My friend Paul H. has come over twice in the last couple of weeks so we could get down to business and put together some serious charcuterie. Today was the second day, and now the freezer is full of so many goodies for the holidays, I’m feeling a little smug. In the next two months, there will be parties, dinners, houseguests. It’s good to have such riches at hand!
We made duck liver terrine flavored with apple and armagnac. An amazing treat to pull out for a little impromptu holiday get-together.
We made pate campagne. How gorgeous!
We tested my new KitchenAid meat grinder and ground pork and fatback, lamb and chicken, rabbit and veal. We toasted spices and ground them in the mortar and pestle. We spiced and mixed and stirred and chilled. We mixed in salt, pepper, herbs, spices, and even some briny green peppercorns. We cooked off tastes and adjusted seasonings.
We attached the sausage stuffer, rinsed salt off casings, and performed some truly obscene gestures with casings, stuffer, and PAM to get it all done. We stuffed casings, twisting this way and that way. We filled casings and coiled rings, ready for the grill. And at the end there were pounds of boudin blanc, spicy merguez and sage breakfast sausage all ready to go.
It took me awhile to source everything. The best flavors come from grass fed AND finished, pastured animals, and that’s what I wanted. Springfield Farm came through with nearly everything needed. And once I’d made that connection, I made a trip to their farm, to see just where all this food was grown.
Farmer David Smith was a wonderful host. We stood for awhile looking out over the duck pasture and talked about the history of the place. The farm has been continually in operation since the mid-19th century. The c1850 brick house on the property took six years to build, with all the bricks made right there at the farm. There are 67 acres currently farmed, with 55 open acres. Even the wooded areas are used – the pigs live up there. It’s a very diversified, pasture-based farm – just the sort of place we all should be sourcing our meats and poultry.
Springfield Farm keeps ducks and hens for laying, but at this time of year, of course, it’s all turkeys all the time. We jumped in a golf cart to zip around and visit the nearly ready for Thanksgiving birds. Walking among them, they fanned their tails and gobbled, gathering around, curious. David raises both heritage and commercial breeds – all pastured and free range. The heritage breed is the Narragansett, growing to 15-18 lbs. His broad breasted white and broad breasted bronze birds can get up to 30 lbs, and he sells a lot of birds at that size!
We zipped around in the golf cart visiting all the pastures. First, we found the pigs snarfling around a pile of cauliflower they had rejected. There were plenty of other foods out there, though and they were busy! It was fun to scritch their ears and let them nuzzle my hand looking for treats! These were Tamworth heritage pigs, a breed that has fewer than 1000 breeding pigs in existence. Springfield Farm’s efforts are keeping this breed around. It’s a very tasty pig.
After visiting more chickens, Rhode Island reds and whites (hardier for the winter) 750 birds kept on a half-acre pasture, we crossed the road and headed up a little rise, to Annabelle’s pasture. Annabelle is a sweet cow, and her daughter Sahara is even more adorable.
At the far end of the pastures, lambs were climbing in and out of a trailer. These heritage hair sheep, the Khatadin breed that originated at the Piel Farm in north central Maine, don’t require shearing, and produce wonderful fresh tasting meat, making them ideal for farm production. The Smiths are raising mostly males, as the Pennsylvania breeder keeps the females. They were shy little fellows.
I realize I was facing my (future) food, but I don’t have any squeemishness about it. It feels good to know the people involved, to walk in the pastures, to see the commitment and hard work. Why wouldn’t I want to feed my family and friends with products from such a place?
It was a wonderful day. Thanks go out to all the family at Springfield Farm. They all play a role in keeping the farm running. If you’re in Sparks, Maryland, visit the farm Friday, Saturday & Sunday, and say hello to Lilly & David Smith; Valerie, Doug, Danielle & David Lafferty; and Catherine, Rachel & Jennifer Webb.
David says “Get to know your farmer.” I couldn’t agree more.
Duck Liver Terrine
Makes one large terrine or, my preference, several small ramekins
1 lb. excellent quality unsalted butter, softened
2 lbs. duck or chicken livers, or a mix, cleaned, patted dry, and sinews removed
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
1/2 c. armagnac
1 Tbls salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp Dijon mustard (I prefer Maille)
1/2 tsp allspice
6 sheets gelatin, or 6 tsp powdered gelatin, softened in cold water
Heat about a tablespoon of butter in a large saute pan. When frothy, add livers and cook until browned, but not crispy. Add the apples and cook until softened. There should be no pink in the liver whatsoever.
Strain the liquid from the liver mixture. Drain the gelatin and cut into pieces, adding to the hot liquid.
Puree the liver mixture in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Add the gelatin mixture. to the hot livers and combine. Add the armagnac, mustard, salt, pepper and allspice.
Let the mixture cool just a bit, then add in the butter in bits, processing until smooth.
Pour the mixture into a terrine or ramekins and chill at least overnight, so it will set, and the flavors will blend.
Can be made well in advance. It will keep in the fridge for a week, and in the freezer for a couple of months.
I just have to post this picture, even though it doesn’t really have any context. Just before we took off in the golf cart, David introduced me to his wife, Lilly. She was washing and sorting hen eggs. Check out these two – the variation in size! I realize I’m a little geeky about this stuff, but admit it – PRETTY COOL, huh?