If you’re interested in winter recipes that are tasty and healthy, you can’t go wrong when using grass-fed beef and other grass-fed meats. Hagen Family Farms is happy to share some insights into “natural” meals that are perfect for the cold, snowy season. Braising and baking are two of the most effective cooking techniques for obtaining the best flavor from our natural lamb, natural pork, and grass-fed beef. Here’s a quick review of what each technique entails:
Braising is the act of slowly simmering food in 1 - 2 inches of water, broth, stock, or even wine or beer. Other ingredients, i.e. seasonings and vegetables, can be mixed with your preferred liquid to further enhance flavor. Braising and stewing are close relatives, with the main difference being that stewing uses more liquid and smaller pieces of food. Whether you’re cooking pork, beef, or lamb meat, we suggest first browning the meat in fat. This increases its flavor and gives it color. Once finished, add your preferred liquid and other ingredients. A baking dish or tightly-sealed pot are suggested for the actual cooking, and can either be placed atop the stove over medium/medium-low heat, or placed in the oven at 325 -350 degrees. The lid’s job is to keep the liquid from evaporating, and the result is that the food is soon engulfed in steam. Tender, full-flavored meals are the result of braising, and the most popular braised dishes are ideal wintertime fare: lamb shanks and pot roast, to name two.
A simple definition of baking is that it relies on sustained dry heat in an oven. That said, there are many different ways to bake food. Specific to our meats, one popular technique is “slow baking”, which involves putting a small amount of water or broth in the bottom of a sealed pan. Slow baking is similar to braising in that the liquid is converted into steam which surrounds the meat during cooking, with the end-result being meats that are exceptionally tender and tasty. Since grass-fed/natural meats tend to be tougher than “industrially-produced” meats, a baking variation called en croûte (French for “in a crust”) is an appealing approach to cooking meals that use Hagen Family Farms’ beef, lamb, or pork. Beef Wellington, in which the beef is encased in pastry before baking, is probably the best example of an en croûte meal. Beef Wellington, lamb shanks, and pot roast are all mouthwatering examples of winter recipes, and so too is one of our personal favorites: lamb stew. The best lamb stew meat is taken from the tender legs, and not the tougher shoulder area. Slow-cooking this meat in your choice of liquid results in cooked lamb that is exceptionally palatable and flavorful. There are numerous lamb stew recipes, including regional dishes like Irish lamb stew, Middle-Eastern lamb stew, and Basque lamb stew, along with tasty combinations such as eggplant and lamb stew. Whatever your preference for your next winter meal, our family recommends placing a meat order near Snohomish, doing some online research into various recipes for grass-fed beef, natural pork, and natural lamb, and cooking the ones that sound the tastiest!