Posts Tagged With: Pastured Poultry

How to cook a perfect pasture-raised turkey

We are grateful for the opportunity to provide you and your loved ones with a delicious pastured turkey for this special time of the year. Cooking a whole pasture-raised bird can be intimidating, and we want you to feel well-prepared to cook our turkeys this holiday season.

Our turkeys are athletes. They spend their entire lives roaming our lush pastures, hunting, pecking, scratching, and dustbathing as nature intended. Because of their diet and exercise, our birds are lean animals. When cooking them, keep in mind they have less fat than commodity turkeys. We have found that cooking with a wet, slow heat yields a more tender turkey dish.

Check out our recipe and tips to cook the perfect pastured turkey for your holiday meal, as well as our five-part video tutorial where Chef Reid walks you through the process step-by-step.

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Ingredients

White Oak Pastures pastured turkey
White Oak Pastures pastured poultry bone broth or water
Olive oil
1 large onion
1 carrot
4 stalks celery
1 bay leaf

Butter Mixture Ingredients
10 oz butter (about 2.5 sticks) at room temp
4 tsp fresh rosemary
4 tsp fresh sage
1 tbsp fresh oregano
4 lemons (2 for juicing and zesting and 2 whole lemons)
3 fresh garlic cloves
¼ tsp allspice
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste

Preparation

Receiving and Defrosting
Your turkey will arrive frozen or very cold to the touch. Allow 3-4 days to thaw your turkey slowly in the refrigerator. After the turkey thaws, remove the bag of giblets from the body cavity and set them aside. These are great for making gravy. There may be paper between the turkey breasts to soak up any juice; remove this, too.

Herb Butter Marinade
Combine butter mixture ingredients in a mixing bowl. Loosen the turkey’s skin with your hands, and rub the butter mixture over the whole turkey, under and over the skin. Tip: Use a piping bag to get the mixture under the skin more easily. If you have time, cover and refrigerate the bird overnight to allow the flavors time to penetrate the meat. We’ve found you don’t need to brine pastured birds because they hold moisture and flavor better than conventional birds.

Making Mirepox
Roughly chop celery, carrot, and onion and place them in the bottom of a roasting pan along with bone broth or water and a bay leaf. Use just enough liquid to cover the vegetables. This mixture will add flavor to the bird and keep it moist. Set aside a few pieces of onion for roasting inside the cavity of the turkey.

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Ready to cook
Remove turkey from refrigerator 30-60 minutes before cooking, and preheat oven to 325F. Place turkey on a roasting rack, breast up, and set in the roasting pan over the mirepox. Loosely place 2-4 lemon halves and a few pieces of onion inside the cavity. Truss the bird loosely with butcher’s twine and drizzle turkey skin with olive oil. Place the pan into the oven and cook, basting the bird with pan juices every 10-15 minutes. Remove the bird once the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh registers 160F (approximately 8-10 minutes per pound). Please note that our pastured turkeys cook more quickly than conventional birds. Lastly, it is important to allow the turkey to rest 15-20 minutes before carving so you don’t lose all the delicious juices.

Photos by Laura Mortelliti. 

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Simply stated: Chickens aren’t vegetarian. They just ain’t.

We’re in the process of redesigning our product labels, and the first thing to go will be the “Vegetarian Fed” claim on our poultry. Vegetarian diets for chickens have been highly marketed, and successful; however, there’s nothing natural about a completely vegetarian diet for a chicken.

While our non-GMO chicken feed mixture is 100% vegetarian and contains no animal by-products as our current label indicates, we don’t want to imply that our chickens don’t have access to the kind of proteins they evolved eating, which they can hunt and forage for themselves. Our chickens live outside, completely unconfined and free to roam our pastures where they get a tremendous amount of nutrition.

We are not just talking about worms and bugs. We have seen our chickens eat frogs, mice, snakes, and any other animal protein sources that they can get their beaks into, including their own dead. It ain’t pretty, but it is nature.

We are not talking about chickens that are starved to near death, or chickens that are driven to the edge of chicken insanity by industrial confinement. We are talking about well-fed, well-adjusted chickens. They naturally love to forage for a cornucopia of food sources, which includes meat.

Look at them. Try to picture a miniature Tyrannosaurus Rex with feathers instead of scales. It looks like a chicken, doesn’t it?

