Tag Archives: Grassfed meat

Pig. Farmer. Chef. Guest.


We were all there in the kitchen at the same time.

Salt of the Earth restaurant

Chef Matthew demonstrates how to butcher a pig as farmer Darrell and a class attendee observe.

I recently had the opportunity to learn more about butchering. And what could be a better place than one of Bill’s and my favorite local restaurants?

Salt of the Earth, in Fennville, Michigan, offers cooking classes throughout the year. What I liked about “The Whole Hog: Butchering 101” was how it brings me (Guest) closer to the animal (Pig) through the direction of the butcher (Chef Matthew Pietsch). And Darrell (Farmer) is a critical part of the experience, too.

The Berkshire hogs came from local farmers Darrell and Conni at Coach Stop Farm. So while Chef Matthew explained the various cuts of the animal and how to “break down a hog,” Darrell talked about the breed and how his happy, pastured pigs differ from those confined in factory farms.

Bill and I already buy only happy meat from local farmers but I enjoyed the discussion during the demonstration that night, along with the wine….and did I mention dinner followed? Pork, of course! Thank you, Salt of the Earth, for providing this educational venue to help us all–pig, farmer, chef, guest–develop more understand about how we are all so connected and dependent upon each other.

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The only question I forgot to ask is: What is the photo of Christopher Walken doing on the walk-in door?

P.S. – Check out this post over on EatGR.com, which included Life Is Fare in its Monday Mingle (Blogger Link Up) on July 14, 2014.

 

Hutterite Bean Soup


Hutterite Bean Soup recipe

I haven’t posted in a while because of some life changes so I was excited to try a new recipe and have the time to write about it!

Hutterite Beans from Shady Side FarmI’ve never made Hutterite Bean Soup. I had never even heard of Hutterite beans until I saw them at the Holland Farmers Market. Locally grown by Shady Side Farm, the Hutterite variety is a white bean that’s not quite as soft as a navy bean.

Inspired by a recipe I found online, I took the Tuscan route, as I once did with another bean recipe I made.

First I soaked the beans overnight. If you don’t have the opportunity to plan ahead, you can always do the quick soak method, which is written on the back of the bean bag. Just put the beans, well covered in water, into a large pot. Bring to a boil for two minutes and remove from heat. Cover pot and soak for an hour. It’s a handy trick!

Hutterite Beans

Here they are all plumped up with water, rinsed and drained.

Hutterite Beans

In the stock pot I sautéed a whole onion (chopped) and a couple cloves of garlic (minced) in olive oil.

Chopped onions and garlic

Then I added a ham hock. This one happened to be fresh, not smoked, so the meat looks more like pork than ham.

Fresh ham hock for Hutterite Bean Soup recipe

I browned the ham hock in the olive oil after pushing aside the onions and garlic. Then I added about 2 1/2 quarts of water. It would be great to use stock if you have it. Instead, I added a teaspoon of organic chicken bouillon, which is my back-up plan when I don’t have stock on hand. I also added dried sage (fresh would have been better!). Then I simmered the soup on the stove about two hours, until the ham hock meat was tender.

Hutterite Bean Soup recipe

Once the meat was done, I removed it from the pot, pulled the meat off the bone, and returned the meat to the soup.

Hutterite Bean Soup recipe

Then I added a bunch of lacinato kale, stems removed, leaves chopped.

Hutterite Bean Soup recipe

Simmer another half hour or so until the kale is tender, and it’s soup! Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This could easily have been an excellent vegetarian recipe. With the beans and kale, you have a very nutritional meal easily devoured from a bowl.

Hutterite Bean Soup recipe

Chez Marcita Presents: St. Paddy’s Lamb Stew


I’m not Irish, but I love lamb. What could be better for St. Patrick’s Day than lamb stew? Join Bill and me in the kitchen as we create this wheat-free, dairy-free, corn-free one-pot meal. Find the recipe on page 40 of my cookbook, Nothing to Sneeze At: Main Dishes for People with Allergies.

Chez Marcita Presents: Bill’s Fab Meatloaf


I already posted Bill’s meatloaf recipe a few years ago on Life Is Fare, but now you can see the chef in action as he prepares this cozy comfort food. It’s wheat-free, corn-free, and dairy-free, and made with grassfed beef and pastured pork. Happy food heaven!

Grassfed Beef Tenderloin


Grassfed beef tenderloin recipe with mashed potatoes and braised carrots

Since Bill and I have been buying our own local grassfed meat, I’m appalled–even disturbed–by the sizes of meat cuts served in mainstream restaurants. That’s why I wasn’t surprised to see our tenderloin portion we received in our mixed quarter of beef from Lubbers Farm this year. The filet mignon (French for “cute filet”) is from the smaller end of the tenderloin, which runs along the spine of the cow.

Filet mignon from grassfed beef tenderloin

Known as the most tender cut of meat in beef (as well as pork and venison), it’s also the most expensive part. An “average” steer or heifer (probably the feedlot variety) produces just 4 to 6 pounds of tenderloin, which is why our piece from a mixed quarter yielded just .63 pounds.

