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Roasting a Pasture-raised Turkey

Pasture Raised Turkey Roast Recipe

To Roast a Pasture-raised Turkey

As a pasture-based farm, everything we do revolves around the grass and moving our animals from field to field. This system of farming is as old as the fields themselves, and when done well, give our animals and our land the space to thrive.

The last two seasons we have raised a small number of heritage breed Bourbon Red and Royal Palm turkeys. You may have seen them around our garden or the farm cottage, pecking at the fall berries and bugs they find as they roam.

Nothing says Thanksgiving more than that signature golden brown roasted turkey, but if you have chosen to roast a pasture-raised bird there are some things you need to know to get the most from your roast.

Pasture-raised turkeys roam around outside and eat primarily grass and insects, so their food and activity level — both of which affect flavor — differ from those of their grain-fed cousins raised in confinement. Heritage breeds are old-timey birds, developed before factory-farming, that thrive in a free environment. They are built to roam, unlike their confined cousins, the factory farm birds who so heavy of breast and short of leg that they can’t thrive out in the open.

But back to roasting! Our birds are fresh at pick up, and so must be refrigerated once you get home. Some folks choose to bring their bird, but we wanted to share an old fashioned no brine, slow roast method that allows you to taste the natural flavor and juiciness of the bird. This is an old-time recipe for an old-timey, heritage breed turkey.

A room temperature turkey will roast more evenly, so early in the morning remove the turkey from the refrigerator, rinse thoroughly, and pat dry (about an hour before putting it in the oven).

Before putting in the oven, place a good handful of fresh herbs, like rosemary, thyme, and sage, in the body cavity. Rub softened butter, salt, and pepper to the outside skin. (Another alternative is use good olive oil in place of the butter.)

Placed the bird breast down in a roasting pan on a bed of onions, celery and carrots in about a 1/2 to 1/4 inch of chicken broth. The veggies will help keep the bird moist and contribute to a great tasting gravy.

The basic reason most turkeys are dried out and tough is because they are overcooked. The USDA used to recommend cooking a turkey to 180 degrees, to assure all bacteria was killed. That also cooked out the flavor and moisture.

The USDA now says it’s safe to cook a turkey to 165 degrees. Remembering that meat keeps cooking when you take it out of the oven, cook your bird to 160, remove from the oven, and cover tightly with foil to rest. Your internal temp will keep cooking and top about around 165. Use that rest time to make gravy or reheat your sides.

Cooking times are a guide, it is the cooking temperatures that matter, so get a good digital thermometer. You want to roast a pastured bird (this goes for chickens as well) at a lower temperature, so start at 325 and after an hour lower the temperature of the oven to 300. About 30 minutes before the turkey is expected to be done, check the bird’s internal temperature. Pastured-birds can cook more quickly than expected.

10-13 lb. – 1 ½ to 2 ¼ hr.
14-23 lb. – 2 to 3 hr.
24-27 lb. – 3 to 3 ¾ hr.

Baste your turkey twice, when you lower your oven temperature to 300, and again at about the 30 minute mark when you check the internal temperature. Resist the urge to poke the turkey with a fork to check juices. That wastes precious juices that need to stay in the breast meat.

Last year we had great reviews from our customers who roasted their first pastured heritage turkeys. For-armed with a little old time cooking knowledge its not hard to roast the perfect thanksgiving turkey!

Tag us on your turkey “beauty” shot if you are roasting a pastured Cherry Grove Farm bird this year! #cgfpasturedgoodness @cherrygrovefarm

September Flash Sale

With late lambing and calving, we will have a later surge in lamb and beef coming into the  store in autumn. Coupled with an already abundant and consistent supply of pork, we need to make some room in the freezer.

We are running a flash sale through September for certain cuts of our whey-fed Berkshire pork. Whey-fed heritage pork is a delicacy, so stock up now while the sale lasts!

Look for Pork Loin Chops, Boneless Pork Chops, Ham Steaks, Whole Hams, Pork Belly, Smoked Guanciale (pork cheek), and Smoked Andouille Sausage to be 15% off normal per pound prices.

