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A Little Slice of Summer

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There seems to be nothing that epitomizes summertime more classically than a lattice peach pie. The fresh fruit, flaky crust, and crunchy sweet caramelized sugar mingling with a scoop of cold vanilla ice cream melting across the plate is the perfect combination on any given summer day. With an influx of peaches and yellow nectarines from Thornton River Orchard in Sperryville, VA, it seemed only appropriate to share Chef Eric Bein's recipe for Ginger Peach Pie as we near the end of summer. Give it a try and let us know if you prefer yours with whipped cream or ice cream!


Ginger + Peach Pie

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Serves: 6-8 people

Ingredients:

Pie Dough:

Flour, All Purpose 2.5 cu

Sugar 3 tbsp

Salt 1 tsp

Butter, cold 8 oz

Ice Water 8-10 tbsp

Egg, beaten 1 ea

Filling:

Peaches, pitted & sliced 5 cu

Lemon, zested & juiced 1 ea

Ginger, peeled & grated 1 tbsp

Sugar ½ cu

Brown Sugar ½ cu

Cornstarch 2 tsp

Salt ½ tsp

Cinnamon, ground ¼ tsp

Nutmeg, grated ¼ tsp

 

Method:

  1. To make the crust, combine the flour, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Grate in the butter and gently mix it into flour with your fingertips. Gradually drizzle in ice water while folding mixture with a spatula. Add just enough water so that dough holds together. If too much water is added be sure to use plenty of extra flour when rolling it out.

  2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gather into a mound. Divide into 2 discs and wrap each tightly with plastic wrap. Chill dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

  3. Position oven rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 425° F. Set a rimmed baking sheet in the oven to preheat as well.

  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll one of the discs of dough into a 14-inch circle. Fold dough round into quarters and unfold in the pie dish. Press dough into sides and bottom, and trim all but 1-inch of the overhanging dough. Set pie dish in the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the rest of the pie filling.

  5. Prepare the filling by combining peaches, lemon, ginger, sugars, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.

  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll the second disc of dough into a rough 10- by 15-inch rectangle. Use a pastry cutter or sharp paring knife to cut 12 even strips.

  7. Working quickly, spoon the filling into chilled pie shell and drizzle with remaining liquid. Evenly lay half of the dough strips parallel across the pie. Weave in the remaining strips in the other direction. Trim any excess dough, fold the bottom crust up around the edge, and crimp. Brush top of crust with egg wash and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon sugar.

  8. Set on preheated baking sheet and slide into oven. Bake pie for 15 minutes. Rotate pan, turn heat down to 350° F, and bake for another 35 to 45 minutes, or until pie is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. (If edges browns too quickly, tent with foil.)

  9. For a set filling, allow pie to cool completely, 3 hours or more.

  10. Serve warm with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.



 

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Spring Sausage Making

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Spring Sausage Making

In the farm-to-table experience there is often no greater activity than making sausage.  The animal has been raised, slaughtered, processed, and butchered.  Likely the best cuts have been reserved for Sunday's Supper, and only the odd bits remain.  What better way to pay homage to the animal then to not waste a scrap.  With a few key ingredients and a general understanding of the step by step process, sausage making is not only easy, but extremely gratifying.  Follow these steps below as a guideline, and create your own.  

Tools:  scale, meat grinder, large bowl, sausage stuffer, probe thermometer (Grinder and stuffer attachments available for KitchenAid and Cuisinart stand mixers; small stand-alone grinders and stuffers can be purchased for less than $100.)

Tools:  scale, meat grinder, large bowl, sausage stuffer, probe thermometer (Grinder and stuffer attachments available for KitchenAid and Cuisinart stand mixers; small stand-alone grinders and stuffers can be purchased for less than $100.)

Seasoning:  We prefer to use kosher salt for it's purity and texture, as well as fresh herbs and whole spices in our sausage making.  We will freshly chop or grind the seasoning and add them to the cubed meat a few hours, or up to a day, before grinding.  This will ensure even distribution and enhance the overall flavor of the sausage.  When following the recipe below, feel free to omit of substitute different seasonings to your taste, just ensure the salt to meat ratio remains the same.

