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Posts from the ‘Bits & Bites’ Category

Reinventing Chicken

Esteemed French Chef Antoine Westermann recently opened his first New York City restaurant.  It’s called Le Coq Rico: The Bistro of Beautiful Birds. And when you want beautiful birds, D’Artagnan is the place to find them.

NY Post Chicken Article

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How to Assemble a Cheese and Charcuterie Board

When it’s time to plan a party, we always vote for a charcuterie board. This platter of smoked, cured and cooked meats is perfect for a pre-dinner spread, small bites and cocktails, or even for a football viewing party. But we love cheese almost as much as charcuterie, so it seemed natural to pair them and make one big, fantastically tasty platter.

We highly recommend you try this at home. No need to overthink it! Parties are fun – and cheese and charcuterie should be, too. Just read our primer and then get creative with your own pairings. All of the items and flavors work well together, so you can’t go wrong.

We’ve divided the board into 5 stacks, or suites. You can pick one or two columns in our pairing and recreate them for a small board. Or expand your selection as needed for a larger  board.

The nice thing about all this variety is that your guests can mix and match to create new combinations, or nibble on the items they like best. There’s something for everyone here.

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Why You Should Eat More Duck Fat

There’s an old saying, “When life gives you ducks, make duck fat.”

This liquid gold is the preferred cooking medium at D’Artagnan, as it is in Southwest France. Way back in 1985, when Ariane founded the company, she knew that duck fat was a product that Americans needed. Even if they didn’t know it themselves yet.

The first and most obvious reason is because it’s incredibly tasty. Duck fat offers a rich, silky mouth feel that transforms whatever it touches, without an overpowering flavor. But make no mistake, it has a flavor all its own. If you haven’t tried potatoes roasted or fried in duck fat … you haven’t lived. This is the stuff our ancestors used before industrialized seed and vegetable oils came along. And we are happy to see that our obsession with duck fat is beginning to catch on.

When cold, duck fat is solid.  It goes back to liquid at warmer temperatures. 

Chefs love it because of the high smoke point; duck fat can be cooked at high temperatures without smoking or altering its flavor. And unlike butter or olive oil, duck fat can be recycled. For convenience, duck fat stores in the freezer for quite a long time. So be sure to keep a tub at all times, and be ready for any duck fat emergency. Read more

The Marvels of the Morel Mushroom

It’s spring and that means it’s time for morels! The first shipments are arriving at the D’Artagnan warehouse and being snapped up by chefs for their spring menus.

Morel mushrooms are a source of passion and culinary wonder, inspiring recipes, and annual spring festivals across the United States. They are known as a chef’s mushroom with an opulent, earthy flavor and texture that builds wonderful, rich sauces. But the flavor of the morel is so complex that it can be enjoyed simply. Just a sauté in butter with a bit of salt and cracked pepper is all it takes to create something extraordinary.

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Part of what makes them so beloved is the fact that they can be rare and hard-to-find. They are most common in moist deciduous woods, and are often associated with dead or dying elms, sycamore and ash trees, and old apple orchards, though some mushroom hunters report finding morels in their own suburban backyards. The pale, grayish or yellow color of the morel often blends perfectly with the dead leaves on the forest floor in early spring.

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Does Heritage Pork Make a Better Ham?

We can confidently say that heritage breed pork tastes better. It offers a nuanced, deeper flavor and more succulent meat than commodity pork. It tends to be darker in color – not dry and pale like the “other white meat” that is widely available. Did you know that the USDA lowered the minimum cooking temperature for pork to 145 degrees back in 2011? You may be overcooking those chops!

Pork Chops

Berkshire pork chops

Due to more diversity in farming and demand from the public, the rich, marbled fat and tasty meat of heritage pigs is certainly becoming more appreciated by connoisseurs. At D’Artagnan we celebrate the Berkshire hog and sell plenty of cuts like pork loin, racks, chops and tenderloin. We encourage you to taste it and compare to the pork you’ve had in the past.

But heritage breeds sometimes offer up the tastiest pork when they are crossed; a characteristic like large size combines with a distinct trait like fine-marbled fat to produce a meaty hind leg ideal for making ham. We take these heritage breed pork legs and smoke them with real applewood chips, not fake flavorings, and season them with maple and brown sugar and salt, to create a slightly sweet, but still savory ham.

Fully cooked, our applewood smoked heritage ham is an easy solution for a holiday dinner—all you need to do is heat and slice. But a glaze will put the finishing touch on your ham, and make the presentation a bit more dramatic. We have several recipes to choose from. Choose bone-in ham for large groups, leftovers and tableside carving.

And the very same heritage pork can be enjoyed in our boneless ham. Prepared the same way, it offers a lot of flavor in a smaller package, as well as ease of slicing.

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Spiced orange marmalade glazed ham

And for a small gathering, or just day-to-day use, we offer a boneless petite ham that weighs in at just 1.5 to 3 pounds. It’s perfect for slicing and slathering with Dijon mustard for a juicy ham sandwich. Ham goes well with eggs (just ask Dr. Seuss!), whether in an omelet or diced for a quiche. Chopped and added to egg or potato salad, this lightly-smoked ham is a great addition. Find ways to incorporate it in your favorite dishes.

Boneless heritage ham

Boneless heritage ham

And let us see what you’re cooking. Share pictures on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram – be sure to tag us @dartagnanfoods so we can see your kitchen victories!