We’ll post a recipe for each of the cuts on sale over the next week. Boneless Pork Chops are the leanest chop, so require a sure hand on the pan. Brining helps the meat retain moisture during cooking, a nice tip for the more nervous cook. Check our facebook page for more recipes and information about cooking pastured pork.

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Boneless Pork Chops with Apples
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1 quart water
  • 4 (8 ounce) thick-cut boneless pork chops
  • 1 pinch coarse-ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 apples, cored and quartered

Stir honey and salt into water in a large bowl until honey and salt are dissolved into the brine. Place pork chops in the brine and let sit in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Remove pork chops from brine, rinse, and pat dry. Place chops on a plate and refrigerate until dry, about 10 minutes. Discard brine.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sprinkle pepper over the pork chops.

Melt butter and olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat; cook pork chops until browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip pork chops and season with rosemary; add apples. Cover skillet.

Bake in the preheated oven until pork chops are cooked through, about 10 minutes. 

The chops should be firm when pressed with a spatula. Please note that pastured pork will have a firmer texture because of the pigs’ free range lives.  If you aren’t confident in monitoring the doneness with touch, you should use a thermometer to make sure the internal temperature is between 145 and 150 degrees F. (Pastured meat can go from perfection to tragedy in a minute.) Remove pork chops from skillet and allow to rest five minutes before serving.

 

Modified from AllRecipes.com

 

 

 

The Agony and The Eggs-tacy

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Every winter we face the agony of fewer eggs to sell. It’s a chicken thing. When the days get shorter and colder, the chickens slow down (or stop) laying. Some types of chickens are more cold hardy, but in general… winter means less eggs. And every year we have to face our customers’ disappointment each day when we say, “Sorry, eggs are gone for the day.”

As a sustainable farm we try to do everything in balance… the right number of animals for the land, pasture, and farmers. As such, we raise a limited number of laying hens and that means a finite number of eggs every day, in every season.

Which brings us to the eggs-tacy. These eggs are the real deal… from pasture-raised hens who each fresh grass and insects all day. From a variety of chickens who roam in the same fields with our sheep, spending their days scratching, pecking, and being chickens. They lay eggs in many subtle shades of brown, lavender, blue and green, making each carton a veritable Easter basket of colors.

Our eggs are hand picked every day. We hand wash (no soaking!), and set them out for sale within 12 hours of collection. When you break them open, the yolks are deep orange and the surrounding white has substance. This is not a pallid, watery egg that has been sitting in a cooler or on a truck. Truly pasture-raised eggs are the gold standard.

As the days lengthen and spring turns to summer, our hens start laying in earnest and we again have 20 to 30 dozen pastured eggs to sell to neighbors and farm friends each day. Like everything else on the farm, this is the regular cycle of agony and eggs-tacy.

(Supply is up from January and we see more smiling faces each the morning. Morning is always the best time to find our pastured eggs in the case.)

 

 

 

All’s Well that Ends Well

What a weekend! We are OPEN!

Huge kudos go to our farmers for their hard work plowing and tending to the needs of the animals in our care. Thanks to diligence and care, we are all dug out and ready for the week. Come on in to the farm store for your eggs, cheese, meats, and other local products. Or come for a wintry picnic! We’ll be digging out some of the picnic tables…

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1902 - Family purchased farm

1910 - Leased land to dairy farmer

1987 - Hamill Brothers inherit farm

2002 - Started as a family business

2003 - Started a beef herd, laying hens, and pigs

2004 - Added sheep and attained organic certification of pasture land

2005 - Added dairy herd and began making fresh cheeses like mozzarella

2006 - Built aging caves and began making aged cheeses

2012 - Grid Magazine’s Cheese of the Month (Nov – Full Nettle Jack); Finalist at the Good Food Awards (Toma)

2013 - Won 2 blue ribbons from the American Cheese Society(for Buttercup Brie and Lawrenceville Jack Reserve); Added second cheesemaker

2014 - Broke ground on additional aging space and began process of getting AWA certification for our chickens
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