking or using the crock pot, cuts like briskets need proper time and temperature to reach their full potential. You’ve heard us say it before and we’ll say it again, LOW AND SLOW! This allows connective tissue to break down slowly and results in a buttery, tender roast. A good rule of thumb is about 45-50 minutes per lb. when cooking at 250 degrees. Don’t forget to check it with your trusty meat thermometer regularly! An internal temperature of 165-170 degrees F is recommended for a slow roasted brisket.

 

If you want the best, let it rest!

Rest your cooked brisket for at least 10-15 minutes before slicing carefully against the grain. This allows for the juices from the fat to sink in and provides a tender finishing texture.

Recipe: Slow-Roasted Honey Glazed Pork

INGREDIENTS
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, divided
¼ cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp. chopped garlic
¼ cup chopped scallions
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder
1 bunch asparagus, halved
6 Yukon potatoes, diced
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
½ cup honey

PREPARATION

In a large bowl, combine one cup of the soy sauce with the sugar, garlic, and scallions, stirring until mixed.

Place the pork in the marinade and toss to coat evenly. Marinate for one hour.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, honey, and remaining soy sauce, stirring until smooth.

Place the pork and chopped vegetables in the slow cooker and spoon the honey glaze over the top of the, making sure to fill the cracks and crevices on top.

Cook on low heat for 3-4 hours. Once the pork is cooked through and tender, remove the vegetables and pork from the tray, making sure to save all the juices.

Slice the pork into ½-inch slices, and plate with the roasted vegetables. Spoon the reserved pan juices on top of the pork, and enjoy!