Seasoning:  We prefer to use kosher salt for it's purity and texture, as well as fresh herbs and whole spices in our sausage making.  We will freshly chop or grind the seasoning and add them to the cubed meat (removed of all sinew) a few hours, or up to a day, before grinding.  This will ensure even distribution and enhance the overall flavor of the sausage.  When following the recipe below, feel free to omit or substitute different seasonings to your taste, just ensure that the salt to meat ratio remains the same.

Chilling:  It is very important in sausage making to keep the meat and fat as cold as possible to prevent the mixture from "breaking".  This is when the fat and meat separate after mixing, resulting in a dry and crumbly texture when cooked.  To avoid this, place the grinding equipment in the freezer for at least 30 minutes prior to grinding.  Also, after adding the seasonings to your cubed meat, place in the refrigerator overnight, or in the freezer for up to one hour.

Grinding:  Once your chilled grinder attachment is setup, per the manufacturer's instruction, you will feed the seasoned meat through.  As a general rule, we send the meat through the grinder twice. Once with the large die and a second time with the smaller die, although this can vary widely from recipe to recipe as there are many different size dies used for different results.  Ensure that the meat has been removed of any sinew, which can get tangled in the blade, creating the "smear" effect.  Also similar to "breaking" the sausage mixture.  A well executed grind will extrude cleanly out of the die in a uniform texture, where the meat and fat are still distinguishable from each other.  In order to keep the mixture below 40 degrees, grind into a bowl over ice.

Grinding:  Once your chilled grinder attachment is set up, per the manufacturer's instruction, feed the seasoned meat through the grinder.  As a general rule, we send the meat through the grinder twice. Once with the large die and a second time with the smaller die, although this can vary widely from recipe to recipe.  A well executed grind will extrude cleanly out of the die in a uniform texture, where the meat and fat are still distinguishable from each other.  In order to keep the mixture below 40 degrees, keep everything cold and grind into a bowl over ice.

Mixing:  An under-emphasized step in sausage making, also known as the "primary bind", where the seasoned and ground meat is mixed vigorously until the protein in the meat is released and becomes sticky.  This is best done in a mixer with the paddle attachment, but can be done by hand with the same effect.  By incorporating additional protein during the mixing stage, in this case non-fat milk powder, one can achieve a superior, smooth texture and avoid a dry, crumbly sausage.

Stuffing:  Most sausage recipes will call for a natural casing.  These are the lining of intestine from a sheep, hog or cow and come in a variety of sizes and lengths.  When using natural casings you will need to soak them in tepid water for at least 30 minutes.  Then, rinse them by holding one open end up to a running faucet, allowing the water to pass through the casing and out the other end.  Reserve in a bowl with water until ready to feed onto stuffer tube.    When stuffing the casing, pack the sausage mixture before feeding into stuffer to remove any air pockets.  Once the mixture and casings are ready, slowly and uniformly feeding the meat through the stuffer tube while holding the casings with one hand.  By dictating how fast the casings are released you will be able to control how tightly filled the sausage will be.  Aiming for the casings to be three-quarters full, you will have uniformly shaped links, with out causing blow-outs during linking.

Stuffing:  Most sausage recipes will call for a natural casings.  These are the lining of intestine from a sheep, hog or cow and come in a variety of sizes and lengths.  When using natural casings you will need to soak them in tepid water for at least 30 minutes.  Then, rinse them by holding one end open, up to a running faucet, allowing the water to pass through the casing and out the other end.  Reserve in a bowl with water until ready to feed onto the stuffer tube.   

This method can vary slightly depending on what type of sausage stuffer you are using.  When stuffing the casings, pack the sausage mixture before feeding into stuffer to remove any air pockets.  Once the mixture and casings are ready, slowly and uniformly feed the meat through the stuffer tube while holding the casings with one hand.  By dictating how fast the casings are released you will be able to control how tightly filled the sausage will be.  Aiming for the casings to be three-quarters full, you will have uniformly shaped links, with out causing "blow-outs" during linking.

