Tips and tricks from our expert staff. From Recipes to product recommendations we will be your knowledge source for all things Butcher. 

DIY Easter Ham Recipe

March 25, 2019

DIY Easter Ham Recipe
If you're more of a do-it-yourselfer or looking for a fun project with the family we have the perfect recipe for you. Our DIY Easter Ham starts with Fresh Pork Legs from our friends at Autumn Olive Farm in Shenandoah Valley, Virginia. They will come prepared with the aitch bone removed, skin-off and cut into the traditional cone shape for easy slicing.  We put together Brine Kits and a mouth-watering recipe to finish these incredible Hams in the oven. Make sure to start this process at least 4 days in advance or request it pre-brined. DIY Brine Recipe: 1. Heat 32 C or 2 GAL of water to a simmer. Add The Organic Butcher Brine Kit to water. Make sure everything is fully dissolved. Let fully cool or add ice. Put in Fresh pork leg in the Brine Bag we provide and add the fully cooled brine mixture. 2. Allow the fresh ham to brine for at least 48 hours. 3. Remove, rinse and fully dry the fresh ham.  Glazed Easter Ham Recipe: Ingredients: Glaze 1/2 C Local Raw Honey 1/4 C Brown Sugar 1/4 C Whole Grain Ground Mustard 2 TBSP Shrub District Pineapple Allspice 2 tsp Salt 1.5 tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper 2 tsp Cinnamon 1 TBSP Fresh Grated Ginger 1/4 tsp Ground Clove 1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes Cooking Instructions: 1. Mix all ingredients together. Let the pre-brined ham sit in the marinade for 1-2 days rotating a few times throughout.  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 3. Put the ham and its marinade in a roasting pan with the bone facing up.  4. Baste every 30 minutes with the marinade and drippings until the internal temperature reaches 160-175 degrees, approximately 5-6 hours. 5. Let rest and fully cool. Set covered in refrigerator until it is ready to slice and serve. Enjoy!    

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Fresh West Coast Halibut + Recipe

April 20, 2018

Fresh West Coast Halibut + Recipe
Wild West Coast Halibut is in! They’re averaging 10-20lbs right now and boast a firm flesh with a mild buttery flavor. This makes them ideal for: Grilling, Roasting, Pan Searing, Broiling, Steaming, Poaching, and Smoking. Follow our simple recipe for delicious pan-seared Halibut topped with our house-made roasted garlic, thyme & lemon compound butter! Recipe: Pre-heat oven to 350  degrees. Season Halibut with only salt Heat pan till hot with 1-2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil until the oil shimmers Place halibut skin side down in the pan and let sear for 3-4 minutes. Do not flip and put the pan in a 350 degree oven and roast for 6 to 7 minutes Remove fish from pan and add some sliced shallots, asparagus tips, thinly sliced lemons, capers and cherry tomatoes Sauté for 4 minutes and season with fresh chopped parsley Place fish on top of the sauté vegetables and add a hearty scoop of our house-made roasted garlic & lemon compound butter and enjoy! Come see us soon!    

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Easter Ordering, Plus Tips for Preparing Leg of Lamb and Ham

