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Perfect Pork Chops

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Perfect Pork Chops

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In the past we've written about brining pork chops, which is a great way to prepare chops for the grill or frying pan.  Here's a few more ideas on how to enjoy JSF pasture-raised pork chops in concert with sweet fall root veggies and apples. 

Pork Chops in a Pan

Ingredients:

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  • black pepper and herbs of your choice (sage is my favorite to pair with pork)
  • garlic chopped fine
  • onions chopped coarse
  • root vegetables of your choice, chopped in chunks  (we like carrots and parsnips)
  • tart apple (like McIntosh or Cortland), chopped 

Heat a cast iron skillet or similar type pan over medium heat.  Rub the chops with pepper, herbs and garlic. Once pan is hot, place chops in pan and brown on each side for a few minutes. Add chopped onions to saute in the pork fat.  Once onions are about half done turn heat to medium/low and add a very small amount of water, broth, or cider to the pan, the quickly throw in the chopped root veggies and apple and cover.  Allow to cook covered on medium/low heat about 5 minutes.  Stir once and flip the chops over and recover to cook another 3 to 5 minutes, until veggies are just barely soft and chops are cooked through. 

Braised Pork Chops

Pork blade chops and rib chops are best suited for this braising recipe.  Brown the chops as in the recipe above, then put them in a roasting pan with chopped onions, roots veggies, and apples. Add cider or broth to pan until liquid is about half way up the chops.  Cover pan with foil and put it in a preheated oven at 325 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.  Chops are done when the meat falls off the bone.   This recipe works for a pork roast as well, just allow for a longer cooking time. Serve with mashed potatoes or roasted fingerling potatoes. Yum!

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Why We Raise Animals on Pasture at JSF

From the beginning, as our farm business grew and we ventured into raising more animals for meat and egg production, we committed to raising the animals on pasture.  With careful pasture rotation we can meet the nutritional needs of the animals, utilize different pastures to their best potential, and provide the animals with the opportunity to live in their social groups. We set up their paddocks to provide natural shelter, shade and fresh water as well as ample forage.  The pigs help renovate woodlots, some recently cleared to transition to pasture. The sheep graze the prime forage lands during lambing and lactation, and when young stock are growing rapidly.  At other times, when the ewes nutritional demand is lower, they can utilize marginal pastures that are less productive, which they help bring back into better production through their grazing. 

 

Sheep are ruminants, which means they can digest grass and other vegetation effectively to meet all their nutritional needs without needing any grain.  We time the breeding and lambing of our flock so that ewes lamb in May when pasture forage is plentiful and rich, which allows us to produce healthy, 100% grassfed lamb in Vermont without needing to supplement with grain (which is commonly needed for a ewe lambing in March).

Because pigs and chickens are not ruminants they cannot get all their dietary needs from pasture alone, so we supplement with Non-GMO grain. Our pigs and chickens are also great recyclers, munching on the veggie "seconds" that don't make the cut for human consumption. In vegetable production there can be a lot of "waste" product: we aim to sell what we can, donate what we can't sell that is still suitable for human use, and recycle the rest with the help of the pigs and chickens. Of course, the compost pile is also in action at JSF for anything that gets beyond even what a pig likes.  Our goal is to recycle the energy of the farm as much as possible, keeping the nutrients in the soil, animals, and plants.  

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The animals on our farm play critical roles in the whole farm cycle, from nutrient management to land renovation, crop rotation, and energy efficiency.  In essence we are capturing the conversion of solar energy into pasture forage and then into meat.  We aim to produce healthy meat in a manner that respects the needs and lives of the animals, that benefits your health and the health of the land that we farm.  Plus they bring enjoyment and wonder to our day.

Enjoy the benefits of our sustainably raised animals with a Meat CSA share or stock your freezer with a whole or half pig or lamb.

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How to Brine a Pork Chop

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How to Brine a Pork Chop

Try it once and you'll be hooked for life.

