Saturday, March 8, 2014
Locally raised and farm fresh is the real deal at L & P Bisson’s & Sons. Here the Topsham butcher shop sits on 600 acres of family owned farmland where the beef that’s sold comes from their own cows who graze on pasture across the road.
The shop has been in business for over 80 years and is truly an all-in- the family operation. Brothers Arthur and Bobby are in the back carving up the sides of beef that’s slaughtered in their vast barn behind the shop (they’re also an official Maine State inspection facility). And just about everyone else who’s working there is related.
In addition to their farm meats, there’s raw milk,butter and the richest heavy cream you can find-- all from their herd of dairy cows who are raised on a diet of pasture, grains and hay. The beef, in fact, is grass fed and natural and half the price of the same product sold elsewhere. Most of their pork products are from Canada, which export an excellent grade of pork, mostly natural and pastured. The chickens are from a local purveyor and they’re natural, meaty and usually in the 6 to 8 pound range.
Customers also love Bisson’s house-smoked pork chops, bacon and Daisy hams, which Paula Bisson instructs, “Just put it in the oven and forget about it. It’s delicious.”
In the front of the shop are the women family members who deal with the customers, and are always ready to offer a recipe or two.
One of my favorites comes from Paula Bisson who told me what to do with their leftover heavy cream for an easy to prepare dessert: Whip up the heavy cream, fold in Hershey’s chocolate syrup and in a baking dish alternate layers of graham crackers and the heavy cream mixture; refrigerate it for several hours to allow everything to blend together.
This week, when I bought some ground beef (85 percent lean and grass fed at $3.49 per pound), Maria Beauregard, a Bisson on her mother’s side, gave me her recipe for meat loaf. It uses Cooper brand American cheese, a unique and zesty filler.
Maria prepares a very simple meat loaf of ground beef, onions, eggs, cracker crumbs, salt and pepper, mixes it all together then forms it into a flat square or rectangular shape, layers it with the Cooper cheese and rolls jelly roll fashion and bakes it for about an hour.
Here’s my version, which is the meat loaf mixture I always make and I added the Colby cheese. It was fantastic.
Meatloaf Adapted from Maria Beauregard
Servings: 4 to 6
1 ½ pounds 85% lean Bisson’s ground beef
½ pound Bisson’s breakfast sausage meat
2 medium onions, chopped
1 sleeve Saltine crackers, crushed
2 eggs, beaten
2 dill pickles finely chopped
½ cup ketchup or tomato sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon brown sugar
About ½ pound Cooper cheese, in slices, chopped or grated.
Additional ½ cup ketchup or tomato sauce
In a large mixing bowl, mix together all the ingredients except the cheese, working it with your hands until well combined. Put the meat onto a board and flatten it out to a square or rectangle about 1/2 inches thick. Down the middle add the cheese, using as much as a ½ pound or less, depending on preference. Roll the mixture up like a jelly roll, forming into a loaf, making sure that the ends are well sealed.
Put it into a large casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for an hour or until the meat registers 165 degrees. In the last thirty minutes of baking spread about ½ cup ketchup or tomato sauce on top and continue cooking until the top is glistening and set and the meat is done. Some of the cheese will ooze out. Just put whatever comes out on top of the loaf. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Bisson’s Market, 112 Meadow Road, Topsham. 207-725-7215
Directions: Take 295 to Exit 31. Turn right onto Route 196. At traffic light turn left onto Route 201 North. About a mile down, turn left onto Meadow Road. Bisson’s is about one-half miles down the road.
John Golden has written about food, dining and lifestyle subjects for Downeast magazine, the Boston Globe, Cottages and Gardens magazine, Gourmet magazine, Cuisine magazine, the New York Times and the New York Post.
In his highly opinionated blog, John reports on his experiences dining out all over Maine and his visits with food personalities, farmers and farmers’ markets throughout the state.