Meet the Circle B Ranch Bacon Snack StickSince we started Circle B Ranch, John and I have always been focused on creating quality pork products for our customers. We aimed to produce healthy, yet affordable, alternatives for the chemically enhanced products found in meat sections of local grocery stores. Now that we have long since met our goal, we want to take this concept a little further and step out of the freezer. We want to bring you more products—pork inspired real-food that fights back against chemically saturated snacking. For those of you who haven’t heard, Circle B Ranch now produces the Circle B Ranch Bacon Snack Stick—a natural, healthy, meat-only snack stick produced without additives or fillers. Made from our own Nitrite-Free (NF) bacon and ground Berkshire pasture-fed pork, these meat sticks are the perfect alternative to popular snack sticks like the Slim Jim.
While commercially produced snack sticks are convenient, they are not healthy.Commercially produced snack sticks include ingredients that are essentially damaging to your health. First, on the snack stick ingredients list: beef. Snack stick beef is usually raised in a feedlot that pumps the animals full of GMO feed, growth hormones, and antibiotics. Next, comes pork. The pork comes from confinement raised hogs that are treated inhumanely and given GMO feed as well as hormones and antibiotics. The third ingredient, mechanically separated chicken, comes from chickens raised on large scale farms that are fed GMO diets and antibiotics. Essentially, these meats are flooded with unnecessary hormones and antibiotics. But this is only the beginning. The list of unhealthy snack stick ingredients continues:
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Added nitrites/nitrates
- Artificial Colors
- Wheat Proteins
- GMO corn and soy fillers
Compared to commercially produced snack sticks, the Circle B Ranch Bacon Snack Stick has a list of all-natural ingredients.Comparison shows several differences that make Circle B Ranch’s Bacon Snack Sticks a healthier option. First, the snack sticks contain only humanely raised, pasture-fed pork. Because of the way we raise our hogs, on pasture and without GMO feed, Circle B Ranch pork is healthier and entirely free of hormones or antibiotics. But, perhaps it’s what you don’t see in our ingredients that makes an even bigger difference:
- NO grain fillers
- NO artificial preservatives
- NO gluten
- NO artificial flavors
- NO High Fructose Corn Syrup
- NO Red Dye
- NO Sodium Benzoate
- Only 90 calories in each ONE OUNCE stick
- 5 grams of protein
- High flavor
- Low sodium (170 mg sodium)
- NO carbs
- Paleo friendly
- Keto friendly
- Whole 30 friendly
Have you ever run across a recipe that requires you to braise the meat? Does it sound like a foreign word to you? Are you just beginning to find your place in the kitchen, and have no clue about the terms or techniques?While braising sounds like a scary term, it is actually a very simple technique. Once you learn how to do it, it won’t be long before you’re a pro. First, you begin with the meat:
- Choose your meat. You can decide on beef, chicken, fish, lamb, or pork. Of course, I am going to focus on pork—my favorite! You don’t have to start with a high-dollar cut either; the liquid you use in braising will make the meat succulent and tender.
- Brown the meat. Using a little bit of oil in a skillet, sear the meat on all sides, and give it a bit of color. A golden hue is perfect. This will help seal in juices, and the crust will make your dish more visually appealing. Searing the meat also leaves you little bits in the pan which will play a part in a future step—“deglazing.”
- Set the meat aside. It’s time to think about your veggies. If you are including tougher vegetables like carrots or celery or onion, you will now add them to the oil in the pan and “caramelize” them. Sauté them until they are softer and light brown in color, but be careful not to burn them.
- Deglaze the pan. Add just a little bit of liquid to the pan (wine, beer, chicken stock, vinegar, water, cider, or juice), and scrape up any caramelized bits from the skillet with a wooden spoon. But don’t get rid of them. Stir them into your liquid! These tasty bits are going to add immense flavor to the braise.
- Choose your liquid. Most braises are created from stock or wine, but little additions can enhance flavor and add a little flair. Your decision can be based on what you have on hand, or make a selection according to your cooking goals or tastes. For example, you can braise with water, but the result won’t be very flavorful. Some chefs prefer beer, specifically lighter lagers (an acquired taste), to complement pork. Cider, as well as apple or citrus based juices, can be used to sweeten poultry or pork. Don’t be afraid to be adventurous—some cooks have even tried milk or coconut milk!
- Add your meat back in. Put your meat in a coverable pan or Dutch oven, along with your veggies, and pour in your liquid until it sets about one-half the way up the side of your meat. Don’t completely cover the meat; the liquid will seep in and flavor it.
- Add a little spice. It’s customary to use bay leaves, and salt and pepper is usually a given, but don’t limit yourself!
- Cover and cook. The hardest part of your work is over. Slide the meat into the oven and cook on low heat, usually 325° but no more than 350°. The meat should cook for about 2-3 hours depending on the cut, but you will know when it is done because the meat will be tender and literally sliding off the bone, or easily cut with a knife.
- Broth or Sauce. At this point, you can serve the meat as is or you can choose to create a sauce, which will enhance the dish. Take out the meat and the vegetables. Skim off the fat, and simmer the liquid until it thickens enough to coat a spoon. Then add your meat and veggies back in to heat them back through.
- Give it a little zing. If you want to add texture or give the dish your own personal touch, you can top it off with a handful of chopped herbs, grated citrus zest, or crème fraiche.
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