Oh, The Places Food’ll Go

Did you know that the average American produce travels 1,500 miles before it lands on your table? The fewer the miles on a car, the less the wear and tear on the vehicle (and the greater its value). Similarly, the fewer the miles fresh produce travels before being consumed, the better it tastes and the less impact on the environment it makes. This is why many Americans are adopting the “100 Mile Diet,” which promotes eating fresh local foods within 100 miles to insure peak freshness and nutritional value.

It’s like we say, the nearer the farm to the fork, the better the flavor.

Here are just a few reasons why:

  • A recent study showed that all locally grown food combined still produced less carbon dioxide emissions in transport than a single imported produce item.
  • Carbon emissions won’t directly influence tonight’s dinner, but how long it takes for food to get to your table can affect its taste. From the moment produce is harvested, it’s a race against time to get it to your table. Produce and raw foods have a short shelf life, which makes the long-distance travel a challenge.
  • Many suppliers have processes that extend the shelf life of fresh foods, but these methods can prevent the produce from developing their full, broad range of vitamins and minerals, making them less nutrient-dense and flavorful than local foods.

So, if you want to consider going on the 100 Mile Diet or reduce your carbon footprint, the Greensboro Curb Market is a great place to start. All of their vendors, such as Smith Farms, are located within 100 miles of the market, ensuring that you have access to the freshest local produce when you shop at the Curb Market.

Every Tuesday through Thursday during their growing season, you can spot the Smith Farms Mobile Market.  They pack up their produce and take it to six different locations across Guilford and Alamance counties, including the Curb Market and Piedmont Triad Farmer’s Market, as well as local hospitals and restaurants (like none other than Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen in Greensboro). They feature squash, zucchini, cucumbers, green beans, peppers, various field peas, October beans, butter beans, potatoes and tomatoes (even vine-ripened tomatoes up until frost). This fall look for sweet potatoes and soon they’ll have cabbage and broccoli.

Smith Farm
Visit Smith Farm's Facebook Page for updated list of available produce

The folks at Smith Farms believe that in order to get fresh produce from the field and onto a plate, you have to move it quickly – which means the farmer needs to have outlet options every day of the week. Some of their produce gets harvested and packaged daily (squash, zucchini and cucumbers), while others are harvested two to three times a week (tomatoes, corn, beans). Smith Farms work diligently six days a week to ensure that fresh-picked produce is available for you to enjoy. At Lucky’s, you can savor a variety of their fresh produce in our menu items that range from a side of Smith Farms’ corn to summer squash with roasted tomato sauce; on your way out, take home their zucchini, squash, tomatoes and pink-eyed peas,  by stopping by our Veggie Cart.


Squash with Roasted Tomato Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 pounds zucchini
  • 2 pounds yellow squash
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups Roasted Tomato Sauce (see recipe)

Wash squash and slice into ½ inch half moons.
Heat butter (or canola oil) in a large sauté pan. Add squash and gently turn to
coat with butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper, gently turning to combine.
Add Roasted Tomato Sauce and gently turn to evenly distribute the sauce.
Continue to turn until vegetables are just starting to soften.

Makes 8-10 portions

Roasted Tomato Sauce

  • 2½ pounds fresh tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2-3 fluid ounces canola oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Wash tomatoes and remove the stems. Slice tomatoes in half horizontally and place in a large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients to the bowl and toss until tomatoes are well coated in oil, herbs and seasoning.

Place tomatoes on a sheet tray, cut side down. Pour remaining oil and seasoning over
tomatoes. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes or until tomatoes are soft. Remove from oven. Remove and discard garlic cloves. With a whisk, break up tomatoes.

Makes 2½ cups

Disclaimer: All our recipes were originally designed for much larger batch size. This recipe has been reduced – but not tested at this scale. Please adjust to your taste and portion size.

© 1989-2017. This recipe is the property of Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants, LLC. Unauthorized commercial use is forbidden.

For more about our seasonal recipes, see our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Recipe Index.

If you interested in reading more about food miles visit:

Family, Farm and Tradition

Piglets roam, cows graze and music emanates from the barn at Hickory Nut Gap Farm. With its deep roots and long history, this is a favorite gathering place for neighbors, visitors and families.

The 90-acre farm is nestled in Fairview, North Carolina (about a 20-minute drive from downtown Asheville). Visitors are free to explore the extensive property, where they’ll encounter sheep, goats, and even piglets.  You also can shop at the farm store and enjoy a meal at their café.  “Personally, I love their sausages…We had ‘sausage dogs’… and they were amazing,” remarked  Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen Executive Chef in Greensboro.  The Hickory Nut Gap Farm also hosts a variety of fun events, from Friday Night Barn Dances to a Summer Horse Camp.

Don’t worry, though, you don’t have to travel three hours to enjoy their food! Lucky 32 serves their breakfast links during brunch on the weekends.  We also use a variety of their pork products, including the pork loin that’s featured on the 2016 Suddenly this Summer Menu (lunchdinner and brunch).

Seared Pork Loin with Peach Chutney
Seared Pork Loin with Peach Chutney
  • 9 ounces pork tenderloin
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 fluid ounces Caramelized Onions (recipe below)
  • 3 fluid ounces Peach Chutney (recipe below)

Season pork loin with salt and pepper and sear or grill on all sides to medium-well.  Slice loin on the diagonal and serve over caramelized onions.  Top sliced pork with peach chutney.

Makes 1 serving

Caramelized Onions

  • 5 pounds of yellow onions
  • 5 tablespoons of canola oil

Remove the peel and slice in half end to end. Cut onions into uniform 1/4 inch thick slices.  Heat oil in sauté pan.  Add onions and sauté until tender.  Reduce heat and continue to cook until onions are caramelized to a golden brown.  Pour off excess liquid.

