Sept 8, 2023, Day One of the NC Mountain State Fair found us cooking with NC Pork in both of our cooking demos on the GotToBeNC cooking stage.
This day the GotToBeNC cooking stage was all about putting more NC pork on your fork. My friends, 5th generation farmers Nicole and Aaron Bradley from Colfax Creek Farm in Bostic NC were with me for two demos, center stage where cooking NC pork, in the guise of bacon, bbq and sausage was the theme for the day.
Where to find them: If you are in or near the Charlotte area, you can see all they produce at their Booth in Bldg. A at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. Or, you can order from Colfax Creek online here.
I cooked for the 1pm demo making candied bacon with Colfax Creek Jowl Bacon and homemade brown sugar made with Coddle Creek Farm honey.
Then, a recipe showcasing Colfax Creek Farm BBQ and an easy cream cheese arancini wrapped up the demo.
As I cooked, Aaron told us all about the farm. He shared how they work to raise sustainable pasture-raised proteins to help create a better food system for us all.
And, he explained how it’s important to them to regenerate the land that they farm – much of that due to the success in raising Pasture-Raised animals – and how they work to continue to be good stewards of the land where they live and work.
You can read more (and order product for home delivery) on their website here.
Farmers like Aaron and Nichole and the work that they do. are why it is so important to eat and shop locally and support our greater NC farming communities.
Cooking NC Pork with Chef Sera Cuni
At the 3 pm demo, Chef Sera Cuni from Root Cellar Cafe & Catering in Pittsboro came in between her gigs at Chow Chow in Asheville and showed the crowd how to make a great breakfast-for-dinner dish with Colfax Creek Farm Chorizo sausage and lots of local veggies.
This fabulous NC sweetpotato hash Chef Sera made with Colfax Creek Farm chorizo sausage will be my next recipe post on these pages. Here’s a little preview of more to come.
Meantime, Here is the recipe for the candied bacon I shared on stage at the beginning of my cooking demo. It’s the same recipe I shared in my last post on Kitchen tricks and tips.
The post ended with a tasty little recipe for candied bacon which I, of course, just had to share on the cooking stage as well. If you missed it, you know I have your back – you can find it and the tips on how to make your own brown sugar, right here.
Cooking NC Pork: Bacon Pancakes
Now, here’s an idea. All you need is your favorite pancake recipe and some baked bacon. Follow these directions for baking the bacon on a rack in the oven. When the bacon is crispy. Take it out of the oven, and allow to cool slightly on the rack. Then, remove the bacon to a plate. Use a paper towel to pat off any remaining fat, and let cool completely. Meanwhile make up a batch of your favorite pancake batter. Dip the cold crisp bacon into the pancake batter to coat. Place in a lightly oiled pan and fry and flip as you would regular pancakes. The results will be a delicious bacon stuffed pancake. Stay tuned for an entire Stuffed Pancake post on these pages coming your way in October.
Making Cream Cheese Arancini with Colfax Creek BBQ
When it comes to cooking with NC Pork, no one does it better than those who specialize in North Carolina barbecue. Aaron and Nichole at Colfax Creek Farm have made making real NC BBQ at home super simple. with their “boil-in-a-bag” option. The vinegar based barbecue is made with Colfax Creek Smoked pork and then lightly dressed in a vinegar based sauce. All you have to do is heat and eat. You can do the boil in a bag trick, but Aaron suggests warming it up out of the bag instead. Put the defrosted ‘Cue over low heat in a skillet – no oil needed. Once the pork is hot, add a sauce if you would like, or enjoy as is.
Serve the BBQ on a sandwich, over rice or plated with sides. This day on the NC Mountain State Fair cooking stage, we made the easy arancini recipe that follows.
Making Arancini and Cooking Rice with One Finger
Typically and traditionally, arancini starts with risotto. Risotto is not hard to make, but it does take some time. Here’s a faster start to your next batch of arancini . it’s super simple to make it with leftover rice.
To have leftover rice, you need to have made a batch to start. Here is the easiest rice recipe ever. All you need is rice, water, a pot with a lid, and one finger. I recommend starting with NC Grown Carolina Gold Rice from Tidewater Grain Company in Oriental NC.
