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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' 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!


Holiday Recipe, Cotechino & Lentils

Lenticchie col Cotechino / Lentils with Cotechino Sausage
Adapted from Carol Fields’ Celebrating Italy. Serves 6

A traditional Italian New Year’s eve meal that brings good luck (the sausage is sliced into the shape of coins) for the coming year. In Emilia-Romagna the sausage is encased in a pig’s foot, zampone.

1 lb. Pastaworks’ cotechino sausage
1 lb. lentils
3 cups broth or water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small onion finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
8 fresh sage leaves, chopped
3 tb. tomato paste diluted in a little water
salt and pepper to taste

Clean the lentils well by soaking them briefly and changing the water at least once. Put them in cold water, bring to a boil, and cook until not quite done, 40-60 mins. or until done to your taste.

Pierce the sausages in several places with a fork. Boil very slowly in broth over low heat for about 10-15 minutes, skimming off the fat if necessary. When cooked, remove from the broth and let it cool briefly.

Warm the olive oil and sauté the onion,, carrot, celery, garlic and sage leaves until the onion is transparent and the vegetables limp. Be careful not to burn the garlic, Drain the lentils, saving a bit of their water, add the sautéed vegetables, salt and pepper, and mix in the tomato sauce with a wooden spoon. Bathe with about three ladleful’s of broth from the cotechino. Slice the cotechino into quarter-inch rounds and serve next to or over the cooked lentils.

Serve with a green salad and Lambrusco or a Sangiovese based red from Zerbina or Tre Monti.
Buone Feste!