Makes about 3 cups.

Peach Chutney

  • 1 pound of peaches
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup green bell pepper, diced
  • ¼ red bell pepper, diced
  • ¼ yellow onion, diced
  • ½ tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • ½ teaspoon fresh garlic, chopped
  • ½ tablespoon Jalapeño pepper, sliced
  • ¼ granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Peel, pit and ice the peaches. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer until syrup consistency is achieved.

Makes  1½ cups

Disclaimer: All our recipes were originally designed for much larger batch size. This recipe has been reduced – but not tested at this scale. Please adjust to your taste and portion size.

© 1989-2017. This recipe is the property of Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants, LLC. Unauthorized commercial use is forbidden.

farm fog

Visitors can learn about Hickory Nut Gap Farm’s rich history in the education center barn.   The farm was founded by Jim and Elizabeth McClure in 1916 and is still run by the family. “The name and traditions are special, so farming ‘old school’ is just the way it’s always been done. It’s 100 years old. That’s amazing considering so many farms have had to compromise their ways…but they haven’t,” commented Chef McMillan.

The Ager Family
The Ager Family

Jamie and Amy Ager (fourth generation of McClures) now co-own the Hickory Nut Gap farm business and brand Hickory Nut Gap Meats. Chef McMillan says that a relationship with the farm made perfect sense for Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen:  “They have passion and values that are in line with what we do. After speaking with Jamie for just a few minutes, you can tell that he is so close to the farm and really cares about not only what they do, but how they do it.”

For more about our seasonal recipes, see our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Recipe Index.

Road trips and picnics!

Summer is finally here! Taking my child to camp in Eastern NC recently brought back memories of the picnics our family enjoyed on many car trips to the coast. Mom always had the cooler at hand for impromptu excursions, and she came up with easy, quick recipes that she whipped up like magic. Our family car was always (and still is) loaded up ready for a picnic at a moment’s notice.

On road trips, we would bypass the many restaurants and rest stops. Instead, we opted for stops at tiny roadside churches — where there always was a picnic table in the shade, welcoming folk and a playground to get the wiggles out — or the beautiful state parks along the way. And boy…Mom was ready to whip up a farm-to-fork snack right there in the parking lot when we happened upon a road-side stand.

We all have fond memories of picnics and tailgating with family, friends or a romantic interest. So we thought we’d share some yummy, fast recipes that incorporate the bounty of summer and travel well to your ultimate picnic spot. Get out there and make your own memories!

Heirloom Tomato Appetizer

  • ½ pound variety of heirloom tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1 pinch freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 fluid ounce Herb Vinaigrette (see recipe below)
  • 1 ounce Goat Lady chèvre

Slice tomatoes and place them on a serving plate. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper. Drizzle Herb Vinaigrette over tomatoes, and then sprinkle with goat cheese. Makes 1 portion.

Recipe Tips:

  • Pack recipe ingredients separately in your cooler, and then combine them when you get to your picnic. That way your tomatoes won’t get mushy on the way.
  • Cut your heirloom tomatoes at home, marry the pieces back together again in the shape of a ball and bind with a few rubber bands. Then, combine all ingredients when you get to your picnic destination.

Herb Vinaigrette (make at home and bring in a squeeze bottle)

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dried tarragon
  • ¼ cup minced red onion
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 cups canola oil
  • ½ cup minced fresh basil
  • ½ cup minced fresh flat leaf parsley

Combine all ingredients except oil and herbs in a saucepan, and heat while whisking until sugar is dissolved and Dijon is incorporated. Pour mixture into a blender and slowly add oil until well combined. Stir in herbs. Makes 1 quart.

Curried Chicken Salad

  • 2 pounds diced roasted chicken
  • 1/8 cup diced red onions
  • ¼ cup diced celery
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ tbsp curry powder
  • 1/8 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/8 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¾ cup lemon juice
  • salt & pepper to taste
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients (except chicken) until well blended. Add chicken and mix thoroughly. Makes 4 cups.

Another great picnic recipe is our Cucumber-Tomato Salad “Liquor House Salad” (see it on our “Fresh, cold hothouse tomatoes” blog post)

Curried Chicken Salad over baby spinach tossed in Meyer lemon vinaigrette, topped with fresh blueberries and sliced almonds
Curried Chicken Salad over baby spinach tossed in Meyer lemon vinaigrette, topped with fresh blueberries and sliced almonds

Chocolate Brownies

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 pound semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 ¾ cups packed brown sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, blend flour, baking powder and salt. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips while stirring. In a mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, eggs and vanilla. Mixture should turn light brown in color when done (about 5 minutes on medium speed). Add melted chocolate and melted butter to egg mixture and then add that mixture to the flour mixture, blending well with a spatula. Add walnuts, stirring to incorporate. Pour mixture into a greased pan. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Makes 6 large brownies.

Tips for a fun and easy picnic:

  • Keep the car packed with the essentials: blanket, basket or backpack to carry it all in, wet wipes, paring knife, wine tool, chairs (if needed) and an empty Tupperware container (you’ll use it for something).
  • Think ahead of any road trip — bring along some basic ingredients in a cooler, and supplement them with roadside stand produce. (Here are some of our favorites: hard cheeses, olive oil, French bread, cured meats, capers, smoked salmon, olives and a few basic herbs and/or spices. Take our suggestions or add your own favorites!)
  • Choose an ant-free, soft, grassy spot at a park, church or school. Many rest stops have lovely picnic areas in the shade.
  • Pack a big blanket (the bigger the better — it helps prevent those pesky bugs from climbing on).
  • Bring along a small pillow to lie back on while you watch clouds go by, take a nap or stay late for a romantic star gaze!
  • Flashlights and citronella candles are important for evening picnics. And don’t forget the bug spray, especially when the mosquitoes are out.
  • Be sure to clean up after yourself — leftover foods, drinks and trash can attract wildlife to picnic areas, which isn’t safe for the animals or picnickers!