April 06, 2017

Easter Ordering, Plus Tips for Preparing Leg of Lamb and Ham
Easter ordering at The Organic Butcher is underway. Be sure to place your orders by April 12th to ensure availability. You may use our online order form or call us at 703-790-8300.   Some tips to help make your holiday perfect: Leg of Lamb A large piece of meat like leg of lamb can be daunting if you have never cooked one before. But rest assured, it pretty much takes care of itself once you pop it in the oven. The trick is to season it well and bring it to room temperature before cooking. This will allow the meat to cook evenly from the edge to the center. Follow this beautiful recipe from Food52 and you'll be sure to knock it out of the park on your first try. Serves 8 to 10 1/2 cup olive oil 1/3 cup lemon juice 7 garlic cloves 1 teaspoon coriander 2 teaspoons sumac 1/2 teaspoon cayenne 2 tablespoons smoked paprika 1 tablespoon salt 2 teaspoons black pepper 2 teaspoons cumin One 6 to 8 pound semi-boneless leg of lamb Pulse everything (except for the lamb) in a food processor until a paste forms. Rub it all over the leg of lamb, wrap it tightly in plastic, and allow it to marinate overnight. The next day, remove the lamb from the fridge and wipe excess marinade off. Place it in a deep roasting pan and allow it to sit out of the fridge for about 45 minutes to bring it up to room temperature. While it rests, heat your oven to 450° F. Roast the lamb for 15 minutes, then drop the temperature down to 325° F and roast until a meat thermometer reads 135 to 140°, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Transfer lamb to a cutting board and tent it with foil. Allow it to rest for 20 minutes before carving. Want to keep your ham juicy and moist? Then follow the instructions for reheating a fully cooked ham below and you'll never eat dry ham again. Slow Cooker Method for Heating HamHams emerge very moist and tender from the slow cooker. Place the ham in the cooker and add about 1 cup of water. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours, until ham is thoroughly heated. If you want to glaze the ham, place on a broiler pan and cover with glaze; broil, watching carefully, until glaze is cooked. Oven MethodThe goal is to reheat the ham without drying it out. The best way to do this is to place the ham on a rack in a roasting pan. Add water to the bottom of the pan and cover the whole thing tightly with foil. Bake at 325°F for 8-10 minutes per pound, until a meat thermometer registers 140°F. Unwrap the ham and apply the glaze; increase the heat to 400°F and bake for 15-20 minutes longer until the glaze is burnished. Spiral Sliced HamsThese hams are delicious cold, but to reheat them, place the ham (cut-side-down) on heavy-duty aluminum foil and wrap it tightly. Bake in a preheated 325°F oven for 10-14 minutes per pound, or until a meat thermometer registers 140°F. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving. 

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January 06, 2016

Combat the Cold With A Warm Yet Light Cioppino
It's January, the winter chill has finally set in, and nothing sounds better than curling up with a hearty, filling stew. Don't sacrifice your New Year's resolutions just yet. Try this satisfying and light Cioppino instead of something that will weigh you down. Cioppino is an Italian-American fish stew that originated in San Francisco, California. Originally it was made on boats while out at sea and later became a staple in Italian restaurants.  You can add all sorts of seafood to this stew — clams, mussels, shrimp, white fishes, salmon, octopus — you name it. Serve it with white wine and some crusty bread to sop up the flavorful broth. Ingredients3 tablespoons olive oil1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced1 onion, chopped3 large shallots, chopped2 teaspoons salt4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste1/4 cup tomato paste1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice1 1/2 cups dry white wine5 cups fish stock1 bay leaf1 pound clams, scrubbed1 pound mussels, scrubbed, debearded1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined1 1/2 pounds assorted firm-fleshed fish fillets such as halibut or salmon, cut into 2-inch chunksDirectionsHeat the oil in a very large pot over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion, shallots, and salt and saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and 3/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and saute 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add tomatoes with their juices, wine, fish stock and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the flavors blend, about 30 minutes.Add the clams and mussels to the cooking liquid. Cover and cook until the clams and mussels begin to open, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and fish. Simmer gently until the fish and shrimp are just cooked through, and the clams are completely open, stirring gently, about 5 minutes longer (discard any clams and mussels that do not open). Season the soup, to taste, with more salt and red pepper flakes.Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