It’s International Women’s Day

And we are celebrating the day! As you may know, D’Artagnan is founded and owned by a woman, the inimitable Ariane Daguin.

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Ariane was born into a world of great food. Her father, Chef André Daguin, is famous throughout France for his artistry with foie gras and other Gascon specialties. Ariane was expert at deboning ducks, rendering duck fat, preparing terrines and cooking game birds by the time she was ten.

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A teenage Ariane with her father Chef Andre Daguin in Gascony

A career in food might have seemed natural, but there was no place for a woman in the strict culinary hierarchy in France. Instead, Ariane decided to pursue an academic degree at Columbia University. While working part-time for a New York pâté producer, Ariane was in the right place when the opportunity to market the first domestically produced foie gras presented itself. She and a co-worker pooled their financial resources to launch D’Artagnan in 1985 as the first purveyor of game and foie gras in the U.S. She hasn’t looked back.

Devoted advocates for natural, sustainable and humane production, Ariane and D’Artagnan have been at the forefront of the organic movement in America, pioneering organic, free-range chicken (years before the FDA allowed the word “organic” on the label), and humanely-raised veal. She continues to find ways to bring innovative products to the market, all while staying true to her mission.

Ariane has always been an advocate of women in the kitchen, having broken the stainless steel ceiling herself. And she is quick to mentor and support women in every walk of life. Here are a few photos from the archives of Ariane with some pretty incredible women.

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We celebrate the accomplishments of women everywhere today – and every day.

 

 

All About Heritage Breed Pork

Heritage breed hogs are the old-fashioned breeds that were the norm before the industrialization of farming. They were handy animals to have on a diverse farm because they were natural garbage disposals, eating everything from table scraps to whey, the byproduct of cheese production.

Just a few pigs can clear and turn a fallow field, to prepare it for sowing with amazing speed and efficiency, saving a farmer time and resources. And when autumn came, the pig would give its last measure of devotion, and grace the family table with ham hocks and bacon.

D'Artagnan Heritage Breed Hogs

As more small farms seek a return to the traditional ways, they turn to the old hog breeds – like the Berkshire, Tamworth, Red Wattle and Duroc. The modern pink pig has been bred for lean meat and for its ability to be reared intensively, in confinement. Not so the heritage breeds – many of them are unfashionably fatty (ahem!), with temperaments suited only to spacious barn living and open pasture. And they tend to grow slower than their commercial counterparts, which is not convenient to farmers in a hurry to sell commodity pork.

Many of the heritage breeds came dangerously near extinction when their meat and lard were no longer desirable. But in the “eat them to save them” school of thinking, a generation of farmers has been raising these heritage breed hogs, often selling the pork at a premium through farmer’s markets and other small-scale outlets.

Our Heritage Breed Pork

At D’Artagnan, we source all our Berkshire and heritage breed pork from a cooperative of small farms at the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. Each participating farmer agrees to keep traceable records of the breeding lines, feeds the pigs a natural diet of forage and supplemental corn, soybeans and rolled oats, with no hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, animal by-products or fishmeal. Most importantly, the pigs are given lots of space and sunshine, are allowed their natural piggy behaviors, raise their own piglets, and live outdoors with access to shelter. Pork raised this way costs a little more than the bland, lean, pale pork at the average grocery store, but to support the efforts of these farmers, and to preserve heritage breed pigs, we feel it’s worth it. So we pay our farmers a premium to adhere to these standards. And we think you can taste the difference in the final product.

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Look for our next post on heritage breed ham.

Ariane on Vin Village Radio

 

Ariane was interviewed VVRadioLogo-300pxby Rob Barnett on Vin Village recently. The show focuses on the “who’s who” in wine & food. You can find it on the wsRadio Network.

 

Listen in for an introduction to D’Artagnan with the lady herself. The first segment can be heard here. The second segment, in which Ariane talks quite a bit about cassoulet, is here.

Cassoulet in Cassole

Reasons to Eat Rabbit

Before you get all weak in the knees and start humming a Disney tune, let’s examine the facts about eating rabbit meat.

  • Rabbit meat is tender, lean, delicious and as versatile as chicken, to which it can also be compared in taste.
  • The Italians and French eat rabbit the way Americans eat chicken, which is to say, quite often.
  • Rabbits are easy to raise in small spaces, especially in urban or suburban settings, and true to their reputation, reproduce quickly.
  • Rabbits are one of the most productive domestic livestock animals there is: they produce 6 pounds of meat on the same feed and water that produces one pound of beef.

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Cooked with Michael Pollan

We’re excited to watch Michael Pollan’s new Netflix series “Cooked,” which is based on his book of the same title. It examines four methods of cooking and how they impacted human society.

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It’s “a clarion call for a return to the kitchen in order to reclaim lost traditions and restore balance to our lives.” We like the idea of more home cooking, and exploring the ways that traditional foods connect us to our heritage.

Pollan Screen Grab

For more about the series, check out this recent interview with Pollan in The Guardian which took place over lunch at Harvest, a restaurant in Cambridge, MA. So what does the man who has been teaching the world about food order for lunch? After careful deliberation and discussion, Pollan ordered … our Rohan duck.™

Tony Luong for Observer Food Monthly

Michael Pollan’s lunch at Harvest | Photo: Tony Luong for Observer Food Monthly