There you have it: A few of our recipes and tips for delightful and yummy summer picnics. Load up your car with family and friends (or a romantic rendezvous) and take off to explore the back roads and popular destinations near you. With a few simple recipes and a little forethought, you can avoid the fast food trap and enjoy a tasty, farm-to-fork meal while en route.

Contributing Writer: Virginia Phelps

These recipes are available on our Suddenly This Summer menu at Lucky’s through August 4. See the menu.


Spring’s Bounty of Fresh, Local Vegetables and Fruits

As winter’s grasp eases and the temperatures begin to rise, the availability of locally sourced food increases, expanding menus and creativity in the kitchen.  We know this is an incredibly exciting time of the year for us—as it is for other chefs and avid home cooks.

From left to right: Inter-Faith Food Shuttle Farm Manager Kay Coleman, Incubator Farmer Jesse Crouch of NC Regrown, Incubator Farmer Maria of LuLu’s Farm, Lucky 32 Chefs.
From left to right: Inter-Faith Food Shuttle Farm Manager Kay Coleman, Incubator Farmer Jesse Crouch of NC Regrown, Incubator Farmer Maria of LuLu’s Farm, Lucky 32 Chefs.

For months now, farmers markets and “local availability lists” have suffered from the annual winter slump. Offerings have primarily consisted of turnips, mustard greens and kale greens, alongside year-round collards, sweet potatoes and peanuts.  While hearty root vegetables and greens are a staple of Southern cuisine, our locally sourced, seasonally rotating menu at Lucky’s gets a boost when spring fruits and vegetables begin to appear. Put it this way: Creating menus with winter produce is fun, kind of like like driving a Model T … but spring produce season is a blast, more like driving a Ferrari!

A few weeks ago, as we perused the rows of radishes and asparagus at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle Teaching Farm in Cary, we started to get excited about the possibilities to come.  We picked a crisp, green spear right out of the earth, dusted it off on a pant leg and eagerly bit into the freshest produce possible. Our creativity was recharged instantly, and ideas for new menu items flashed through our minds.

Rows of radishes and okra from NC Regrown
Rows of radishes and okra from NC Regrown

We got even more excited when Jesse Crouch and his brother Dustin (both incubator farmers at the IFFS farm and owners of NC Regrown Farm) told us they had just planted rows of okra alongside their colorful radishes.  Other IFFS farmers are planting broccoli, cabbages, herbs, heirloom tomatoes, red and golden beets and sugar snap peas to be ready in a few weeks. And on the horizon, we can expect to see more local fruits taking center stage, from watermelons and cantaloupes to peaches, plums and berries. Oh, the possibilities!

Jesse Crouch from NC Regrown, with radishes picked for Lucky 32
Jesse Crouch from NC Regrown, with radishes picked for Lucky 32

All of these colorful and delicious selections definitely will make it onto our menu, helping us maintain our 10% NC Promise: All Quaintance-Weaver restaurants promise to source, at minimum, 10% of their food purchases from local farms and farmers. This program is designed to give back to the community that allows our places to thrive.

We just can’t wait for that okra – and those plums – to be ready!

Closeup of an okra seedling
Closeup of an okra seedling

Enjoy the same fresh, local vegetables that we offer by picking some up from our Veggie Cart on your way out! Our carts offer everything from greens, to potatoes, to honey! They’re always parked either on our front sidewalk or in our entry way, and operate by an honor system for payment. Bon appetit!

For more about our seasonal recipes, see our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Blog Recipe Index:http://lucky32southernkitchen.com/recipes/


What a Brew-ha-ha!

Three years ago, we decided to further our proud commitment to local North Carolina products by dedicating our draft beer program to beers brewed in our great state. Our guests have given this program an unqualified thumbs up. So, in honor of North Carolina Beer Month, we want to share some of our favorite homegrown ales and lagers, all of which are featured at various times in our restaurant.

North Carolina’s Original Craft Breweries

Big Boss
Big Boss

Our three mainstay beers—Red Oak Amber Lager, Bad Penny Brown Ale and Carolina Pale Ale—represent some of the original (and larger) craft breweries in North Carolina. Red Oak, started in Greensboro, prides itself on a commitment to German Beer Purity law in all of their brews.  Big Boss, along with making great craft beer, is at the forefront of creative packaging and label designs; the brewery’s beer names and logos are inspired by WWII bomber art.  Our other year-round beer, the popular Carolina Pale Ale from Carolina Brewing Company in Holly Springs, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Newer Breweries in Asheville, the Triangle and Johnston County

The past three years have seen incredible new growth in the state’s craft brewing industry.  Some of the biggest national names in craft beer—Oskar Blues and Sierra Nevada—have opened locations in the Asheville area, and New Belgium will be opening an Asheville brewery soon.  The Triangle has seen several new breweries open recently, too, and the region is giving Asheville a run for the money as the beer capital of the South.  We recently visited some of these breweries to get to know a little bit more about the beers we serve.Johnston County, an area known for illegal moonshine, has entered the legal craft beer market.  In February 2013, the first legally produced beer was made in Clayton by Deep River Brewing Company.  Since then, they have made some of our favorite creative brews, including the marshmallow and sweet potato JoCo White Winter and the amazingly refreshing Double D’s Watermelon Lager.

