News and blog

Four Fields Blog
Posted 8/4/2016 10:15am by Ryan Lacz & Liz Balchin.

Greetings!

We have received a few questions about cooking a whole chicken, so I figured I'd open the discussion up to others who might be out there in the same boat.  It might be a new culinary skill to learn, as we probably have gotten used to buying chicken parts at the grocery store, but don't be intimidated, it's not as hard as it sounds, and its' worth the effort!

If you do want to break down a whole chicken into parts, here's a great tutorial from the New York Times.

To cook a whole bird in the oven, there are two general schools of thought: high heat, or low heat.  High heat typically roasts the bird at 450 or higher for an hour, while the low, or 'slow and low', typically starts out with high heat to sear the meat, 425, then lowers the temperature to 300 to finish cooking, for a total time of 1.5 hours.  

Each has is pluses and minuses- the high heat method gives you crispy skin, and a richer flavor, but might be a little smokey in the kitchen; the slow and low ensures an evenly cooked bird, but takes longer and gives you less crisp.

One of the challenges of roasting a whole bird (chicken or turkey), is that the breast and thigh meats cook at different rates, with the thigh/leg taking a little longer because of the bones and joints.  This is especially true when roasting a whole bird because the legs are tucked in and under the breast. 

High Heat

Low and Slow

Spatchcock

The method that Liz and I prefer is a mix of both worlds- consistent high heat with crispy skin and fast cooking (45 minutes), but an evenly cooked bird.  We "spatchcock," or flatten, the bird, where we remove the backbone (we save this for stock) and neck using a pair of kitchen shears or strong scissors.  The bird then gets flipped breast side up and flattened with a push of your palm.  By spreading the bird flat, more heat can circulate around the leg joints and they finish cooking at the same time as the breast meat.  

I roast a 4.25 lb. spatchcocked chicken at 400 convection for 1 hour.  A little bit longer for a bigger bird, little bit less for a smaller bird. 

Dry and salt

Be sure to pat the chicken completely dry, inside and out, before roasting.  If you leave any moisture on the bird, it will create steam while roasting, which will leave you with a more bland, rubbery skin with less browning and flavor.  Plenty of salt also helps dry the bird and crisp the skin while cooking.

Temper and Rest:

Temper the chicken by taking it out of the fridge for 45 minutes before cooking- this allows it to come to room temperature and ensures even cooking no matter which method you use.

Resting is extremely important no matter which method of cooking you prefer- this allows the heat evenly distribute after roasting, the bird will finish cooking outside of the oven, and the juices will go back into the meat.  If you carve a bird straight out of the oven, most of the juices and flavor will end up on the cutting board!  Remove the bird from the oven uncovered (tenting it with aluminum foil softens the crispy skin), and let it sit on the counter for AT LEAST 10 minutes, 15 is better.

When is it done?

The trick here is that the temperature of the meat will actually continue to rise once you take it out of the oven, typically 5-10 degrees!  So, if you take the bird out of the oven at 165 degrees, it will actually finish at 170-175, which means over cooked, dry meat.  Take the bird out at 160 degrees, measured at the thigh meat, and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.

Try out the different methods, and let us know which one works best for you- we'll pass on the tips to other customers.  All these recipes, in addition to others, are posted on the recipes section of our website.

Ryan & Liz

 

Posted 7/12/2016 6:35pm by Ryan Lacz & Liz Balchin.

A little before and after, for your veiwing pleasure!

Before:

Believe it or not, there are 12 lambs in the photo...

After:

48 hours later...

This is only from 48 hours of grazing in a small paddock, sectioned off by the white electro-netting you can see behind Liz in the 'after' picture.  The lambs disappeared into the 5' tall grass when we moved them into it, and quickly went to work eating all they can get their mouths on.

We practice what's know as 'mob grazing,' where the livestock is fenced into an area where there is only a day or two day's worth of forage, and moved accordingly, usually daily.  This changes the behavior of the herd, where they form a grazing mob, or tight group, and graze more intensively (eating more) and extensively (eating a wider variety) than if they had access to the whole pasture.  Anything they don't eat gets trampled into the ground because they travel in a tighter group- weed control!

We use portable electric netting to set up a daily ration of the pasture, and move our lambs every afternoon.  Mob grazing, though it's a little more work than simply turning the herd loose into a field, has many advantages:

  • Longer peroiods of rest: moving the herd onto a new piece of pasture allows the previously grazed area to fully recover.  We usually don't re-graze an area for 40 days!
  • Builds soil: we plan to have the herd trample around 30% of the available forage into the ground.  This helps feed the soil microbes and worms, building better soil health, leading to a more lush growth in the future.
  • Natural weed management: We don't use chemicals on our farm, and rely on mob grazing to trample unwanted plants such as thistle and wild rose.
  • Natural parasite control: Most internal parasites are passed, lovely as it sounds, through an animals feces.  By quickly moving the animals away from previously grazed (and pooped on) pasture, and not returning for at least 20 days, we help break the parasite cycle.
  • Better nutrition: By eating in a mob, the animals simply grab all the food they can, rather than walking around and picking their favorites (clover, timothy grass etc.).  A broader diet means better nutrition and healthier animals- it's like getting your kids to eat everything on their plate, vegetables too!

