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Have you ever cooked heritage meat?
Since heritage animals live and grow differently, their meat also needs to cook differently. All of our animals have slower growing times than their commercial cousins, and we raise them free from hormones. Following these simple cooking tips can make your experience with heritage meat; a good experience.
Our chickens grow for a minimum of 5-9 months, depending on the breed. This is substantially longer than their commercial cousins that have been genetically modified to reach butcher weight by 2 months of age. Since our birds able to run, flap, exercise, and forage freely, they have muscle. The muscle is gained between the ages of 2 months+. With the muscle gain comes very flavourful meat that has had time to reflect all the great protein they’ve consumed over their lifetime. To break down this additional muscle, we recommend cooking as follows:
1. Place your bird in a slow cooker on low for fall off the bone meat. This will ensure your chicken is incredibly tender and flavorful every time.
2. For oven roasting (after seasoning to your desired flavoring), cook your bird in the oven at a temperature of 300° F. We cook ours for roughly 1 hour at this temperature. Turn your oven up to 400°F to brown your bird for 5-10 minutes. Heritage breed chickens require a much longer and lower cooking temperature to help break down the intramuscular structure. If you cook your chicken at a higher temperature for a shorter amount of time, it’ll be tough. This is why we recommend cooking it low and slow. Cook to an internal temperature of 165°F.
*Always allow your chicken to rest for 10 minutes before carving to allow for the redistribution of juices.
English Game Hen
Our English game hen is the same size as a cornish game hen that you’d typically purchase in the grocery store. The main difference is breed and months raised. Our English game hens, once butchered, don’t exceed 2 lbs and are raised for a minimum of 5 months. In doing so, this creates a very flavourful and delicious little bird. See the cooking instructions for cooking a heritage breed (regular sized) chicken and cook using the same methods. This bird is the same age, just a smaller variety.
Our turkeys grow for a minimum of 7 months. For a bird to truly have a delicious, succulent flavour, they need time, exercise, and the ability to forage. Our turkeys are able to forage on the grass in the warmer months. Since heritage breeds grow much slower than their commercialized cousins, it’s a flavour that’s well worth the wait. We have cooked our heritage turkeys in various ways and find they have a moist and great texture regardless of how they’re cooked. Optional ways to cook your heritage turkey:
1. Cook exactly like you’d cook your traditional store-bought turkey. (Check it’s internal temperature regularly to make sure it’s not becoming over-cooked or dry.
2. Cook it more like a game bird. This is another great method that works every time. Remove the turkey from the fridge and allow it to reach room temperature. This ensures a quicker and more even cook. Gently separate the skin from the breast and massage in butter. This will make the skin golden crisp and keep the breast moist. We recommend using aromatic flavoring inside its cavity, such as – apples, onions, rosemary, thyme, and sage. Bake your turkey un-tented with tinfoil for the first 20 minutes to brown the skin, then bake with a tent for the remaining cooking time. Cook at a high temperature between 450 – 475°F for less time than a store-bought turkey. (Heritage turkeys are usually cooked in less than 3 hours). Baste only once, halfway through the cooking time, to avoid moisture loss of removing the tent. After 1.5 hours, check the internal temperature regularly since, at this point, it becomes very easy to overcook! Cook until the meatiest part of the thigh reaches an internal temperature of 145-150°F. Remove your turkey from the oven and allow it to rest for 30 minutes, tented. During this time, the internal temperature should rise to the recommended temperature of 155°F.
*We highly recommend using a thermometer that can remain in the bird during cooking to avoid the heat and moisture loss from opening the oven during cooking time.
Guinea fowl are great flyers and extremely agile, athletic sprinters. With top running speeds of 35 km/hr, care needs to go into cooking this bird to break down some serious muscle. We allow our guineas to forage freely in the warmer months. Most of a guineas diet is obtained from this natural behavior. Since they’re such avid foragers, this creates a very delicious, meaty bird. Cooking time and temperature should be the main component since guineas are smaller than a chicken, with 50% less fat. We recommend cooking your bird as follows:
1. Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Combine herbs of your choosing. (We use rosemary, thyme, garlic, parsley, and oregano). Stuff aromatic components into the cavity. (Such as garlic cloves and chopped onions). We recommend using 1/4 cup of chicken broth mixed with 1/2 a cup of white wine for the guinea to cook in. Gently lift skin from thighs and breast and massage 1/2 cup of butter into the meat. This will ensure the guinea doesn’t dry out during cooking. Place the guinea on it’s back and cook in a baking dish and cook for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350°F and bake for 1 hr and 15 minutes until the thermometer reads 180°F when inserted to the bone in the thigh. Allow guinea to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Drizzle with juices from cooking at the time of serving.
