Green Duchess Farm in Franklin Township, NJ raises chickens, pigs, ducks and turkeys. The animals are pasture-raised, antibiotic-free, and humanely-raised. What does this mean?
Farmer Jessica Isbrecht and Chef Laercio Chamon Jr. and Clyde.
While discussing the concept of pasture raised pigs, Green Duchess farm owner Jessica told a story about one of the pigs. This is an excerpt from her facebook page:
Three pigs are going to slaughter tomorrow. This big Red Wattle/Old Spot male is one of them. When he and his two siblings came to me, they were scared of humans. He, in particular, was very aggressive towards people.
Once, early on in our time together, he was napping while I was scratching his sister behind the ears. She loved it and rolled over to give me her belly. I obliged and leaned over her head in order to reach. At that moment he woke up and saw me crouched over her. He barked a warning while simultaneously jumping to his feet and rushing towards me with his fangs bared. It happened in a split second. Luckily, I got away unscathed.
He was a tough customer but I finally won him over. Thanks also to @benpollak and Mike, the Intern for showering him with treats and scratches whenever they could. Now, at nearly 300 pounds, he’s so comfortable with people that he lays down and rolls over for a belly rub whenever I offer it.
Farmer Jessica, a local pastry chef, coffee roasters, and other food writers made up the guest list.
Invited to a special chefs table meal at Zoe in Little Silver, honoring farmer Jessica, one of her little piglets, and of course the chef who conjured this beautiful pig roast, I was excited. Even more so when I realized that I was in esteemed foodie company but what happens when you become emotionally attached to your dinner? It became necessary at one point to pause and think through the reasons I have chosen not to be a vegetarian.
The side dishes consisted of a variety of vegetables and a chicken salad that Chef Chamon said is his mothers recipe. I’ll see if the chef will share his moms secrets.
Humans are sustained by the consumption of living organisms. Whether the nourishment is grown from the earth or the animals are being sustained by what is grown from the earth isn’t completely relevant to me. It is all part and parcel to a more advanced way of life that takes into account food as a form of high art along with sustenance. That said, for flavor, creativity, and culture, animals are part of my diet. The more ethically treated the animals are in their life time, the better the meat. But, pasture raised animals take considerably more work than animals that are fed antibiotics and raised in crowed pens. Therefore the meat is more expensive, but worth it.
The pig weighed about 20 lbs and was plenty for a dozen people.
The question wasn’t whether I was going to taste the duck fat basted, perfectly roasted piglet named Clyde, it was whether I’d allow myself to enjoy it. In all honesty, it was the best pork I’ve tasted in a very long time and it took great effort not to “pig out” on the meal served family style. That I didn’t go home with grease up to my elbows was a testament to the company I was in. Had I been with family and friends who know me better, well, my manners would definitely have taken a back seat.
What it boils down to in the end is an immense appreciation of a very young but experienced farmer being professionally paired with an equally young but experienced chef. If this is the future of food then we have plenty to look forward to. Bravo! Jessica Isbrecht and Laercio Chamon Jr …Bravo!
The apple flan dessert was a memorable creamy custard laced with cinnamon and crunchy bits of caramelized sugar.