Our Favorite Stocking Stuffers & Gift Ideas

Posted on December 04, 2015 by Don Roden | 0 comments

In addition to our meats and produce, The Organic Butcher of McLean has amazing gifts and stocking stuffers for your favorite foodies. Our staff has put together a list of their top picks for the holiday season.

1. Noble Tonic 01 Petite: Tuthilltown Bourbon Barrel Matured Maple Syrup
Your favorite syrup, just mini!

2. Spices
We carry a multitude of spices and seasoning. The possibilities are endless.

3. Falling Bark Farms Premium Raw Honey
Pure, raw, and local.

4. Paleo Scavenger Granola
No grains, no dairy, no soy, no artificial flavors, no refined sugars.

5. Bulletproof Snack Bars
The perfect after-workout protein bar. Made with pasture-raised Upgraded Collagen Protein.

6. Graham's Six Grapes Porto, Half Bottle
A very full-bodied, luscious wine with a seductive, rich aroma of ripe plums, cherries and dark chocolate notes.

7. ThermoWorks Thermapen and Pocket Thermometer
Highly-rated and highly-accurate.

8. The Virginia Table Book
Early Mountain Vineyards and Our Local Commons has just released this new book celebrating the Commonwealth of Virginia and its emergence as a world-renowned food and wine region.

9. Beyond Bacon by Stacy Toth and Matthew McCarry
Beyond Bacon pays homage to the humble hog by teaching you how to make more than a hundred recipes featuring cuts from the entire animal.

10. The Organic Butcher Reusable Shopping Bag
Reduce waste every time you shop with our stylish shopping bags.

11. The Organic Butcher of McLean Camo Cap
This subtle, new style is perfect for the outdoorsman on your holiday list.

12. The Organic Butcher of McLean Gift Cards
Let your loved ones pick out their own gifts with a gift card in any denomination. 

Happy Holidays!

Posted in Bacon Salt, Dizzy Pig, Gift Cards, Gifts, Holiday Items, Omnivore Salt, Paleo, Stocking Stuffers, Wine

Arctic Char — A Delicious Alternative to Wild Salmon

Posted on November 12, 2015 by Don Roden | 0 comments

As the season for wild-caught salmon comes to a close, you might be wondering what alternatives are out there. What fish is comparable in texture, flavor and healthy oils? 

Well, we have the just the fish for you! The Organic Butcher is now carrying responsibly and sustainably farm-raised Arctic Char.

Arctic Char has a distinct light, sweet flavor and firm pink flesh that is similar to salmon, though milder. It is nutrient-rich and an excellent source of heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. 

If you are turned off by farm-raised fish, know that the environmentally friendly method used to farm Arctic Char is completely different than farmed salmon. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch gives Arctic Char a “Best Choice” eco-rating as opposed to Salmon which ranges from the lesser "Good Alternative" to "No, Thanks" ratings. We are careful to source our Arctic Char from responsible farmers.

If you have never had Arctic Char, you are in for a treat. It's mild taste will appeal to a wide range of palates.


ARCTIC CHAR WITH CHARMOULA (Food & Wine)

This roasted garlic charmoula — a classic North African marinade and sauce packed with fresh herbs and spices — is excellent with a rich fish, such as arctic char or salmon.

INGREDIENTS
Four 5-ounce, skin-on Arctic Char fillets
3 unpeeled garlic cloves
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons chopped green olives
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Kosher salt
Pepper

INSTRUCTIONS
In a small skillet, toast the garlic over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the skins blacken, 7 to 8 minutes. Let cool slightly; discard the skins. 

In a food processor, puree 1/3 cup of the oil, the garlic, parsley, cilantro, olives, lemon juice, cumin and paprika until smooth. Transfer the charmoula to a bowl and season with salt. 

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Season the fish with salt and pepper and place it skin side down in the skillet. Cook the fish over moderately high heat until the skin is golden, about 3 minutes. Flip the fish and cook just until it flakes easily, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain briefly on paper towels. Serve the fish with the charmoula. 