At Hogs and Horns Homestead, we allow our rabbits access to fresh grass to hop, sprint, and forage. This helps develop very flavourful meat between the fresh grass in the warmer months and their hand-mixed custom grains. Our fryers are raised 5 months, regular rabbits are processed between 5-6 months, and our roasters live until 8 months of age. Special care of how you cook your rabbit will ensure you enjoy this animal as much as our other meats. Follow our recommended cooking instructions below:
1. Slow cook your rabbit. Slow cooking on low ensures you get an incredibly moist, flavorful, fall off of the bone every time kind of meat. This is always a fail-safe way to cook this meat.
2. Bake it in a pot pie. This will ensure your rabbit doesn’t dry out as it’s cooked.
3. Roast your rabbit (parted). For roasting, if you want brighter, whiter meat; you can soak your rabbit in cold water for 3 hours before cooking. Season with your selected flavoring and preheat oven to 350°F. Heat vegetable oil in skillet and brown all rabbit pieces well. Place pieces into a baking dish and cover the rabbit with the sauce or seasonings you’d like. We use a sauce and seasoning, so the meat doesn’t dry out. Bake in the oven, uncovered for 90 minutes. Regularly baste so the meat remains tender. Remove and let rest for 10 minutes once the internal temperature reaches 160 °F.
4. Fry it. Marinate your rabbit pieces in 2 cups of buttermilk and seasoning of your choice. Marinate overnight. Preheat oil in a Frying pan (one inch of oil in depth). Drain rabbit and dredge in flour with spices. We place our flour and spices in a bag then shake the rabbit piece to cover it. Once the oil sizzles (around 325°F). Place well-coated rabbit pieces into skillet one by one and fry for 8-12 minutes before turning so they’re golden brown. Repeat this process, then drain on a paper towel.
Our heritage duck breeds have been selected because of their delicious, high-quality meat. They carry slightly less fat on their bodies than their commercialized cousins. This is mainly attributed to the fact that our ducks can freely forage on the grass in the warmer months. With a custom, hand-mixed grain supplemented free-choice as well. Since our ducks live longer than their commercialized cousins, their fat distribution is different, and their flavour has much more depth. Follow our cooking tips below for how to cook your heritage breed duck.
1. Roast it. This is our go-to choice for our ducks. We know they’ll turn out each time, and we like to keep them whole, so their fat deeply penetrates their meat while cooking. Season and prepare your duck with the recipe you choose. Bake your duck for 30 minutes at 325°F. Remove your duck and allow it to rest on a cutting board. Turn up the oven to 450°F. Once it has reached this temperature, place your duck back into the oven to roast for an additional 10 minutes to crisp the skin. Duck is fully cooked at an internal temperature of 180°F.
A muscovy is classified as a duck; however, it tastes far more comparable to that of a goose. How you cook your muscovy will greatly impact its flavour and whether you enjoy it fully. Our ducks can freely forage on the grass in the warmer months. We offer a custom, high-quality hand-mixed grain free-choice as well. The muscovy is an avid forager and can consume a large percentage of its diet off of foraging. This creates a deep, rich-tasting dark meat, which is simply delicious. Follow our cooking tips below on how to cook your muscovy.
1. Our most highly recommended way to cook your muscovy is oven-roasted. Once dethawed, fill your sink with cold water and 4 tablespoons of salt. Place your bird in the sink and allow this to soak for at least 20 minutes. Preheat your oven to 425°F and make sure to pat dry your duck. Fill the cavity in the bird with whichever stuffing you desire. Tent your muscovy with tinfoil and roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 320°F and roast for an additional 3 hours. Approximately every 30 minutes, remove any fat that has accumulated in the bottom of the roaster. (This depends on how lean the duck is. This step may not be needed depending on the birds’ fat content). If your duck is lean, then we recommend basting the duck as opposed to removing its juices. At the last hour of cooking, remove the tinfoil, and allow the skin to be crisp. Remove your bird from the oven once it reaches 165°F and allow it to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.
Our heritage geese are slower growing and a smaller breed of a goose than their commercial cousins. During the warmer months, we allow our geese to forage on grass freely. With their great foraging skills and slower growth times, this creates a more flavourful goose. We also offer our geese a custom high quality, hand-mixed, free-choice grain supplement. Check out our cooking recommendations below if you haven’t cooked a heritage goose before.
