It’s Time to Eat Local North Carolina Beef
And just like, that the weather turned the corner and we go from ice cold frosty mornings at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market to upwards of a predicted 90 degrees this late Spring weekend. The Market is now officially open for “summer hours” both Saturdays from 8 am to 6 pm and Sundays from noon to 6 pm, now till fall , with some of the vendors in Building B there on Thursday and Fridays as well.
So here we are, late spring, just on the cusp of summer, thinking about beefing up for bathing suit weather; just makes good sense that we should also explore some ways to beef up our late spring and summer menus as well.
As May is NC Beef Month and National Beef Month, as well, it only seems appropriate that this post, the third in my “Meat Me At The Market” series on local proteins, sponsored by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture is all about the local beef you’ll find from North Carolina ranchers at Charlotte’s Regional Farmers Market on Yorkmont Drive. If you’ve missed the other two installments of this series and want more recipes for local proteins, just click here and here.
The recipes in this post were inspired in part, by one of my recent On the Farm cooking classes at Proffitt Family Cattle Company in Kings Mountain NC and by a fabulous photo of Cast Iron Skillet Steak, I saw from Chef Chris Coleman at the Marriott City Center. I’ve shared a couple of the recipes I taught in class and Chris was kind enough to share a few tips on cooking with local beef in addition to his recipe for the Cast Iron Steak – You’re going to love it – stay tuned.
Where’s the Beef? It’s at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market!
Before the recipes, let’s talk about all the beef ranchers you’ll find each and every weekend at the Regional Farmers’ Market in Charlotte.
I’ll walk you through the market on a virtual tour of sorts, starting with the first building on your right as you drive into the market – this is Building A. Building A is comprised of local farmers and producers selling the product or the proteins they grow, raise or make.
Here you’ll find a nearly a dozen local ranchers – almost all selling grass fed beef. From the end of the building nearest to the market entrance, they are: Christy Underwood from Underwood Farms in Lawndale, NC; Cindy Digh from Clearview Farms in Lincolnton, NC and Sarah Jane and Jamie Davis of A Way of Life Farm, who don’t raise beef ( they raise pork and veggies on their Bostic NC farm), but often have beef at the market to sell from a neighboring Belflower Farms.
Just beside A Way of Life Farm on the same side of the aisle is Bluebird Farm from Morganton, NC selling beef, pork and chicken and like their neighbors from A Way of Life farm – all sorts of delicious produce
Further down, still in Building A, you’ll find stands with local beef from Baucom’s Best Beef in Unionville, NC; from Gilcrest Natural Farms in Iron Station, NC and Windy Hill Farm in New London, NC.
Across from Windy Hill you see the Martin’s Charolais Farm in Shelby NC a Charolais are a breed of cattle that are all white and like many of the farms listed here – the farm is open for farm tours if you’d like to go visit and see for yourself. A step or two down the row across the aisle will be Poplin Farms from Albemarle, NC, selling grass fed Angus beef. Almost at the end of the building on the right, next to my friend Jim Bowman who sells delicious fresh caught and smoked lake trout – should you be interested in a surf and turf sort of dinner, you will find Shelley and Brian Eagan from Proffitt Family Cattle Company also from Shelby, NC with certified organic grass-fed beef. Many of you have read about Proffitt Farms in posts on this blog before as it is one of the farms where I hold my On the Farm Cooking Classes..
In Building B, at the market, you’ll find lots of vendors who sell a variety of product – these vendors are not necessarily farmers, although many of them do farm and sell their own produce and proteins as well as that from other regional farms.
You’ve also read about All Natural Farms in this blog in my post on buying pork at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market. Lee from All Natural Farms has a farm store in Building B and is open on the weekends and on Thursdays and Fridays as well, selling beef from their own Scottish Highlander cattle in addition to lots of other local product. And then move to building C, where you will find RockRaven Farms with North Carolina beef from Wadesboro, NC and the fine folks from Ankrom Farm here on Saturday mornings with beef all the way from Bessemer City, NC!
All of these North Carolina ranchers provide a variety of cuts making for lots of delicious ways to eat local North Carolina beef.
