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Laura's Kitchen: How to Cook Pastured Meats from Our Farm

written by

Meg Peery

posted on

April 1, 2024

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Have you ever had the opportunity to taste Laura's cooking? If you have, you know she's someone worth learning from in the kitchen.

Laura rarely uses a recipe. Instead, she relies on instinct, intuition, and quality ingredients to create clean, wholesome, tasty meals.

How about you? Are you an intuitive cook?

We know that for many people, step-by-step instructions with exact amounts & temperatures can be a huge help!

Especially since pasture-raised meats are different from the industrial-scale meat products distributed through most grocery chains today.

In some cases, like our heritage-breed pigs, they're literally not even the same animal!

So we wanted to offer you a few simple guidelines for cooking the tender and flavorful pasture-raised meats we raise on our farm.

What questions do you have about cooking the meats you buy from us?

We'd love to hear about it.

*****

How to Cook Pastured Meats From Our Farm

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1. Forested Heritage-Breed Pork

GENERAL GUIDELINES: 
The USDA recommended serving temperature for raw pork cuts and roasts is 145°F. To avoid overcooking and preserve our pork's meaty tenderness and natural depth of flavor, we recommend cooking to an internal temperature of slightly below 145°F as measured by a good digital meat thermometer; then remove from direct heat and allow to rest in a warm spot for 3 minutes. The meat will continue to cook to the desired temperature of 145°F and juices will redistribute for perfect results.
Ground pork, ground pork mixtures (meatloaf, beef & sausage burgers, sausages), and organ meats should be cooked to 160°F.

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HERE'S WHAT WE RECOMMEND FOR SPECIFIC CUTS:

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CHOPS: Allow bone-in or boneless chops to come to room temperature (30 min). Preheat pan or grill to medium heat. Melt lard or bacon fat in pan, or brush on grill, to prevent sticking. Cook over medium to medium-high heat for approximately 3-7 minutes per side depending on thickness. Do not overcook! Pull from heat when digital thermometer measures slightly below 145°F and allow to rest in a warm spot for 3 minutes, where the chops will continue to cook & rise to the desired temperature of 145°F.

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ROASTS: Pastured pork roasts don't get dry when they cook longer — they get better! A pastured roast is truly done (and most delicious) when it's falling apart. Suggested oven temperature: 325°F. Cooking time: Cover with foil and bake approx 40-45 minutes per pound. Recommended internal temp before serving: 145°F at the center.

Our roast recipes:

Orange Pecan Glazed Pork Loin Roast

Pork Loin Roast with Rosemary-Balsamic Marinade

Slow-Cooked Pulled Pork *Note special cook times and temps

Sweet & Sour Pork *Save time with pre-cut Pork Stew Meat

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SMOKED HAM: Simply heat and serve (it's truly delicious as-is), or add a mouth-watering homemade glaze with wholesome ingredients you already have on hand.

Suggested oven temperature: Preheat to 325-350°F depending on your oven; the goal is to warm the roast thoroughly without drying it out, so lower temps are best.

Cooking prep: Place ham cut-side down in a baking dish or shallow roasting pan. Optionally, add a small amount of water to prevent scorching. Cover with foil.

Cooking time: approx. 20 minutes per pound, or until heated through.

If glazing: Pull ham from oven about 30 minutes from expected end time. Remove from pan any remaining water and brush ham with glaze. Remove foil if you wish to caramelize the glaze. Return ham to oven.

Recommended internal temp before serving: 145°F at the center. Pull ham from oven when internal temperature nears 145°F, then allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Find complete instructions and a printable PDF here.

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SPARE RIBS/BACKBONE: For the simplest preparation, place in an oven-safe baking dish. Pour your favorite BBQ sauce on them, leave them overnight in the fridge, and slow-cook in the oven at 325°F for several hours. The meat will be most tender when the internal temp reaches 195-200°F and the meat is falling apart. For another option, treat yourself to Laura's delicious recipes for homemade Orange Pork Ribs or BBQ Pork Backbone, below.

Our spare ribs/backbone recipes:

Orange Pork Ribs

BBQ Pork Backbone

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Ground Pork/Loose Sausage: Super versatile and simple to prepare—just brown meat and cook burgers to an internal temp of 160°F to reach the recommended temperature while preserving our pork's meaty tenderness and natural depth of flavor!

Our ground pork/loose sausage recipes:

Sausage and Rice Casserole

Crock-Pot Sausage Chili

Forested Sausage Zuppa Toscana

Laura's Texas BBQ Burgers (Beef/Sausage Mix)

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Bratwurst & Link Sausages: On the stove top, preheat a nonstick or cast iron pan on medium heat. For cast iron, melt a small amount of pork lard or bacon fat to prevent sticking. Space sausages in pan and cook according to the following table:

  • 1oz and 2oz links: 3 to 5 minutes per side or until internal temp of 160°F; remove from heat and allow to rest 2-3 minutes before serving.
  • 4oz links and bratwurst: approx 10 minutes per side or until internal temp of 160°F; remove from heat and allow to rest 2-3 minutes before serving.

In the oven, bake our 1oz and 2oz links from frozen in a Pyrex dish @ 375°F for an hour, or until the internal temperature measures 160°F.

For 4oz links and bratwurst, thaw in refrigerator and bring to room temperature for 20-30 minutes before cooking in a Pyrex dish at 375°F until the internal temperature measures 160°F (approx 30-45 minutes).

Serve links or bratwurst hot-dog style, or as your main course meat alongside eggs, veggies and/or whole grain sides.

Tip: Freeze cooked links in a Ziploc and pull one out anytime to quickly reheat for a fast meal. Or chop cooked links into bite-sized pieces before freezing to top pizza and add to casseroles, quiche, and stir-fry dishes on busy nights.

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2. Grass-Fed and Finished Beef

Guidelines coming soon!

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3. Pasture-Raised Chicken

Guidelines coming soon!

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