Mob grazing works for more than just ruminates (cows, sheep etc.)- we mob graze our chickens and ducks as well!

Posted 6/29/2016 8:57pm by Ryan Lacz & Liz Balchin.


Hi All,

Just a quick note to let you know where we'll be this holiday weekend:

Thursday- The Long Valley market is taking a vacation for this week, so no market Thursday.

Saturday- The Washington Borough market is happening as usual, between 9a-2p.

Sunday- The Chester market is happening as usual, between 10a-3p.

 

We are fully stocked again- pork kabob cubes, sweet & hot Italian sausage, pork chops, shoulder roasts, chicken, and more local and naturally raised meats for the BBQ to celebrate the holiday!

 

Ryan & Liz

http://www.fourfieldsfarm.com                Contact Ryan                     Contact Liz

Posted 6/11/2016 4:33pm by Ryan Lacz & Liz Balchin.

Hi All,
Just a quick reminder that the Crewe Hill CSA drop off is tomorrow, Sunday the 12th, between 11AM-2PM.  We will also be having a regular market, so you don't have to be a member to purchase.  Our freezers are fully stocked with pork and chicken.

Plus.....we have BCAON!  Our first batch of cured and smoked pork is back from the butcher, and there was much rejoicing!  We have belly bacon, as well as jowl bacon (made from the cheeks), smoked hocks, and cured ham steaks.  The jowl bacon is fantastic, and can be bought either sliced, for pan frying, or whole, which would an amazing addition to some baked beans.

It's not too late to join the CSA, and remember that returning members get an automatic 5% off.

Join the CSA here

Ryan & Liz

http://www.fourfieldsfarm.com                Contact Ryan                     Contact Liz

Posted 6/3/2016 6:05pm by Ryan Lacz & Liz Balchin.

Hi All-

Fully stocked Pork Freezers:
It's that time of year for us at the farm, when we get the first fruits of our labor- make that 410 pounds of fruits!

And by 'fruits', I mean forest raised pork...

We now have pretty much anything your culinary heart could desire- pork chops, sausage (sweet & hot Italian, and country), bone-in loin roasts, fresh belly for braising, boneless shoulder roasts for pulled BBQ, hocks, and more.  We even have some more adventurous cuts for those cooks who want to try to utilize the whole hog.

Looking for something different?- just ask!  Our butcher is great, and wants to work with us to satisfy our customers (that's you).

Bacon & Ham Steaks:

Bacon- We will have nitrate-free bacon and ham steaks available starting next week (it takes a few days extra to cure/smoke than the regular pork cuts).  Liz and I are looking forward trying them as much as you all are!

New Markets Starting:

The Washington Borough market starts tomorrow, Saturday June 4th, between 9AM-1PM, with pony rides and face painting!  

The Chester Market begins Sunday June 19th, between 10AM-3PM.

CSA Begins Soon:

Our first CSA drop off's begin next week (June 9th at Long Valley, then June 12th at Crewe Hill)!  There's still time to sign up for a monthly share of local and responsibly raised meats.  We offer a huge variety of chicken, pork, and egg shares to choose from, and have 5 different pickup options!

CSA Signup Here

 

Ryan & Liz

http://www.fourfieldsfarm.com                Contact Ryan                     Contact Liz

Posted 5/6/2016 11:00am by Ryan Lacz & Liz Balchin.


Hi All,

Hopefully you haven't all washed away with all this rain (though we surely needed it) over the past week!  

With the changing of the season, we are going to end the Winter Buyer's Club, and start going to Crewe Hill every Sunday, from 11AM-2PM, starting this week, May 8th.  We'll have the usually favorites in tow- pork sausage, pastured chicken and eggs, lamb (though our stock is running low!)- and we now carry raw honey from Weeble Wooble Farm (who are tending the hives at our farm).

Things have been super busy at the farm for us- the lambs are grazing the pastures well, and have gotten used to the routine of moving to fresh paddocks every day, and usually celebrate the new grass with a little play time.

We have 2 batches of chickens, one already on pasture, and one still indoors in the brooder for another week.  The heritage turkeys arrived last week, and are in another brooder inside & growing fast.  The hens are laying 4 dozen eggs a day!

The two new beehives are collecting pollen, building comb, and the queen should start laying eggs to expand the hive in anticipation of summer.  It is truly amazing to watch them at work, and we'll post more about them as things progress.

The first few pigs are nearing market size (250 pounds), and will be going to the butcher's in the near the end of May, so we'll be fully stocked again with chops, sausage, and roasts- and bacon!  We have switched butcher in order to meet the demand for nitrate free bacon (he also can cure hams, and smoke hocks).