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Linking:  Make sure the end is tied and measure out first link to desired length, then pinch.  Fold over to measure out second link, pinch and twist.  Repeat process twisting only alternate links in same direction.  In picture above, only the second and fourth link were twisted in the forward direction.  When links are complete, prick with a push-pin where any air pockets are visible.

See complete recipe below

A demonstration for the advanced "linker":

Yields:  24, 4 oz. sausages links

5 lb.  Pork shoulder, cubed
1 lb.   Pork fatback, cubed (available at JSK)
3 tbsp.   Kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp.   Black pepper, ground
1/2 tsp.  Coriander, ground
2 tsp.   Garlic, minced
1 tsp.   Nutmeg, ground
1/2 cup  Nonfat milk powder (optional, helps bind meat)
20 ft.   Hog casing, soaked in tepid water for at least 30 minutes and rinsed

1. Prior to making, place grinder attachment in freezer to chill.
2. Combine all ingredients except casings and mix thoroughly.  Chill for at lest 1 hour.
3. Grind meat mixture through large die into chilled bowl. Grind the mixture again through small die.
4. Combine ground meat in bowl and mix with clean hands until mixture appears sticky.
5. Using stuffer attachment, fill hog casing with meat mixture, being careful not to over stuff.  Measure desired length and pinch sausage at both ends and twist 2-3 times (see photos). Hang to dry 2-3 hours before snipping links.
6. Sear 2-3 sausages in hot skillet (with butter, garlic, and fresh thyme if desired) until probe thermometer reaches 145 degrees.  Serve as desired.

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Porcine Destiny

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Porcine Destiny

The mischievous Tristan Farnon once said of a pig, "He knew, and his fathers before him knew, that they were destined for your table".  A noble conclusion which deserves absolute respect and appreciation.  Don't let the time-lapse fool you, we took special care in not wasting a scrap.  Braun, Roasts, Tenderloin, Trotters, Lard, Ribs, Chops, and Sausages; it was a pleasure facilitating his destiny.

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When The Pigs Came Home...

Jack's Shop Farm

Jack's Shop Farm

When our family first arrived to Jack’s Shop in September 2015 we were ready to farm.   We had read everything we could- Salatin, Coleman, Berry.  We felt just about as educated as one could be, without ever having farmed before.  A crazy endeavor, but we were excited.  Keen as mustard!

Our first purchase outside of a few laying hens at auction (not advisable) was six piglets from our friends at Landon Farms in Etlan, VA. A cross-litter between Mulefoot and Berkshire, I found them foraging and rooting in their woods.  They were happy, and you could tell.

After transporting and acclimating them to our farm, we put them out to pasture on what would be 12 months of pasture and woodland rotation.  We supplemented their diet with a non-GMO grain feed from Sunrise Farms in the Shenandoah Valley.  They had full access to as much as they wanted to eat, and in no time at all, we had full grown hogs on our hands.

I think she likes me.

Before I knew it I was on the phone with T & E Meats scheduling a processing date.  As the date with the butcher was fast approaching, we worked them back through the fields and close into the barn.  Loading day would be a breeze.

A week or so before, my wife came in from morning chores to tell me that the pigs had gotten out of their paddock.  I had been on my back for a couple days, having tweaked my neck digging in the garden.  I didn’t have much concern that the pigs were out of there containment as they were within a larger field that was fenced and gated.  I figured I would just corral them back closer to the barn, once I was upright again.  The next day, when my wife came in, again out of breath, exclaiming that the gates to the larger paddock were wide open and the pigs were nowhere in sight, panic set in.  I pulled myself off the couch, popped a handful of aspirin and jumped into the UTV. 

It was a hot September day, and we were out searching for its entirety.  We sweat; we sweat a lot.  By sunset, our otherwise indomitable egos were battered.  Not only had we not found the hogs, we hadn’t even seen a trace of them.  Six hogs, all pushing 350 pounds, up and vanished.  The second day was just as futile.  By the fourth day the whole neighborhood knew Jack’s pigs were out.  I got a call from our neighbor farmer that afternoon.  One of the largest cattle farmers in the area, he wanted to let me know that he had seen some black hogs on his property, more so, to let me know they were probably in his corn field.  He did not sound happy.

