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The Latest News from Wheatsville

Meat & Seafood News

First, the fish. This case is as well-curated as the Blanton. We can tell you a tale about every fish in it. Each one is locally sourced whenever possible. And every selection follows the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s sustainability guidelines. We recommend you strike up a conversation with our fishmongers. They always know the best way to prepare a particular fish and can order you something we don’t have on ice that day.

Which brings us to the meat counter. On any given night this can be the star of your dinner plate. We make our own sausages, rubs and marinades from scratch every single day so it’s easy to bring home something spectacular. Of course we have everything you’d see in any ‘ole butcher case except ALL of our meat is humanely and sustainably raised. We only do business with reputable vendors. Consider what you see in the case as a conversation starter with our butchers. Talk to them about what you have in mind and they can custom cut anything your meat-minded heart desires.

We Love Wheatsville Sausage

We love this…… so why don’t we marry it? Wheatsville makes its own sausage. We use sustainably and humanely raised fresh ground meats with fresh ingredients to make our sausage the highest quality. We think this brings our sausage offerings to the top of the pack. What kind of sausage do we offer?

Something Old (World)

Italian sausage is a staple in the American kitchen-hence its popularity and its variety. It is used as links and as a bulk sausage. Italian Sausages have some basic ingredients in common like garlic and oregano. From there they become more distinctive based on how much garlic and other ingredients. Our Italian Sausage recipe is a fennel Italian sausage. We offer a Hot Italian made with pork, and our Sweet Italian (The sweet means it is not hot-there is nothing added to sweeten the sausage) comes in Pork, Chicken and Turkey. One the most popular sausages in the country is Spinach and Feta Chicken. Ours is made from fresh ground chicken and fresh spinach to bring great flavor and great taste.

Something New

We have our own sausage flavors that are unique to Wheatsville such as the Tipsy Cow Beef Sausage. We rehydrate Ancho Chilies in Belgian Style Ale-usually North Coast Brewery’s Pranqster Ale. The mixture of smooth and sweet beer and the smoky, but mild peppers brings a great flavor that can be used in casseroles or on a bun as well as by themselves on the grill. Beef and Lamb Curry Sausage is also unique to Wheatsville. A mixture of beef and lamb with Madras curry powder, we take it another step and bloom the seasoning with red wine vinegar and coconut milk to bring the full curry experience. The vinegar adds some acid, and raisins bring the sweet element that is present in curry dishes. The Bloody Mary Chicken Sausage is another Wheatsville stand out. Built to represent a Texas style Bloody Mary, we include bacon, vodka, celery salt, tobasco, and olives. This is a great addition to pizza as well as standing out on it’s own.

Something Borrowed

Chorizo Here in Texas, Chorizo is a staple in our cuisine. The Chorizo flavor is characterized by red wine vinegar and paprika. The spicy element is usually cayenne pepper. It is traditionally made with pork glands. We have left out the glands and our Chorizo is less “greasy” than most. Wheatsville also offers a Chorizo Verde-or green Chorizo. You do not see this very much in the States, but you would see it further south. It is characterized by roasted poblano peppers and fresh serrano pepper and cilantro.

Something Blue
I got nothin’ here. Maybe next year we will come up with a blue sausage.

How do you cook link Sausages?
Our sausages are raw, they have not been smoked. When you buy prepackaged sausages they have already been fully cooked. If you put one of our sausages on the grill it will usually end up charred all over before it is done cooking. Before you put them on the grill, poach them. About a half a cup of water in a pan or skillet should do the trick. Flip them once while cooking. When the water is evaporated put them on the grill. If you are not grilling-add a small amount of oil to the water. When the water is gone, the oil will start to brown the sausages. Take them out when they reach the texture you want. It is always a good idea to take their temperature-it should be 160 degrees.

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Great for Grilling: Smart Chicken and Niman Ranch Meats

SMART CHICKEN

Smart Chickens are raised in a free range environment by family farmers without the use of antibiotics, hormones or animal by-products. The Organic Line is Third Party certified humane. Tecumseh Farms is committed to environmental stewardship. Their facilities are surrounded by the farms where the grain to feed the chicken is grown, which saves energy on grain-hauling. They’re located close to one of the world’s largest natural aquifers, so their water use, which is already reduced because of the air-chilling, has no adverse affect on area water resources. The combination of environmental stewardship, humane treatment, and a safe product that has superior flavor makes Smart Chicken the premium value.

