The Slagel Family Farm – if you take Route 24 one mile east out of Fairbury and then a mile south and another half mile or so east you’ll find a farming adventure (actual address is 23601 E 600 N Road) in the raising and processing of livestock that is unique unto the industry. In its natural country setting, complete with all the out buildings and pasture lands associated with such, and then some, you will come across a meat producing icon that holds quality and natural processes as top priorities in their operations, which is in its sixth generation of family tradition.
The Slagels locally raise their animals and birds with natural processes in an outdoor environment feeding them on grain, grass, and hay that is all grown right on their farm. In bringing their livestock to maturity they do not use implants, hormones, steroids, or any constant levels of antibiotics staying consistent with their emphasis on genetic development as being a key element in producing a healthy and safe food source. This strategy results in their beef and pork having a high marbling consistency to the meat texture and this process yields tender, juicy cuts that are exceptional to meat lovers considerations. The Slagel enterprise controls all aspects of the process from start to finish and they have a processing facility in Forrest, Il. that completes the cycle and this operation is notable because, unlike many of the larger commercial companies, they do not inject a 5-10% saltwater solution into their products. Their reputation has brought them to the attention of several of Chicago-lands top restaurants, and they are currently supplying a number of them on a regular basis.
The Slagel Family offers periodic dinner tours for the public that give an in-depth experience to their farm’s operation that includes a dinner which features their meat products as an entrée. Adding to the ambiance are the culinary talents of guest chefs from some of Chicago’s finest restaurants who will be preparing the four course meal that participants will enjoy. The next dinner tour event will be Saturday, September 13th, and it will feature Guest Chefs Matt Troost, Mike Galen & Mark Steuer from the Three Aces, Bedford & Carriage House. The Farm Tour will begin at 2:00 in the afternoon with a snack and then Farmer LouisJohn Slagel will conduct a tour that will include the opportunity to hold baby piglets, gather fresh eggs, and interact with playful goats and lambs. This tour is designed to show “city folks” how the food they consume on a daily basis is raised and gives everyone a chance to see those that do it and the environment in which it is done. Following the farm tour a demonstration on meat cutting is given which shows how certain portions of beef, hog, or lamb are broken down into retail cuts – this exhibition uses animal sections that are already prepared for the cutting demo. The Farm has an assortment of meats that they raise and it includes beef and veal, pork, lamb, goat, rabbit, turkey, and chicken as well as an endless supply of eggs and they also have pet food for your four legged buddies. All parts of the tour are open for your questions so ask away and know that the folks out there do not label anything as a “dumb question” so don’t be bashful, satisfy any curiosities you might have.
The Slagel Farm has a second barn building that is not used for animals and it is set up as the dining area and includes a kitchen which will prepare the evening’s menu for your dining delight – talk about your country setting, it doesn’t get much better than this for virtual reality and you’ll get a chance to meet most of the Slagel family since they work the dinner floor. These tours attract people from the Chicago area as well as many of the locals so the events has a history of being pretty well attended and you’ll be comfortably dining literally only steps away from where the food is grown and cared for. Tickets are $125 each with children 15 and under participating for free. The four course meal includes a salad, the meat entrée with sides, and a dessert and you can purchase tickets on line at Dinners where you can also find more information and details concerning the event.
These monthly tours run from early spring through the fall and they are usually once a month with each one planned to feature a pair of Chicago Chefs and, just a reminder, you can see what their schedule has in store for interested parties at the web site listed above. In addition to this dinner tour there is another one planned for October 4th so there are a couple of opportunities still open for you to take advantage of. The tours are well planned, informative, educational, recreational, and its concluded with a special delicious meal prepared by professionals that gives everyone a taste of Chicago in a local setting that is the meat “roots” for the restaurants represented. You can also see a listing of the Chicago restaurants the Slagel Family Farm supplies on their web site if you’d maybe like to take a trip and see the net result of a lot of down state hard work where every pound of product has a special personal touch before it enters the Big City dining atmosphere. So, come on out and enjoy the adventure – it’s an afternoon and evening that is worth the time.