As I mentioned, I teach a regular series of On the Farm cooking classes and for several years now have held classes in Kings Mountain at the homestead pasture for Proffitt Family Cattle Company. The first weekend in May, we had a Cinco De Mayo themed class. The class started as all my On the Farm classes do with a farm tour after which we head back to the kitchen to cook with whatever each individual farms raises or grows. In the case of Proffitt Family Cattle Co it was all about the North Carolina Beef and how to cook and eat local.
Eat Local North Carolina Beef – Grilled London Broil
One of my favorite recipes to teach in a beef-centric cooking class is my recipe for grilled London Broil.
Its easy-peasy and yields perfect results each and every time. If you’d like to see it for yourself, You can watch the video from my Charlotte Today appearance on WCNC-TV on Thursday May 16 in a new blog post on Grilling Local NC beef here. You’ll see the video from the cooking segment I did on air with a few variations on this London Broil recipe – the same one I shared in my class – served with a seasonal strawberry salsa and a local North Carolina take on a Spanish recipe for grilled onions called Calςots ( pronounced Cal-Shots).
Grilled North Carolina London Broil with Calcots and NC Strawberry Salsa
- 1 local London Broil
- Sea Salt and Heidi’s Hot Pepper Blend
- For the Strawberry Salsa
- 20-30 local strawberries
- 2 cups local blueberries
- 1 bunch local cilantro chopped
- 2 charred jalapenos finely minced ( seed-in will be hotter, seeds removed will be less hot)
- lime juice to taste
- 4 Tbsp. Blood Orange EVOO
- 2 Tbsp. Raspberry White Balsamic Vinegar
- OuterBanks SeaSalt to taste
For the Calcots:
- 1 bunch local green or purple onions
- Your Favorite EVOO
- wet newspaper
For perfectly grilled London Broil: Season one side of the London Broil with salt and pepper.
Place the steak, seasoned side down, at an angle on the grill grids and grill 3 mins; then turn the steak at the opposite angle and grill 3 minutes more - this will give you a cross hatched grill mark on the steak. Then, flip the steak over, season and grill again 3 mins; then turn at an angle and grill 3 minutes more..
Remove beef from grill, cool slightly and let it rest for 10 mins or so, Slice the steak, against the grain, with a sharp knife into thin slices and serve with salsa and onions.
FOR THE SALSA:
Mix everything in a bowl. Taste the salsa and adjust any of the ingredients to your taste.
Chill until ready to serve.
FOR THE CALCOTS:
Place the whole green or purple onions on a preheated medium hot grill. Grill on all sides until the onions are completely charred. Remove the blackened onions from the grill and wrap them up in the wet newspaper. Place them in a roasting pan and cover to let them steam.
Peeled the charred part away from the onion and enjoy the charred flavor bite for bite with each bite of perfectly cooked London Broil.
In every recipe I cook or share I try hard to use as many local ingredients as possible.
I love the coarse Pink Himalayan sea salt I find at Savory Spice and the peppercorns in Heidi's Hot Pepper Blend ( a blend I grind myself made from black lampong, black malabar and pink reunion peppercorns ) comes from the Savory Spice Shop as well.
I also love using North Carolina's own Outerbanks SeaSalt and I mix and match my salts as I please, and suggest that you do the same.
The blood orange infused extra virgin olive oil in the recipe and the raspberry white balsamic vinegar both are available in Charlotte at Pour Olive on East Blvd.
Make your own North Carolina Beef Chorizo sausage for breakfast, brunch and appetizers, too!
The next recipe is a fun one to serve for brunch or an a great little appetizer.
These, oh so, local Beefy Scotch Eggs may be made ahead of time and then warmed up just before you slice and serve. I like to make them with Quail Eggs which you may buy from Sunnyside Eggs in Building C at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market, but they also make a great main course with a side salad when you make the same recipe with local chicken eggs.
Some local ranchers at the market sell beef sausage and any variety works well in this recipe. I took local ground beef and seasoned it up with a combo of Chorizo spice blends I found on the shelves at the Savory Spice Shop in Charlotte; but you can make you rown Chorizo-spice blend with my recipe here or can easily make a milder beef sausage with the simple addition of minced local sage and a little salt and pepper to the ground beef before you procede with this next recipe.