Categories: Animal Welfare | Tags: | 4 Comments

Holiday turkeys with a higher purpose

You’ve heard it before. Our turkeys freely roam our pastures completely unconfined, and are never treated with antibiotics or steroids. They are slaughtered and hand-butchered on our farm in our zero-waste, USDA-inspected processing abattoir. Our turkeys are Non-GMO Project Verified, Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane and Step 5+ in the Global Animal Partnership program.

With these attributes, our turkeys surely will make a great centerpiece for your holiday meal. But this year, our birds have a mission that’s much bigger: to heal and restore the land.

Earlier this year, we purchased 250 acres of land that had been stripped of life by decades of monocultural row crop production. By transitioning to a wide variety of diverse species of plants and animals through holistic management, we are working hard to turn this soil from a dead mineral medium to one that’s teeming with life. This Spring, we took our first step toward restoring the land by moving cattle onto it to eat hay, break up the soil with their hooves, and urinate and defecate to add nutrients to the land.

Now it’s the turkeys’ turn. Following our Serengeti Rotational Grazing Model, these birds are pecking and scratching to open up the soil and evenly spread the fertilizer left by the previous herd. They’re adding more fertility to the soil by depositing manure, removing weeds that the ruminants won’t eat, and preparing the land for the new grasses that are beginning to grow. By simply engaging in their natural behaviors, the turkeys are serving a higher purpose by turning this land into productive pasture that will benefit future generations.

This year, we are especially thankful for our turkeys’ contribution to the organism that is White Oak Pastures, and we are excited to share their goodness with you. We hope you and your family will enjoy our holiday turkeys as much as we do; visit our website to purchase yours.

Photos by Laura Mortelliti.

Categories: Animal Welfare, Regenerative Land Management | Tags: , | 2 Comments

White Oak Pastures: Nose-to-tail, farm-to-door

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We believe our farm is one-of-a-kind. We’re fiercely proud of our vertically integrated system, which allows us to raise animals on pasture, slaughter and butcher them in our USDA-inspected on-farm abattoir, and ship them directly to the well-informed consumers who want to support this type of agriculture.

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Jenni Harris, with a lot of help from our Comptroller, Jean Turn, began to focus on the potential of our online store in 2014 to share White Oak Pastures products with people who aren’t close enough to shop in person. We are able to reach a broad base of customers who have made the decision to put a high priority on the source of the food they eat, so we can sell every part of our 10 species of animals from the nose to the tail. Today, we ship hundreds of packages weekly through the mail. Here’s how it works:

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Sabrina Carnley runs the front of the shop, receiving online orders and working with our internet fulfillment crew to get them filled. She’s also your go-to for questions about everything from shipping to how to cook chicken feet.

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All orders are packed on our farm, not in some order fulfillment center in the middle of the country. Most of our products are frozen prior to being shipped, which ensures a safe temperature of the meat when it arrives at your home. Your box will contain a cooler packed with dry ice to keep your products cold.

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Between managing the South Georgia heat and the sub-zero freezer temperatures, these guys are responsible for keeping perishable product in good condition. Justin Chaddick (right) oversees frozen inventory, packing, and shipping. LJ Richardson (left) and Deion Wallace (middle) put the orders together and pack them up. We ship throughout the 48 contiguous states, to any address where UPS will deliver.

Shop online and keep these good folks busy! For more details on our online store and shipping process, see the list of frequently asked questions on our website.

Categories: Staff Spotlight | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pastured Poultry Week is a-comin’ to Georgia! Make your reservations now.

PPW 2016Every week is Pastured Poultry Week at White Oak Pastures, but we love partnering with chefs to really get the word out. On July 11-18, chefs in Atlanta, Savannah, and Brunswick will feature pastured poultry on their menus to celebrate humanely and sustainably raised pastured poultry.

A lot of people are learning about the benefits of grassfed beef, but awareness of pastured poultry lags behind. That’s why we need your help spreading the word about Pastured Poultry Week.

According to Compassion in World Farming, the founder and sponsor of the event, the vast majority of the 9 billion chickens raised for food in the U.S. are raised in confinement, in overcrowded conditions where the birds can’t express their instinctive behaviors. These chickens are bred to grow so quickly that they suffer from lameness and strain on their hearts and lungs.

At White Oak Pastures, we are proud to raise a slow-growing chicken breed that takes twice as long to reach market weight, and our birds spend their entire lives on pasture, free to roam, scratch, peck, and dustbathe. Our pastured chickens are certified by Global Animal Partnership at Step 5+, Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane, and verified by the Non-GMO Project.

