Farm Blog

Lacto-Fermented Homemade Corned Beef

Lacto-Fermented Homemade Corned Beef

A few years ago, we tried this recipe from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon because we wanted real Corned Beef, from our own organic Grassfed Brisket, made with good ingredients.    Processed, store bought meats do not appear on our table.  If we want traditional […]

Braised Savory Whole Chicken with Tomatoes & Olives

Braised Savory Whole Chicken with Tomatoes & Olives

If we’re cooking a whole cut-up BBF Chicken, it’s most likely going to end up in a saucy, savory skillet dish like this one – tender chicken pieces nestled into a flavorful tomato based sauce with onions, peppers and Kalamata olives.   This skillet dinner is […]

The Julia Burger

The Julia Burger

Before we had our eureka moment for making the perfect hamburger, we made too many burgers that didn’t deliver.    Too thick, too much shrinking, not covering the bun properly, not enough seasoning.  They just didn’t come together like a really good diner style burger.  We had the wrong technique.

Then, we watched an episode of the PBS cooking classic “Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home.”   Julia Child and Jacques Pepin were great friends and cooking companions but they could disagree on the proper technique for making classic dishes.  Fortunately, we happened to catch the episode on making hamburgers.   Jacques made the picture perfect thick burger.   We weren’t interested or particularly impressed with this method because the thick burger always left us disappointed.

Then, Julia did something completely different.   She went thin, real thin, thinner than we’d ever thought you could go on her burger.  She made it thick enough just so it would hold together.  She calls it Julia’s Pan-Fried Thin Burger.

We looked at each other and knew we had to try this recipe.   And, eureka!   Fantastic Burger!!   All our burger woes were solved and we’ve never made a thick, shrunken burger again.   This is the ONLY method we use to make our hamburgers.  When we announce we’re making Julia Burgers, great cheers come from every family member!

Who knew a famous culinary giant like Julia Child, known for her classic French cooking, would teach us the proper way to make a good hamburger.

We’ve made our burgers with and without the sauteed onion or shallot.   The most important thing is to season well, chop the seasonings into the meat and keep it thin!

1 lb BBF Ground Beef

1/4 c finely chopped onion or shallot

Butter, if using onion or shallot

Salt, Pepper, Garlic granules or powder

Favorite Burger Toppings – ready to go!

Best Burger bun you can bake or procure, sliced in half, ready to toast

Have everything ready before you even start shaping your burger because cooking time is just a minute or two.  Saute onion or shallot in butter until soft.  Remove from heat.  Shape burgers by placing ground beef on a large plate.  Divide as needed.  Julia suggests 1/4 lb each.    Using a fork or knife, ‘chop’ each portion into a burger.  Season each with salt, pepper and garlic.  Add shallots or onion to each burger.   Continue to gently ‘chop’ seasonings and shallots into the meat eventually creating burgers that are approximately 1/4″ thick.

In a preheated skillet, fry the burgers.  If your skillet is hot, they will only take a minute, at the most, on each side.  Remove burgers and set in warm place to rest (slightly heated oven).  Add butter to burger skillet and toast buns quickly.

Assemble burgers and enjoy!


Italian Beef – The Real Way

Italian Beef – The Real Way

Here’s another BBF Grassfed Beef braising recipe that produces fall apart tender meat and flavorful broth.  Served over the best crusty bread you can bake or procure, an Italian Beef sandwich is one of our favorite, easy meals.  The best cut for Italian Beef is […]

Sitka Coho Salmon

Sitka Coho Salmon

Here we are in the middle of the Midwest yet we are sourcing some of the best wild Alaskan salmon available to anyone. We are incredibly fortunate to have Sitka Salmon located in our community based just west of Peoria in Galesburg, IL.  This company […]

Raw Maple Pecan Bars

Raw Maple Pecan Bars

We were introduced to this recipe by a good friend and real food lover who has an excellent eye for good recipes.  We were instantly hooked especially since we have the best ingredients ready in our pantry – Certified Organic Native Missouri Pecans and the deepest, darkest most delicious Pure Maple Syrup you can find.   That’s all you need to make these addictive pecan treats.  Enjoy!

