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Shopkeeper Talk

This "shopkeeper talk" is not from a shopkeeper, but from Scot Laney, driving force behind Eat Oregon First (EOF), one of Pastaworks' and The Meating Place's primary purveyors. Scot penned this opinion after being queried about "pasture raised" animals.

Fun Facts for Engaging Dinner Conversation:

This week we focus our Fun Fact on the term "pasture". That's right, those patches of green grass that form the nexus of the term "Pasture Raised". Seems like everything is pasture raised round these parts: chickens, ducks, pigs, goats, cows, pit vipers, snails, the whole works. In reality, pasture opportunities in Oregon are really limited. Sure, an animal can stay outdoors in winter here, if you're cruel enough to make it do so. The fact is that pastures around here have little (close to none) nutritional value for about seven months out of the year. In fact, fast growing grass in early spring here can actually be poisonous to cattle until it grows through some of the toxin it creates during the rapid growth phase of spring. So, knowing this, a great question to ask about the Pasture Raised food you eat is this: what does it eat as a supplement to the lack of nutritional pasture value for most of the year? If the answer is that the animal is on commercial feed, we really haven't accomplished much. If the answer is that the farmer raises the pasture supplement him or herself, now we're getting somewhere. That animal is what we call Bi-local: raised on the farm and fed from the farm. If it is born on the farm too (Tri-local) that's a home run. Simply running an animal out on a pasture with no food value makes no sense. Feeding that animal commercial feed from who-knows-where makes no sense in addition to the no sense it already makes, so now we have a doubly non-sensical approach to local food.

Don't get me wrong, there are true pasture raised products out there. Carman Ranch has an excellent grass program. But they are sensible and raise their cattle only during the time of year that it is beneficial to do so. Year round pasture raised beef, pork or chicken is an imaginary market tactic only, plain and simple.

Food Riot!


Lamb Chops with Piquillo Pepper Marmalade

Adapted from Anya von Bremen’s The New Spanish Kitchen
Serves: 8

8 1” rib lamb chops
1 Tbs. crumbled dry rosemary, or chopped fresh rosemary
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
3 med. garlic cloves, crushed

For the marmalade:
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
½ med. onion, cut in half, and thinly sliced
3 med. garlic cloves, thinly sliced
8 lg. piquillo peppers, plus 1 Tbsp. of their oil
2 Tsp. grated orange zest
2 Tbs. fresh orange juice
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sm. bay leaf
1 tsp. sherry vinegar, preferably aged
coarse sea salt and pepper

Make the marmalade by heating the olive oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the peppers and cook for 3 minutes. Add the pepper oil, orange zest and juice, rosemary, bay leaf plus 2 Tablespoons of water. Reduce the heat to very low, cover the skillet, and cook until the peppers are soft, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a little more water if the skillet looks dry. Remove and discard the rosemary sprig and bay leaf, and stir in the vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, and allow the marmalade to cool to warm. Light the grill and preheat it to medium-high. If you do not have a grill you can either broil or fry the chops.

Rub the chops generously with salt and pepper and the rosemary. Place the olive oil in a shallow dish and stir in the garlic. Add the lamb chops and turn to coat with the garlic oil. Grill the chops until cooked to taste, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Place 2 chops on each of 4 serving plates, top with some of the marmalade and serve at once.