Just down the road in Smithfield, Double Barley Brewing opened its doors. As with many of these breweries, Double Barley Brewing started with a homebrew: Cheryl Lane bought her husband, Larry, a homebrew kit for his 40th birthday, and after a brief stint in the attic, it became the catalyst for Double Barley.  They have created some bold and flavorful beers like Steak Cake Stout, so named because it is sweet enough for a dessert beer and bold enough for a steak; and Thrilla in Vanilla, a porter flavored with hundreds of pounds of hand-split vanilla beans soaked in Jameson.

Draft Line Brewing Co.
Draft Line Brewing Co.

Aviator Brewing Company in Fuquay-Varina welcomed a new neighbor, Draft Line Brewing Co., just down the street.  Their selection includes tropical fruit notes in their Australia and New Zealand-hopped Graf Pale Ale and the refreshing Bavarian-style Hemmings Pilsner.

Apex saw the opening of its first brewery last April, when Brüeprint Brewing Company opened its doors.  Founded by a water treatment scientist with a passion for the culinary arts, the name is inspired by this mission statement: “Better than a recipe, a brewing blueprint combines science and great culinary skill to create a Brüeprint.” Their rotating seasonal beers are based on the sports seasons—Zambrüni Lager for hockey, Brüe Diamond IPA for baseball and (our favorite name) Brüe 32 Pale Ale for football.  They have also invited bartenders from both of our locations to participate in brewing a beer later this year. We’ll keep you updated!

Brüeprint Brewing Company
Brüeprint Brewing Company

Women in Brewing

Before the industrialization of beer, brewing was the realm of women. Two breweries that have opened over the past three years show a return of female involvement in the brewing arts.  Raleigh Brewing Company became the first brewery in the state with a woman as majority owner. Its most popular beer, Hell Yes Ma’am, takes its name from a story about owner Kristie Nystedt, who wanted a Belgian golden-style beer. She faced pushback from the brewer, but when the brewer finally tasted it, he said, “Hell Yes, Ma’am!” to brewing the beer, which has since become their flagship brew.

Raleigh Brewing Company
Raleigh Brewing Company

In Holly Springs, Bombshell Beer Company became the first brewery to be owned solely by women. The Bombshell story began with Ellen Joyner, whose passion for homebrewing began more than a decade ago. Michelle Miniutti joined Ellen in her brewing endeavors, and the seed was planted for what would become Bombshell Beer Company.  Jackie Hudspeth eventually joined the other “Bombshells,” and in 2013 they opened their brewery with a line-up of great beers.  A few of our favorites include two great wheat beers, Hey Honey Hefewiezen and Dunkelwiezen; and their rotating Dirty Secret Stout series, which has included a Dry Irish, Coconut and Russian Imperial styles; as well as the year-round flagship Pick-Up Line Porter.

It has been a great three years for craft beer in North Carolina.  Our state is at the forefront of beer making in the South, and new breweries are opening every month.  Come in and see us at Lucky 32 – we’ll help you celebrate North Carolina Beer Month with some hand-crafted, local libations and a great meal to boot.

Chris Marusa
Bar Manager
Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen Cary

For more about our seasonal recipes, see our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Blog Recipe Index:http://lucky32southernkitchen.com/recipes/

We won’t “steer” you wrong: How to build a better burger

LOCAVORE’S DELIGHT: The Series # 45. Follow us as we explore the bounty of our region’s farms.

There’s more to Bradds Family Farm than the delectable pork they produce. They also raise some of the finest beef in the state, and we’re proud to use their beef as often as possible, especially for our burgers. The most important part of buying local food is the connections you form—the relationships you build. Bobby Bradds is part of our family. We’ve been to his house and eaten his food, and his daughters came to our restaurant before their prom. Bobby is the embodiment of a principle that we believe in: Restaurants are nothing without the active participation of people who are passionate about growing, preparing and serving food.

Like any relationship worth having, ours is not always easy. We don’t just pick up a phone to place an order, then find an 18-wheeler dropping off all the beef we need. We have to plan it all out. Cows take 18 months to achieve market weight, and the abattoir takes almost a week to turn that into ground beef, so Bobby needs to know that we need beef two weeks before I even know. This extra effort and planning may be intimidating for a lot of chefs, but I think the guests who dine in our restaurants should be able to expect the best burger in town, and they deserve it.

Once Bobby provides the best possible quality meat for us to use in our burgers, we want to ensure our guests get the opportunity to enjoy the delicious flavors and varied textures in a well-crafted burger.

Where’s the beef?

Some people judge a burger by what’s on it, and some people judge the burger by the quality of the meat. In our opinion, you can put anything on a burger that your heart desires, but if the meat isn’t good, then what’s the point? We make our seven-ounce burgers with an 80/20 blend of lean/fat grass-fed beef, and we cook them on a griddle, seasoned simply with salt and pepper. The recipe is straightforward and consistent, and it makes for a fresh, juicy burger every time.

How to build a better burger:

Separate your layers. If you want more than two condiments, don’t put them directly on top of one another. For example, you don’t want fat on fat, so never put mayo on top of your cheese. Why? You lose the impact of each flavor: The name of the game is building flavor, not having them cancel each other out. Try putting one condiment on the bottom half of the bun and the other near the top half, either on top of the lettuce or tomato. Also, the tomato should be the cushion between your lettuce and your burger. It’s kind of amazing how different the juices and textures in a completed burger are!

