Fresh Duck from Brunty Farms

I’m fortunate to live in an area with an amazing farmer’s market. This is the real deal: everything sold there is grown locally and marketed by the farmers themselves. And by far my favorite stand at the market is Brunty Farms. I stop by every time I visit the market to pick up a few dozen eggs and a chicken or two. The chickens roast up juicy, moist, and flavorful; and the eggs are by far the best I’ve ever eaten. If I run out of eggs a few days before market day, I’ll change my baking schedule rather than buy grocery store eggs.

Brunty Farms is known for its pasture-raised chickens, which literally have the run of the farm. But Brunty is also gaining a reputation for its pork, turkeys, heritage poultry, and produce. And, to my great delight, they’ve also begun raising ducks.

I’ve purchased duck eggs from them a few times, and recently was fortunate to get my hands on one of their fresh ducks. Mel e-mailed me a month or so before they were planning to process the ducks to see if I wanted one. Of course I said yes, and last week my duck was finally ready!

The duck was on the smallish side — about 4 pounds — and in retrospect, I probably should have roasted it whole. But I had other plans for it, so as soon as I got it home, I began butchering it.

I’m not an expert when it comes to butchering poultry, but ducks are actually pretty easy to take apart. They’re connected by layers of fat, and it’s easy to follow the fat lines to remove the breasts, legs, and wings. And the bones are light, brittle, and easy to cut through at the joints.

I froze the wings, carcass, and other miscellaneous parts to use for stock. I put the legs in the fridge to use for duck confit. And the breasts became dinner that evening.

In keeping with the quality I’ve come to expect from Brunty Farms, this was the most tender and flavorful duck I’ve ever made. I don’t know whether they will continue raising ducks at the farm, but I sure hope so.

And I can’t wait to get my fresh turkey from them for Thanksgiving!

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First Farmer’s Market Day, 2011

There are a lot of “Farmer’s Markets” around these days. I put the words in quotes because not all “Farmer’s Markets” are really Farmer’s Markets. To my mind, a true Farmer’s Market only allows local farmers and food artisans (cheesemakers, bakers, etc.) to sell food grown or produced locally.

So if you live in the Midwest and go to the market in early Spring to find acorn squash, corn, and tomatoes, you know you’ve stumbled on a “Farmer’s Market”. Get back in the car (or better yet on your bike) and move on.

You might think that given these strictures there wouldn’t be anything at the Farmer’s Market this early in the year. To which I would respond, have a look at this:

Sure, it’s not the same bounty I would come home with in mid-Summer, but that’s the beauty of the Farmer’s Market. What’s fresh is what you get. Now don’t get me wrong. Despite my own ideals, I’m far from a locavore. I do most of my shopping at the local supersized supermarket, and I buy what I want when I want it. But I am becoming more aware of the impact of my decisions, both on the environment (do I really need strawberries in February?) and, more to the point, on my and my family’s health.

So what am I going to do about it? Well, for starters I’m going to do more of my shopping at places like the Countryside Conservancy Farmer’s Market, where I can shake the hand and look into the eyes of the men and women who grow my food. I talked to several of them today, and they all invited us to visit their farms to see how they operate and where our food comes from.

I’m going to take the kids on several farm outings this year. Having grown up in Eastern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, I know what a farm looks, sounds, and smells like and how sustainable farmers (the Amish were green before green was in vogue) grow food. But to my kids, a chicken is something you buy in a package at the store, cleaned, cut up, and not in any way resembling a living creature. I feel like I owe it to them to teach them how this whole food chain, circle of life thing really works — blood, guts, and all.

And I guess it’s time I finally read The Omnivore’s Dilemma. As I understand it, this book is not an in-your-face, Upton Sinclair, scare the crap out of you so you never want to eat a burger again food industry expose. Rather, it’s a well-written, no-nonsense, approachable discussion about how we interact with what we eat and how our food sourcing decisions impact our health and the health of our planet.

And finally, when I do go to the mega-supermart, I’ll pay more attention to what I am buying, where it comes from, and how it was produced. I don’t promise to give up bananas, but I will plan my menu around what’s in season. And I’ll do my best to cut unnecessary chemicals out of my family’s diet.

“Hi, I’m Phyl. And I’m an omnivore,…”

Semi-Silent (and Succulent) Saturday — Farmer’s Market Bounty

Giant Blackberry!

 

Eggs, hen and duck

 

African (Garden Egg) Eggplant and Purple Peppers

 

Squash Season is Here!