I had the opportunity to visit some of the Tecumseh Farms Smart Chicken facilities. I saw the land and barns where the organic lines of chickens are raised and the two processing facilities in the Omaha, Nebraska area.

The farms raising certified organic Smart Chicken  are also third party certified humane. The barns are clean and free of odor; the chickens are happy and laid back. Temperature and moisture are monitored and maintained by computers to ensure a comfortable environment for the chickens. The chickens have free access to the outdoors through open doors spaced every couple of feet all along the side of the 750 ft. long barn. We saw some chickens playing outside and some of them had escaped the pen area. It was pretty entertaining.

The non-certified organic line of Smart Chicken is raised on twenty-seven family owned farms. The entire line cannot get third party humane certification since these farms are owned by individual families and have a variety of barn configurations. Regardless, the ideals and standards are the same for all of the farms.

One thing that differentiates Smart Chicken from other larger chicken growers is the farmers’ commitment to proper care and welfare for the animals. Humane treatment not only contributes to a superior product and earns the trust of consumers, but is also just the right thing to do.

The standards that Smart Chicken brings to the table are unsurpassed by other U.S. chicken growers. For example, the CAS system of changing the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere to stun the chickens before the processing procedure begins is a practice brought in from Europe.

Air chilling is another practice that separates Smart Chicken from other growers. Instead of using a chlorinated communal bath to lower their temperature, they are cooled by using only cold air. This process is cleaner and keeps additional water weight out of the birds. Since this is a fairly new procedure to the U.S., there are not yet standards for process or labeling.

But the real story is of a company that believes in doing the right things for the right reasons. This progressive company is a leader in their:

  • use of technology to produce a clean, superior product
  • concern for animal welfare
  • providing safe and good quality jobs
  • keeping high standards despite costs
  • managing shipping costs by placing their farms and facilities strategically.

They believe that by treating animals and people properly they can maintain the highest quality of chicken and can cultivate trust in their product and their company.


NIMAN RANCH

  • Niman Ranch raises livestock traditionally, humanely and sustainably to produce the finest tasting meat in the world.
  • Niman Ranch works with the largest network of sustainable US family farmers and ranchers - 700 and growing.
  • ALL animals are raised outdoors or in deeply bedded pens.
  • Livestock raising protocols were developed with the help of animal welfare expert Dr. Temple Grandin, and are the strictest in the industry.
  • Niman Ranch offers a complete line of fresh beef, pork, lamb, poulty, cage-free eggs and a variety of smoked and cured meats. Niman ranch is leading the industry in sustainable and humane agricultural practices.
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Grate for Grilling :)

I am pretty sure that Texans would love to think that they invented grilling. While I am pretty sure they did not, I would not be surprised if Texas was not responsible for some perfecting. In all likely hood, the grill would have been one of the earliest ways to cook. We have come from spit roasting over an open fire to the propane grill. Oddly enough, grilling is heavily associated with the summer (seems a little counterintuitive to stand around a 300 degree fire in 100 degree weather, but I guess that's why there is beer). I think grilling is for the whole year, but there is something to be said for not turning on the oven or stove in our wickedly hot Texas summers. On that front, the crock pot or slow cooker would also be perfect for the summer.

I would like to provide a few thoughts on grilling here. First off-the charcoal chimney. This is an amazing tool for the grill. Top of the line models are under $30 dollars. My $20 Webber one has been around for about 5 years and I can't imagine it not lasting for at least another five. This tool requires coals (put in the top of the chimney), newspaper (put in the bottom of the chimney) and an incendiary device (matches or lighter). Just light the newsprint at the bottom. Newsprint works best. The heavier the paper is the harder it is to keep it burning. The holes at the bottom and up the sides of the chimney allow plenty of oxygen through to keep the flames stoked and to get those coals good and hot in about 10-15 minutes. As the coals begin to get grey, dump them into your grill.

