Tuesday, April 21, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Field to fork: Chicken the way it used to be

0528 fieldtoforkW

Brian Douglass and Kristy Lynn Levings of the Cache Creek Meat Company are raising chickens the old-fashioned way. Courtesy photo

By
From page A10 | May 28, 2014 |

On one hand, there is arguably the best-tasting chicken you can find in these parts.

“People in their 80s tell us they haven’t had chicken this good in 50 years,” as they can remember the days before chicken became industrially produced cheap protein. Kristy Lynn Levings and Brian Douglass offered this testimonial as we sat at a dining table on their Woodland farm, enjoying one of their old-style chickens, roasted with paprika.

On the other hand, you have that mass-produced chicken at a low price. The breeding, feeding, antibiotics and distribution channels bring large birds to market as fast as possible.

We should also acknowledge chicken that is promoted as cage-free, or without the antibiotics, or with organic feed, but raised using semi-industrial protocols. It’s mid-priced in the supermarkets.

So my first question to Kristy and Brian, farming partners in the Cache Creek Meat Company, was the obvious one. Who are the customers at the Davis Farmers Market opting for your birds?

Kristy explained that some buy for the intense flavor. The chickens are raised in the pasture, with a supplement from a locally milled feed containing grains, nuts and seeds. The birds aren’t rushed to size, and they discourage water retention in the meat.

Other customers are prompted by nutrition and health. They use the whole bird, over the course of several meals. After all the meat has been used in one dish or another, it’s still not over. The carcass, simmered in a gallon of water with celery, carrot, onion — and touch of vinegar or lemon to bring more flavor out of the bones — creates a delicious broth.

And then there are customers for whom the following sentence would resonate, says Kristy. “It allows them to eat the change they wish they could see in the world.” Everything on a smaller, slower, more personal scale, sustainable and healthy.

After research in 2009, Kristy and Brian concluded there is a need, and a market niche, for chicken raised with such old-time care. “We felt we should do something about it,” he said.

They were marketplace pioneers in this region. Today, they can identify half a dozen competitors. They have tested various retail and wholesale outlets, and find that the Davis market and the Sacramento Farmers Market are the best for their business model.

Both have credentials for what they’re doing.

Kristy is a third-generation Californian. She grew up on a farm in Guinda in the Capay Valley, and has been raising livestock since childhood. A graduate of San Francisco State, she has an MBA as well, and worked for seven years in social services in the Bay Area.

Brian is fifth-generation Yolo County, raised in Woodland. He went to UC Santa Cruz, next to the California Culinary Academy. He cooked in San Francisco and later at Mask, an ill-fated, remarkable, high-end restaurant in El Dorado County.

They met at the Woodland Farmers Market in 2008, when both were judges. “I made sure we sat next to each other,” Kristy injected with a laugh.

Their seven-acre farm in Woodland is rudimentary, a place that had been in Brian’s family. Together they’ve purchased 25 acres near Esparto, where they raise sheep, and will have chickens soon, with thoughts of agritourism some day.

While chickens are their main business, lamb, duck, quail, guinea fowl and eggs show up at their stand once a month or so. Their customers get notification through their email newsletter, [email protected]

Recipes for roasting chicken are widely available. Kristy likes to rub the raw bird with paprika and salt, and rub butter under the skin onto the meat before they go into the oven.

For leftovers, she favors a romaine salad with sliced peaches, a blue cheese dressing, and shredded cooked chicken.

Another favorite is a version of mac and cheese. Instead of small macaroni, she prefers one of the slightly larger, curved, pasta varieties, with openings that will welcome a white sauce with sharp cheddar cheese worked in … and smaller bits of shredded chicken. She pops bite-size fragments of fresh asparagus into the cooking pasta two minutes before it’s ready to drain.

And finally there’s a soup du jour that can be built around the chicken broth from the carcass for yet another meal.

“Part of our job,” Kristy says, “is educating people about using the whole chicken.” That harkens back to a century ago, when chicken filled a different role at the kitchen table.

— Dan Kennedy, a Davis resident, has a long history with the bounty of gardens and small farms. Reach him at [email protected]

Comments

comments

.

News

 
Woodland murder suspect claims history of abuse

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

Public forum will explore community choice energy options

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1

 
Log cabin home is labor of love

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

The camp around the corner: Day camp benefits kids and families

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Ready to give a resident camp a try? Tips to ease the homesick blues

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Vote with your dollars at Davis Food Co-op

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
UCD study: Colorblind bilingual programs can perpetuate bias

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

 
Davis Kids Klub offers a true summer camp

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

Immigrant teens share their dreams at YIIN dinner

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
Buddhist groups host SanghaFest on Saturday

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

AAUW hosts Yamada speech on Tuesday

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

 
Round up at the registers for Davis schools

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8Comments are off for this post

Free Family Bike Clinic set Sunday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

 
Online courses a cure-all? UCD study says think again

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

Show tunes take center stage at sing-along

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

 
Alternatives to violence explored

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

Paws for Thought: Hero dogs go above and beyond

By Evelyn Dale | From Page: A8 | Gallery

 
Rotary Club hosts whisky tasting

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

Spend a morning with the mayor

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Celebrate Mexican culture at I-House

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Achievement gap to be addressed at symposium

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

Suicide awareness walk set April 25 at UC Davis

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Tour de Cluck tickets on sale now

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Patwin is ‘Where The Wild Things Walk’

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
Pets of the week

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10 | Gallery

.

Forum

Gratitude all around for the Breakfast for Heroes

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

 
Broad new vaccination law is a must

By Tom Elias | From Page: B4

Seniors, you CAN get there from here

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4 | Gallery

 
Hey, do you want that glaucoma fixed?

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5Comments are off for this post

.

Sports

DHS thunders past the Herd

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Wong leads UCD charge in Big West women’s golf tourney

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

UCD boxing club making a name on the national scene

By Dylan Lee | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
DHS girls basketball pioneer Iten dies

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Devils edge closer to Delta League soccer title

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
 
.

Features

.

Arts

Rockabilly music will fill the park Wednesday

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
One-man show ‘Buyer and Cellar’ brings non-stop laughter

By Bev Sykes | From Page: A11 | Gallery

Hear Wealth of Nations at winery

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
‘Frozen’ Mini-Musicals to be presented

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

Baldini to conduct Camellia Symphony

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
DMTC sets auditions for ‘Evita’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

Stories told at Third Space

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

 
UCD assistant professor to give lecture at de Young Museum

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

.

Business

.

Obituaries

Robert Leigh Cordrey

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

 
Ruth Rodenbeck Stumpf

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

Alice Catherine Micheltorena

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

 
.

Comics

Comics: Tuesday, April 21, 2015 (set 1)

By Creator | From Page: B5

 
Comics: Tuesday, April 21, 2015 (set 2)

By Creator | From Page: B7