Sunday, December 27, 2009

December Meat CSA

For the month of December we are excited to offer a limited seasonal product, our Heritage Stew Hens! These flavorful stewing hens are the perfect main ingredient in chicken broth or for an elegant Coq au Vin. We also celebrated the holidays with our members by giving everyone a lovely Rack of Lamb for their holiday table. And as a stocking stuffer, we tucked into everyone's bag either Lamb Suet or Lamb Liver and Kidneys. These novel morsels are very healthy and tasty and are becoming quite popular among top chefs!

Half share:
2-3# Heritage Stew Hen

1-2# French Rack of Lamb or Lamb Loin Roast

1# Beef Stew

Bonus: Lamb Suet or Assorted Lamb Organ Meats

Whole share:
2-3# Heritage Stew Hen

1-2# French Rack of Lamb or Lamb Loin Roast

1# Veal Stew

2-3# Beef Rump Roast or Chuck Roast

1# Lamb Breakfast Sausage Links

1# Ground Goat

Bonus: Lamb Suet or Assorted Lamb Organ Meats

Rosemary Suet Dumplings
Adapted from BBC recipes
These are a perfect addition to your favorite beef or lamb stew recipe. Just add them on top of the stew for the last 20 minutes of cooking and you will have perfectly steamed stew dumplings. A yummy winter comfort food like no other!

· 2/3 c / 5 oz of flour
· 1/4 c / 2 1/4 oz of shredded suet
· 1/2 t of baking powder
· pinch of salt
· 1 T of finely chopped fresh rosemary
· 3-5 T cold water
· 2 c / 500 ml of stock or water
(only necessary if you are not adding them directly to a stew)

Mix together the flour, suet, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Stir in the fresh rosemary. Add enough of the water to form a sticky dough. With floured hands, divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll into balls. Place the balls on a plate and chill in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes. Bring the stock or water to a simmer then add the dumplings and cook for 6-8 minutes, or until cooked through. Serve with your favorite stew meat and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday Specials

We love the holidays here at Mint Creek Farm and we are very excited to share with all of you some of our "Best Specials of the Year" for the holiday season. These specials will run NOW through the 22nd of December (one week only), so hurry and get your order in while supplies last!

1. We have drastically dropped the price on ALL Racks of Lamb, Lamb Loin Chops and Lamb Rack Chops to $14/lb! And for this week only- Get an additional 10% OFF when you purchase at least 5 lbs. of Racks, Loin Chops OR Rack Chops. Offer good for 5 lbs of any 1 of these items, but we will offer 10% OFF of each of these items! So, go ahead and purchase 5 lbs. of Racks (Get 10% OFF), 5 lbs. of Loin Chops (Get 10% OFF) and 5 lbs. of Rack Chops (Get 10% OFF)! That adds up to a ton of savings for you and some tasty presents for your family and friends too.

2. Save 25% OFF ALL Ground Beef and Ground Veal! Buy 1lb of Ground Beef or Ground Veal and Get the second one 1/2 OFF.

3. FREE Shipping on ALL online orders over $100! Please order by Friday December 18th, so we can get your present to its recipient in time for Christmas.

4. Gift Certificates are NOW available for $25, $50, $75 or $100 increments. Get an additional $5 FREE gift certificate for every $50 purchased in Mint Creek Farm Gift Certificates! These make great stocking stuffers!

5. Fresh Christmas Turkeys delivered to your home in time for your holiday meal! Each turkey is $5.25/lb plus $10 for delivery. The average weight for our turkeys this time of year is around 15 lbs.- perfect for a large holiday crowd. All turkeys will be processed on December 22nd and will be delivered Fresh to your door on either Wednesday December 23rd or Thursday December 24th. Turkeys are limited to a first come first serve basis, so place your order Today! Call 815.256.2202 for reservations.

6. Winter CSA Shares for February-April are still available! Get 3 months of organically raised grass-fed meat for only $150! This includes 5 lbs. of meat/month (15 lbs total). Each share will contain an assortment of cuts from our lamb, goat, beef and rose veal. For more information please email us at Shares may be purchased on our website at

We hope that there is something here for everyone's last minute shopping list.

Enjoy and We Wish You a Warm and Wonderful Holiday Season!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Stew Hens

What exactly is a stew hen? Well, it is a laying hen that is past her prime. So, you turn that hen into a rich flavorful broth that can be used in many different recipes! In my last posting I have my go-to recipe for making broth with either a stew hen or a leftover roasting carcass. If you want a thinner liquid always use a whole hen to create a higher meat to bone ratio. If you want a thicker stock rich in collagen, always use a leftover carcass that has a lower meat to bone ratio. Either are perfect for soups and stews but if you want to make a sauce with this liquid always use a collagen-rich chicken stock instead of a broth! The stock helps to bind the fat from pan drippings (au jus) so you have a completely coagulated sauce. Broth would not bind the fat and just give you a "broken" sauce. It is kind of like making a salad dressing. You add enough fat (oil) until everything binds or emulsifies. Stock can also be used as an alternative to cream or butter when deglazing your roasting pans. And I might add here, that you should always roast your meats in a "flame-proof" roasting pan, that you can place over your stove burners to deglaze all those flavorful fatty drippings! Never waste your pan drippings. They will create a dimension to any sauce that will elevate your dish and make you everyone's favorite chef. Now where do you get your hands on a stew hen? Ask around at the farmers market. We had processed a few with our Thanksgiving turkeys, but they went to our CSA Members. We may do some more, but it depends on the hens. And remember to always use your turkey carcasses for stock too!

