…and a visit to Harmony Hill Farm
may 9, 2014
The day began with breakfast tostadas and ended with Italian sausage baguettes with caramelized onion and lemon tahini sauce, tomato orange soup and a simple, colorful salad of red cabbage, asparagus and carrot. The afternoon was spent touring Harmony Hill Farm in nearby Glen Allen, Virginia, the source of my breakfast eggs and dinner sausage.
Harmony Hill’s proprietors, Robin and Earl Ingersoll, farm land once owned by Earl’s grandfather using natural practices and produce grass fed beef, pasture raised poultry and eggs and pork from hogs allowed to forage the land. The Ingersolls researched healthy farming techniques before taking the plunge, and staying the course has been easy once the benefits of raising animals the way nature intended became clear. Their animals, hardy and contented, have not required veterinary intervention as many animals do on conventional farmsteads. Their feed is a non-GMO blend produced locally and the land, once farmed in the conventional manner, is in a state of healing, providing shelter and sustenance to the cows, chickens and hogs.
Robin and Earl have been mentored by natural farming guru and nemesis of Big Agriculture Joel Salatin of Virginia’s Polyface Farm, featured in the documentary Food, Inc. and profiled in Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma. Their work is arduous and the hours are long, but you would be hard pressed to find people more passionate about their life’s work. They readily admit to being students of natural farming, as each day on the farm teaches them what works and what requires change. Their humility is endearing; they have a wealth of knowledge and if you are interested in knowing how your food can be produced humanely, sensibly and with great passion, I encourage you to peruse their website.
At Harmony Hill Farm, the air smells sweet, chickens cluck contentedly, cows parade their young for visiting city folk and hogs wallow in mud from recent rains and root for forest treasures. You can buy their goods at local farmer’s markets such as St. Stephen’s Market in Richmond, neighborhood markets Little House Green Grocery and Harvest Grocery and if you call ahead, they will gladly accommodate a farm tour. They hope to have a small market on the farm property soon, so check their Facebook page for updates.
Today’s recipe features Harmony Hill Farm’s hot Italian sausage links, which are similar in size to the smaller breakfast link sausages; if you use larger standard size link sausages, adjust cooking time accordingly. The caramelized onion may be made up to two days ahead, and the lemon tahini sauce may be made up to one week ahead. Naturally produced sausages are preferable; they are usually gluten free. My favorite GF baguette is by Against the Grain, found in the freezer section of Whole Foods and other natural markets.
Sausage Baguettes with Caramelized Onion and Lemon Tahini Sauce
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
3 heaping tablespoons tahini
juice of one whole lemon
2 scallions, minced
one tablespoon minced parsley or cilantro
½ teaspoon ground cumin
one large garlic clove, zested or minced
pinch of fine sea salt
tiny pinch of ground cayenne pepper
water to thin
- Mix all ingredients together in small mixing bowl, adding water in tablespoon increments until thick sauce consistency; 1-2 tablespoons should be enough.
- Chill to develop flavor; may be made up to one week ahead.
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
large pinch of kosher salt
several grinds of fresh black pepper
one tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Combine all ingredients except vinegar in large heavy sauté pan over high heat.
- Once mixture is sizzling, turn heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently and adjusting heat lower if onions are browning too much, until onions are soft and dark golden; the entire process may take as long as 30 minutes (low and slow is preferable to higher heat and a fast cook time, which may yield bitter tasting onions).
- Add balsamic vinegar and stir for about 30 seconds or until vinegar is absorbed well.
- Onions may be used immediately or cooled to room temperature; they may also be made up to 2 days ahead – bring to room temperature before adding to sandwiches.
4 six inch lengths of baguette bread, split and lightly toasted (10 minutes in 350 degree oven will do this nicely; if thin enough, toaster works well, too)
one pound of hot italian sausage links (16 smaller links or four large links)
lemon tahini sauce
- Add about ¼ inch water to bottom of heavy sauté pan, add sausages (avoid crowding too close together – may need to use two pans) and bring to boil over high heat.
- Reduce heat to medium, cook sausages uncovered about 10 minutes and flip over, then continue on medium heat until liquid evaporates and sausages are beginning to brown.
- Turn sausages again to brown on other side. They are done when evenly brown and firm to the touch; cooking time will vary with size of links.
- Place four smaller links (or one split large link) of sausage on bottom half of baguette, top with caramelized onion, then desired amount of lemon tahini sauce.
- Add top half of baguette and serve immediately.