Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What else do we sell?

Hand-Shredded Free-Range Pork Rillettes
Rillettes is a French term for what is best described as a coarse textured pate. Free-range pork shoulder is slow cooked with back fat and spices, then hand-shredded in the traditional French fashion. It’s ready to eat; simply spread on sourdough bread and toast the pig grower’s health with a Tassie pinot. Store in the fridge. Our rillettes keep well for a week refrigerated once opened but for full flavour serve at room temperature.

Free-Range Pork pies
Ross’s famous pork pies are a meal for two. Handmade in small quantities, they’re crafted in the traditional English fashion, using hot water pastry and hand-cut free-range pork shoulder meat.

Pure Pork and Fennel Sausages
Our sausages are no surprise bags. Where many people use fillers, such as starch or breadcrumbs, we only use first grade meat, from the neck and shoulder, of a quality that you could roast. The meat is coarsely ground, salted and hand-filled in natural casings. These sausages are intense and opulent, and can be either gently poached (70-80C) for five minutes before frying, or gently cooked over a medium heat on a barbie or in a frypan. You may find a single sausage is enough for most people, because we don’t skimp on pork flavour. Because we only have limited supply of free-range pork, the meat in our sausages currently comes from ethically produced pigs from a farm near Sorell. A hampshire landrace cross breed, the parents live free range, and the porkers are fattened on deep litter and housed in poly tunnels with plenty of fresh air, sunshine and room to move. While not free-range pork, it is the next best thing and we've visited the farm to ensure we're happy with the arrangements.

Dry Cured Free Range Speck
The streaky bit from the end of the free-range bacon is dry cured and double smoked. Dice and sauté to toss through pasta, or cut into strips and fry like bacon. We like to use thin slices draped over chicken before roasting for an hour in a 200C oven.

Pure Pork Cassoulet
The heady, wonderful, rich French classic. We use pork neck, confit pork belly and pure pork sausages slow baked with haricot beans and garlic. Browned breadcrumbs are stirred in and it’s ready to heat (with 2 tablespoons water) and eat.

Real Italian Pork & Veal Ragu
The original bolognese meat ragu. Slow braised pork and veal mince are cooked for six hours with milk, white wine and tomato. Intense, and very, very satisfying. Add 2 tablespoons of butter, the same of pasta cooking water, and use it to flavour 500g pasta.

Bignell’s Stoneground Tasmanian Flour
This is a product we’re extremely proud of. Wheat and rye are grown in the Central Highlands by a 7th generation Tasmanian, Will Bignell. Will grinds his wholegrain flour between quartz stones in a wonderful old (1872) steel mill on Thorpe Farm, a property the family have lived on since 1821. Tasmanian wheat is typically low in gluten, so the whole-wheat plain flour isn’t suitable for making bread without mixing with other flour but it is perfect for biscuits (or you can buy gluten flour to add to make a good, well risen bread).

On occasion we have herb fed rabbits from Gayelene Harrower. They feast on yarrow, milk thistle, nettle, radish, parsley, blackberry shoots, roses and fresh grass. Cuddled, patted and played with in Kingston. They’re popular, so come early or ring ahead.

Fresh Felafel Mix
At last something for vegans, it’s ready to shape, fry and eat. We recommend a tomato salad and yoghurt, along with flatbread for the best experience.Link

Pork and Lamb Meat
Our meat comes from artisan growers who only rear small numbers of animals. Occasionally, we may have pre-packaged fresh meat on hand, but if you really want to be sure of getting something, ring or email ahead. Suckling pigs can be made available on request. We are currently sourcing old breed lamb, organic beef, and are working on proper free-range, rare-breed chickens.

About Bacon

Bacon is a wonderful product born out of the necessity to preserve meat before the advent of refrigeration. Salt curing and smoking both act as preservatives traditionally, though now they’re used as much for flavour as anything else.