Now if you make some homemade broth or stock, here is an excellent soup that my family loves!

Turkey/Chicken Tortilla Soup
Adapted from the Rebar Cookbook

8 cups of homemade broth
1 large yellow onion, sliced
1/2 head of garlic, peeled and chopped
dried oregano
2 hot peppers, fined diced (I used poblanos, but if you want more heat use jalapenos)
3 cups of frozen corn kernels (try to find fire-roasted corn- it gives the soup a slightly smoky-sweet flavor)
1 large red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 large orange bell pepper, finely chopped
2 cups of shredded meat (I used up the rest of our turkey leftovers)
store bought corn tortilla chips
2 avocados, diced
shredded Mexican cheese

Cook the onion in a little olive oil until it is translucent and starting to caramelize. Add the garlic and season to taste with salt, pepper, paprika (sweet or smoky) and the oregano. Cook until garlic is fragrant and lightly golden. Add the hot peppers, be careful not to "smell" the pot at this point. Hot peppers will burn your nasal passage once they get a little hot in a pan! Cook the peppers until soft. Add the sweet bell peppers and corn to the pot and give a good stir to make sure all the seasonings are well mixed. Add a little more oil to coat and adjust seasonings to taste. Add the shredded meat and pour the broth over everything. Stir to incorporate all of the flavors. Cover loosely, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until all the vegetables are cooked and the soup has had a chance to let all the flavors meld together, at least 20 minutes. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and top with shredded cheese, diced avocados and crushed tortilla chips. Enjoy the soup as everything slowly melts into it creating many different flavor sensations!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Post Turkey Wrap Up

We wanted to thank everyone who got their Thanksgiving turkey from us this November. We sold over 200 turkeys this year! Many more than we had sold the previous year, so thank you. We hope that you all enjoyed them as much as we enjoyed raising them for you. Right before the holiday, Channel 7 news can out to the farm to film the turkeys and to interview Harry. Here is the clip for you to enjoy:

I prepared my turkey this year as simply as possible. I made an aromatic lemon-herb rub that I spread under the skin and over the meat. This salty-herb mixture is given a boost of flavor by fresh lemon juice, which also acts as a binder to give the dry salt-herb mixture the structure of a spreadable paste. Works wonders and the turkey was scented with the fresh and light flavor of fresh lemon juice! I even smelled the lemon when I made up a batch of my homemade stock and I didn't even add any additional lemon juice.

Now if you did not make a batch of turkey stock from your turkey this Thanksgiving, shame on you. It is so easy and wonderful to use in just about anything. We froze most of our stock but we also used it in making Turkey Tortilla Soup when we were trying to be creative with our leftovers. We loved this soup so much we ate it for 4 days straight! It will definately be making another appearance in our household next year. (We are always looking for good ways to use up turkey leftovers, so if you have suggestions-please share!)

Homemade Turkey/Chicken Stock:
1 turkey or chicken carcass or 1 stew hen
enough water to cover the carcass or stew hen
1 onion (quartered)
(may use the green parts of 1-2 leeks)
1/2 head of garlic (cloves peeled and smashed)
4-6 carrots (cut into thirds)
(may use 1-2 quartered apples or 1-2 roughly chopped sweet potatoes- something sweet)
4-6 celery stalks (cut into thirds)
(may use 1-2 roughly chopped celeriac- something earthy)
2-3 parsnips (cut into thirds)
(may use 2-3 quartered turnips- something peppery or spicy)
1 bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley or parsley stems
4 whole bay leaves (preferably fresh- crack the leaf to release the oils)
1 T of whole black peppercorns
1 T of course kosher or sea salt

Put everything into a large stock pot and cover with water. Make sure that the carcass or hen is completely covered. The rest of the ingredients will either sink or float, so gauge the water level on the bird. Cover the pot, but leave the lid ajar to let out steam. Bring the pot to a boil and then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer the stock for at least 2 hours. Check occasionally to make sure it does not boil over and to monitor how rapid it simmers. The stock is done when you can push on the carcass or hen and it collapses with a little force. The bones should just fall apart to ensure that all the connective tissue has been broken down thoroughly. Turn off heat and let cool to room temperature. Strain out all the solids and let the rich broth cool before you package it up in freezer containers. Once the bones are cool enough to handle, you may pick off all the meat and use it for another use. Stock can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days or in the freezer for 2 months. Once you make stock you will never want to use store-bought broth again. It is also a great way to use up vegetable odds and ends without wasting them! Homemade stock is both tasty and economical. Enjoy!