Adapted from Cookie + Kate

3 ¼ cups pecan halves (13 ounces)
2 cups quick-cooking oats (or old-fashioned oats, pulsed briefly in a food processor to break them up)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon sea salt (if using regular table salt, scale back a bit)
½ cup pure maple syrup, preferably darkest grade
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Line a 9-inch square baking pan with one strip of parchment paper, cut to fit neatly across the base. The parchment paper will make it easy for you to slice the bars later. Or, use a mini muffin pan lined with paper baking cups.

Toast the pecans in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently until they are fragrant about 4 to 7 minutes. Transfer them to shallow dish to cool completely.

In a large mixing bowl, combine oats (pulsed in food processor, if necessary), cinnamon, and salt, and stir to blend. Set aside.

Make pecan butter by pouring 2 cups cooled toasted pecan halves into food processor and blend, pausing to scrape down the sides. Blend until smooth.

To pecan butter, add pure maple syrup and vanilla extract. Blend until combined. This will be a very thick, sticky mixture.

Scrape pecan butter mixture into oats and mix until evenly combined. Chop remaining toasted, cooled pecans into small pieces and stir into mixture.

Transfer the mixture to square baking pan or mini muffin cups. If you are using the baking pan, pack the mixture down as firmly and evenly as possible. If you are using the mini muffin cups, measure out a heaping tablespoon, press into ball and place in cups. Press firmly down in muffin cup. Mixture will be a little crumbly but packing and cooling will resolve. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. Makes one square baking ban or approximately 30 mini muffin cups.

A Family Tradition – Barb’s Vegetable Beef Soup

A Family Tradition – Barb’s Vegetable Beef Soup

Today, we’re having Barb’s Beef Vegetable Soup.   This recipe made a regular appearance on our dinner table at the Kinsella house – Anita’s family. Barb, my mother, was a natural in all things food related – cooking, gardening, canning, freezing, baking, catering and enjoying.   And, […]

Homemade Grainy Mustard

Homemade Grainy Mustard

Our family loves mustard.   It compliments so much of the food we grow and enjoy.  It’s a staple in all our salad dressings and vinaigrettes, BBQ sauces for grilled BBF meat and the ever favorite cold sandwiches, burgers and brats.  It felt like we were […]

Protecting Chickens from Predators

Protecting Chickens from Predators

The number one question we receive about our laying hens or meat chickens is, “How do you keep the coyotes away?”  There is a real misconception about poultry, coyotes and their ability to coexist.

To the surprise of many, coyotes are not our major predator problem. We’ve had more problems with smaller mammals like opposum and skunk.  Coyotes will take advantage if the opportunity arises but it’s our job to keep the perimeter electric poultry netting hot so the predators stay out.   If a chicken is lost to a predator, it’s our fault – not the animal enjoying a chicken dinner.   If you or I want to keep ground predators out, the poultry netting has to be electrified. Period.  No question.  

Unfortunately, electric netting does nothing for aerial predators like owls. An owl, once it decides it has a taste for chicken, will kill a single bird night after night leaving the headless remains for us to find in the morning.  We’ve had owl kills at both the old farm where it is wide open with few trees and here at the new farm where the trees are close and thick.

The answer to our aerial predator problem is Bella.  She’s our gentle Anatolian Shepherd – a breed known for guarding livestock.  She works the night shift and deters the owls. While the hens roost at night, Bella keeps watch.   The owls do not kill a chicken when Bella is inside the netting with the hens.

It always makes us smile when we see Bella in the morning when her shift comes to an end.  She sits calmly waiting for someone to break her out of chicken central while the hens are constantly moving, pecking, peering and climbing on and around her. Bella is patient as a saint and gentle in every way.  This is her true nature and personality and we’re so lucky to have her on the farm and a part of our farming family.  We love our Big Bell.

This beautiful dog deserves a lot of credit for the delicious BBF eggs and Pastured Chicken we have to offer.

