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Buying local meat in bulk

It’s about quality, area farmers say.It’s a trade of convenience for knowing what you’re getting.


Looking to buy meat that is raised humanely or without antibiotics or steroids?

Several local farms raise animals for meat, but many sell only in larger quantities, such as whole or half hogs, half or quarter steers, or whole chickens and turkeys.

You might not get individual one-pound packages of boneless chicken breasts from these farms, but what you will get is firsthand knowledge of how the meat is raised.

Some local farmers sell meat in small amounts at farmer’s markets, but we talked with a couple local farmers to find out how the bulk meat business works.

At Triple Creek Ranch (triplecreekranch.net) in Waynesville, wife Kellie Henninger is the family’s head farmer as well as a homeschool mom; husband Dwight is a veterinarian. The Henningers are raising four hogs and six beef cattle on their 36 acres, partnering with a local butcher to cut their meat. Today they’re due to get their yearly shipment of 110 chicks that they will raise for meat through the spring and summer.

The main advantage to buying meat locally, Kellie said, is that “people can visit the farm and see how it’s raised.”

At Full of Graze Farm (fullofgraze.blogspot.com) in Xenia, Sean Wilson is raising about 16 hogs, 100 laying hens, 200 to 250 meat chickens, 50 turkeys and four cattle on 54 acres. Wilson’s wife and her three sisters’ families cooperate in the business.

Both Triple Creek and Full of Graze raise grass-fed animals, which is trendy but also time consuming. Whereas a grain-fed steer can be ready for butchering in a year to 18 months, grass-fed beef requires about 2-1/2 to three years, Kellie Henninger said.

Both Wilson and Kellie Henninger must move their chickens’ pens daily. And in the hot summer months, the Henningers also give their chickens fresh water several times a day and even run extension cords to the fields to power fans to keep the chickens cool.

Because of the high maintenance, local pastured meat can be a bit more expensive than grocery store meat, Henninger said. But she thinks it’s still cheaper than prices she sees quoted online. For instance, grass-fed steaks ordered online can cost $25 to $30 per pound, whereas she sells her beef for $6 per pound.

But customers are buying quality, Wilson said, noting that “we don’t know the long-term effects of eating meat that’s pumped full of steroids and antibiotics” as in much grocery store meat.

And customers can custom order; for instance, some of Kellie Henninger’s customers want lard rendered for use in baking, and they can choose whether they want their pork smoked or cured.

Customers need plenty of freezer space if they order bulk meat. For instance, Wilson estimated that ordering a whole hog would give a customer about 140 to 165 pounds of pork.

PINEAPPLE PORK CHOPS

¼ cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon paprika

1-1/2 teaspoons salt, divided

1 teaspoon black pepper, divided

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 boneless pork chops, about ¾ inch thick

2 tablespoons butter

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

2 cups coarsely chopped fresh pineapple

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1-12 teaspoons ground allspice

1 cup chicken broth

On a flat plate, mix together the flour, paprika, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and ½ teaspoon of the pepper. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge the chops in the flour mixture, coating well on all sides. Shake off any excess. Place the chops in the pan and cook for about 4 minutes, until golden brown. Flip the chops and cook for another 4 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer the chops to a plate and set them aside.

Add the butter to the pan. When melted, add the sweet potato, pineapple, brown sugar, allspice and remaining 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Mix well with a large spoon. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pineapple begins to soften. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Add the pork chops back to the pan, working them down into the liquid. Return to a simmer. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until the pork chops are tender.

Transfer the chops to a large platter, tent loosely with foil and set aside. Raise the temperature to medium-high and cook the pineapple mixture for 3-4 minutes more, until most of the liquid is cooked off. With a slotted spoon, transfer the pineapple mixture to the platter next to the pork chops. Drizzle the remaining liquid over the pork chops, if desired, before serving.

SOURCE: “Pork Chop: 60 Recipes for Living High on the Hog” by Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe (Chronicle Books, 2013)



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