Agriculture is by far the largest industry in the state of North Carolina. And when I say agriculture, I’m not just talking produce, but proteins as well. I am pleased to have been asked by the NC Department of Agriculture to write this post in conjunction with a team of food bloggers from across the state, each writing about a different North Carolina cattle ranch with the purpose of promote the awareness and availability of all types of North Carolina raised and locally sold beef.. After you’ve read my post and recipes that follow, look for more great beef recipes and info about several other North Carolina cattle ranches, by clicking on the links to all of the other participating blogs are at the end of this post.
The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has in part sponsored this post; but the opinions, recipes and choice of local cattle ranch to feature in the post are my own.
There was a time when it was all but unheard of for a consumer to think about buying any sort of meat at a farmers market, but happily those times have changed. At nearly every regional and local farmers’ market large and small, consumers can find pasture raised poultry, pork and grass-fed beef.
I first met family rancher Shelley Eagan of Proffitt Cattle Company at the Charlotte Regional Farmers’ Market on Yorkmont Road. She was at a table all by her lonesome with a big white cooler, representing her family farm in Kings Mountain and selling what she thought to be some of the best beef available in the area. Turns out lots of other people, including this food writer, agreed and as one thing led to another and it wasn’t before long that I started featuring the Proffitt certified organic grass fed beef in my cooking classes. Wasn’t long before other people started to discover the fine quality and wonderful taste of the Proffitt beef as well. Shelley went from one cooler, to five or six and a line waiting for her early each Saturday morning.
The ranch sold certified organic beef at the regional market and at their farm store for several years, but today all of the Proffitt’s beef is sold exclusively in Charlotte to Whole Foods and is available in the meat case at the chains’ SouthPark location.
A whole cow’s worth of fresh primal cuts of beef are delivered to the stores on Friday mornings and the butchers at Whole Foods, cut product as is needed. Trimmings and a nice mix of healthy fat to lean hit the grinder very four hours to insure the very best quality of ground beef. Needless to say, The Proffitt Cattle Company beef continues to enjoy immense popularity in and around the Charlotte area – the quality and the taste, just can’t be beat.
As the years have passed more and more people who care about what they eat and what they are feeding their families, have turned to buying grass fed beef, as they do chicken, pork, rabbit and lamb from local farmers and ranchers – for the very same reason people buy locally raised produce. Its good to know the person who stands behind the food we eat and even better to know where your food came from and how it was raised. As a consumer, I try to buy as much local product as I can, not only is it the healthier choice, I consider supporting a local farmers to be the better choice for our local economy as well.
You are what you eat
Grass Fed beef is better for all of us – people and cattle alike. To eat grass without additional supplements or additives is just the natural course of things for the herd. But it is important to point out that the terms “grass fed” and certified “organic” are not synonymous.
For me, the certified organic label on the Proffitt Cattle Company beef is the icing on the cake. Not just because, like all grass fed beef it is lean and contains a high percentage of fats that are good for us such as those much sought after Omega 3’s; and not just because grass fed beef is also a source for tons of beneficial antioxidant vitamins and minerals. That it is certified organic means that the herd at Proffitt Cattle Company was raised without any antibiotics or growth hormones. Everything used on the ranch is organic, GMO free and totally untreated.
Shelley explains it, “Our animals don’t get sick, so there is no need for any sort of preventative antibiotics. Cows get sick when they are stressed. One way they get stressed is by being confined. Our animals are never confined and they rarely get sick. If one should become ill we remove them from the herd and treat them to keep them healthy. If that means they must receive antibiotics, we do so and they are no longer a part of our program. They are never ever fed antibiotics like commercial feedlot cows.”
The Grass is always Greener
So you’ think that cattle ranching was all about cattle, but turns out it isn’t just about raising cattle, its also about growing grass. If you were to decided to go into ranching as was the case with Shelley’s dad Steve Proffitt back in the year 2000. You might think about the cattle, about horses and about how much land you would need. But you probably wouldn’t have realized that a big part of your time each season would go into growing grass and making hay. Its a big part of the job and this year, for ranchers across the state, it has been a job that has been more difficult than ever. With devastating flooding in Eastern North Carolina and drought conditions for the fourth quarter in Mid and Western North Carolina, raising grass fed beef has had its challenges.
At Proffitt the herd of 200 or so head of cattle is raised on a rotation at four different certified organic properties – 2 pastures in King’s Mountain, one in Shelby and one just over the state line in Blacksburg, SC. Not only is the herd moved from pasture to pasture as they grow; but as the cattle mature, the pastures are divided into sections so the grass fed herd, only grazes one section at a time. As they eat, they also naturally fertilize that part of the pasture so that new grass will grow. When the herd has munched the current pasture down to the ground, they are gently moved onto the next section – like an never ending salad bar. Then as the grass grows, they circle back to graze the first section again. Generally when weather is good, it all goes pretty smoothly and the farm looks to the fall and spring grass growing seasons to make hay for the winter months.
