Eleven years ago, Jon Taggart started converting his 1,400-acre ranch in Grandview to native grasses. It was a long and arduous process, but by 1999 he was raising the grass-fed Angus beef that has been the lynchpin of his Burgundy Pastures meat business.
We live on the Great Plains, and for this he considers himself extremely lucky. The model of buffalo grazing is his ideal model for ranching. He uses a rotation system, giving the soil a chance to replenish itself, the grass time to re-seed and grow back. The tall man in a wide-brimmed hat and plaid shirt holds out his hand at hip-height. This is the height of the grasses at the ranch, which his herd of 200 will graze all winter. They are 100 percent grass-fed; they never see an ounce of feed. That’s what distinguishes everything you find in the new shop now open on Ross Ave. They’re the only local, grass-fed meat gig in town.
In 2004, Taggart added a processing plant to the ranch, a sizeable investment that was nevertheless necessary in order to function independently and ensure the results they wanted. This is what allows them to process beef twice a week, pork once a week, and to fill the cases at their two storefronts, one in Fort Worth and now one in Dallas. The shops are a way for them to move away from home delivery, with its time-consuming constraints.
Refrigerated cases and freezers hold a cornucopia of cuts. In addition to beef, the Dallas shop, where you’ll most likely be greeted by one of Taggart’s twin daughters at the register, carries Full Quiver Farms cheeses and its whey-fed pork. There are pasture-raised eggs as well as rabbit and lamb from JuHa Ranch and chicken from Cobb Creek Farm in Hillsborough.
They have an arrangement with Joanne Bondy of Stocks & Bondy in the Dallas Farmers Market, whereby she buys their bones and sends back stock, both beef and chicken. She renders beef tallow and pork lard they sell in quart containers to use in making cornbread or tamales, for cooking steaks or beef-tallow fries.
They also simply sell the bones in packs, a blend of marrow bones, ligaments, meaty soup bones, and joint bones, that will make about two gallons of gorgeous stock. (Beef stock packs are $15, chicken stock packs $6.99.)
Five minutes in the store and you’ll be dreaming of making soups and stews and roasting whole legs of lamb from now until next year.
Processing the meat on the ranch gives them tremendous flexibility when it comes to special orders. But even what they have in stock is rather astounding. There are beef livers, hearts and tongues, pork cheeks, pork belly, oxtail. They sell chicken feet (great for stock because of the collagen). There are lamb racks and half racks, but also lamb chops, shanks, legs, and sirloin chops. There are whole rabbits, and Taggart’s wife, Wendy, developed the seasonings which go into the bulk pork sausage as well as Bratwurst and Italian links.
Gazing at the cases and their contents, I’m reminded of the animal cut diagrams you can hang on the wall. Point at any part. If it’s on a cow, pig, sheep, chicken, you’ll find it here.
The front of shop offers local honey, spice rubs, and the summer sausage and beef jerky that’s processed for them from trim.
“I wore this town out, looking [for a good spot],” Taggart says. He passed up the Dallas Farmers Market (he foresaw parking as an issue) and chose this spot, where he sees the street evolving, apartment buildings popping up and more growth in the offing with a 10-acre parcel of DISD property coming up for sale and likely to go into development. Estimating that a good portion of his clientele (unlike in Fort Worth) consists of Millenials, he is looking into delivery systems like DoorDash and Uber Eats.
Meanwhile, I emerged from the shop last week imagining beef jerky and tenderloins as stocking stuffers.
Holiday cooks, be advised: you’ll want to get orders for standing rib roasts and tenderloins in early. There’s a finite supply. They will run out. But it’s wonderful to know that we now have such a consistent source of quality meat at our fingertips.