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October 01, 2015 4 Comments

GUEST POST: Home-curing Duck Prosciutto
Friend of the store and loyal customer, Sean Vineyard (@chezsean85), was gracious enough to detail how he makes duck prosciutto at home with very little equipment. Read on and get inspired! HOME-CURED DUCK PROSCIUTTOWords and photos by Sean Vineyard Coppa. Bresaola. Lomo. Panchetta. Prosciutto. American’s love cured meats, and with good reason; we’ve been curing meats for centuries. What once was done out of necessity as a means of preservation is now done out of a passion for rich, concentrated, meaty deliciousness. Why did we stop curing meats? Mostly because of refrigeration, but ultimately it’s the same reason we no longer have cassette players in our cars. Something better came along.  Many people now associate charcuterie with low production artisans, tucked away in the back of a small store-front, legs of prosciutto hanging from the window, skillfully stuffing natural casings with pork, fat, wine, fennel, pepper, and garlic to make finocchiona salami. So, what if I told you that you could make cured meats at home? Most people don’t believe me. What if I told you that you could do it in less than three weeks, start-to-finish? Usually people look at me as though I’ve proven string theory when I tell them that.  The least complicated of all of the variety of charcuterie is definitely whole muscle cured meats. That is to say, essentially everything less salami and cured sausages. Of the whole muscle cured meats, duck prosciutto is the easiest way to gain entry into the vastly addicting world of home curing and that is largely because it is quick. You can see results in a couple of weeks and adjust recipes to your liking instead of 6-18 months if you were to cure a whole hog leg to make traditional prosciutto. Okay enough talking, let’s get started – trust me – those who know me know I love to talk and will gladly do so if not intervened.  What You Will Need2-3 duck breasts¼ cup juniper berries2 TBSP peppercorns (mixed black, green, red, and white if you can)2 TBSP fennel seed2-3 whole star anise4 bay leaves4 cups of sea saltLight vinegar (not distilled) or white wine for rinsingCheese clothButchers twine How to Select Your DuckJust as with any dish you make, selecting the right ingredients is one of the most essential parts. No matter how good of a Chef or cook you are, you can’t turn bad products into something that tastes good. My recommendation is create a relationship with your grocer. Know your butcher. And if you can, know your farmer.  When selecting which type of duck breast to use I thought it best to ask The Organic Butcher, Don Roden, what his thoughts are on the subject. Don says that there are three widely available breeds of duck available. Those being Peking, Moulard, and Muscovy. If anyone has ever eaten at a decent Chinese restaurant, you’re probably quite familiar with Peking duck. Peking duck has a lower fat to flesh ratio making it the least ideal for curing. Remember, fat is good! And truthfully, if you don’t like fat, we can’t be friends. Moulard is the Rolls Royce of duck breasts. Rich, fatty, deep in color and flavor. But just like with a Rolls Royce, they are expensive. They are well worth the price but certainly not the best option to try out your hand in curing. That leaves the Muscovy. Don says the Muscovy has the best fat to flesh ratio, portion sizes, and flavor, and they are very affordable.  Once you have decided the type of duck to buy, you need to select your meat. Freshness is imperative in curing meats because any ‘funk’ will be exacerbated by the curing process and while stinky cheeses always have a place in my fridge, stinky meats are not good eats! There are three senses that are important to remember when selecting your meat. Sight, feel, and smell. First, you want to make sure that the duck is not greying along the flesh or yellowing along the fat or skin. Second, you want to make sure that the duck is wet but not slimy. Last, and probably the most important, make sure that the duck smells relatively neutral. Yes, any good butcher will let you smell their products! As strange as it may seem, do it. It should smell like raw meat, not like a trash can. If it’s not pleasurable to your nose, it won’t be pleasurable to your stomach.  Preparing Your CureThe cure is a very important part of the process. This is what draws out the moisture in the meat. The moisture, being a veritable bacteria playground, is not something that we want a lot of. In fact, the curing and aging process should reduce the overall weight of your meat by about 25-30%. The curing process is also what imparts a lot of the flavor to the meats based on what spices you put in the cure. While I have my favorite spices, I recommend that first-timers use just salt. By doing that you are going to really taste the meat itself and then you can figure out which spices you want to add based on your preferences and not just listening to what I say works. Create your own cure! That’s part of the fun. My basic ratio for my cures are 1 part spices to 3 or 4 parts salt (depending on how thick the meat is and how much of the flavor of the spices you want in the meat). The key thing to remember when making your cure, regardless of what spices you use, is to use whole spices and toast them! Toasting them brings out the oils of the spices and brings an added layer of complexity to the flavor. To toast your spices, places your whole spices in a pan on medium heat. You will want to nearly constantly stir the spices for 5-6 minutes until they begin turning golden brown on the outside and become very fragrant. Put them into a spice grinder (or you can grind them by hand) and blend them all together. Then mix the spices into the cure. Let the cure cool down. You do not want to bring any heat to the raw meat. I will often times put the cure mixture into the fridge for an hour or so to let it cool.  Curing and AgingTo begin the curing process, place about half of the cure in the bottom of a baking dish. I generally prefer glass. You want to make sure there is at least one inch of cure on the bottom of the dish. Place your duck breast on the mixture. You will see some recipes tell you to score the skin and fat. Truthfully, I never do. It makes the duck too salty and makes it more challenging to slice afterwards. Not to mention it doesn’t look as uniform when you slice it. It’s all about the presentation! You will also see recipes that tell you to place it skin-side down. I have never seen any difference in taste or texture with doing it skin or flesh side down so you do whatever your heart desires.  You want to make sure that your duck breasts are spaced about an inch apart to ensure that the cure gets in contact with every bit of the duck. Pour your remaining mixture over the meat (again, you should have at least an inch of mixture on top of your duck). Cover the whole thing and put it in the fridge for between 2 and 3 days depending on the size of your duck breasts. I will usually stick with 48 hours unless they are particularly large.  After the two days, take the duck out of the fridge and remove it from the cure. The duck breasts should be firm but not hard, a little smaller in size, and slightly darker in color since much of the moisture has been removed. You’ll want to remove any excess cure by pouring a little vinegar over it. I usually use a white wine or apple cider vinegar. You can also use white wine if you have some lying around and for some strange reason you don’t want to drink it.  Now it’s time to wrap it, tie it, and hang it. You wrap the duck in cheese cloth to prevent direct air contact when it is drying/aging. Direct air contact will dry out the outside of the flesh too quickly and it may prevent the inside of the duck from properly drying. Take your cheese cloth and lay it on a flat surface. Place the duck at one edge in the center. Roll it (like you would a sandwich) and about half way through fold in the ends and then continue rolling it. Use the butchers twine to tie the duck. It is easiest to YouTube videos on “how to tie a roast” to show you how to properly tie the duck. It’s hard to explain how to properly tie without a video. Make sure to leave a loop of twine at the top to hang it. For the drying process you can get an S-hook or a suction cup hook from the hardware store and place it in your fridge. Unless you want to go all out and build an in home curing fridge like I did. Hang the duck and place a Tupperware container underneath it filled with salt water. It should be about the same as ocean water. This will create a micro humid climate since refrigerators are notoriously dry and that is not what we want. Make sure that the duck breasts are not touching each other or anything else. If they touch, the contact points could create warm, high humidity areas that could grow bad mold. You want to keep the duck hanging for two weeks. After that you’re ready to eat it! Slicing and ServingYou have a couple of options for slicing and endless options for serving. You want to cut the duck prosciutto paper thing. If you are have a meat slicer at your house, you are already far more prepared than most. If you don’t have a meat slicer, a very sharp slicing knife will work just fine. I find it easiest to lay the duck fat side down if slicing by hand. The key is to go slow and take as few strokes as possible when slicing.  For serving, I love the duck prosciutto just like it is. No accompaniment, no accoutrement, just duck. But you can pair it with figs and bread or crisp it up and put it in a salad. Whatever peaks your interest, do it.