Here’s the How to: No Measuring Cup Needed:
It seems chance-y, I know, but this once, ditch the solid and liquid measuring cups. Throw caution to the wind and pour in as much rice as you need into a large saucepan. As you eyeball this step, remember, that dry rice doubles in volume once it is cooked.
Now, here comes the amazing part. You won’t believe this really works. But it does. Place your index finger in the pot, so that the tip of your finger is touching the surface of the rice. Keep your finger still and steady. Then, with your other hand, pour enough water into the pot, so that the water comes up to the first knuckle of your finger.
That’s basically it.
Place the heat on high and bring the water to a boil; cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes. And, Viola!. Take the pot off the heat, uncover, use a fork to fluff; and your Tidewater Grain Co. Carolina Gold Rice is ready to enjoy. I swear, it works every time.
Now on to my recipe for Leftover Rice Cream Cheese Arancini
When you order the Tidewater Grain Company Carolina Gold Rice online, order some of their heirloom Rice Flour as well. We’ll use it twice in this recipe. Once to thicken the rice mix and then to coat the arancini before frying. The characteristics of this local rice flour result in the crispiest coating ever – you’re going to love it!
Cheesemaker, Zack Gadberry makes a delicious cream cheese that starts with locally sourced whole milk. In the Charlotte area, you’ll find Zack and his wife Victoria and all the UAV cheeses at the Matthews Community Farmers Market on Saturday mornings.
Can’t find cream cheese you love? Use any soft goat cheese or chevre – they will all work well in this recipe.
Cooking with NC Pork: How to serve the Colfax Creek Farms BBQ with the Cream Cheese Arancini
In the cooking demo we did on the GotToBeNC Cooking Stage at the NC Mountain State Fair, we served arancini along side the bbq. But, as I am writing this, I just thought of a tasty variation on the theme.
Combine the BBQ with the cream cheese or goat cheese and then use that mix to stuff in the rice balls. OR stuff the rice balls with the bbq and forget about the cheese altogether. Your choice. Either way, you’re gonna love this taste of all the local love.
Where to Shop
To Order Colfax Creek BBQ and all of their other NC Pork Pasture Raised Pork Products, visit their website.
Go to ColfaxCreekFarm.com to shop for pasture raised pork, beef and chicken for home delivery. Meet these local farmers and shop in person on Saturday mornings in Building A at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market. #TellThemHeidiSentYou
Cream Cheese Arancini
- 2 cups leftover cooked Tidewater Grain Company Carolina Gold Rice order online at tidewatergrain.com
- 3 Tbsp. Tidewater Grain Company heirloom rice flour
- 1 local egg we used eggs from Colfax Creek Farm, available on Saturdays at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market
- 2 Tbsp. Lusty Monk whole grain mustard
- 1/2 cup your favorite local soft cheese
- 2 cups Tidewater Grain Company Heirloom Rice Flour order online at tidewatergrain.com
- 3 local eggs we used eggs from Colfax Creek Farm, available on Saturdays at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market
- Canola Oil for Frying
- 1/2 cup fresh minced flat leaf parsley
Pour the leftover rice into a mixing bowl and add 3 Tbsp. of rice flour, 1 egg and 1 Tbsp, of Lusty Monk Mustard and the minced parsley. Blend well
Use your hands to scoop out about 3 tablespoons of the rice mixture and shape into a ball
Flatten the ball of rice in your palm and add a generous teaspoon of cream cheese or chevre to the center.
Use your fingers to "fold" the rice mixture up and around the cheese. And then reroll into a ball so that you can't see any cheese at all
Repeat for the rest of the rice
Roll the balls first in rice flour, then in beaten egg and then in flour again, to lightly coat them with a crust
Let the coated rice balls rest on a wire cake rack, so that the egg and rice flour coating can firm up a bit
Meanwhile, pour about a 1/2 inch of canola oil into a Carolina Cooker cast iron skillet over high heat.
Place a wooden spoon in the 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 rice balls in the hot oil and allow to fry to a golden brown color.
Remove from the oil and allow to cool slightly on the wire rack.
Serve hot alongside a serving of hot Colfax Creek Farm vinegar-based BBQ