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Food from the Farm: What to make with random cuts left in your freezer.

Dear friends and customers of North Mountain Pastures, Ever wonder what to do with random cuts that are left in your freezer? A few sausages...A lamb neck roast... a small package of shanks...smoked turkey wings or legs...anything with bones... We received a guest post by member Matthew Olshan, describing his solution to this problem. It is one we have used ourselves with amazing results a number of times. Matthew, thank you for sharing your experience and your thoughts so beautifully! Matthew writes: "This is our first year with North Mountain Pastures and our first foray into the world of CSA shares. It has been a rewarding and delicious experience, but one that has required a shift in thinking. For decades, our meal planning has been driven by two main factors: what do we want to eat tonight; and what looks best -- and is the best value -- at the market.

A monthly CSA presents a challenge: here are cuts of meat in portions that you might not ordinarily think to buy. Go forth. Create!

And then there's another challenge. What happens if life gets in the way of your cooking, and a whole month slips by without a lot of pastured meat meals? Last week, I opened the freezer and faced this exact dilemma. It had been a hectic month of work and travel. Our next CSA share was around the corner. And there, staring at me, was a stack of frozen deliciousness, just waiting for a creative solution. There was one of those flavorful whole chickens. Some pork belly. A package of chorizo sausages. A piece of pork shoulder. A few spareribs. What to do? The answer lay in a rustic French specialty: a cassoulet. The cassoulet dates back to medieval times, when French farmers were forced to get creative for mid-winter meals. They had dried beans and preserved meats in the form of sausages and duck confit. A steaming bowl of cassoulet, washed down with a glass or two of the medieval version of a Cote de Rhone, was the perfect answer to a bitter winter evening. I'm certainly no expert in these matters, and there are purists who would recoil at the idea of using chorizo, say, instead of a good garlic sausage; or chicken, rather than the traditional duck. In fact, this was my very first cassoulet! But our end-of-month cassoulet was fantastic, largely thanks to an excellent recipe by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt on the Serious Eats website: I heartily endorse Mr. Lopez-Alt's suggestion to use duck fat, if you have some or can get it. His recommendation on the size of the pork belly pieces (about 3/4" square) is right on, too. I'm neutral on the importance of developing a perfect "crust" over the cassoulet, but if crusts are your thing, Mr. Lopez-Alt has gone to great lengths to develop a fool-proof approach. A cassoulet is a very high use of end-of-month CSA orphans: a thrifty, hearty peasant food that can be brought to life with whatever stew-ready cuts of meat you happen have on hand. An added plus is that it will fill your house with delicious aromas for hours before you sit down to enjoy it."

Thank you again Matthew for sharing! I know what I'll be making soon... Please feel free to share any of your experiences, tips, and thoughts about your food with Thanks as always for supporting local foods!

~Brooks & Anna

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