Regenerative farming is comprised of many locally adapted practices. Choosing livestock or poultry for your regenerative farm can seem daunting. There is an endless maze of information about the traits of breeds and sometimes conflicting information about best management practices. We summarize how endangered Pineywoods Cattle benefit our regenerative farming practices in this post.
But first a bit about our regenerative farming goals. As a regenerative farm, we view the farm as an ecological system. When making decisions, we try to take the entire farm ecology into consideration, including but not limited to the health of the soil, conserving and preserving our forests, improving dung beetle health and increasing biodiversity. Pineywoods contribute to all of these, leading us closer to our goal of farming in harmony with nature.
Plants For Biodiversity and A Changing Climate
One of the key measures of environmental health is biodiversity. As of February 2022, Ozark Akerz is home to over 540 species of plants, insects, reptiles, birds, fungi, mammals etc.
Our strategy for increasing biodiversity at Ozark Akerz has taken many forms. This includes but is not limited to:
In terms of labor, planting native perennial plants in the food and medicine forest has been the most intensive. We have planted 130+ trees, shrubs and other perennial plant, all of which require regular watering, weeding, and hand picking insects like Japanese Beetles every morning for 3-4 weeks during summer to ensure they have a fighting chance to grow. The increase in plant species has had a knock-on effect on the increase in insect, reptile and bird species.
The Best Pineywoods Beef Roast Recipe
One of my favorite Pineywoods roast recipes was inspired by Mike. He loves a red beer (beer, tomato juice, salt and pepper) on a hot summer evening. I had seen a recipe that added beer to the roast and another that added tomato paste stirred into water. I asked Mike if i should add beer or tomato paste to the roast, he said "why don't you add both.". What resulted was the most savory and delicious roast I have ever had.
There is a misconception that all grass fed and grass finished beef is dry and leathery. The truth is, it depends on a combination of things including the breed, the forages they have access to and the cooking method. Pineywoods Cattle ran wild for close to 400 years. The Pineywoods herd at Ozark Akerz thrives on wild growing grasses, herbs, shrubs, trees and weeds.
The chefs and butchers we work with are consistently surprised by the marbling and flavor that our wild foraged and dry-aged Heritage Pineywoods Beef has. In fact, a butcher with 30 years experience who saw the marbling recently asked us how much grain we finished the cattle on. When we told him we don't feed them any grains, he asked what kind of fancy grass we had them on, he was equally surprised when we told him plain old fescue and the forages I mentioned above.
With winter here, I'm ready to cook roasts again. The 100 year old farmhouse at Ozark Akerz is not the warmest place during the winter months. A flavorful cut of Heritage Pineywoods Beef roasting in the oven not only fills the house with a wonderful aroma, it helps keep the kitchen nice and toasty.
Here's my recipe:
Brown brisket on all sides - you can also use chuck or rib roast. Browning the roast brings out a lot of flavor. This is known as the Maillard reaction. It is important to pat the roast dry prior to browning - otherwise the beef steams instead of brown. I've browned roasts in bacon grease, lard, tallow (beef fat) and schmaltz (chicken fat). They are all good! I've found that the best results occur over medium to medium high heat. This should be a slow browning process, so take your time and be sure each side is fully browned.
Once browned, mix beer and tomato paste and pour over brisket. Season, cover and put in the oven at 350F for 3-3.5 hours. I find that the roasts turn out most juicy and tender when cooked in a Dutch oven, as good or better than a slow cooker.
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