A basic brine solution is 1/4 cup of salt for every quart of water. You can play with more or less salt, and a variety of other additions. Here is one of my favorites, and every herb is available in the U-Pick garden!

2 pork chops
1 quart of water
1/4 cup of Kosher Salt
1 TBSP Maple Syrup
2 Sprigs Sage
2 Sprigs Thyme
2 Sprigs Tarragon

Boil water, stir in the salt and maple until they are dissolved. Allow the solution to cool. (It can still be warm, but you should be able to handle its container without burning yourself. The idea is not to cook the pork chops. One thing you can do is add an extra teaspoon of salt and a few ice cubes.)

Lay the pork chops in a single layer on a pot or deep pan. Cover the chops with the brine. Add the herbs, cover, and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes. Many recipes say that 2 hours is a good amount of time to brine, but I've done it overnight, and they've also come out great.

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How to Carve a Chicken

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How to Carve a Chicken

There are countless ways to cook a chicken. Roast it, grill it, stuff it, brine it. But the best way to finish off any bird is by carving it simply and effectively. You only need 2 knives to do this correctly. A sharp, small, boning knife will be the best tool for the majority of this procedure. A sharp chef's knife is useful for slicing the breast.

1) Check Done-ness  When the breast reads 165 degrees F, remove the legs. Take the bird onto a cutting board, and cut along the thigh where the leg connects to the bird. When you get down to the bone, cut the joint between the thigh and the body while pulling back on the drumstick. Put the legs back into the cast iron/grill/oven/stovetop until they too read 165 degrees.

1) Check Done-ness

When the breast reads 165 degrees F, remove the legs. Take the bird onto a cutting board, and cut along the thigh where the leg connects to the bird. When you get down to the bone, cut the joint between the thigh and the body while pulling back on the drumstick. Put the legs back into the cast iron/grill/oven/stovetop until they too read 165 degrees.

2. Allow to Cool. Let the bird rest at least until the legs are finished cooking. This will prevent the juices from leaving the bird, and will help keep the breast juicy. After at least 20 minutes, cut a straight line down the spine. You will be cutting one on each side. You will then move on to the wings to allow the breast to cool a bit.

2. Allow to Cool. Let the bird rest at least until the legs are finished cooking. This will prevent the juices from leaving the bird, and will help keep the breast juicy. After at least 20 minutes, cut a straight line down the spine. You will be cutting one on each side. You will then move on to the wings to allow the breast to cool a bit.

3. Wings. Gently pull back the wings so you can see the seam where they connect to the body of the bird. Cut along that seam until you can see the bone. Then gently cut the joint between the bones while pulling back on the wing with your nondominant hand.

3. Wings. Gently pull back the wings so you can see the seam where they connect to the body of the bird. Cut along that seam until you can see the bone. Then gently cut the joint between the bones while pulling back on the wing with your nondominant hand.

4. The Breast. Cut along the side of the spine while pulling back with your fingers. Your goal is to do a combination of pulling and cutting to release the breast in one large piece. 

4. The Breast. Cut along the side of the spine while pulling back with your fingers. Your goal is to do a combination of pulling and cutting to release the breast in one large piece. 

Here you can see the right side of the bird, which has already been carved, and the left side of the bird, where the breast is almost fully off of the body.

Here you can see the right side of the bird, which has already been carved, and the left side of the bird, where the breast is almost fully off of the body.

5. Finish. Once you have cut the breast off of the bird, you will take a larger chef's knife to finish. Cut against the grain with even spaced slices. Once you have cut the breast, scoop the entire sliced piece onto your knife, and gently place it on your serving platter.

5. Finish. Once you have cut the breast off of the bird, you will take a larger chef's knife to finish. Cut against the grain with even spaced slices. Once you have cut the breast, scoop the entire sliced piece onto your knife, and gently place it on your serving platter.

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