One saves a special occasion for preparing such a prime piece of meat. For Bill and me, it was New Year’s Eve. I chose an easy recipe but was very vigilant to make sure the meat wasn’t overcooked, especially since grassfed beef takes less time than feedlot meat. It was called Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine Sauce.

What I didn’t expect was for the meat to be cut into two pieces when I opened the package. So I had to be even more watchful since the surface area in the oven was nearly twice as much.

Grassfed beef tenderloin recipe

For a recipe like this, it helps to prepare the side dishes in advance as much as possible because the roasting time is fast. After rubbing with fresh garlic and sprinkling the meat with salt and pepper, I preheated the oven and got busy on the sauce. (You’re supposed to do this with the pan drippings after the meat is roasted but I wasn’t anticipating much in the way of drippings so I thought I’d start it and add whatever I could salvage later.)

First I sautéed green onions and garlic in olive oil.

Beef tenderloin red wine sauce

Then I added rice flour instead of wheat flour to accommodate Bill’s allergies, and made a roux.

Beef tenderloin red wine sauce

I added the red wine and some beef stock, omitting the mushrooms because I detest them.

Beef tenderloin red wine sauce

The meat was done in about 25 minutes. I poured the drippings into the sauce and covered the meat with foil to let it rest while we finished the rest of the preparations.

Grassfed beef tenderloin recipe

Alongside our tenderloin we had mashed Yukon potatoes with raw milk buttermilk, braised carrots with carmelized onions in balsamic vinegar, and a Caesar salad (plus a wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon and a little bubbly Prosecco to ring in the new year!).

Grassfed Beef Tenderloin recipe

The Hidden Dangers of Feedlot Beef


Photo via TakePart.com

Photo via TakePart.com

Feedlot beef is not a new topic for Life Is Fare, but I feel compelled to once again share an article about the beef that’s sold to most grocery stores and restaurants in the U.S.

The Kansas City Star investigated the processing methods–and their hazards for human health–among the largest beef packers in the U.S. This group includes the big four— Tyson Foods of Arkansas, Cargill Meat Solutions of Wichita, National Beef of Kansas City, and JBS USA Beef of Greeley, Colo. — as well as the network of feedlots, processing plants, animal drug companies and lobbyists who make up the behemoth known as Big Beef.

What The Star found is “an increasingly concentrated industry that mass-produces beef at high speeds in mega-factories that dot the Midwest, where Kansas City serves as the “buckle” of the beef belt. It’s a factory food process churning out cheaper and some say tougher cuts of meat that can cause health problems.”

Here’s a list of other key findings:

  • Large beef plants, based on volume alone, contribute disproportionately to the incidence of meat-borne pathogens.
  • Big Beef and other processors are co-mingling ground beef from many different cattle, some from outside the United States, adding to the difficulty for health officials to track contaminated products to their source. The industry also has resisted labeling some products, including mechanically tenderized meat, to warn consumers and restaurants to cook it thoroughly.
  • Big Beef is injecting millions of dollars of growth hormones and antibiotics into cattle, partly to fatten them quickly for market. But many experts believe that years of overuse and misuse of such drugs contributes to antibiotic-resistant pathogens in humans, meaning illnesses once treated with a regimen of antibiotics are much harder to control.
  • Big Beef is using its political pull, public relations campaigns and the supportive science it sponsors to influence federal dietary guidelines and recast steaks and burgers as health foods people can eat every day. It even persuaded the American Heart Association to certify beef as “heart healthy.”

Are you sure this is what you want to eat?

Pork and Bok Choy Stir-Fry


Pork and Bok Choy Stir-Fry recipe

Every two weeks Bill and I get lettuce greens from our local CSA—all year ’round. Usually the day before delivery our farmer emails our CSA group about any extra produce she has, and we often take her up on it. When bok choy was on the list recently, I knew I had to make a stir-fry. We used the entire head in one meal, and it was so tasty—especially knowing it was freshly grown and harvested about ten miles from where we live.

Local, organic bok choy

To make this recipe, I browned a half pound of ground pork in a wok. (I also put some white rice on the stove to cook so it would be ready when the stir-fry was done.)

Browning ground pork

I removed the meat, then threw some sliced garlic and a 1/2-inch slice of fresh ginger (peeled) into the wok with safflower oil on medium-high heat until fragrant.

Garlic and ginger in oil

Meanwhile, I chopped a bunch of green onions and the bok choy so they were ready to throw in, separating the thicker pieces from the stem of the bok choy.

Sliced green onions

Chopped bok choy

I removed the garlic and ginger and added a pinch of red pepper seeds, then quickly sautéed the bok choy stem pieces for a minute or two.

Green onions

Then I added the green onions and the leafy parts of the bok choy, stir-frying for another minute. I added about a 1/2 cup of chicken stock mixed with a 1/2 teaspoon of arrowroot to thicken it. (Arrowroot is a good substitute for cornstarch if you’re allergic to corn.)

Green onions and bok choy

At the end, I mixed in the pork, then served it over rice. Filling, delicious, and healthy.