 

Posted in Arctic Char, Dinner, Fish, Gluten-Free, Paleo, Recipes, Seafood

Weeknight Meal: 5 Ingredient Honey-Mustard Chicken

Posted on October 31, 2015 by Don Roden | 0 comments

School is in full-swing and evenings are jam-packed with sports, band practice, homework, etc. The last thing you need is to prepare a complicated dinner that uses every dish in the kitchen and ends up being something the kids won't eat.

We present your new favorite weeknight meal — 5 Ingredient Honey-Mustard Chicken!

Serves: 4-6
Time: 55 mins (10 mins prep + 45 mins cook)

Ingredients
1/4 to 1/3 cup smooth Dijon mustard
1/4 to 1/3 cup honey
1 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 pounds chicken thighs, legs or breasts
2 sprigs rosemary (or a generous sprinkling of dried rosemary)
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180 C). In a medium bowl, whisk together the mustard, honey, and olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and taste. Add more salt and mustard until you get the flavor where you want it.

Salt the chicken lightly and lay the pieces skin-side up in a shallow casserole dish. Add rosemary springs. Cook until the skin is golden and crispy. Spoon the honey mustard sauce over the chicken. 

Serve with greens and wild rice, or keep it paleo with cauliflower rice.

Posted in Chicken, Dinner, Fall Recipes, Gluten-Free, Paleo, Pasture-Raised, Poultry, Recipes

GUEST POST: Home-curing Duck Prosciutto

Posted on October 01, 2015 by Don Roden | 1 comment

Friend of the store and loyal customer, Sean Vineyard (@chezsean85), was gracious enough to detail how he makes duck prosciutto at home with very little equipment. Read on and get inspired!


HOME-CURED DUCK PROSCIUTTO
Words and photos by Sean Vineyard

Coppa. Bresaola. Lomo. Panchetta. Prosciutto. American’s love cured meats, and with good reason; we’ve been curing meats for centuries. What once was done out of necessity as a means of preservation is now done out of a passion for rich, concentrated, meaty deliciousness. Why did we stop curing meats? Mostly because of refrigeration, but ultimately it’s the same reason we no longer have cassette players in our cars. Something better came along. 

Many people now associate charcuterie with low production artisans, tucked away in the back of a small store-front, legs of prosciutto hanging from the window, skillfully stuffing natural casings with pork, fat, wine, fennel, pepper, and garlic to make finocchiona salami. So, what if I told you that you could make cured meats at home? Most people don’t believe me. What if I told you that you could do it in less than three weeks, start-to-finish? Usually people look at me as though I’ve proven string theory when I tell them that. 

The least complicated of all of the variety of charcuterie is definitely whole muscle cured meats. That is to say, essentially everything less salami and cured sausages. Of the whole muscle cured meats, duck prosciutto is the easiest way to gain entry into the vastly addicting world of home curing and that is largely because it is quick. You can see results in a couple of weeks and adjust recipes to your liking instead of 6-18 months if you were to cure a whole hog leg to make traditional prosciutto. Okay enough talking, let’s get started – trust me – those who know me know I love to talk and will gladly do so if not intervened. 

What You Will Need
2-3 duck breasts
¼ cup juniper berries
2 TBSP peppercorns (mixed black, green, red, and white if you can)
2 TBSP fennel seed
2-3 whole star anise
4 bay leaves
4 cups of sea salt
Light vinegar (not distilled) or white wine for rinsing
Cheese cloth
Butchers twine

How to Select Your Duck
Just as with any dish you make, selecting the right ingredients is one of the most essential parts. No matter how good of a Chef or cook you are, you can’t turn bad products into something that tastes good. My recommendation is create a relationship with your grocer. Know your butcher. And if you can, know your farmer. 

When selecting which type of duck breast to use I thought it best to ask The Organic Butcher, Don Roden, what his thoughts are on the subject. Don says that there are three widely available breeds of duck available. Those being Peking, Moulard, and Muscovy. If anyone has ever eaten at a decent Chinese restaurant, you’re probably quite familiar with Peking duck. Peking duck has a lower fat to flesh ratio making it the least ideal for curing. Remember, fat is good! And truthfully, if you don’t like fat, we can’t be friends. Moulard is the Rolls Royce of duck breasts. Rich, fatty, deep in color and flavor. But just like with a Rolls Royce, they are expensive. They are well worth the price but certainly not the best option to try out your hand in curing. That leaves the Muscovy. Don says the Muscovy has the best fat to flesh ratio, portion sizes, and flavor, and they are very affordable. 

