here and there

Monday, April 7, 2014

Trail's End Beef, A Canadian Farmer, Producer

Trail's End Beef
Rachel and Tyler Herbert

The eleventh theme for the Canadian Food Experience is Canadian Farmer/Producer.
On a crisp, overcast spring day, my daughter and I drove past Nanton, Alberta to visit a Canadian Producer.  

After a few wrong turns, we arrived at Trail's End Beef.   Trail's End Beef is a fifth-generation family ranch in southern Alberta raising cattle that are part of the natural life cycle of the grasses in the area.  Trail's End run by Rachel and Tyler Herbert offer natural grassfed, grass-finished beef raised in a way that is good for the land, good for the animals and good for the consumer.

Rachel's children had anxiously been waiting to share a delicious home baked chocolate cake with us. 

Sitting at her kitchen table in her newly renovated kitchen, we listened to Rachel talk about ranch life, her children and the grass-fed beef production.   

Soon we were out in the yard to feed and water the horses used on the ranch.  Even the children have their own horses.  The children happily rode through the mud puddles on their tricycles their Border Collie followed us around the yard.

The Free Range chicken came running to be feed.

A perfect picture backdrop of the Rocky Mountains

The cattle free range on pasture year-round with access to shelter and fresh water.  Grazing is good for the cattle, the land, and in turn, for the consumer. 

Red and Black Angus Cattle

The cattle are born, raised and finished on grass on their family farm.   Respect for the land and animals is foremost.  The land thrives without the use of chemical herbicides or fertilizer.   Their small herd grows the natural way without growth hormones, thus enhancing the tenderness and flavour of the meat.  

The cattle that are very curious animals soon came to check out the new visitors.

Trail's End Beef cattle are butchered at local a artisan butchers when they are between 27 and 29 months of age.  This is at least a year longer than the lives of feedlot beef.  This lengthy process (along with breeding, a forage-only diet and natural healthy lifestyle) accounts for the superior nutrition, tenderness and flavor of our beef.  

The barb wire fence had been a perfect place to remove the winter coat until it was elecrtofied last week.

Rachel explained the benefits of Grass fed beef and showed us the difference in size and age of cattle  sent to the feed lot to be further fattened on corn for market to the size of an animal matured naturally and slowly on her ranch.

As one who had grown up on a mixed farm that raised Heifer cattle, Rachel was reminding me of the practice of raising cattle that was the norm on my parents' farm.  I was surprised to hear that beef was finished in a feedlot! 

 As I watched Rachel with her cattle, I recognized the same love of her cattle, Ranch life and the outdoors that my Mom had shown, especially for Mom's milking cows that were all named; Daisy, Molly, Lucy, Dolly and Hazel.  

Rachel did have one milking cow, that she would start milking again for her personal use. 

 I watched her Border Collie and her two children sit at each end of a gopher hole to flush out a gopher, so in touch with nature and so comfortable with farm life.  Soon the children were digging with Rachel's garden tools in the Raspberry patch. 

Inside the Chicken Coop,  a pail of fresh eggs were picked.  Yes, we did bring a dozen of fresh farm eggs home.  Eggs Benedict that my daughter made the next morning for breakfast were so delicious! 

A pheasant has befriended the flock of chickens and eagerly came to be feed along with the rest of chickens.

We left with packages of beef shanks, stewing beef and round steak. 

To me, visiting this ranch brought back pleasant memories of living on a farm and how I had always felt so privilege to be part of this life style!   Sadly this style of life can only be maintained by being subsidized by an outside income.

The recipe I will share with you is my modified recipe of Mario Batali's Osso Buco. 

Osso Buco

Beef Shank
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup Flour
Olive oil
1 diced carrot
1 diced celery stalk
1 diced onion
2 cups of tomato sauce
2 cups of water
2 cups of white wine

Preheat the oven to 275F

Season the beef shanks in salt and pepper and toss in flour.
Heat olive oil in a cast iron frying until hot. 
Brown the shanks on both sides  for about 10 -12 minutes.

Add prepared vegetables and thyme to a dutch oven. 
Layer browned shanks on top of the vegetables. 
Add all the liquid.  Cover  and braise in the oven at a low temperature for 4 -6 hours or until the meat nearly falls off the bone. 

This is a perfect recipe for the slow cooker.  In fact, one can also skip the browning of the shanks. 

I also found that the addition of 2 c white wine did not add to the flavor of the dish.

To serve Osso Buco, top with the Gremolata


Flat leaf Italian parsley
1/2 cup of toasted pine nuts
Zest of one lemon
2 cloves of minced garlic
salt and pepper

Chop loosely the parsley and toasted pine nuts.  Watch closely when toasting the pine nuts as they do burn quickly.  
Mix in lemon zest, minced garlic, salt and pepper.  I did add about tablespoon of lemon juice to the mixture.  

To serve this dish, I also made homemade Gnocchi and Caesar Salad.

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