Grilled Pastured Pork Chops with Potatoes & Veggies

Every once in awhile I knock dinner out of the park - this meal was one of those times!

I happened to be hanging out on Pinterest one day last week while waiting in line at the BMV and thought this recipe looked worth trying. Plus, I had all the ingredients on hand and if I do the prep work I can usually get Jesse to be the grill master - another win! He really is better at the grilling - it truly is a win for us all when I don't burn everything to a crisp. 

Heritage Breed hogs like the ones we raise are known to have super flavorful juicy chops compared to bland conventionally raised grocery store varieties, so they are tasty on their own with some just some salt and pepper added. Using this marinade made them even more amazing though. 

I may or not have been gnawing the leftover bits of meat off the bone so not a morsel was wasted - they were that good!

Marinated Pastured Pork Chops

Ingredients

  • 2-4 thick cut Pastured Pork Chops
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive or coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon mustard - can be regular, dijon, any kind works!
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 clove garlic or 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

1. Combine marinade ingredients in a large shallow pan or food storage bag. 

2. Add chops and marinate at least an hour or up to 6 hours. If using a shallow pan, be sure to flip the chops partway through to coat all sides. If using a bag, squish everything around to get all sides of the chops coated. 

3. Grill chops over medium high heat for approximately 5 to 7 minutes per side until internal temp reaches 145 degrees. Don't overcook or chops could dry out! 

Grill Potatoes & Veggies

The perfect side dish to go with your marinated pork chops! 

Ingredients

  • About 6 medium potatoes cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 onion sliced thin
  • 1 pound (about 2 cups) fresh or frozen green beans
  • 2 cloves garlic (can use powdered garlic or garlic salt instead)
  • 4+ tablespoons butter
  • Few dashes of Worchestershire Sauce
  • Salt/Pepper

If you want to switch it up a bit, you can also add any combination of sliced zucchini or yellow squash, sweet potatoes, sliced peppers - we have even used cabbage and it's always delicious! 

Instructions

1. Lay out a big piece of aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray or coat with butter/coconut oil

2. Spread potatoes, onions and green beans on the foil. Add salt, pepper, garlic then mix together and gather into the middle of the foil, somewhat in a line long ways across the foil. Leave a few inches on each end - you'll need enough room around the outside to seal up the foil into a packet. 

3. Add a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce then place pats of butter across the top. Don't be shy about adding butter, 4 tablespoons is a minimum here! 

4. Seal up the foil packet and carefully transfer to the grill. Place on a side with low heat. Direct heat will burn the bottom layer. 

5. Allow to cook for approximately 45 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Try not to pierce the foil bag and limit opening the bag to check if potatoes are done - keeping the hot steam in keeps them cooking faster! 

My method to pull this meal together was to start marinating the pork chops while completing the prep work and starting to cook the grill potatoes. The last 20 minutes or so of cooking the potatoes we added the chops to the grill so both were ready to eat around the same time. 

Hope you enjoy this meal as much as we do! 

~ Dana

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Grass-Fed Beef Fed Corn? Deciphering Beef Labels

In the last few weeks this has been a question I've gotten NUMEROUS times, so it's time for a blog post!

As a consumer looking for the healthiest beef options to feed your family, labels can make this so confusing. You have Organic, All-Natural, Pasture-Raised, Grass-Fed, Grass-Finished, and it's been so long since I've had to shop the grocery store for meat I'm probably missing some but I think I'll start with these.

It wasn't very many years ago I was a grocery store shopper who looked for the cheapest ground beef and would bring the giant package home, split it all up into smaller chunks and refreeze. You know, being thrifty. 

Cheap food has its place, I've been peanut butter sandwich poor, and I know inexpensive commodity goods help keep bellies full. I judge no one for making that decision for their family, especially when the choices are $2 ground beef or a box of Twinkies. 

The amount of hunger happening in this country and across the world is staggering and the issues making cheap food a necessity are way bigger than I can even begin to address right now. The food system is a mess and there are massive food access issues for so many people despite the huge amount of food products produced and wasted in this country. 

I also believe that as local farmers and local food consumers we are the ones able to really create change in our communities. I'm seeing it in programs like the Donation Station at the Chillicothe Farmer's Market. The booth is staffed by volunteers who collect leftover produce, eggs, meat, milk from vendors at the end of the market day along with donations from market goers then distribute these products that may otherwise have ended up in the compost pile to those who need it most.  

Along with my little tangent on feeding our local community, this blog post is simply to help decode some of the labels you'll see and hear as you're shopping for local beef, and also so you know what questions you'll want to ask to be sure you're getting the product you want. 

It's not my style to criticize other methods of production or say my way of raising beef is the way everyone should be doing it. What we prefer and what works for our farm doesn't work for everyone. What's most important to me is that you know what you're buying and that you make efforts to buy it locally. 

Ok, let's dive into the labels.

Organic - I think we all have this vision in our head that organic cattle are grass-fed on lush green pastures and live a superior life to those raised conventionally. The reality is, if you're buying organic beef from any grocery store the animal was more than likely raised in confinement just like a conventional steer. The only difference was they were fed organic grain and no antibiotics or growth hormones. 

There's been a big scandal lately about the US importing a bunch of cheap, and fake, organic grain from China. So your organic beef may or may not actually be organic unless you know your farmer and can ask them about their feed source. 

