2015 Featured Chef: Oscar Ascota

Oscar Acosta Photo from RussIndian Creek Country Club
Executive Chef

Raised in a family where everyone cooked, Oscar Ascota’s love for great food was instilled early in life. He is Cuban-American, so pork to him is not just the “other white meat,” it’s the first meat of choice. At his restaurant, Indian Creek Country Club, he celebrates every occasion with a pig roast. His signature Cuban sandwich features pork on pork – slow roasted fresh ham marinated with mojo on boiled sweet ham.

He feels fortunate to lead the kitchens at a private country club that holds a rich tradition of culinary excellence. This allows him to source only the best products, which is what led him to Niman Ranch.  Oscar not only values the products for high quality, he is also a firm believer in the sustainability and family farming philosophies held by the company. He is truly honored to have the chance to give back to the families and individuals that work so hard to ensure that greatness translates to the center of his customers’ plates.

2015 Featured Chef: Jeff Harris

Chef Jeff Harris. Photography by Mei-Chun Jau.
Photography by Mei-Chun Jau.

Chef Jeff Harris
American Food & Beverage (AF+B)
Executive Chef

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Of Family and Farming

Do you care where your meat comes from and want to feel confident when making purchases at the grocery store? Have you considered asking your local butcher about the farm producing the meat you are buying, and how the animals were raised on that farm?  If you haven’t, you should, because the way the animals were raised plays into the quality of the meat.

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The Hawkins family raises hogs for Niman Ranch in Missouri.

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream Farm

Here in the midst of the heat and humidity of July, the pale purple cone flowers have just finished blooming.  The heat is oppressive during the daytime, but it’s a relief when the sun sets.  At dusk the lightning bugs appear like magic, flickering like star dust above the grasses of the landscape. It’s a magical time on the prairie here at Willis Dream Farm.  The land is alive with action and the air is filled with a symphony of insects.

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Think Outside The Bun

Americans love hot dogs.  So much so, July has been declared National Hot Dog Month.

We consume nearly 7 billion hot dogs, or 818 hot dogs every second, between Memorial Day and Labor Day alone. They’re topped with everything from ketchup and mustard to more exotic ingredients like Siracha and Sweet Onion Aioli. Hot dogs grace the tables of backyard barbecues and family gatherings across the country, regardless of the season.

But how often do people think outside the bun? Yes, everyone loves a classic hot dog, but there are so many more ways to enjoy this American favorite. We found these five creative yet simple hot dog recipes for the next time you bring out some juicy Fearless Franks.

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Eating in Austin, Part 2

There are so many great restaurants in Ausin, TX, it’s hard to put all our favorites in one blog post! This second installment in our Eating in Austin series completes our list of the top restaurants in the city.

All of these restaurants follow some or all of the following criteria:

  • Are small or locally-owned
  • Serve up sustainable meat and produce
  • Offer a creative menu

From pork belly sushi to cheeseburgers and short ribs, this two-part food adventure series is the perfect guide to eating in Austin!

Snack Bar

Snack Bar Austin Niman Ranch Burger

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Farmer Picnic on the Prairie

We work so diligently during the summer months here in Iowa.  There is only so much time for planting crops, farrowing, lambing, calving, construction and home improvement projects.  But in the midst of all this work we still make time to gather together for weddings, ball games, soccer matches, family reunions, dance recitals and picnics.

After planting season is over here at the Willis Dream Farm, we hold a farmer picnic in our three-sided shed, which overlooks 140 acres of native tall grass prairie. The picnic is a get-together of Niman Ranch hog farmers, along with friends in our local community. Everyone brings a pot luck-style side dish, casserole or dessert.  We always throw Niman Ranch Fearless Franks and sausages on the grill as the crowd gathers.

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