Farm to (my) table

I decided this year that I wanted to get in to the whole CSA thing. I wasn’t part of a CSA in Connecticut; however, I did order from a delivery service that connected me with a variety of local farms. The best thing about that service was that I was able to get locally-raised meat. Well, lo and behold, as I was researching CSAs in our area, I found a farm that offered subscriptions to a meat CSA. My mom and I decided to go in on a four-month half-share from Old Pine Farm to see what it was all about.

We got our first box at the end of March:

Half-share, frozen

The half-share March delivery included a whole chicken, a beef arm steak, a couple HUGE pork chops, some lamb breast, and ground beef. Not a bad haul, but definitely some unfamiliar cuts in there. That’s OK, though – part of this experiment is understanding that farmers don’t just raise a heard of filet mignon. The challenge for me will be learning how to cook some of these more unusual cuts.

I started with the arm steak.

Thawing in the sink

I read up on this cut and found out that it’s a tough piece of meat, not really suitable for grilling. Braising was highly recommended.

In the end, Noe and I tossed it in the crock pot for “Italian” beef. I’m not sure what makes this beef Italian, as the other things I tossed in the  crock pot were two cups of Budweiser, a small bottle of A-1, a packet of Lipton onion soup mix (I never said this was a classy recipe), and a little beef stock and a squirt of tomato paste. We cooked it on low for about ten hours, then shredded it and ate it on hoagie rolls and, in Noe’s case, over rice. The arm steak was perfect for this recipe, and the leftovers had even more flavor than it did right out of the pot.  (I forgot to take a pic of the finished dish.)

The lamb breast required a bit more research. Once again, the word “tough” came up a few times, as well as “fatty.” I did finally find a recipe from a British chef that sounded promising. It involved slathering the ribs in a mixture of lemon, olive oil, and herbs; giving them a quick sear on a grill pan, and then roasting them over a bed of seasoned chickpeas in a moderately hot oven.

In the oven.

This one was a bit more interesting. The lamb breast was sort of like a rack of ribs, with big bones and not a lot of meat. Some of the meat was a bit tough. The flavor was fine – greatly enhanced by the marinade – but the meat itself was a lot of work to eat with not a big payoff. The chickpeas, however, were amazing! I simply mixed a couple of cans of chickpeas up with finely diced white onion, roughly chopped red onion, a few cloves of minced garlic, smoked paprika, a little cumin, salt, pepper, fresh oregano and olive oil. O.M.G. I am going to make just the chickpeas and eat them as a snack.

The chickpeas were the highlight.

I’m sure there will be more cooking adventures as we continue with the meat CSA. I’ll continue to post!


2 thoughts on “Farm to (my) table

  1. I commend your efforts. Our CSA is veggies only which works for our family and I don’t have to do a ton of research – although I can tell you that I’ve scoured the internet for interesting ways to prepare turnips.

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