Beef Chorizo Scotch Eggs
For the Beef Chorizo:
- 1 Lb local NC ground beef
- 2 Tbsp. Savory Spice Shop Black Canyon Chili Powder
- 3 Tbsp. Savory Spice Shop Chimayo Chorizo Sausage Spice
- 3 Tbsp. Local Apple Cider Vinegar from Windy Hill Orchards in York, SC
Use the spice blends from the Savory Spice Shop as listed above OR Make Your Own Chorizo spice mix by combining the following and use in place of the Savory Spice Shop Blends:
- 1 Tbsp. cumin seed
- 1 tsp. coriander seed
- 5 whole cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. oregano
- ½ tsp. thyme
- 1 Tbsp. granulated garlic
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 5 whole peppercorns or ½ tsp. ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp. paprika mixed with ½ tsp. cayenne powder OR
- 2 Tbsp. paprika mixed with 1 tsp. red chili powder
For the eggs:
- 1 doz local quail or chicken eggs
To Make the Coating:
- 1 cup All Purpose Flour this works with Gluten Free Flour
- 2 beaten local eggs
- 1 1/2 cups Panko Crumbs These may be Gluten Free
- Oil for frying
Combine the ground beef with the spices and apple cider vinegar and allow to stand for 1 hour ( or best overnight)
Boil the eggs in water with a two tablespoons of baking soda for 3 minutes.
Cool slightly, peel the quail or chicken eggs and dust each egg with a bit of the flour.
Take a tablespoon or two of your homemade beef sausage and shape it around each quail egg to completely encase the egg.
Dust the beef sausage coated egg with flour, then dip in beaten egg and then in the panko crumbs. Place on a wire rack to rest.
Meanwhile, place a wooden spoon in a shallow pot of oil. Heat the oil until little bubbles form around the edge of the spoon. This indicates that the oil is hot enough for deep frying.
Place the coated eggs in the hot oil and cook until nicely browned.
Place the cooked eggs on a rack to drain slightly, then cut each of them in half and arrange on a bed of mixed local greens or microgreens
What could be better than to eat local North Carolina beef from a cast iron skillet – let Charlotte’s own Chef Chris Coleman show you how its done…
Finally, a great on the grill way to eat local North Carolina beef from my friend Chef Chris Coleman, culinary director at the Marriott Center City and executive Chef of Stoke Charlotte.
I’m writing another blog post coming up soon about an event Chris is involved in called Sweet Escapes ( stay tuned) and I asked chefs to send me some photos of some of their favorite recent culinary creations. When Chris sent me the photo of a cast iron skillet full of steak ( which I unabashedly used as the feature photo for this post) – I just knew the recipe was a perfect fit here, as well.
Truth be told, the steak in the photo below did not come from the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market, it came from Wilcox Farm in Camden South Carolina – a ranch owned by Chris’ brother – gotta keep it all in the family don’t you know!
When I asked Chris for some tips for grilling steaks from a chef’s kitchen here is the advice he had to offer, followed by his fun recipe – you’re going to love it!
“I’ve really gotten into cast iron grill-roasting lately,” Chris told me. “This gives you a guaranteed beautiful crust on your steaks, something that isn’t always achievable on a grill. Finishing by “grill-roasting” over the unlit side of the grill gives you full control of how done the meat will be at the end of the cook, while also imparting the steaks with the smoky goodness we all desire off of the grill. I always load up a smoking box of wood chips to add to the grill as well, for extra smoky results.
“When you are cooking steaks, cold steaks work better than room temperature ones.. There are a lot of chefs/cookbooks that will tell you to remove your steaks from the fridge for at least 30 minutes to remove the chill before cooking. I find that by doing the opposite, and actually placing the steaks in the freezer for 30 minutes will yield beautiful results. Here’s why:
“The cold, circulating air of a freezer actually works to dry out the exterior of the meat a bit (think freezerburn). Dry surfaces sear better than wet ones. You’ll still need to blot your steaks with paper towels before searing, but the freezer gives you a bit of an edge.