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September 22, 2015

Fall Recipe: Duck Confit with a Fig and Red Wine Sauce
This week's featured fall recipe is a simple duck confit. This version is pared down from the original, but still requires a bit of time (the legs are cured for 24 hours, and then cooked for about 3 ½ hours). In this recipe the duck legs cook in their own rendered fat, rather than in quarts of additional fat. For someone who has never made duck confit, this will make prep and clean up a breeze.  Duck Confit with a Fig and Red Wine Sauce Ingredients1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper½ teaspoon dried thyme1 bay leaf, crumbled8 Moulard duck legs (about 4 pounds total), rinsed and patted dry but not trimmed12 fresh figs, halved (dried will work if soaked in water overnight)2 cups red wine, such as Barolo Preparation1. In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaf pieces. Sprinkle duck generously with mixture. Place duck legs in a pan in one layer. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours. 2. The next day, heat oven to 325 degrees. Place duck legs, fat side down, in a large ovenproof skillet, with legs fitting snugly in a single layer (you may have to use two skillets or cook them in batches). Heat duck legs over medium-high heat until fat starts to render. When there is about 1/4 inch of rendered fat in pan, about 20 minutes, flip duck legs, cover pan with foil, and place it in oven. If you have used two pans, transfer duck and fat to a roasting pan, cover with foil and place in oven. 3. Roast legs for 2 hours, then remove foil and continue roasting until duck is golden brown, about 1 hour more. Remove duck from fat; reserve fat for sauce. 4. Add the figs and wine to roasting pan with remaining duck fat. Heat over medium until the wine has evaporated by half and the figs have softened, scraping any crusty bits from the pan into the wine. 5. Arrange duck legs on a plate and serve with the wine sauce.

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