All-Natural - This is a super vague term that really doesn't mean a whole lot when you see it on any food label. Typically in the beef world it means the cattle were not given a growth hormone implant or antibiotics. They are usually fed conventional grain in a feedlot type setting. 

If you're buying locally, this is still going to be far superior to anything you'll find at the grocery store, but ask your farmer questions so you know their production practices and what you're getting. 

Pasture-Raised - this isn't a term I had seen applied to beef until recently, but what this usually means is that cattle were given access to pasture while being fed grain.

I've known some farms that have lots of pasture acreage and a significant portion of the animals diet came from forage, but I've also seen others where they are basically on a lot with very little grass and the majority of their diet came from grain. Ask questions and go visit the farm! 

Grass-Fed - here's the big shocker - the label "Grass-Fed" can be applied to cattle that ate grass for part of their life but then were "finished" on grain. 

The reason this matters is because once a steer starts eating grain, the ratio of Omega 3's to Omega 6's immediately begins to change along with the concentration of CLA's, vitamins and minerals that come straight from the forage diet the cattle are consuming.

I'm not a fan of this being allowed to still be labeled grass-fed because I think it's misleading.

Never hesitate to ask questions about any farmers feeding practices and if the beef you're buying has been fed grain. 

Grass-Finished - These cattle have been fed and finished on nothing but grass and forage. If you're searching for grass-fed beef, this is probably the product you're looking for. You'll still want to ask questions about feeding and management practices such as growth hormone and antibiotic use if that's important to you, although usually that's not something farmers producing this type of beef are into. 

Another question I've gotten is - can you really raise 100% grass-fed and finished beef in Ohio? What happens in winter time when the grass isn't growing? 

The answer is yes - it is possible and here's how! In the Spring/Summer/Fall they are out on pasture grazing and in the Winter we feed them hay, which is just dried and baled forage. We don't have enough land to make this a reality yet, but some farms are able to stockpile dormant forage to graze through most of the winter months too. Unless the snow is really deep, cows will still stick their faces into the snow to eat. 

Finishing beef on forage alone does take more management from the farmer and longer for the animal to grow, but it's what I feel creates the quality of product I want to feed my family, and what works well for our farm. 

No matter which type of beef you buy or the farm it comes from, it's important to seek out local options. 

Buying locally supports profitable family farms and rural economies, it keeps beef from traveling across the country and world to get to store shelves, it tastes better, and it allows you as a consumer to have a connection to your farmer and food. 

Happy Beef Shopping Friends! 

~ Dana

 

Potato Chorizo Soup

If you've been part of this farm community for awhile you know I'm in an in-between stage of life still working a full-time day job while we build the farm operation. 

It has its positives and negatives, but for today I'll focus on the good parts. Steady income is a plus, health insurance is important, and I haven't had to buy a jacket for myself in about 5 years. 

My job can require quite a few nights of overnight travel. It's hard to leave the family and farm, but my coworkers are some of my favorite people ever so we make even the most boring meetings fun-ish. Once in awhile we also eat some truly spectacular food. 

On my latest trip we spent a few days in French Lick, Indiana. If I'm being completely honest, most of the food was terrible, but Sunday evening we had dinner at the hotel steakhouse and it was AMAZING.

We enjoyed a fancy meal while one member of our team educated us all on bitcoin, another provided way too many details about breeding basset hounds, 1/2 of us realized we haven't been doing our mileage reports correctly, and all tried to make sure we didn't use each other's silverware. 

Don't laugh, but my menu choices were roasted brussel sprouts with pancetta, crab cakes, and potato chorizo soup. The Brussels and crab cakes were good, I was a nice person and shared them around the table, but this soup was perfection and I was a bit more stingy about sharing! 

It was just a hint of spicy and creamy perfection and had potatoes and veggies.... I carefully analyzed it because I knew I would need to recreate it at home. 

I think I succeeded and Jesse proclaimed it was his second favorite soup beat out only by chicken and rice. It got a little spicy for my typically adventurous 3 year old, or at least that was her excuse when she begged for a bowl of black beans for dinner instead. Yes, she's weird. 

Ok so here's my recreation of the steakhouse soup. I’ve seen recipes that include corn too, which I think would also be delicious! 

Potato Chorizo Soup

  • 1 pound Grass Powered Pastured Chorizo 
  • 4 cups chicken or beef broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • About 4 potatoes 
  • 1 bell pepper 
  • 1 onion 
  • 1-2 carrots 
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Salt, white pepper, powdered mustard or whatever other seasoning sounds good!

Dice potatoes, pepper, onion and carrots and garlic. Melt butter in the bottom of a Dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pan then sauté potatoes, peppers, onion and carrots. Add more butter or olive oil if needed. Once they are softened, add garlic for the last couple minutes. 

Add thawed chorizo and break apart as it cooks. 

Once Chorizo is cooked, add broth and any other dry seasonings. Allow to simmer about 15 minutes. A few minutes before serving, add heavy cream. 

It’s amazing straight from the pot, but you could also top with sour cream, corn chips, fresh herbs, maybe even shredded or crumbled cheese. 

I baked a loaf of quick crusty bread to go with it - perfection. 

Hope this soup warms you on a chilly winter evening! 

Dana

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