I grabbed our border collie Jacksie, ran over there, and jumped into a random corn row.  Jacksie and I spent the next hour running frantically through rows and rows of 8 foot high corn.  We would stop, and kneel, listening for any grunt or rustle.  Finally we came upon some tracks and Jacksie pinned one.  Behind the one, I saw more, but how many?  As I got closer they would scatter.  Was it all six, or just a couple, I couldn’t tell.

I called in reinforcements; brothers, friends, neighbors.  As they arrived, we linked up and spread out every 5 rows or so, building a human chain to walk them north into our woods.  Wishful thinking.  They ran around and scurried through us like the Harlem Globe Trotters.  This carried on for hours, until we found ourselves at the edge of the corn field.  Unfortunately, it was at the complete opposite end we were aiming for.  They had led us to their wallow in a creek just off the south corner.  A creek, mind you, I had walked by many times in the 4 days prior.  Now thankfully out of the corn field, we decided to herd them along the creek, through the woods and into the back field of my neighboring farmer’s house.  I knew of a nice clearing we could access a trailer from.  We hoped he would be hospitable upon our unexpected arrival, if for nothing else, too see the hogs out of his corn field.  Our improving enthusiasm was, quickly diminished when we realized we only had 4 hogs, two were still in the corn field.  Never mind, we claimed our gains and carried on.  The farmer was surprisingly in good spirits.  Perhaps 5 young guys chasing 4 hogs around was lively, evening entertainment.  For trailer access, he suggested running them down his driveway to the main road.  He gave a good chuckle and hopped on his 4-wheeler to follow. 

Did I mention we don’t have a trailer?  I called in a favor to our other neighboring farmer and in 5 minutes he was there, backing up his stock trailer at the end of the drive.  We had a couple pig gates, and with 7 of us now, we hoped to coerce them, lovingly and affectionately, into the trailer.  Wishful thinking, again.  After many failed attempts, and having to gather them back up again each time, we took them across the road where we could pin them against a fence.  The farmer drove his trailer around to meet us and backed it up to one of the gates from the other side.  With 7 of us, two 16 foot farm gates tied together, and the fence line, we pinned them.  We could see the end in sight.  One of the farmer’s yelled at the pigs “Come ‘on now pigs, you’re cutting into my bedtime”.  It was then I realized it was dark, and had been for a while.  I couldn’t believe I had 2 of the area’s largest cattle farmers messing about with 4 hogs at 10 o’clock at night.  We were exhausted and dehydrated.  As we walked them down the fence line, to the opening of the trailer, they were still impervious to our efforts.  I jumped over the gate, wailing and screaming profanities, and practically rode them into the trailer.  Phew, it was done!

We drove them back to the barn, poured them a nice cold bath and called it a night.  As I lay in bed, so tired I couldn’t sleep, it hit me.  There’s still TWO out there!

Jack's Shop Farm

The next morning I had to work at the restaurant.  Just as I was leaving I spotted 2 black silhouettes on our far field towards the barn.  I ran out there as fast as I could, but they were gone.  I spotted their tracks and followed them.  As I turned the corner of a honeysuckle hedgerow, there I saw them, hams in the air, snouts in the feed bin, just outside the barn.  They had come home.

Needless to say it was a relief to get them to the butcher the following week.  On the ride over, I reflected on our first farming experience.  Other than the stinging irony I felt in the fact that we had invested so much in the best feed we could, only to have our pigs fully satiate themselves on GMO corn for 5 days, I still felt proud.  Perhaps because I had won the battle of wills, man vs. beast.  But most certainly that when I acknowledged, as I must, that those hogs did whatever the hell they pleased the whole time, could I then fully embrace my role in raising them.  Simply a steward of an otherwise inherent and natural circumstance.

We did rebound from our pig escapade.  We are back in the hog business and just as excited as when we first arrived.  Getting a few dozen cases of perfectly packaged pork primals certainly helped.  Oh, and that mustard we were so keen on, it goes great on our pork chops.

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