Long valley market has been great (though the weather could have been nicer...), and there is a huge variety of other vendors to choose from- cookies & cakes, vegetables, a BBQ guy, fresh ravioli and pasta, honey and more.

We are still taking on new members for the Summer CSA season, June-August.  You can read more about the options here.  If you're ready to invest in some delicious local food,

Join The CSA Here.

See you soon!

Ryan & Liz

http://www.fourfieldsfarm.com                Contact Ryan                     Contact Liz

Posted 4/23/2016 8:15am by Ryan Lacz & Liz Balchin.

Hi All,

Just a quick reminder that our last Buyer's Club of the season is tomorrow, Sunday April 24th, at Crewe Hill stables, from Noon-2PM.  Place your order for pork, whole chickens (which are 20% off!), lamb, and eggs.

Hope to see you there!

Ryan & Liz

http://www.fourfieldsfarm.com                Contact Ryan                     Contact Liz

Posted 4/19/2016 8:09am by Ryan Lacz & Liz Balchin.


Hi All,

We've just added our final Buyer's Club date for this coming Sunday, April 24th, at Crewe Hill from 12pm-2pm.  Since we are attending 3 farmer's markets this year, we will suspend the buyer's club until next winter.

We also need to make some room in our freezers for the coming season (our first pigs are only a few weeks away from market size), and have put our whole chickens on sale.  Receive a 20% discount on any chicken you buy through the buyer's club- the prices have already been updated on the website from $5/lb to $4/lb.  Rotated over fresh pastures everyday, and fed GMO-free grain, these chickens are flavorful and ethically raised.

Now that it's warmed up a bit, it's time to dust off the grill- we have both lamb and pork cubes available which make for great kabobs, and both sweet and hot Italian pork sausages available.

If you can't make Sunday, visit us on Thursdays at the Long Valley Farmer's Market, which started last week.

Ryan & Liz

http://www.fourfieldsfarm.com                Contact Ryan                     Contact Liz

Posted 4/1/2016 11:08am by Ryan Lacz & Liz Balchin.

 

Purchase Here

Hi All,

We've sorted through our farmer's market paperwork, updated our website, and tweaked some of our CSA options for the upcoming June-August season, and we're ready to launch!  Thanks for your survey feedback- here's a few changes we've made.

Discounts- 

  • 5% Returning Member- You'll automatically receive 5% off your membership if you were a CSA member for any part of last year.  
  • 5% Early Bird- Signup before April 10th, and you'll receive 5% off your CSA membership.
  • Get a free chicken- Get a friend or family member to sign up for a CSA share, and we'll give you a free chicken for your efforts to spread the word!

Better share selection- there is a better mix of share sizes to choose: from 8 pounds a month, a good introductory share for a couple, to a 24 pounds a month share- plenty for a larger family with ravenous teenagers!

More drop-off sites- We now have 4 drop off locations to choose from- 2 of which are at bustling farmers markets where you can shop for vegetables, honey, and all your local food needs.

Flexible Farm Pickups- Can't make a scheduled drop off time or location?  No Problem- our farm pick ups are flexible this season.  Since we're on farm most of the time, you can coordinate with us when you'd like to pick up your monthly CSA share.  Contact us to learn more about this.

The June-August season gives you 3 deliveries, once a month, of variety of our pastured meats, to a centralized drop off site of your choosing.  You can also add eggs onto your share to ensure you get them- CSA customers get first priority!

We keep close track of what you receive each month, so you get a fair share of amounts and variety throughout the season.

Read our FAQ's to learn more about how our monthly CSA works.

CSA membership helps both the customer, you get a month's supply of meat with minimal effort & shopping time, and the farmer, paying for your order in advance significantly helps farm finance!

Any questions at all, contact us us and we'll help you out.

Purchase Here

Thanks for your support!

Ryan & Liz

http://www.fourfieldsfarm.com                Contact Ryan                     Contact Liz

Posted 3/19/2016 10:08am by Ryan Lacz & Liz Balchin.

Hi All,

Just a quick note to remind everyone that the delivery for March's Buyer's Club is tomorrow, Sunday the 20th, at Crewe Hill.  We will be there between noon-2pm.

We will also be bringing a huge load of eggs- some of which are small eggs that our new hens just started laying.  We think these will be perfect for Easter egg dying & painting- a great way to celebrate the coming Spring!  They have been averaging 40 eggs a day, so we have plenty to go around.  We will be selling the small eggs by the dozen at a deeply discounted price, so be sure to stop by and get some for your friends too!

Also know that we gladly accept used egg cartons- reusing them helps keeps our costs down, which we gladly pass onto you.

Have a good weekend!

Ryan & Liz

http://www.fourfieldsfarm.com                Contact Ryan                     Contact Liz

Follow Us
 On Facebook

 

On Twitter  

On Instagram @fourfieldsfarm