When I grill, I try to cook the entire meal on the grill. It brings a similar flavor to the meal, and lets face it, if you use charcoal you might as well get as much as you can out of your time investment. Those coals have a limited life span and temperature peak—you might as well cook as much as you can. I like grilling corn on the cob, asparagus, broccolini, tomatoes. jalapeños wrapped in bacon and stuffed with cheese.

There are a few tricks that will be helpful in a great grilling experience. The fat content of what you cook will determine how much flare up you get. This includes marinades. If your asparagus is dripping olive oil directly over a flame, it is going to flare up. If you are cooking a ribeye over the hottest part of the grill, it is going to have some char. I like carbon and I think it is a legitimate and valuable component to the flavor profile of grilling, but I do like to keep it in check. If you are going to grill fattier steaks like ribeyes, I recommend using indirect heat by putting them outside of the area of the coals.  In the case of grilling veggies, I recommend those goofy baskets. I hate seeing delicious green beans getting burnt to a crisp after they fell through the grate.

Lubrication is also a vital player in your grilling. Even if what you are grilling has oil or fat, get more oil on your grate. You want to do it after it has heated up, so that the grate absorbs the fat.

Seafood, other than shellfish, may need a basket. Flaky fish will come apart. One way to combat this is to grill your fish with the skin on. It brings structure and I feel like it adds flavor. But shellfish just need the kiss of the flames. You can even grill mussels and clams. Just wait till they open and do not spill the liquor they leave in their shells.

I hope these tips are helpful and bring some great grilling this summer.

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Slicing and Dicing

You may have noticed that the Meat Department is now slicing your deli style meats. Along with some familiar names we are bringing in some new players and some more options from your favorites.

More uncured and cured options—what does that mean?

It means that the USDA requires processors who do not add salt cure or sodium nitrate /nitrite to their products to label it as uncured. Nitrate/nitrite occurs naturally in some vegetables and leafy greens. Some producers use these nitrates instead of ones that are combined with sodium to cure their meats. All of these products use some form of curing to help preserve them.

We offer cured turkey and ham as well as uncured turkey and ham from Boar’s Head. These are great selections from a very recognizable national brand.

Cured choices:

  • Roasted Smoked Turkey,
  • Mesquite Smoked Turkey,
  • Sweet Sliced Smoked Ham
  • Peppered Ham
  • Black Forest Ham

Boar's Head All Natural

  • Smoked Turkey
  • Roasted Turkey
  • Tuscan Turkey
  • Applewood Smoked Ham
  • All Natural Roast Beef.

We also offer some uncured Niman Ranch meats:

  • The Uncured Corned Beef is brined and roasted—a traditional corned beef that will make any sandwich fantastic.
  • Niman Ranch Beef Pastrami. Get ready to make your own Rueben with Niman Ranch Pastrami and any one of the delicious sauerkrauts that Wheatsville offers.
  • Jambon Royal Ham. Fantastic! Made in a more European Style, this equates to a stronger smoke and salt flavor that comes out with the applewood smoking. One of the best Hams I’ve eaten and now you can get it sliced for a sandwich or cut into as small a piece as you would like!
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Dewberry Hills Farm Chicken

Photo courtesy of Thomas Winslow

One of the great things about buying from local farms is being able to shake the hand of the person growing your food. I always look forward to seeing Jane & Terry Levan. They own and operate one of my favorite farms that we do business with -  Dewberry Hills Farm. Over the years, I have been able to bring in hearts and livers, frozen frames and even chicken feet and our owners and shoppers have been eager to use it all. Those chicken feet are a great source of collagen by the way, and are great for making rich, flavorful stock. Dogs love them for snacks, too!

The great care and treatment of the chickens from Dewberry Hills come through in every aspect. These birds are carried around the farm under the protection of moveable tents that help keep them safe from weather and predators. They are fed locally raised grains. In pasture, they are able to eat bugs and small rocks which aids their digestion.

Terry and Jane have decided to grow with Wheatsville and are expanding their operations while we grow our co-op economy with our second store. I have also heard plans of an organic line down the road. Check out their website to learn more about their story and check out some of the restaurants and spas that serve their really good chicken.