Don’t skimp on the bun. At Lucky’s, we use a challah bun that’s made in New Jersey (we take this component seriously, and we’ve not found a sufficiently good local version), and it’s rich and fluffy — the perfect cradle for everything in between. If you can’t get your hands on any challah or brioche buns, buttermilk buns are also excellent. If you’re old school, it’s hard to go wrong with good ole-fashioned Martin’s potato rolls. Make sure you butter your buns, and toast them lightly on the grill before assembling your burger.

Hot tomatoes are good; wilted lettuce is bad. Remember this rule of thumb so you keep a nice texture in your burger. We prefer iceberg lettuce because of its that crunch, but use whatever you fancy. Just don’t put it on your burger until the last minute.

Ditch your main squeeze. Instead of always reaching for the trusty ole Heinz (which we still dig, by the way), think outside the bun, and check out our recipe for beet ketchup.

For more on the anatomy of a sandwich, check out my Southern Foodways Alliance post about our Ham & Havarti Sandwich here, and for some more tips on grilling, check out our summer grilling guide.

Here’s how we do it at L32:
Weigh out 7oz of ground beef, form into a ball. Place the burger ring (same diameter as hamburger bun) on a waxed sheet of paper. Press ground beef ball into ring, compressing to a uniform thickness. Season the burger with Kosher salt & black pepper and place on griddle. Season the second side. Butter the top and bottom of the burger bun with clarified butter and place face down on the flat top to toast. Toast the top and bottom of each piece. Once toasted, place buns on a plate. When the burger is seared well, flip it to sear the other side. When both sides have a hard sear, the burger should be about medium. Continue cooking to desired doneness. When the burger is ready, place it on the bottom bun, topped with the lettuce and tomato (when in season). We like to serve it with the onion and pickled okra on the side.

Want caramelized onions with that?

Caramelized Onions

  • 1 pound yellow onions
  • 1 tbsp canola oil

Remove the ends from the onions. Remove the peel and slice in half end to end. Cut onions into uniform ¼ inch thick slices. Heat oil in a sauté pan. Add onions and sauté until tender. Reduce heat and continue to cook until onions are caramelized to a golden brown. Pour off excess liquid. Makes about 2/3 cup

For more: See our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Blog Recipe Index: http://lucky32southernkitchen.com/recipes/

This little piggy went to market: Bradds Family Farm, Part 1

LOCAVORE’S DELIGHT: The Series # 44. Follow us as we explore the bounty of our region’s farms.

We were visiting the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market one Saturday morning and saw this guy in a bright orange hat, and the sign on his table said “whey-fed pork.”

It turned out the guy’s name was Bobby Bradds, and the whey was from Goat Lady Dairy’s chevre operation (his wife Carrie is a cheese maker there). He was selling all the choice cuts of pork that he could at the farmers market, but he often took the off cuts back to his freezer at the end of the day. We offered him a proposition: if we bought all the things he couldn’t sell, then he could raise more hogs and have more meat to sell. We started using his liver in our liver pudding, and used his fresh pork fat to replace the commodity fatback we were using in our collard greens. We think that is what really sets them apart. Those collards became a sensation. For seven years now, folks have been commenting on our collards, saying they were really transported back to eating their granny’s collards.

This new relationship with Bradds Family Farm was just the beginning of what would evolve into a beautiful friendship. We then began buying whole pigs and eventually cows from Bobby, and we haven’t looked back. Bobby and his wife Carrie raise around 80 hogs each year on her family’s farm— just down the road from Goat Lady Dairy, in Grays Chapel, NC. They understand the philosophy that you are what you eat, so why not feed your animals healthy, flavorful food? It makes all the difference in the meat, and their hogs’ diet of goat cheese whey and whole grains makes for some of the healthiest, most delicious pork in the Piedmont.

Not your mama’s meatloaf

We make lots of dishes with the pork that we get from Bobby, but one of the most popular is the meatloaf. Most of us grew up eating mom’s all-beef meatloaf with brown gravy and mashed potatoes. And often the traditional ketchup-covered meat loafs were served at friends’ houses. Lucky 32’s meatloaf is a French country-style pâté, served hot, with red wine mushroom gravy. We use 75% beef, 25% pork. It’s seasoned, loaded with vegetables, and baked in a Pullman loaf pan that we line with bacon. We cool it, remove it from the pan, slice it, and then bake it in the oven once more, before serving it with gravy.

Meatloaf with Red Wine Mushroom Gravy

  • ½ stick butter
  • ¾ cup chopped yellow onion
  • ½ cup finely chopped celery with stems and leaves
  • 2 tsp minced fresh garlic
  • ½ cup diced green bell pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped green onion
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup half & half cream
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef
  • 1 tsp Tabasco
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire
  • 1 tsp ground mustard
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1 ½ tsp salt or to taste
  • ¾ tsp pepper or to taste
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 12 slices bacon

Melt butter in skillet and sauté onions until golden. Add celery, garlic and bell pepper and sauté until tender. Remove vegetables to a sheet tray to cool. In a large bowl add eggs and half & half and mix until combined. Add pork, beef, Tabasco, Worcestershire, spices and herbs and mix well. Work breadcrumbs by hand and then set aside. Line a loaf pan with 12 bacon strips, six on each side, so that the bacon will wrap the meat loaf. Place a strip at the joint where the bottom meets the side of the pan and bring the strip up the side of the pan and allow the excess to fold over the out side of the pan.

