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Simply Grazin

Mark Faille | La Crosse, VA

About Simply Grazin' Farms

Mark Faille didn’t mean to become a farmer. He was just a mechanical engineer living in Virginia when, in the 1990s, long before the local and organic food movement gained steam, he started worrying about the chemicals and pollutants present on the food he was buying at the grocery store. He didn’t want his family ingesting harmful chemicals, so in his spare time, he started raising some produce and livestock of his own. He started handing some of that pork and other meat out to friends and neighbors, and it tasted so good they kept coming back and asking for more.

“At some point,” Mark laughs, “I had to tell them, ‘hey, this is costing me a lot of money. Eventually I’m going to have to start charging you.’”

So that’s what he did -- he quit his job, sold his house, bought a farm, and moved his family to live on it full-time. He started by raising chickens, then added heritage breeds of pigs and cattle. Early on, discerning restaurants in Princeton caught on to what Mark was doing with small-batch, pasture-raised meats on his farm, and approached him to buy for their dinner menus.

“That was really helpful early on,” Mark explains, “because those chefs could tell me what was good and what was not quite as good. Their advice and their feedback helped to get us where we are today.”

Where they are today is pretty awesome: Mark and his family own several parcels of land across New Jersey and Virginia; and it’s on their Virginia farm that they and farm manager Travis Kitzmiller are raising heritage pigs on non-GMO feed. The pigs -- including Mangalitsa and Berkshire breeds, along with several other less common heritage varieties -- live entirely outside except for the retrofitted barns they can move into if they want, when the weather gets stormy.

The meat is firm, moist, and full of porky flavor. You’ll love it.

Crowd Cow introduces pork!

For three years, we've been traveling across America and beyond, seeking out the most delicious and unique beef from independently-owned farms, from Pennsylvania Angus finished on ancient grains to the world’s rarest steak, Olive-fed Wagyu, which hails from a remote Japanese island.

Now we're expanding our appetite to pork, searching out the country’s highest-quality, independently raised pork not available in stores. Among the types of pork we're seeking out as we become a marketplace for craft producers are heritage and unusual breeds, farms with innovative feed programs like locally sourced hazelnuts, and meat with regionally distinct flavors. We'll continue adding pork offerings as it finds exceptional new farms.

The awesomeness of heritage breeds

Before factory farms became the norm for U.S. pork production -- and with them, dry, bland-tasting meat -- heritage breeds abounded on small farms. Today, a movement of small-scale pork producers around the country is working to save heritage breeds, while also giving eaters tastier, richer meat. Heritage breeds range in flavor from Berkshire on the one end, known for being tender and rich in fat, to Red Wattle on the other, a rare, flavorful variety bred by New Calendonians and later New Orleaners to star in Cajun cuisine.

Tips for Cooking Pork

Pasture-raised pork can cook a little faster than industrially raised pork. For chops, use the reverse-sear method: cook the pork in the oven, to your desired doneness, then transfer to a skillet to quickly sear. Braises also work well for pasture-raised pork. Bacon is best treated to a nice, quick pan-sizzle. Read on for more on the cooking techniques you can use.

Cooking Techniques

Pan

  • Quickly sear chops and tender cuts in a heavy pan on a hot stove for perfectly crusted, tender meat.
  • Use a high smoke point oil to avoid breaking down the fat and ruining the flavor. Sunflower, safflower, avocado and refined olive oils are good options. A marinade is an optional step for extra tenderness.
  • Temp: High heat Cook Time: 3-4 minutes per side for most cuts

Grill

  • Whether using a charcoal or gas grill, nothing beats the primal feel of cooking over open flame.
  • Charcoal grills impart a smoky flavor, but gas grills are easier to control. A brine or marinade will ensure chops don’t dry out during grilling. Pork roasts require lower temps and longer cook times.
  • Temp: For chops, high (500 to 550 F). For roasts, low (200 to 250 F). Cook Time: 5 minutes per side for chops, up to a few hours for roasts.

Stew/Braise

  • Transform lean cuts into fork-tender feasts by cooking your pork low and slow in flavorful liquids.
  • Stew your pork in a braising liquid like broth or wine, and add in some aromatics like onions, garlic and herbs.
  • Temp: Heat oven to 325 F Cook Time: 2.5 - 3 hours

Roast

  • Create easy, delicious comfort food in the oven with just a few simple steps.
  • Insert garlic slices into your pork to infuse flavor. Some people tie their roasts with butcher’s twine to retain shape and ensure even cooking.
  • Temp: 350 F. Cook Time: 25-30 minutes / lb

Tips & Tricks

  • Thaw on a tray in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Pasture-raised and heritage-breed pork contains less water than typical store-bought pork, and will cook faster and at lower temperatures.
  • After cooking, all meat should rest for 5 - 10 minutes to let the juices redistribute. Tent loosely in tinfoil to retain heat.

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