Hay is just the pasture grass that is cut then allowed allowed to dry. The certified organic grass grows tall and then is cut. Timing is critical here. If the hay is on the ground for too long, it will begin to loose its nutrients, something a grass fed cattle rancher can’t afford to have happen. At Proffitt they have the flexibility to set aside a couple of pastures in the fall solely dedicated to hay production. When the hay is dried to just the right state, the family comes in with big balers to roll the hay into huge round bales which are reserved for feeding the herd through January and February when the grass naturally doesn’t grow as fast. The happy herd at Proffitt Cattle Company is 100% grass fed so the winter hay is an important park of the organic diet plan. This year, due to the drought, the Proffitts will have to purchase certified organic hay to supplement what they were able to make on their own. Hopefully sunny skies and moderate rain this winter and early spring will put Mother Nature’s normal grass growing cycle back on track.
Let’s Get Cooking
Once you try the beef at Proffitt Cattle Company, I dare say you will have a tough time going back. Over the years, I have prepared lots of cuts from Proffitt’s London Broil to meatballs, from short ribs to chili. Today I share three of my favorite recipes featuring Proffitt Cattle Company certified organic beef. As the beef is organic it is important to me that the other ingredients in the recipe are too – so shop for locally raised or organic vegetables, herbs and canned product as you prepare to cook – after all your finished dish is only as good as the ingredients that go into it..
Which brings me to olive oil. Often beef recipes call for a roast or steak to be seared. As grassfed beef is lower in fat, recipes often call for the addition of an oil or other animal fat. I have recently discovered what I consider to be one of the best olive oils on the market and I wanted to share it with you here. It is important to note that the Olive Crate in Charlotte is also a sponsor of this post, but this is a brand I believe in and use regularly, so I am happy to welcome them has a partner in this post.
This unblended single variety estate grown extra virgin Greek olive oil is locally distributed by the Kostouris family in Waxhaw, NC. Their company is Olive Crate and this wonderful organic late harvest extra virgin, eco-sustainable Kores Olive oil comes from Greek Manaki olives grown by their family in Greece. The oil as well as a selection of vinegars can be found at the Saturday morning Waxhaw Farmers’ Market and the Atherton Farmers’ market in Charlotte as well as at the charming little farm store at Grace Roots Farm on Providence Road, less than a mile from the Waxhaw market location. The flavor of this Greek oil is superb – do check them out – just #TellThemHeidiSentYou
I used the Kores olive oil in each of the recipes below. Here is a great little tip to add flavor to any recipe where you brown beef, particularly before a braise. Instead of using butter, bacon fat or canola oil to sear your beef or saute the veggies; use the Kores oil along with several sprigs of fresh rosemary at the start of the dish. Gently warm the oil and the rosemary together and you’ll be adding a ton of flavor and keeping it healthy with all the fabulous polyphenols only a current harvest estate olive oil can offer.
Want to try this wonderful Kores estate bottled extra virgin olive oil for yourself? Make your first purchase online using the code HEIDIB20 at the Olive Crate website and you will save 20%!
GotToBeNC Proffitt Family Farms Grass Fed Organic Beef Pot Roast
1 ( 2-3 lb) GotToBeNC Proffitt Family Farms grass-fed, organic chuck roast
Coarse grain sea salt and Heidi’s Hot Pepper Blend to taste – a ground mix of black lampong, pink reunion and black malabar peppercorns ( available at the Savory Spice Shop)
2 Tbsp. Kores Estate Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil by Olive Crate in Waxhaw
2 springs fresh rosemary
3 organic onions, peeled and thin sliced
2 stalks organic celery with the leaves, chopped
1 (10-ounce) can organic whole or diced tomatoes
½ cup tomato chutney or chili sauce
2 cups full bodied red wine
¼ cup Cocoa Nibs ( My secret ingredient here – available in Charlotte at the Savory Spice Shop or the new Vin Master Wine Shop ( formally Queen City Pantry)
2-3 bay leaf
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig rosemary
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2-3 organic yellow potatoes, cut into wedges
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Sprinkle the sea salt and Heidi’s hot pepper blend to taste over the Proffitt Family Farms Chuck Roast. Heat the Olive Crate’s Kores Estate Greek extra virgin olive oil with 1-2 sprigs of fresh rosemary over low heat in the bottom of an oven to table casserole. There is no need to brown the roast first, but for added flavor, add the sliced onions and celery in the warm Kores olive oil and toss until well coated..
Remove the pan from the heat. Add the seasoned roast over the onions and celery. Top roast with the tomatoes, red wine, tomato chutney or chili sauce, cocoa nibs, celery, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary and parsley.
Cover and bake in the oven for about 3 hours, basting often with the pan juices; and turning the roast over in the pan of juices and vegetables about half way during the cooking time.
Add the potatoes ( and carrots if your would like) and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes more, or until the potatoes are cooked.