Continue in this manner alternating from side to side and leaving about an inch of space between each strip on the right and an inch a space between each strip on the left. When bacon is all laid out, place meat mixture in pan. Fold the bacon strips over the top of the loaf, completely wrapping loaf with bacon. Place in oven at 350 degrees and bake until thermometer inserted in the center reads 155. Makes: 1 Loaf Pan

Bring home the bacon

At Lucky 32, we make our own bacon for some recipes (we surely can’t make all of the bacon that we use). We take whole pork bellies and rub them down with our pork cure mixture (salt, pepper, and sugar). We age them for about 10 days and then smoke them with hickory. A lot of people think pork belly is the stomach of the pig, when it’s actually just bacon that hasn’t been cured and smoked. Pork belly is the same cut as bacon, it’s just prepared differently.

Homemade Bacon

  • 5 pounds pork belly
  • ½ cup Pork Cure (see recipe)

Rub pork bellies with ¼ cup of Pork Cure. Lay bellies out in a perforated pan and set the perforated pan over a non-perforated drip pan. Allow to sit for four days. After four days, season bellies with the remaining ¼ cup of Pork Cure. Place back in perforated pan over non-perforated pan and allow to sit for three additional days. Place bellies in a smoker with wood chips at 200 degrees for four hours. Place bellies directly on rack of smoker and add additional wood chips after two hours. Cool and slice to desired thickness. Makes 4 pounds

Pork Cure

  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp black pepper

Combine well. Makes 1 cup

Be sure to come in and try our Whistle Bite Sliders (with pork belly from Bradds Family Farm), featured on our current Spring’s Eternal menu, through May 13th.

Lucky 32’s Whistle Bite Sliders with Pig & Whistle sauce and green tomato chowchow, on local rolls.

For more: See our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Blog Recipe Index: http://lucky32southernkitchen.com/recipes/

Which Came First? Massey Creek Eggs

LOCAVORE’S DELIGHT: The Series # 43. Follow us as we explore the bounty of our region’s farms.

Most of us take eggs for granted. Not the role they play in our lives – they’re a staple of breakfast and brunch menus, and integral to desserts – but until recently, where they came from was not consciously pondered by folks. Most people we know lacked any connection to their eggs, and where they were from. Nowadays it’s become more trendy to buy more sustainable eggs or to raise raise your own in the backyard; but many of us remember over the last five to ten years, shopping in the grocery store and buying organic or free-range eggs, and just not noticing the flavor difference. It has been well-documented that organic produce (and eggs) usually travels further to get to your plate (so it’s not as fresh or sustainable as you think). Ultimately, we thought we could make a better impact on our guests and this community by focusing on the food that is grown nearby and working with these producers to collaborate on better tasting, more sustainable food.

Massey Creek Farms 

If you Ruby McCollum, of Massey Creek Farms, gives you an egg, you just have to crack it open. The first thing you’ll see is how firm the white is. One of the first things to deteriorate in an egg is the white, which gets soft, so a firm white is a good sign. Also exciting is that Ruby and her husband Garland have a chicken tractor, where the chickens live in a moveable house, or “hotel.” This pasture-raised method affords them a higher quality of life, with frequent exposure to better grass and bugs, thus producing healthier, tastier eggs, and happier chickens! Massey Creek Farms, which is located just north of Greensboro, in Rockingham County, is a family affair. Garland originally started out as a hog farmer on his family’s 200 year-old farm. But Garland became disillusioned with the harsh reality of a massive hog farming operation and in 2008 he completely re-evaluated his family’s practices. This led to raising lamb on pasture and learning the ins and outs of farming chicken eggs with those chicken tractors. He and Ruby are responsible for the farming, with the help of their children and his parents. The farm is Piedmont Grown certified, and has a strict no added hormones, antibiotics, and animal by-products policy. Their practices are humane and eco-friendly, nurturing both the animals and the environment in which they live.

While they also raise pigs, lamb, chickens, and turkeys for meat—some of which you may have seen us cooking at the annual Farm to Fork picnic in Hillsborough—eggs are at the forefront of what they do. If their ethos and practices weren’t reason enough to support them, their eggs sure are. We especially love them for making poached eggs, which we do on Saturdays and Sundays at Lucky 32. We feel fortunate to have this relationship with Garland and his family, and as a chef, it is gratifying to work with genuine people, who endeavor to create a healthier and better planet. Garland has evolved into an earnest pillar of our local food community, and several restaurants, bakeries, groceries and co-ops in the triad, use his eggs and meat. He’s very generous with his time and experiences, and people really enjoy stopping by his stall at the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market, which is turning into a regular scene on Saturday mornings. Stop by, pick up some eggs for yourself and tell ’em we sent you.

Where to Find Massey Creek Farms Eggs:

Deep Fried Grit Cakes with Poached Eggs & Country Ham Cream Sauce

There’s a poached egg dish that used to be a staple of our brunch menu and we still feature sometimes. I feel that poaching eggs are the best way to showcase how lively they can be, and this dish is one of the best (and most delicious) ways to eat Massey Creek Farm’s eggs. our grit cake recipe cooks the grits for a shorter duration than we normally would for creamy grits, then we dredge them in our a cornmeal creole-seasoned breader, deep fry them, and top them with poached eggs, country ham cream sauce and Texas Pete fried onions. It’s simple and soul satisfying. Come have brunch with us this weekend and try it for yourself!

Brunch is served on Saturdays from 11:15 AM-3 PM and on Sundays from 10 AM-3 pm. We’ll save a seat for you!