Pork and Bok Choy Stir-Fry recipe

For a vegetarian option, omit the pork and add cashews or peanuts at the end and substitute vegetable broth or water for the chicken stock.

Grassfed Oxtail Stew


The mixed quarter of beef that Bill and I got from Lubbers Farm this year included an oxtail. Not a whole oxtail, I guess, because it weighed less than one pound. And not really from an ox! It was a partial tail divided among the other people who share the meat from our cow.

I’ve never eaten oxtail before but I have heard of Oxtail Soup (and stew). So I looked for a recipe online and came across this delicious one that I followed to make the recipe: Simply Recipes Oxtail Stew.

Most of the time I search for recipes they become the inspiration for something I make, or I need to substitute ingredients to accommodate Bill’s allergies. In this case, I pretty much followed the recipe to a “t” except for altering quantities since I only had a third of the weight in oxtail.

It’s so easy…..

First you separate the oxtail by the joints.

After seasoning the meat with salt and pepper, you brown the pieces in olive oil, then remove the meat from the pan and add a chopped onion, carrot and stalk of celery–sauteing until the onion is translucent.

I also added a chopped clove of garlic to the mixture instead of leaving the cloves whole with the skin on. And, I added tomato paste in the next step, when I added the red wine, beef stock, thyme, and bay leaf.

While the stew simmers on the stove for three hours, you cut up the root vegetables and toss them in olive oil with salt and pepper.

Then you roast them in the oven for about an hour at 350 degrees F.

When the meat is falling off the bone, you remove the oxtail, take the meat off, then put it back in the stew. Then add the root vegetables and heat through.

It’s a delicious fall dinner with just a slice of bread (with or without wheat!).

What the Heck is a Fresh Ham Steak?


You’d think with my latest experiments making fresh ham roasts that I’d know what to do with a fresh ham steak. It looks something like a pork steak in the package but a little thicker.

But buying a whole animal from a farmer brings a lot of learning experiences. As usual when I need cooking advice, I went to Google and came across a number of recipes, and this is the one that caught my eye: Pork Scallopini with Butter Caper Sauce.

That’s because it’s easy, quick, and tasty, and it gave me an excuse to use up the fresh raw milk butter I made last week–and which Bill can eat!

I cut up this nearly 2-lb. ham steak into pieces first.

Then I placed them between waxed paper and flattened them with a meat tenderizer.

Next, I sprinkled them with salt and pepper and dredged them in brown rice flour.

In a large, oven-proof skillet, I heated a clove of garlic (smashed) in olive oil until golden, then removed it before browning the cutlets on both sides for about three minutes each.

Then I added some butter and scraped up the browned bits in the pan, and added the wine and lemon juice. By the time I was in the midst of preparing this recipe, I realized I didn’t have any capers, but I’ll add them next time!

I covered the pan and let them cook a little longer in the oven–about three minutes.

Pork Scallopini is delicious with seasonal produce, such as carrots from my garden, sliced yellow onions, and fresh green beans from the farmers market.

Why Roast Pork When You Can Grill It?


I don’t know about where you live but in the Midwest it’s been one helluva hot summer. The last thing I want to think about is firing up the oven. But what if you have large cuts of meat in the freezer taking up the space you need for freezing this summer’s produce?

Some cuts don’t fare well cooked with dry heat, but let me tell you about the roast pork we had last night. I found this online recipe called Rubbed and Grilled Pork LoinBill and I are big fans of a rub when it comes to grilling because many barbecue sauces contain corn syrup. Besides, I think sauces are messy. We use similar rubs to the one in this recipe for our grilled pork steaks and ribeyes. What they all have in common is paprika, salt, and pepper. For pork, it’s nice to throw in some cumin, sugar, and spice, such as chili powder. But the main thing about all these recipes is that they’re easy.

Here’s our 4-pound pork loin that we got in our meat order from Lubbers Farm.

The recipe calls for a boneless roast but I couldn’t tell if there was a bone in this when I pulled it out of the freezer, so I just followed the standard rule to cook it longer with a bone in, and used my trusty digital meat thermometer to check the temperature.

The rub consists of sugar, paprika, onion salt, garlic salt, ground black pepper, chili powder, cumin, and coriander.

You just rub olive oil all over the meat, then rub in the spice mixture on all sides.

After preheating the gas grill to around 400 degrees F, we browned the meat on both sides for about 5 minutes each (shorter time than the recipe calls for since pastured pork is leaner and requires less cooking time than factory farmed meat).

Then we turned off the center burner and kept the temperature around 350F, grilling the meat for about 60 minutes.


In retrospect, I would probably lower the temperature to about 300 and cook it slightly longer so you don’t risk drying out the meat.

After taking the meat off the grill we let it rest (covered in foil) for about ten minutes.

Sticking with the easy theme, I sautéed some onions, carrots, and green beans from the Holland Farmers Market in olive oil to serve with the meat, along with what we call a “melange:” white rice cooked with chopped onion and celery.

As the meat cooked we enjoyed some wine on the patio—a fabulous way to spend a Sunday evening.