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Here’s Looking at Windy Hill Farm

One of the most exciting things we offer in the Meat Department is meat from Windy Hill Farm. Ty Wolosin has been ranching for 16 years and currently calls Windy Hill Farm in Comanche Texas his ranching and farming home. Ty does things differently than conventional farms and ranches. All of his animals are pastured and treated humanely. They eat grass in their pastures and are finished with a local, organically raised alfalfa supplement from Coyote Creek Farm.

Ty selects his animal's genetics very carefully. When choosing which breed of animals to raise, probably the most important fact to take into consideration is the climate. Texas can be a harsh and brutal climate to raise live stock in. All of the livestock breeds Ty have chosen are drought resistant and are capable of thriving in harsh, dry environments.

80% of the goats raised for meat in the U.S. are raised here in Texas.The Boer goat is a great choice for the Texas climate. They are good foragers and have great parenting instincts. Wheatsville offers ground goat, goat stew meat and goat loin. Goat is not as “gamey” as lamb, but has more of a twang than pork. It is very lean compared to other livestock its size.

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New to Wheatsville…Olli Salumeria

Charcuterie is considered by some to be the highest form of meat preparation. What used to be done in caves or cellars is now executed in controlled atmosphere containers. Like in most instances, technology has brought consistency, well…as much as you can get with micro organisms and their fickle processes.

Wheatsville is now offering Olli Salumeria products. Their pork is sourced from well managed family farms. Some of these farms specialize in breeds like Duroc, Berkshire and even Mangalitsa, which are the curly-haired descendant of pata negra, Spain’s coveted black-footed Ibérico pig. They use pastured pork from farms and farmers who care about the animals and the land that they are a part of.


The flavors Wheatsville offers are:

  • Molisana- flavored with whole black peppercorn and garlic – it’s the quintessential Italian salami that you would find in Molise.
  • Calabrese- a spicy salami that gets its kick from cayenne pepper and paprika. The Calabrese Salame is based on a traditional recipe from Calabria, where spicy sausages are popular.
  • Wild Boar-is smoked over applewood and has a unique flavor. The selected cuts used come from the lean shoulders and legs, giving it an almost purple color.
  • Chorizo-uses traditional pimenton de la vera to give our chorizo that classic taste.

Salami is great for hiking and camping since it does not require refrigeration to keep. It is also perfect for cheese plates and crackers. Firmer cheeses will add a fantastic texture contrast with the rich cured meats. Try the BellaVitano cheeses with the Wild Boar.

and check out their web site http://www.olli.com

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Seafood that is great for Grilling

One of the best things about seafood is that it cooks quickly!  When using the grill for seafood, try to grill as much of your meal as possible to help utilize all the fire has to offer.

Great Veggies for the Grill
Vegetables like asparagus and corn are perfect for the grill as well as just about every mushroom,. Brussels Sprouts and tomatoes may seem a little bit out side the box, but they are equally well suited for the grill. Peaches are a superb fruit for grilling and we will have a great deal on them in the produce department.

Wheatsville offers a variety of fish and seafood that are fantastic for grilling...

Alaskan Sockeye Salmon
Take advantage of seasonal favorites like salmon. The fishing season starts in the Copper River making these salmon the most cherished of all the Sockeye. When the state closes the Copper River fishing season, the rest of Alaska is opened up. Alaska is a state who takes the passion of sustainable fishing more seriously than just about any other place on the planet. Their waters and fish supply are both closely monitored and exceedingly clean and fresh.

Grill Tips To grill salmon, we recommend using a plank which adds subtle wood flavors. It's also a good way to keep skinless fish intact. Black Drum and Cod are also great choices for plank grilling. Black drum offers many options on the grill, including stuffed and rolled or just marinated and grilled.

Shellfish
Shellfish are always a great option for the grill. Shrimp skewers are are great for a parties as are Mussels and Clams. Just drop them on and wait for them to open.

Spice It Up
Our Cajun Catfish from Quality Seafood is marinated and excellent for grilling. Despite the name, it is mild in heat, but does pack fantastic flavor.

If you like it VERY hot, I suggest you add a little hot sauce like Tobasco or Yellow Bird, or, make your own. I have recently become a big fan of the Chipotle Powder in Bulk Herbs mixed with paprika, some chili, garlic and onion powder and salt. That is also a pretty great rub for wings!

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