Remove the roast from the pan of veggies and pan juices. Slice the meat against the grain ( that is the muscle line of the roast) and cut into slices. Place the slices back into the casserole dish, basting with the pan juices and keep warm until ready to serve.
Braised Proffitt Cattle Company Short Ribs
2-3 Tbsp. Kores Estate Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil by Olive Crate in Waxhaw
3 lbs. boneless or bone in Proffitt Cattle Company Short Ribs
Sea Salt & Heidi’s Hot Pepper blend to taste
2 organic onion, minced
2-3 whole organic carrot, minced
1-2 Parsnips. Minced
2-3 stalks of organic celery, minced
3 cloves Garlic, crushed
2 cans whole organic tomatoes, crushed
2 Tbsp. Savory Spice Shop Tomato Powder or organic Tomato Paste
8 oz Dark Beer or Red wine
2-3 cups Beef Stock
3-4 sprigs mixed oregano, thyme and bay leaf
Heat the Kores estate olive oil in a deep cast iron skillet over medium high heat.
Season the short ribs with the salt & pepper and dust with the flour. Sear the ribs on all sides in the heated oil, then remove them from the pan.
In the same pan, saute the onion, carrot, parsnips, celery and garlic. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and stir to blend. Cook until heated and then add the beer or wine.
Return the beef to the pan, adding enough stock to nearly cover. Bring to a boil; Cover the pan and allow over a medium heat for about an hour or so.
OR, Place in the preheated oven covered and cook for two hours.
To serve: Place the ribs on a deep platter. Using an immersion blender, puree the sauce and serve over mashed potatoes or grits
Now we’ve talked a lot about healthy in this blog post, but I’m not going to lie to you here – this next recipe is a bit higher in fat. Don’t compromise. Treat yourself, and for the best flavor and texture here, use the heavy cream. Go for an organic brand, or a local product if you can find it. I like using Homeland Dairy’s heavy cream available for sale at the new Vin Master wine Shop at Atherton Mill in Charlotte’s Southend neighborhood. Serve a wedge of the tart with a crispy green salad dressed with the Olive Crate’s Kores Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil and any one of their flavorful balsamic vinegars.
PARMESAN, CARMELIZED ONION and PROFFITT CATTLE COMPANY GROUND BEEF TART
refrigerated dough for one pie crusts – I like the organic Immaculate Baking brand
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 Tbsp.Kores Estate Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil by Olive Crate in Waxhaw
1-2 cups caramelized onions
½ lb. local Proffitt Farms ground beef, browned
1 local or pasture raised organic egg
1 local or pasture raised organic egg yolk
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a circle just an inch or two larger than a 9-12 inch French tart pan. Fit dough and pan and trim as shown in class. Press dough into pan. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
For the filling:
Warm cream over medium heat and stir in grated cheese, stirring until smooth.
In another bowl, whisk together whole egg, yolk, and salt and pepper in a bowl until combined. Add cream mix; whisk until smooth.
Scatter caramelized onions and ground beef evenly in tart shell and pour custard over. Bake in a 350 preheated oven until custard is just set and golden in patches, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool tart in pan on rack at least 20 minutes. Freeze if you would like. Cut into wedges to serve.
Like what you’ve read? I was pleased to prepare the pot roast recipe in this post this morning Jan 20 at 9 am on Charlotte’s own WBTV’s Morning Break with hosts Kristen Miranda, Chris Larson and Coach LeMonte Odums. In Case You Missed it – LeMonte is a big beef lover and he absolutely fell l in love with the Proffitt Cattle Compnay Pot Roast recipe. Stay tuned and as soon as I have it in hand I will embed a copy here for you to watch here again. stay tuned…
Meanwhile, do check out the NC Beef posts from a number of other bloggers across the state. Its GotToBeNC Grass fed beef for sure and you’ll love reading about these wonderful NC cattle ranches and trying out these scrumptuos recipes.
Got To Be NC Beef Farm Tours
And What To Make with Your NC Beef
- Beef Marsala Pot Pie | Baldwin Family Farms from Big Bear’s Wife
- Chile-Braised Short Rib Tacos | Moore Brothers All Natural Beef from Nourish and Nestle
- Simply Perfect Prime Rib Roast | Ninja Cow Farm from Life of a Ginger
- Shepherd’s Pie | Ray Family Farms from Girl Gone Gourmet
- Back to Earth Tacos | Back to Earth Farm from Jenn on a Mission
- Beef Lettuce Wraps | Hickory Nut Gap Farm from Pantry Doctor
- Bourbon Beef Chili | Newsome Farm from Nik Snacks
- Sweet and Spicy Grass-Fed London Broil | Baldwin Family Farms from Pastry Chef Online
I am delighted to partner with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services in Raleigh and the Olive Crate in Waxhaw NC to make this blog post possible. Thanks to to Steve and Diane Proffitt and Shelley and Brian Eagan of Proffitt Cattle Company for all of their help in making this post possible. #BrandsIBelieveIn #DelightedToShareTheStory