We will have pastured chicken, guinea, goose and turkey available for Pastured Poultry Week. Support the chefs who support White Oak Pastures by making your reservations now. Our pasture raised poultry will be featured at the following restaurants, in addition to those who may be purchasing our pastured poultry through a distributor like US Foods, Sysco, Buckhead Beef, or Turnip Truck:

Gunshow, TAP, Sway at Hyatt Regency, Farm Burger, Kaleidoscope, Miller Union, Cooks & Soldiers, Emory Hospital, and Seed Kitchen and Bar.

Check out the Southeastern Sustainable Livestock Coalition’s website to see the entire list of participating restaurants. Please tell your friends and family, and help make Pastured Poultry Week 2016 a big success.

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We’ve got guts. Lots and lots of guts.

“In nature there is no waste.” -Dr. George Washington Carver

A byproduct of our red meat abattoir is a lot of intestines and guts. It’s not as much waste as there would be in an industrial plant that processes up to 100 times more animals than we do, but it’s still a lot. Most people would throw all those intestines away. We’re full-circle at White Oak Pastures, so we feed ‘em to black soldier fly larvae, which our poultry devour, and then fertilize our land with their feces. Win win win win win!

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We breed native black soldier flies inside an old grain silo that stored corn for the cattle before we transitioned to grassfed. The flies lay their eggs here, and then we move the eggs into large grey tubs where they hatch. Interesting fact: adult black soldier flies don’t eat, or even have functioning mouths; they spend their short 5-8 day lifespan searching for a mate and reproducing.

Their larvae, however, eat any and all organic material. We take the intestines from our abattoir and feed them to the black soldier fly larvae (see the larvae in action here). They eat and grow, and when they’re ready to pupate, they self-harvest by crawling up the ramps on the sides of the tub and dropping into a bucket.

The larvae serve two really important purposes: eating up that organic material from our red meat abattoir, and producing a protein- and fat-rich feed source that we use to supplement the diets of our pastured poultry. Today’s chickens evolved from jungle fowl in Southeastern Asia, and they are naturally omnivorous, hunting and foraging for bugs, grubs, and even small reptiles and mammals. We strive to emulate nature at White Oak Pastures, and with our black soldier fly program we go to great lengths to provide our poultry a very natural feed supplement.

They say the early bird gets the worm, not the corn and soy mix. Mother Nature has some really cool ways of doing things, when we work with her.

Categories: Animal Welfare, Regenerative Land Management | Tags: , , , | 13 Comments

How to roast a whole pastured chicken or guinea like a pro

Whole roasted chickenWhite Oak Pastures’ chickens and guineas live unconfined on pasture, hunting, pecking, scratching, and dust bathing. This leads to stronger, healthier, and in our opinion, tastier birds. It also means these birds use their muscles, and we need to take this into consideration when cooking a pasture raised animal. Apply some of the same principles we use when preparing grassfed beef, such as marinating or seasoning one to two days in advance to help tenderize those more active muscle fibers.

One of the easiest ways to cook a chicken or guinea is by slow roasting it. Cooking poultry with the bone in adds more flavor and nutrition to the meat and the broth you have left. We recommend the following recipe when roasting our pastured chickens and guineas.

Ingredients

1 White Oak Pastures small, medium or large chicken, or guinea
1 large onion – large chop
3 carrots – large chop
4 celery stalks – large chop
1 bay leaf
1 cup water
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp white pepper
1 tsp onion powder
¼ tsp allspice
2 tbsp dried oregano


Preparation

Place the onion, carrot celery, bay leaf and chicken or guinea in a roasting pan deep enough to cover with foil or a lid if using a Dutch oven or cast iron. Mix all spices and herbs together (kosher salt through oregano) in a bowl. You may have more than you need, but this is a good all-purpose seasoning to keep on hand. Pour the olive oil over the chicken and then rub the seasoning over the bird, making sure to get it under the skin and in the cavity so the flavors can penetrate the meat.

At this point, if you can let it marinate for about a day, it will help tenderize the bird as the salt begins to break down tougher muscle fibers. If you don’t have a day, just let it sit out covered at room temperature for about an hour before you put it in the oven.

Preheat oven to 325F. Add the 1 cup of water to the roasting pan. Cover with a lid or foil and place in middle rack of your oven. Roast a small chicken for 90-120 minutes; a medium chicken or a guinea for 140 minutes; and a large chicken for 140-170 minutes. Remove lid or foil. Caution: there will be hot steam, so be careful when removing the lid. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes. Once the bird has cooled enough to handle, remove the meat and use in your favorite chicken salad recipe or anything else you’d like. Make sure you save the stock from the pan, as it’s a great base for soup and is highly nutritious.