“The freezer will bring the internal temperature of the meat down below the normal 40-45 degrees of a home fridge, meaning you can allow the exterior to get a nice crust without overcooking. The longer it takes for the internal temp to come up to cooking temp, the better the sear. This works to an extent: You can’t do this with a completely frozen steak, because melting ice crystals will cause the steak to steam rather than sear, and it would take waaaaay to long to cook a steak.
“Rest your meat! This is the biggest mistake many home grill cooks often make. In their eagerness to get into the beautiful piece of meat they just grilled perfectly, they rush to the table and dig in, causing excessive bleed out and perceived toughness in the meat. Science: When cooking, protein fibers contract, tightening and expelling moisture (which is why well done steaks are perceived as tougher and dry). By allowing the cooked steaks to rest, the proteins cool and relax a bit, and also absorb a bit of the moisture they forced out while over heat. Letting your steak rest means that yes, they won’t be piping hot, but also means they final product will be more tender and juicier.”
Cast Iron Ribeye with Early Summer Vegetables
- 2 16-18oz local ribeye steaks, grass-fed, preferably bone in, 1 1/2-2 inches thick,
- ½ stick butter divided
- 3 cloves garlic smashed
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 local potatoes scrubbed
- 1 bunch local asparagus woody ends trimmed
- 2 ears localcorn shucked
- 8 oz. localcherry tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp mustard
- 1 Tbsp good balsamic vinegar
Heat your grill:
If using gas, light one side of the grill over medium. If using charcoal, build your pile of coals to one side.
Place a large cast iron skillet (12-14”) over lit side, and allow to preheat along with the grill for at least 15 minutes.
Season your meat:
Remove steaks from fridge/freezer (see below) and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Season liberally with kosher salt and fresh black pepper.
Cook your steaks:
Once pan is hot (but not smoking) splash in a bit of cooking oil and allow to come up to heat. Carefully place your steaks in pan so they aren’t crowded. If your pan isn’t large enough, you need to do this is batches. If the steaks are touching, they will steam instead of caramelize. Close the lid on the grill. Since only one side is lit, heat will escape quickly.
Be patient and prep the rest of the meal.
Resist the urge to flip, touch, wiggle, or generally do anything to your steaks for at least 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile, prep everything else:
Poke your potatoes with the tip of a knife and microwave until cooked through but not baked potato consistency.
Clean the corn of any silver “hairs” so no one gets the stuck in their teeth.
Cut the tomatoes in half and season with salt and pepper. Allow these to sit for at least 10 minutes so they’ll leach out some of their juices.
Cook everything else
Once the steaks are nicely browned on one side, flip over and add half of the butter, garlic, rosemary, and thyme to the pan. Using a spoon, baste the melted butter and juices over the steaks. Cook steaks until nicely browned on the other side, about 3-4 minutes. Remove steaks from the pan to the unlit side of the grill and allow to cook to desired temp (They should be rare at this point; they will roast over the unlit side of the grill until your desired final doneness). Using your hands, pinch the cooked potatoes into bite sized pieces and place in the roasting pan. Once again, be patient: allow the potatoes to get nice and browned before you move them. You want crispness. Cut asparagus into bite sized pieces and add to the pan along with the corn. Cook for a few minutes until asparagus is just al dente and corn has started to soften up. Add the tomatoes and their juices, the mustard, the balsamic, and the rest of the butter, and stir to combine the pan juices and create a nice glaze over the vegetables. Remove and discard the garlic, rosemary, and thyme. Season everything with salt and pepper.
Rest and slice meat.
While everything else is cooking, and once steaks are cooked to your liking, remove them from the heat (if your grill has a nice side table like mine, place them on a roasting rack set over a tray here. Once veg is cooked you can add any juices that collect in the tray from the beef to the pan as part of the glazed veg….mmmmm beef fat). Allow steaks to rest 5 minutes and then slice and serve over the vegetables in the skillet family style to your closest friends and family.
I hope you have enjoyed this post of ways to Beef Up your Spring and Summer recipe planning, I thank the North Carolina Department of Agriculture for making this post possible and I welcome your comments below.
I’d love it if you would keep coming back for more!
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