Once you have decided the type of duck to buy, you need to select your meat. Freshness is imperative in curing meats because any ‘funk’ will be exacerbated by the curing process and while stinky cheeses always have a place in my fridge, stinky meats are not good eats! There are three senses that are important to remember when selecting your meat. Sight, feel, and smell. First, you want to make sure that the duck is not greying along the flesh or yellowing along the fat or skin. Second, you want to make sure that the duck is wet but not slimy. Last, and probably the most important, make sure that the duck smells relatively neutral. Yes, any good butcher will let you smell their products! As strange as it may seem, do it. It should smell like raw meat, not like a trash can. If it’s not pleasurable to your nose, it won’t be pleasurable to your stomach. 

Preparing Your Cure
The cure is a very important part of the process. This is what draws out the moisture in the meat. The moisture, being a veritable bacteria playground, is not something that we want a lot of. In fact, the curing and aging process should reduce the overall weight of your meat by about 25-30%. The curing process is also what imparts a lot of the flavor to the meats based on what spices you put in the cure. While I have my favorite spices, I recommend that first-timers use just salt. By doing that you are going to really taste the meat itself and then you can figure out which spices you want to add based on your preferences and not just listening to what I say works. Create your own cure! That’s part of the fun.

My basic ratio for my cures are 1 part spices to 3 or 4 parts salt (depending on how thick the meat is and how much of the flavor of the spices you want in the meat). The key thing to remember when making your cure, regardless of what spices you use, is to use whole spices and toast them! Toasting them brings out the oils of the spices and brings an added layer of complexity to the flavor. To toast your spices, places your whole spices in a pan on medium heat. You will want to nearly constantly stir the spices for 5-6 minutes until they begin turning golden brown on the outside and become very fragrant. Put them into a spice grinder (or you can grind them by hand) and blend them all together. Then mix the spices into the cure. Let the cure cool down. You do not want to bring any heat to the raw meat. I will often times put the cure mixture into the fridge for an hour or so to let it cool. 

Curing and Aging
To begin the curing process, place about half of the cure in the bottom of a baking dish. I generally prefer glass. You want to make sure there is at least one inch of cure on the bottom of the dish. Place your duck breast on the mixture. You will see some recipes tell you to score the skin and fat. Truthfully, I never do. It makes the duck too salty and makes it more challenging to slice afterwards. Not to mention it doesn’t look as uniform when you slice it. It’s all about the presentation! You will also see recipes that tell you to place it skin-side down. I have never seen any difference in taste or texture with doing it skin or flesh side down so you do whatever your heart desires. 

You want to make sure that your duck breasts are spaced about an inch apart to ensure that the cure gets in contact with every bit of the duck. Pour your remaining mixture over the meat (again, you should have at least an inch of mixture on top of your duck). Cover the whole thing and put it in the fridge for between 2 and 3 days depending on the size of your duck breasts. I will usually stick with 48 hours unless they are particularly large. 

After the two days, take the duck out of the fridge and remove it from the cure. The duck breasts should be firm but not hard, a little smaller in size, and slightly darker in color since much of the moisture has been removed. You’ll want to remove any excess cure by pouring a little vinegar over it. I usually use a white wine or apple cider vinegar. You can also use white wine if you have some lying around and for some strange reason you don’t want to drink it. 

Now it’s time to wrap it, tie it, and hang it. You wrap the duck in cheese cloth to prevent direct air contact when it is drying/aging. Direct air contact will dry out the outside of the flesh too quickly and it may prevent the inside of the duck from properly drying. Take your cheese cloth and lay it on a flat surface. Place the duck at one edge in the center. Roll it (like you would a sandwich) and about half way through fold in the ends and then continue rolling it. Use the butchers twine to tie the duck. It is easiest to YouTube videos on “how to tie a roast” to show you how to properly tie the duck.

