Holiday Treats for the Locavore Carnivore
With local meats, you and your holiday guests can eat healthily and humanely
By Mick Vann, Fri., Nov. 20, 2009
As the holiday season rapidly approaches, Austin-area cooks are blessed with a wide selection of the absolute freshest of local, sustainable products to prepare, including pasture-grazed, all-natural meats, meat products, and poultry. Not only will your social conscience feel better, but you and your holiday guests can be eating healthy products, humanely raised by people you know.
Alexander Family Farm3700 Victorine Ln., Del Valle, 512/247-4455.
For Thanksgiving, it's all about the turkey, and according to local grower Kim Alexander, there's nothing better than a turkey that has matured while munching bugs and greens out in the pasture, yielding tender, full-flavored meat. You're already too late to reserve one of the two heritage breeds that Alexander grew this year – Bourbon Red and Narragansett – but he'll have some of the Broad Breasted White breed (the standard breed that you find in the stores year-round) available at $3.99 per pound; just e-mail to reserve a fresh bird and make arrangements for pickup.
White Egret Farm15704 Webberville Rd. (FM 969), 300-3584
White Egret Farm is best known for its goat's milk cheeses and yogurt, but Lee Dexter assures us that the farm also produces pasture-raised turkeys, beef, and pork. The beauty of mixing species like that is that the turkeys follow the ruminants around, feasting on the bugs scared up by herds of shuffling hooves, just as birds do in nature. She has Broad Breasted White turkeys at $3.50 per pound, as well as some of her Bourbon Red heritage breed available at $4 per pound. Reserve a bird by calling the farm, and then pick it up fresh on the Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday before Thanksgiving, 1-6pm. Lee says all-natural chickens are available, as are special cuts of beef, pork, and goat with adequate notice.
Peach Creek Farm375 Peach Creek Rd., Rosanky, 830/839-4810
Rose and James Page of Peach Creek Farm raise pasture-grazed Berkshire pigs, one of the best-tasting heritage breeds, and then sell the pork cuts at local farmers' markets. They don't sell suckling pigs or whole hogs, so don't even ask. They'll provide special cuts for the holidays with a week's notice (two weeks for something very special). Rose also makes pâtés and English-style pork pies (fantastic for parties) and even sells dog treats and pâté for puppies as Fido's holiday gifts. Order by phone or on the farm's website, and pick up at the Austin or Bastrop 1832 farmers' markets.
Richardson Farms2850 CR 412, Rockdale, 512/446-2306
Jim and Kay Richardson and Lance and Cheryl Clark humanely raise all of the critters at Richardson Farms, known affectionately among local meat aficionados for its delicious pasture-raised, heritage-cross pigs. Richardson Farms needs one week's notice for a special pork cut or two week's notice for a special cut of its equally tasty grass-fed Angus-cross beef. This year, the farm also has some pasture-raised turkeys at $4 per pound. Order online or by phone, and pick up on a Wednesday or Saturday at area farmers' markets.
Greg Bass started out as a bacon enthusiast, slowly perfecting his art with feedback from friends and area baconphiles. Those friends quickly got hooked, forcing Greg to become a legitimate, licensed bacon producer. He makes small-batch, handmade bacon from Richardson Farms' pork bellies, using a 10-day cure and smoking over apple wood. He cuts the smoked slabs into ¼-inch-thick slices, producing some of the best, most flavorful bacon you will ever eat. It is currently available by subscription only at $15-16 per pound. To get on the waiting list for a subscription slot, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dynamic duo Jesse Griffiths and Tamara Mayfield of Dai Due Supper Club put on amazing dinner parties around town, using only field-fresh, locally produced products to cook amazingly varied and delicious meals. Word spread, causing the dinners to sell out regularly, reinforced by catering gigs and Griffiths' cooking and meat preparation classes. Now Austin's culinary crowd can access Dai Due's fine products without attending a dinner, catered event, or a class. The Dai Due Butcher Shop is now open most Saturdays at the Austin Farmers' Market, 9am-1pm. Everything used to make the products is local and all-natural, prepared simply to honor the ingredients but loaded with big flavor. Like the supper club dinners, the selections available each week will change with the seasons and the available harvest.
Look for handmade sausages made from Richardson Farms' pork ($9-14 per pound), charcuterie (rillettes, terrines, pâté, etc.), condiments, and ready-to-cook items (goose confit, marinated hanger steaks, cider-braised pork belly, etc). Fresh lard, stocks, rendered goose fat, and specials for the holidays (mincemeat, stuffings, stuffed quail, etc.) will also be available. Get on Dai Due's mailing list on the website for notification about the coming offerings or to preorder.