Chances are you have heard us crowing about the attributes of our newest purveyor, Salazar Meats in Manassa, Colorado. While we can wax poetic about the tasty Berkshire pork coming out of the farm, it’s how owner Lucas Salazar raises his cage-free animals that completely wow us.
What Is Vertically Integrated Farming
Not only are these heritage pigs raised right, but they are vertically integrated too. In short, that means the ranch is able to streamline its operations by performing each stage of the production process, rather than relying on external contractors or suppliers. This is a real boon in a time when butchers and food processors are in short supply, especially in Colorado.
How It Helps the Animals
In ranch terms, the animals raised on a vertically integrated farm spend their entire lives on the same farm. The processing facility is a USDA-inspected slaughter house, run by the farmer and his team. In fact, Salazar Meats is one of the only larger scale places in the country that both raise and process their animals in the same place.
Because the pigs are butchered on property, they don’t suffer the stress of transportation and surge of hormones that other livestock who travel far are subjected to. These hormones are not just hard on the animals, but change the taste of the meat as well. We don’t like that. After all, we seek purveyors like Salazar Meats that can provide not just a sustainable meat, but one that is delicious too.
Why We Love It
While the practice of vertically integrated farming is admirable on its own, this small-scale company goes even further to make sure its ranching practices honor both the animals and the land. For the pigs, they are raised hormone- and antibiotic-free on non-GMO feed made up of barley, peas, potatoes, and organic alfalfa. They can just be pigs, rooting, rummaging and rolling around in the dirt and grass. This makes for happier animals and better tasting meat with a rich coloring that everyone can feel good about. Not only that, but the animals are treated with integrity to the very end.
Berkshire Pork Products from Salazar Meats
At Salazar Meats the whole hog is used, and we get a lot of amazing cuts from them. The inventory is always changing, and when something is sold out it’s gone until we can get more in. Here are some of the products you might find on the Locavore Delivery site, and if you have any questions about how to prepare it, when other cuts might be coming in or anything else, send us an email at email@example.com.
- Hot Breakfast Sausage: Add coarsely ground pork sausage to the breakfast table in patty form or mixed into an egg casserole. Bonus, it has a kick thanks to chili peppers.
- Petite Pork Tenderloin: This tender cut is special, after all, we only get two petit tenderloins from each of our pasture raised hogs. Yes, they go quick. Once procured, marinate, sear, and serve the melt-in-your-mouth medallions over wild rice with roasted vegetables.
- Tasso Ham: Though it’s called “ham,” Tasso ham actually comes from the shoulder of these pasture-raised Berkshire hogs rather than the hind leg. However, the cut is treated a lot like ham and gets cured, sliced and tastes great on sandwiches. Unlike the other cured pork products, Tasso ham is spiced with the classic Cajun blend of paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, crushed red pepper, thyme and oregano. This meat is less fatty than other versions due to the free-range heritage pigs it comes from, and is a great addition to the charcuterie board.
- Pork Jowl: Otherwise known as pork cheek, this tender piece of pork is perfect for making carnitas. The creamy white fat crisps up the the meat, keeping it succulent and juicy.
- Kurobuta Uncured Bacon: These thick, slightly round slices come from Berkshire pigs that spend their lives roaming the pasture to dig, root, and get their pig on without any cages. The uncured bacon is lightly seasoned without added nitrates or nitrites. It makes the perfect addition to the breakfast table.
- Shoulder Bone-In: Check out the incredible marbling and deep red color on this whole, bone-in pork shoulder. Roast it slowly and serve at the next gathering. There are multiple sizes too.