It’s hard to explain how to properly tie without a video. Make sure to leave a loop of twine at the top to hang it. For the drying process you can get an S-hook or a suction cup hook from the hardware store and place it in your fridge. Unless you want to go all out and build an in home curing fridge like I did. Hang the duck and place a Tupperware container underneath it filled with salt water. It should be about the same as ocean water. This will create a micro humid climate since refrigerators are notoriously dry and that is not what we want. Make sure that the duck breasts are not touching each other or anything else. If they touch, the contact points could create warm, high humidity areas that could grow bad mold. You want to keep the duck hanging for two weeks. After that you’re ready to eat it!

Slicing and Serving
You have a couple of options for slicing and endless options for serving. You want to cut the duck prosciutto paper thing. If you are have a meat slicer at your house, you are already far more prepared than most. If you don’t have a meat slicer, a very sharp slicing knife will work just fine. I find it easiest to lay the duck fat side down if slicing by hand. The key is to go slow and take as few strokes as possible when slicing. 

For serving, I love the duck prosciutto just like it is. No accompaniment, no accoutrement, just duck. But you can pair it with figs and bread or crisp it up and put it in a salad. Whatever peaks your interest, do it.

Posted in Cooking Instructions, Cured Meats, Customer Recipes, Duck, Fall Recipes, Gluten-Free, Home-Curing, Paleo, Recipes

Fall Recipe: Duck Confit with a Fig and Red Wine Sauce

Posted on September 22, 2015 by Don Roden | 0 comments

This week's featured fall recipe is a simple duck confit. This version is pared down from the original, but still requires a bit of time (the legs are cured for 24 hours, and then cooked for about 3 ½ hours). In this recipe the duck legs cook in their own rendered fat, rather than in quarts of additional fat. For someone who has never made duck confit, this will make prep and clean up a breeze. 

Duck Confit with a Fig and Red Wine Sauce

Ingredients
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf, crumbled
8 Moulard duck legs (about 4 pounds total), rinsed and patted dry but not trimmed
12 fresh figs, halved (dried will work if soaked in water overnight)
2 cups red wine, such as Barolo

Preparation
1. In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaf pieces. Sprinkle duck generously with mixture. Place duck legs in a pan in one layer. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.

2. The next day, heat oven to 325 degrees. Place duck legs, fat side down, in a large ovenproof skillet, with legs fitting snugly in a single layer (you may have to use two skillets or cook them in batches). Heat duck legs over medium-high heat until fat starts to render. When there is about 1/4 inch of rendered fat in pan, about 20 minutes, flip duck legs, cover pan with foil, and place it in oven. If you have used two pans, transfer duck and fat to a roasting pan, cover with foil and place in oven.

3. Roast legs for 2 hours, then remove foil and continue roasting until duck is golden brown, about 1 hour more. Remove duck from fat; reserve fat for sauce.

4. Add the figs and wine to roasting pan with remaining duck fat. Heat over medium until the wine has evaporated by half and the figs have softened, scraping any crusty bits from the pan into the wine.

5. Arrange duck legs on a plate and serve with the wine sauce.

Posted in Cooking Instructions, Dinner, Duck, Fall Recipes, Paleo, Recipes, Wine

How to Cook 100% Grass-Fed Steaks (There is a Difference!)

Posted on September 12, 2015 by Don Roden | 1 comment

100% Grass-fed meat is from cows that are pasture-raised on grass, from start to finish. They are rich in good fats, and managed sustainably. Compared to conventionally raised meats, which get little or no exercise, it's leaner and there is true muscle integrity in the meat. But leaner doesn't mean tougher. Cooked more gently, grass-fed meat is juicy and tender. 

When cooking a grassfed steak, you'll want sear it and then allow it to finish cooking at 325F. This allows the naturally-occurring sugars to caramelize on the surface, while keeping the muscle fibers from contracting too quickly. Tough grass-fed steaks result from over-exposure to high heat, which causes the muscle fibers to contract tightly and become chewy and dry. 