Classic Beef Stew

Classic Beef Stew

It’s mid-December.  The days are now short and the quiet cold of winter has descended upon the farm.    But, our kitchen is alive with bubbling pots of broth, soups and stews including this delicious Classic Beef Stew.   We use our own BBF Stew Meat […]

Tomato Sauce – Whole Fruit

Tomato Sauce – Whole Fruit

Like you, we’re often running to get a good meal on the table.   We’re not always planning meals in advance and often it’s 5 o’clock, we’re getting hungry and we need a solution quickly.   That would be the reason this recipe exists – lack of […]

Beak to Feet – Complete Broth Instruction

Beak to Feet – Complete Broth Instruction

Did you know making chicken broth at home is as simple as simmering water?   And, did you know making a simple homemade chicken broth takes two ingredients?   Water and chicken.   That’s it.  You can definitely do this.

With very little effort, these two ingredients come together to create one of the most delicious creations in your kitchen.  Yes, you can easily buy broth in the store but it will never have the rich flavor created by making your own and it honestly takes like the packaging.  Not good.   The aroma created by a simmering soup pot of broth should be enough to convince you – making homemade broth is the best.

Choose the Right Chicken Parts

To start, choose the right cuts from the best chicken.  The tastiest broth is made with a combination of skin, fat, meat and bone. You can make broth from any part of the chicken, but our favorite cuts are the Necks and Backs from BBF Chicken.  The picture above shows from l. to r., the back (cut into two pieces) and the neck.  These cuts have all the components plus enough cartilage in the necks to provide nourishing gelatin for your broth.  When your broth is complete, you will have richly flavored gelatin infused broth, enough meat for a soup and the best fat for frying eggs and roasting or stir frying vegetables.   Nothing is wasted.

White v.s. Brown

There are two types of broth you can make – white or brown.   The only difference between the two is browning v.s. raw chicken before simmering.   Most often, we simply stew the raw necks and backs and skip roasting or sauteing the parts.   Browning is fine but not necessary and it really depends on your preference.  A delicious broth can be made with raw chicken and water.   If you decide to brown the parts, sear chicken in a heavy skillet or roast in the oven turning over once or twice to get good browning on all sides.  Be sure to deglaze your pan with water after adding parts to your stock pot to gather up all the juices and bits that will flavor your stock.  Your browning pan or pot should look clean after deglazing – leave nothing behind!

How Much Water?

Our rule of thumb is one quart of water for every pound of chicken parts.   Adding too much water will create a diluted broth.   This can be fixed with a longer simmer but we’ve found this ratio is about right.

Removing the Cooked Meat

If you are starting with raw parts, simmer just until the meat is cooked through.  Dark meat is much more forgiving than the white meat – meaning breast meat can easily be overcooked.  If using Necks and Backs, remove the backs only and pick off the meat and reserve.  Return all remaining bones, skin, juice, etc back to stock pot and continue simmering.   You can simmer for an hour, 4 hours or longer – either way will create a delicious broth.  Just keep the pot at a very low simmer.  Most often our pot is partially covered during the simmer.

Strain, Skim Fat, Season

When you decide the broth is ready, strain through a fine mesh strainer into a clean bowl or stock pot.   The fat will rise to the top on your broth.   Skim and save this fat!  This is a healthy, wonderful fat for pan frying or oven roasting.   It has a clean flavor and is high heat stable.

Bonus!  We’ve found you can add another couple quarts of water to the remaining parts and produce a weaker but still quite nourishing broth.   If nothing else, use it to cook grains such as rice or quinoa, simmer potatoes or thin out sauces or soups.

Your broth will taste thin until you add seasoning – most importantly salt.  The broth will be transformed with the correct amount of salt added.   Go slow and taste after each addition.  The difference between a properly seasoned broth and a plain was is like night and day. Don’t be afraid to salt.

Whenever you prepare chicken for your family, use any remaining skin, bones, etc to make stock.  If you can’t get to it right away, place parts in the freezer and pull out on a quieter day.   The smell of homemade broth and the promise of good food will make your family smile.  Guaranteed.

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