Lucky 32’s Deep Fried Grit Cake with Poached Eggs & Country Ham Cream Sauce

Deep Fried Grit Cake

  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 ½ tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup yellow grits
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 medium eggs (or 1 large), beaten
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup corn flour
  • ½ tbsp Creole Spice Blend (see recipe)
  • canola oil for deep frying

In a large sauce pot, bring vegetable stock, heavy cream, and butter to a boil. Stir in grits and reduce to medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until grits are cooked and liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in cheeses, beaten eggs, salt, and pepper. Spread mixture onto a greased 8 x 8 pan and cool completely. Grits may be refrigerated overnight. When cooled, cut grits into desired shape and set aside. Meanwhile, blend cornmeal, flour, and Cajun spices in a shallow baking dish. Heat oil for deep frying to 350 degrees. Dredge grit cakes in cornmeal mixture and fry in hot oil, turning to brown on both sides. Drain fried grits on paper towels. Makes four 4 X 4 squares or 8 triangles.

Creole Spice Blend

  • 2 ½ tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 3 tsp black pepper
  • 3 tsp onion powder
  • 3 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 tsp oregano leaves
  • 3 tsp thyme leaves

Add all ingredients to a large bowl and combine with a whisk until spices are evenly distributed. Store in an air tight container with lid. Makes – ¾ cup.

Country Ham Cream Sauce

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ pound country ham cut into small pieces
  • ¼ cup diced onions
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 ¼ cups heavy cream
  • ½ tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch

Heat oil in stock pot. Add onions to the stock pot and sauté until tender. When onions are tender, add country ham to stock pot and sauté until hot throughout. Do not overcook. Add butter to melt, and then add cream and pepper. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Cook 8-10 minutes. Dissolve cornstarch in a little water; add only enough to slightly thicken. Remove from heat. Makes – 3 cups.

Poached Eggs

  • 8 eggs
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp white vinegar
  • 3 quarts water

Bring 3 quarts of water to a simmer in a 4 quart sauce pot. Dissolve salt and vinegar in water. Crack eggs, one at a time, into a small bowl. Stir simmering water with a spoon. Slide each egg from the bowl into the simmering/swirling water. Cook until the whites are firm and the yolks are just set. Lift eggs out with a slotted spoon and serve. Serves – 4.

Texas Pete Fried Onions

  • 1 pound yellow onions, ¼ inch julienne sliced
  • ½ cup Texas Pete® Hot Sauce
  • 1 cup Corn Flour Onion Dredge (see recipe)
  • canola oil for frying

Slice onions to ¼ inch slices. Break onions apart into rings and place in a bowl. Pour Texas Pete Hot Sauce over the onions, toss to coat well and then marinate for at least 20 minutes. Add ½ cup of dredge to bowl and toss to coat. Add the remaining ½ cup of dredge to bowl and toss to coat. Shake off excess dredge as you place onions into hot fry oil. Cook 2-3 minutes or until crispy.

Corn Flour Onion Dredge

  • ½ cup yellow corn flour
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme leaves

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl until seasonings are evenly distributed. Makes 1 cup.

All About Eggs:

  • Most hens begin laying eggs when they are around 20 weeks old, and will lay eggs for up to two years before decreasing their production.
  • Some hens lay eggs every day, while some are less consistent, only laying once or twice a week.
  • Laying eggs depletes calcium from the hen’s system, so that calcium must be re-obtained through feed or supplements (oyster shells are a good source of calcium, and are a good supplement).
  • Egg shell color varies among breeds, and the size depends on the breed, age, and weight of the hen.
  • Eggs are a complete protein, since they contain all of the essential amino acids. They also are a good source of calcium, choline, phosphorous, potassium, iron, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins A, B2, B6 ,B9 and B12. The yolk contains most of the vitamins and nutrients, as well as over half the calories of the entire egg (around 60 for a large egg yolk).
  • Eggs contain so much protein, the United States Department of Agriculture classifies them as meat in the food guide pyramid.
  • Typically, the richer the hue of the yolk, the richer the egg will taste; it’s all dependent on the hen’s diet.

Cooking Tips:

  • One way to determine if an egg is too old is to submerge it in water. If the egg lays on its side at the bottom of the bowl, it’s the freshest. If it lays upright on the bottom, it’s still okay to eat, but should be eaten soon, preferably hardboiled. If the egg is too old for consumption, it will float to the surface.
  • When hard boiling eggs, it is important to know that fresh eggs don’t peel well; the shell sticks to the egg and it tears. Age your eggs about two weeks for better results.
  • If you’re trying to quickly bring an egg to room temperature (which is best for baking), place your eggs in a bowl of warm water for at least 10 minutes.
  • If you’re allergic to eggs (or just don’t eat them), apple sauce, arrowroot powder, and bananas can be good binder substitutes in baking.
  • If you’re poaching eggs, add a little vinegar to your boiling water, to help the eggs maintain their shape.
  • Ever wonder about the easiest way to separate an egg? Watch!

For more tips on cooking eggs, visit: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-an-egg-20-egg-tips-138160

For more: See our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Blog Recipe Index: http://lucky32southernkitchen.com/recipes/


Three recipes, one sustainable ingredient: Asparagus

LOCAVORE’S DELIGHT: The Series #30. Follow us as we explore the bounty of our region’s farms.

We never knew, or even thought of, asparagus as a product of a farm. We didn’t give it much thought at all. It was a product of a can. Overcooked. Inedible. Eaten cold.

One ingredient, three recipes: Serve fresh asparagus from the Farmer’s Market for dinner on Wednesday and Saturday and make soup from the discarded stems on Sunday. Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen recipes below.