The Pigs
Most commercial bacon comes from factory-farmed pigs. It’s a product designed to be fast and cheap to produce. Pigs that don’t walk too far, or need pasture, are typically cheaper to breed. Modern pig varieties are designed to be fast growing, to be relatively lean, and have longer rib cages for bacon. Older varieties were bred principally for flavour, and carry much more fat – which made them unfashionable for quite a while. Many older varieties are more suited to free ranging, including black pigs that are less likely to suffer sunburn under the Australian sun.

Bacon can be cured two ways, either dry cured in salt or a mix of salt and sugar, or in brine (salty water usually with sugar added). Brine acts much faster, and many brine-cured pork products, such as bacon and ham, are also injected with the brine to speed up the curing process. What happens in the process is that the meat absorbs water. This is a really good thing if you’re selling the product, because salty water is much cheaper to produce than meat. Often the brine or salt contains sodium nitrite, a naturally occurring preservative (now made in factories and necessary in some smallgoods) that keeps the bacon and pork’s pink colour, even when cooked.
More than 50% of some commercial bacon is water. You can tell watery bacon by the way it cooks; it will leach water and spatter as it cooks and it will shrink – some shrinks to 1/3 of its original weight. We dry cure our bacon.

Food in Australia can be smoked in the old fashioned way, over smouldering woodchips or sawdust, and it can also be flavoured with a smoke-scented syrup that you buy from a wholesaler.
Some ham and bacon is boiled rather than baked. It is cooked in water to minimise the amount it shrinks, then smoked to give it flavour, or possibly just rubbed or boiled in smoke scented chemicals. You know the stuff; wet, pale skinned and sad.
Good bacon, like Rare Food Berkshire Bacon, is smoked. Hot smoking cooks the bacon in the heat of the smouldering sawdust or woodchips. This cooking reduces the bacon’s weight in the same way roasting meat causes it to shrink. A smaller end result means it costs a lot more to make and buy. The good news is that hot smoked bacon only loses about 25% of its weight when cooked, compared to up to 65% for watery bacon. And what’s left should have a much more intense flavour.

Green Bacon
Some people produce raw bacon, called green bacon in the trade. It’s either cured and not smoked, or perhaps delicately cold smoked. You can expect more shrinkage with green bacon because it has yet to be cooked a first time. Rare Food currently sell a cold smoked product that we term green bacon to differentiate it from the dry cured, hot smoked version.

We stock two kinds of bacon, an old fashioned dry cured bacon and a green bacon both made from free-range pigs.

Old Fashioned Dry Cured Free-Range Bacon
Free-range pig bellies are dry cured in sea salt and sugar then hot smoked at Snug Butchery. We don’t use sodium nitrite or nitrate in this bacon, so it’s more likely to be the colour of cooked pork rather than pink. A thick band of fat is usual on our bacon, and renders down well. (We recommend you save it and use for other things, like fried bread, in warm potato salad, or to roast vegies.) Cut it thickly and cook your bacon slowly in a dry pan for best results.

Green Free-Range Bacon
Not a true unsmoked bacon in the English sense, but a cold smoked product that is naturally sweet, moist and rich. Sold sliced, it’s smoked in an old fashioned smoke room over local Tassie hardwood, by Cygnet Butchery.

Our Pigs

We base our premium pork products on old-breed, free-range pigs that come from small farmlets south of Hobart, in the Huon Valley and on Bruny Island. These days most of the pigs we use are from our own farms. The main breeds we use are the black Berkshire (pronounced “Barkshire”) and Wessex Saddleback breeds, both of which are slower growing and better tasting than the ordinary commercial white pig. As older varieties of pigs, both Berkshires and Wessex Saddlebacks have greater marbling and a greater external fat content than faster growing pigs. Our pigs are either female or immature males, and have a diet that could include apples, cherries, potatoes, grass and whey that’s created in the process of cheesemaking at Bruny Island Cheese Company. The pigs' fat is packed full of flavour, and is predominantly unsaturated (making it much healthier than butter). When you cook with Rare Food pig products, you should find them richer, and therefore use and eat less meat.