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Q&A with Lisa Brown, White Oak Pastures’ Poultry Plant Manager

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We are excited to introduce you to a special member of the White Oak Pastures family, Lisa Brown. Lisa started working with us in 2012, when we were still beginning to learn the poultry business. She started out in the processing side of our on-farm poultry abattoir as a feather plucker, and then took the initiative to learn all aspects of the plant. Four years later, Lisa is our Poultry Plant Manager, leading the day-to-day operations and overseeing our 10 artisan butchers in our abattoir. We are proud to continue learning and growing together with Lisa.

Q: You carry a lot of responsibility, being the one to ensure our birds have a humane, dignified death. What does that mean to you?

A: Animal welfare is very important, so when it comes to processing the birds, we do it in a clean and organized order. We take pride in treating our animals with respect.

Q: What is the most satisfying part of your job?

A: At the end of the shift each day because I know we got the job done.

Q: What was your most embarrassing moment at work?

A: One day at work, I went to the dining Pavilion to get a cup of coffee while I was on my break. As I got my coffee, I began to walk back to my office, when all of a sudden I slid across some gravel rocks and couldn’t stop myself. I fell directly on my behind, but I still was holding onto my cup of coffee!

Q: What is your favorite meal to cook at home?

A: I love the pastured chicken breast and yellow rice. I marinate the chicken breast in some chicken broth. I let it sit overnight and the next day, then I take it out and bake it. I also boil my rice with butter.

Q: What is your favorite hobby outside of work?

A: Fishing with my family.

Q: Choose one word to describe White Oak Pastures.

A: Amazing

Categories: Staff Spotlight | Tags: , | 1 Comment

White Oak Pastures goes non-GMO

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For years, we have wanted to make the change to non-GMO feed for our poultry, pigs, and rabbits, but we struggled to find a feed mill that could handle our volume. Recently, we were able to find a supplier to consistently deliver non-GMO feed to White Oak Pastures, and we are proud to announce that our poultry, eggs, pork, and rabbits are now non-GMO and verified by the Non-GMO Project.

We have received many customer requests for non-GMO products, stemming from the fact that none of us really know what effects GMOs could have on the animals, the environment, and us. We are farmers, not scientists, but we do know that genetically engineering plants is very new. We won’t know the effects of GMOs for a long time, and we want to do what’s right for our farm and our customers right now.

In all of our practices we endeavor to emulate nature. Our best emulation of nature is imperfect, and our worst emulation of nature is still in need of improvement. Improving these emulations is a journey and it is our mission. Today we are excited to take one more step down this path.

Categories: Animal Welfare, Regenerative Land Management | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

Dan Coady, nanomedical researcher to pastured poultry farmer

DSC_0048For six years, Dan Coady conducted research for a multinational technology corporation in California, until one day he decided to move to rural southwest Georgia to become a farmer. Today he leads the country’s largest pastured poultry operation, and we are lucky to have him.

Dan had found quite a bit of success as a scientist. He developed nearly 100 patented scientific processes and won the American Chemical Society’s Young Investigator award. But he began to believe there was a more meaningful way for him to utilize his skill sets and spend his time, producing healthy food for his family and community. He fully agrees with the famous Hippocrates quote, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Dan left the nanomedical research field and moved with his wife and their two young daughters to Bluffton. Together with his White Oak Pastures team, Dan now raises 60,000 broiler chickens, 12,000 laying hens, 8,200 turkeys, 7,600 ducks, 6,000 guinea fowl and 3,000 geese entirely on pasture and processed here on the farm.

As White Oak Pastures’ Poultry Manager, Dan’s PhD in Synthetic Organic Chemistry and his experience in research and development come in handy more often than you might think. He sees the farm as a puzzle, with the many facets of production, processing, and marketing as the pieces. He describes the poultry operation as its own puzzle, and he uses creative problem solving to find the best ways to rotate the birds, provide housing, and increase feed conversion, all while working within nature’s perfect system.

The slower pace of the farm lifestyle suits the Coady family well, too. The kids love riding in tractors and eating in our on-farm dining Pavilion. Right now their favorite meal is Chef Reid’s pastured poultry special, of course: a chicken breast stuffed with spicy Italian turkey sausage. The Coady family believes they made the right decision when they moved from California to White Oak Pastures, and we couldn’t agree more.

Categories: Staff Spotlight | Tags: | 6 Comments

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