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For years I’ve been buying meat, like anyone else, from the supermarket. Always working within a tight budget, cheap cuts of meats were my go-to. And until recently I didn’t really care about where it came from, or how it got to the supermarket, or how it was raised. I just didn’t have the time to worry about that sort of stuff. Now, “that sort of stuff” is what I’m most interested in. “That sort of stuff” shapes and affects my health and lifestyle. In time, I’ve graduated from regular supermarket meat to organic meats. It was only last year I discovered I could get delicious, locally raised meat for less than, say, Whole Foods prices and support my local economy at the same time. Affordable and sustainable? Sign me up!

I learned that buying directly from the farm saves your wallet money and puts more directly towards the farmer’s. Only one catch; most often you have to buy the whole animal or a large portion of it. Is that a grisly way of putting it? Oh, well. So, last December we bought an eighth of a cow for Verdant Farms and a quarter of a pig from Stryker Farm in Pennsylvania. Everything came portioned, labeled and frozen, how convenient? Our great meat adventure! We acquired a chest freezer and stocked it with a little under 100 pounds of the freshest meat we could get our paws on and we’ve been savoring every bite since.

Tonight I made beer brats from Stryker Farms in Saylorsburg, PA. As I pulled them out to defrost, I noticed the ingredients, “Pork ,Weyebacher Ale, Sea Salt, Spices, Turbinado Sugar”. No nitrates, no fillers, no unrecognizable ingredients. And not only is the pork fresh and local, but the ale flavor is too!

So far, every cut that we’ve eaten from Stryker farm has been superb. This post singing it’s praise is long overdue. The housemade sausages are fabulous. We’ve had the breakfast sausages (scrumptious), Irish bangers (bangin’) and now the brats. I let them simmer in a pot of “quick” sauerkraut.

My Quick Sauerkraut:

  • A medium sized head of green cabbage
  • 4 strips of thick cut bacon
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of juniper berries (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1.   Start with a heavy bottomed pan. Cut the bacon up into pieces and fry it up.

2.   Slice the head of cabbage into thin ribbons.

3.   When the bacon is cooked, but not crispy, remove it from the pan… and leave all the fatty goodness in there.

4.   On a medium flame add the cabbage and saute for a minute. Add the butter and apple cider vinegar. Traditional sauerkraut is a fermented food, but the vinegar makes this recipe quick, giving it that sour flavor.

5.  There should be a good amount of liquid at the bottom. Add the juniper berries. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Let it simmer for a few minutes uncovered.

6.   Make a hole in the middle for the brats to simmer. Turn the heat way down and let the flavors do their thing for a half hour or so, covered. I don’t think you can actually overcook this, but personally, I like when the cabbage still has the slightest crunch left to it.

7.   Add the bacon. Did you forget about that bacon? Oh yeah, it’s going back in there. I never said this was low cal.

8.   I try to pick out the juniper berries before serving because they’re bastards to chomp down on.

I served this with some roasted carrots and onions and a dry white wine. These brats are flavored so nicely, tender and juicy. I’m sure they’d be great grilled on a toasted bun. With fried onions. And mustard. Mmm.

(As I write this Chris moans that I’m making him hungry again. He’s threatening to go eat the leftovers before bed. Not on my watch.)

Our friends Mike and Gayla organized the group of people to share all of these wholesale meats, so they also went to the actual farm to pick up the piggie when it was ready. They had nothing but wonderful things to report about the farm and the owners. You can read more about the farm, here. I’m pretty certain there’s no going back to “supermarket meat” for us. When we run out of pork, we’ll be headed back to Saylorsburg!