With the concerns that folks have any more with the fat intake in their diets, we are constantly looking for healthier and leaner meats. And of course we are looking for animals that fit into our diversified grass-fed and free-range model.
When you look out onto any given pasture field or drive down a country lane, I'm sure you have seen one of these critters. Many farmers have told me I am crazy. But that seems to go with the path we have trod so far and it has worked for us. People told me I was crazy when I said we were going to raise rabbits in our fields (who's the crazy one now? Rabbit anyone?)
Many of the farmers I spoke with said that this would be impossible for us to do. They said we would be driven crazy by their constant whistling and filling in their burrows behind them. They were also concerned about that climatic changes that could come because of their presence. But I'm the stubborn type and will press forward.
So what is this new free-range and grass-fed animal we are bringing to the farm? Groundhog! That's right the common woodchuck.
Many, I know, will be turned off at first but please hear me out. Groundhog is rich in omaga-3 fatty acid. It is also low in fat and comparable in protein to beef (click here for more nutritional info). They have a wonderful flavor that many say tastes like chicken.
Ready to order yours? Click below to learn more.
1 woodchuck (groundhog)
3 medium carrots
1/4 cup of butter or lard
1 onion, diced
2 tablespoons of flour and piecrust dough
Quarter the woodchuck and place the pieces in a large pot with enough cold water to cover the meat. Boil it for 10 minutes, then discard the water, refill the pan, and bring the liquid to a boil again. Lower the heat and let the contents simmer for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Add the carrots and potatoes and continue cooking the stew for about another 30 minutes ... until the meat is tender and separates easily from the bone. By this time, you should be able to pierce the vegetables readily with a fork.
Now, strain the liquid and reserve 2 cups. The remaining pot liquor can be saved for soup stock, or discarded.
Next, remove the cooked meat from the bones and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Melt the butter or margarine in a large, heavy skillet, add the diced onion, and cook it for 5 minutes. Then add the flour and stir the mixture until it bubbles ... put in the reserved liquid and blend the brew some more until it thickens . . . and, when that happens, combine the vegetables and meat, mixing the whole concoction thoroughly.
Finally, butter a large casserole and pour in the meat-and-vegetable mixture. Lay piecrust dough over the top of the filling, brush the pastry with milk, and place the container in a preheated 400°F oven for about 30 minutes, or until the crust has turned golden brown.
We only have a few bugs to work out of our system for raising them (like how to keep from breaking axles and legs when heading out to move them to the next paddock). We believe that just simply whistling while we work will drown out the whistle from the whistlepig.
Groundhog is taking off to such a level that there are even restaurants dedicated to it. Who would have thought that the humble groundhog would excite this much passion.
We shall have our first round ready in time for the markets to open. In the meantime we have started an experiment. We have placed several piles of wood in each paddock of groundhogs. Our hope is that if we watch closely enough we can get to the bottom of the age old question, how much wood can a woodchuck chuck? So far not much.
If you have read this far and still believe we are going to sale groundhog, maybe you can help us watch them and find out how much wood they can chuck. APRIL FOOLS!!