The biggest mistake people make when cooking grass-fed beef is over-cooking it. These five tips will ensure a perfectly cooked steak every time.

1. Lower the cooking temperature. Because grass-fed beef is leaner than its grain-fed counterpart, you need to cook it at a slightly lower temperature (at least 50 F) for 30-50% less time. Otherwise, you cook off the fat and are left with a dry, tough, unappealing mass of meat that’s lost many of its nutrients. (The more cooked your grass-fed beef, the more Omega 3s you lose.)

2. Invest in a meat thermomenter. You may know how to eyeball when conventional meat is done, but because grass-fed beef is leaner, you don’t have the same kind of wiggle room for mistakes. A meat thermometer will ensure you cook your meat just the way you like it — every time. The desired internal temperatures for grass-fed beef are:

  • Rare — 120F
  • Medium Rare — 125F
  • Medium — 130F
  • Medium Well — 135F
  • Well — 140F

IMPORTANT NOTE! To achieve the desired temperature, remove the meat from heat when it’s about 10 degrees lower than your goal temperature. The residual heat will finish cooking the meat over the next ten minutes as you let it rest.

3. Start steaks at room temperature. This is a good rule for all meats, but especially for grass-fed-beef. By starting your meat at room temperature, it will take less time to reach the ideal internal temperature while cooking. This gentler cooking method will help your meat stay juicy and delicious. 

4. Don’t play with your meat. Avoid the temptation to poke steaks or roasts with forks or pat burgers down with spatulas. This lets all that delicious fat escape, giving you a less juicy end result.

5. Give your meat a rest. When you’re done cooking your meat, let it rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing into it. This allows time for the escaped juices to reincorporate back into the meat. 


GRASS-FED RIB-EYE STEAKS WITH BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE (Epicurious)

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup minced shallots
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for steaks and grill
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons drained capers
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
4 3/4-inch-thick grass-fed rib-eye steaks
3 garlic cloves, pressed
4 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

PREPARATION
Simmer vinegar in small pan over medium heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 6 minutes. Add shallots, 1/4 cup oil, and crushed red pepper; return to simmer. Remove from heat; whisk in parsley, capers, and thyme. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper.

Rub both sides of steaks with oil and garlic. Mix paprika, 2 teaspoons coarse salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper in small bowl. Sprinkle on both sides of steaks. Let stand at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Prepare grill (medium-high heat). Brush grill rack with oil to coat. Grill steaks until cooked to desired doneness. Transfer steaks to plates. Spoon vinaigrette over.


The Organic Butcher of McLean has a wide range of 100% grass-fed meats, order online or come in and see us. If you prefer more marbled meats, we also carry humane, antibiotic-free, pasture-raised beef (with access to grain).

Posted in Beef, Cooking Instructions, Grass-Fed, Paleo, Pasture-Raised

Lacking Ideas for Labor Day? Let Us Help!

Posted on September 02, 2015 by Don Roden | 0 comments

Labor Day is fast approaching and if you're anything like us, your weekend is packed with get-togethers, parties and plenty of opportunities to flex your culinary muscle. If inspiration hasn't struck yet, here is a list of ideas to get you motivated. Whether you're into smoking, grilling or slow-cooking, we've got you covered.

It's a busy week, be sure to call ahead to place your order.

Labor Day Items

  • Berkshire Pork Baby Back or St. Louis-Style Ribs
  • Berkshire Pork Shoulder

  • Brisket - whole packer cut for smoker
  • Whole Fish - wild-caught Red Snapper, Bronzino
  • Bone in Chicken Breast and Thighs
  • Waygu Hot Dogs
  • Bison Hot Dogs
  • Sausages - Wild Boar, Green, Bratwurst, Lamb Merguez

 

  • Too many great steaks to list here!
  • A wide variety of spice rubs and sauces

 

And don't forget about our great selection of wine and beer.

Happy cooking!

Posted in BBQ, Beef, Berkshire Pork, Big Green Egg, Bison, Boar, Brisket, Dizzy Pig, Gluten-Free, Grass-Fed, Grilling, Organic, Paleo, Pasture-Raised, Pork, Sausages, Wine