1. 24 hours before you’re cooking your goose, remove your goose from its packaging and place it in the fridge overnight. This allows the skin on the goose to dry out. Remove the goose from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking to ensure it reaches room temperature. Preheat your oven to 325°F and season your bird with all your favorite seasonings. In a roaster pan, place chopped root vegetables as a bed for the goose to rest on while cooking. Then fill the roaster pan with either apple cider, juice, stock, or wine to cover the vegetables halfway. Place your goose breast side down in the middle of the oven and cook for 25 minutes per pound until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Please note that the temperature will rise 10 to 15 degrees after you remove it from the oven. Halfway through cooking, flip the goose over to brown the breast. Make sure to check the temperature regularly to avoid over-cooking. Your goose is done when a slit in its skin reveals clear running fluids and not red. The breast meat will cook faster than dark meat, so be careful when cooking! Allow your goose to rest for at least 30 minutes before carving, so the juices have time to redistribute properly.
The lamb we raise you can cook exactly like lamb you purchase in the grocery store. Lambs characteristic “gamey” flavour is most prominently found in cuts such as shank and shoulder whereas cuts with less fat like ribs, loin chops and rack of lamb have less of that flavour. Since we don’t grain finish our lambs, their meat has more traditional, gamey flavour due to foraging and grazing. If you eat lamb regularly, you’ll know that you can cook it in various ways, like beef, chicken or pork. Having cuts with the bone-in allows for more depth of flavour as opposed to boneless. Yes, it’s true that if you cook your lamb incorrectly, it can make it dry and tough. Since each cut of lamb needs to be cooked differently, these tips can help avoid improper cooking techniques.
1. Always allow your lamb meat to warm to room temperature. This allows for a more evenly cooked, juicier meat. Lamb is recommended to be removed from the fridge 1-2 hours (Don’t exceed 2 hours) before cooking, depending on the cut’s type and size.
2. Don’t over marinate your meat! Acidic marinades will make the meats surface an unpleasant texture and mushy. Try 15-20 minutes with acidic marinades, especially if it’s a thinner cut of meat. A rub can be rubbed into the meat right before cooking, and since lamb already has such tender cuts, using a rub as opposed to an acidic marinade can yield better results.
3. Since lamb has such a strong flavour compared to other meats, many people avoid this meat. Using bold spices correctly can turn this meat from one you may avoid, to meat you could enjoy. Lamb can be seasoned with just about anything, however using traditional Mediterranean flavours such as oregano, sage, rosemary or garlic, really add a nice flavour to this meat. Using paprika or cumin when grilling your lamb will add a nice flavour alongside the grill charred taste. Curry will tame down the flavour of your lamb when using it in stews and braises.
4. Cook the cuts correctly. Since certain meat cuts are more tender where others have more muscle, they need to be cooked accordingly. The shank, rump, legs, and shoulder have more muscle, so these should be cooked for longer on a lower temperature. The loins, breasts, and ribs are more suited for quick methods. These can be easily pan-fried or grilled.
5. Don’t overcook your lamb! Hover and check your lambs’ temperature while it’s cooking. Cooking certain cuts properly will ensure the meat doesn’t dry out and render the meat chewy and dry. Be sure to research all the different cooking styles of lamb since it is such diverse meat. We always cook our lamb to 160-165 °F; however, we have known others to cook it differently. Always use a thermometer when cooking your lamb; this will yield better results.
6. Always allow your lamb to rest for 10 or so minutes so it can redistribute its juices accordingly before carving or serving. Be sure to cut your meat properly. It would be best to carve each cut of meat the right way, so you’re not leaving muscle fibers long and chewy. Carving the meat right will ensure a more tender lamb.
7. If you’re not a fan of gamey flavoring, trim your meat! Since most of the compounds that contribute to the “gamey” flavour are found in their fat, simply trimming this fat off of your cuts before cooking can really help with this.
*Serious eats took the theory of the gaminess flavoring in lamb fat and conducted an experiment. They added extra lean ground lamb into beef burgers and then cooked lean beef steak in rendered lamb fat. The results? The tasters didn’t know they were eating beef initially and thought both the steaks and burgers were lamb.
All of our heritage pork is slower growing than their commercial counterparts. With their slow-growing comes meat jam-packed with flavour and beautifully marbled fat! We allow all our pigs to forage on pasture their entire lives. They’re born onto pasture and are never confined inside in a small space. They take in the sunshine, fresh air, and root around all day. Since their meat and fat gain slowly and evenly over their growth, you can get a nice sear on a chop or braise a shoulder, so it falls apart without the risk of drying it out. This great fat created on these slow maturing breeds is sure to be your best friend when cooking in the kitchen!
Heritage wild based pork
These guys get to enjoy a pasture-based life, free to forage and sunbathe to their heart’s content. Our ossabaw and crosses have some incredibly lean pork. The first time we tried one of our hogs, we had to purchase store lard to create sausage or even fry it. This pork is a great choice for beef lovers since its flavour profile is most commonly compared to a pork x beef. When cooking this meat, be sure to cook it slower on a lower temperature to ensure you don’t dry out your cuts! Any recipes you find on wild boar that look interesting you can usually use across the board with ossabaw.