My friend Heather — an old friend whose dirty mouth rivals my own — told me about a place. A special place. A special place where one can buy locally-raised meat, and where the animals are fed a diet conducive to healthy, happy lives while being allowed to roam free in pastures in humane conditions. When you read as much as I do about the horrors of America’s food production and its many, um, hiccups, hearing about such a place is like being told that fairies are not only real but also delicious.
So last weekend my friend Dee and I decided to investigate.
The sun was high above us and it’s warmth beat down our bare arms through the car windows as we drove through the countryside. Swarms of lovebugs slapped against my windshield as we barreled through the dirt roads toward the 400+ acre farm.
Torm, the owner of Pasture Prime and one half of the manpower behind its operation, had agreed to meet us on short notice after I’d contacted him the night prior asking if I could drop by the farm to pick up my order. Dee and I ended up spending an hour and a half with him as he gave us the tour of its operation.
“I believe in transparency,” said Torm as we drove through a large grassy field, droves of feeding cattle haring from the moving nose of Torm’s slow-moving truck. Most mooed and side-eyed us with disapproval, but one heifer kept excitedly attempting to mount the other heifers, because heifers be so cray.
The cattle at Pasture Prime are Wagyu breed, which are known for their tenderness and marbling, as well as supplying the world with the highly coveted Kobe beef that many restaurants pay top dollar for. Torm took us up to a now retired and repurposed cow-milking shed to show us his big, black Berkshire and wooly Mangalitsa pigs.
With a litter of piglets running around the drift of Mangalitsa, Torm pointed out that the Mangalitsa typically go out to the woods behind their area of the farm to have their babies, further pointing out their ability to exercise their freedom of mobility around the farm.
One the other side of the shed, a passel of Berkshire hogs sauntered around, chewing on beet tops and other veggies, squealing at dragster-like decibels. A boar ambled in from the field to nosh with the supple sows as his bulbous family jewels slapped against his thick thighs with each step.
Now, hold up. I’m not trying to rewrite the farm animal version of 50 Shades or anything, but I wondered if I was baring witness to the beginnings of swine copulation. The flirtatious look in the female’s eyes, and the weighty amatory sway of the male’s pendulous dangly-bits said something was brewing. Just thinking about the degree of squeals between two pigs in amorous congress makes my teeth hurt.
Our last stop included a visit with his turkeys that shrieked every 10 seconds in cultish unison, an evasive tribe of goats that bleated from a safe distance, and a large clutch of day-old chicks warming under a heat lamp.
Placing a warm, yellow chick in Dee’s hands, Torm whispered softly to her, “don’t drop him; he’ll die.” Dee’s eyes widened, paralyzed both by baby chicken cuteness and fear of possible accidental chicken homicide. Having been attacked by chickens in the past, I saw them as assailants in training. Even if they are kind of cute. Sorta.
If you’re interested in getting your hands on sustainable, grass-fed, free range and humanely raised meats including fresh Mangalitsa or Berkshire pork; juicy, marbled Wagyu beef; heritage turkeys or free-range chickens visit Pasture Prime’s website below for details. Bonus: Torm ships his products nationwide:
4141 SE 180th St.
Summerfield, FL 34491
BEEF SHANK STROGANOFF
Recipe: Beef Shank Stroganoff
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 6 hours 30 minutes
Number of servings (yield): 8
- 2 lbs bone-in beef shank, excess fat trimmed
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled and lightly crushed
- 10 peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 parsley stems
- 6 cups water
- ¼ cup butter + 2 tbsp, softened
- 1 large shallot, chopped
- ½ lb crimini mushrooms, cut into quarters
- 4 tbsp flour
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 1 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
- salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish
- Combine beef shank, onion, carrots, garlic cloves, peppercorns, bay leaf, parsley stems and water into a slow cooker and set on low for six (6) hours, or until shank is just tender.
- Move meat to a plate and cut into 1 inch cubes. Set aside and keep warm.
- Strain stock from slow cooker into a small stock pot and set over medium-high heat, allowing it to reduce while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Melt ¼ cup butter in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté shallot until softened. Do not brown.
- Move softened shallot to a small bowl and set aside. Make sure to leave most of the butter behind in the skillet.
- Heat skillet over medium-high heat and add mushrooms, making sure not to crowd, and turning to brown on all sides. Add shallots back in with mushrooms and remove from heat or keep over lowest burner setting to keep warm.
- Once stock has been reduced to two cups, place in skillet with mushrooms and shallots and turn burner to medium heat. Combine remaining two tbsp of butter and flour and then whisk into the stock, heating until thickened.
- Remove from heat, slowly stir a few tablespoons of stock into the Greek yogurt until ½ cup of stock has been added to it (this will temper the Greek yogurt so it doesn’t break when added to the stock), then mix into the skillet.
- Add white wine and salt and pepper. Heat over medium-low until warm and serve over noodles or potatoes, topping with parsley.