Now, today, farming asparagus has become the emblem of sustainability to us. It takes three years to raise a crop that will feed you for 20. Guilford College’s Rock Star farmer Korey Erb uses asparagus as the logo for his farm. It’s not an easy thing to grow. You need to be patient. You harvest with a light hand. Take less now to have more later. And because it’s a perennial, the land you set aside for asparagus works just like a fruit orchard. You dedicate a plot. It’s a commitment between a farmer and his crop.

Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen uses asparagus from Meadows Family Farm.

Purple asparagus in the garden at Foggy Ridge Farms. Purple asparagus turns green when you cook it so try to eat it raw.

A field of green

The nature of the plant is that asparagus is a bush. What you’re eating is actually the new shoot of the bush.

Among the growing procedures: Per the “Farmer’s Almanac”

  • Asparagus is planted in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. The plant is grown from “crowns” (1-year-old plants).
  • Asparagus does not like to have its feet “wet,” so be sure your bed has good drainage. For that reason, raised beds can be a good place to plant asparagus.
  • Do not harvest the spears in the first year, but cut down dead foliage in late fall and side-dress with compost.
  • During the second year, keep the bed thickly mulched, side-dress in spring and early fall, and cut down dead foliage in late fall.
  • Cut spears that are about 6 inches in length at an angle.

In the third year, the bush produces more sprouts. And the farmer, the hobbyist, has to make a decision about when to stop harvesting at a certain point to have a bigger crop next year.

Asparagus is featured on the Spring in Our Step menu May 15 to July 2: Green Goddess Plate roasted radishes, grilled asparagus, boiled potatoes, Screech’s tomatoes and green goddess dressing

Raw asparagus for dinner Monday

  • Store asparagus raw. You don’t want to store cooked asparagus, because the cooking process breaks down the cellular structure and it lead to spoilage faster.
  • To make a raw asparagus salad, chop it up and create your own dressing. Use three parts oil (a neutral oil, such as Canola oil) to one part vinegar.
  • Put all the ingredients in a mason jar, shake it up well, and shake it up, sprinkle it over, add salt and pepper.

Blanched asparagus on Wednesday

  • Wash and clean the asparagus.
  • Trim off the woody stems. If you bend asparagus, it’s going to naturally bend at the point where it’s most flexible. There’s a rigid part and there’s a flexible part. The woody part snaps off and is the much smaller part of the asparagus.
  • Set aside all your woody stems to make asparagus soup at the end of the week (recipe below). It will keep, uncovered, about a week in the fridge.
  • Bring salted water to a boil.
  • Place trimmed, washed asparagus into water.
  • Prepare ice bath.
  • After the asparagus is in the pot for sixty seconds, remove it from the boiling water and place asparagus into the cold water.
  • Let it soak in the ice bath for five minutes.
  • Remove and towel dry.
  • Either place it in a hot dry skillet, then drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; when it’s heated through it’s done. Or, place on an oiled grill and sprinkle with salt and pepper until it begins to wilt.

Chef’s note: thin asparagus doesn’t need to be blanched. Only standard and jumbo need to be blanched.

Asparagus soup on Sunday

We save all of woody stems and make asparagus soup. We simmer it down in some cream and put in it a little Parmesan cheese. Purée to get the flavor out. Strain the soup to remove the fiber (cellulose) and get all the flavor. There really is no recipe for it. So we encourage people to experiment on their own. Feel free to add more asparagus to ramp up the flavor and make it more subtle.

Cream of Asparagus Soup

  • 1 pound asparagus
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 fl oz canola oil
  • ½ cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • ¼ pound diced, peeled potatoes
  • 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme leaves (or 1TBSP fresh)
  • ¼ pound Parmesan Reggiano cheese rind only
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Wash asparagus and cut the woody part of the stalk off. Blanch the tops, shock in ice water, drain and set aside for garnish. Blanch the stalks for 5 minutes. Add hot asparagus stalks to a blender with first portion of heavy cream and puree, then strain reserving solids and liquids separately. In a pan, sauté onions in oil until translucent.

In a large pot, add vegetable stock. Add all ingredients except pureed asparagus liquid and solids, stirring to incorporate. Add solids from asparagus puree and continue to simmer until potatoes are soft. Remove the Parmesan rind and discard. Puree the soup with an immersion blender.  Stir in asparagus liquid puree and then strain all through a large hole strainer.Garnish soup with cut asparagus tips.

Makes 1 quart

For more about our seasonal recipes, see our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Blog Recipe Index:http://lucky32southernkitchen.com/recipes/

Saving Spring Strawberries

LOCAVORE’S DELIGHT: The Series #28. Follow us as we explore the bounty of our region’s farms.

Strawberries, dandelion greens, asparagus, and rhubarb are all indicative of spring, but strawberries are the only item on the list that are grown in any significant numbers here in the piedmont. So what does that mean?

There are a lot of former tobacco farms in close proximity to Greensboro that have switched over to growing strawberries in the last 10 or 15 years. There’s a rather thriving business of pick-your-own strawberry farms, too.

Find a pick-your-own strawberry farm near you at pickyourown.org

The first year we moved here, my family and I went out and picked strawberries until our hearts content. We filled two flat boxes full of strawberries. We came home, washed them up, ate a bunch of fresh berries, and then we were full. But we still had one and three-quarters boxes of strawberries left! They just don’t disappear.

You don’t want to see the fruits of your labor – your toiling in the field – go to waste. You can fill a mason jar full of the bruised berries and make your own vinegar; soak them in brandy; and, freeze a box worth of berries and save them until fall. Here’s how.

Fill a mason jar with bruised strawberries and make an infused vinegar for fresh grilled summer vegetables, or soak the berries in bourbon, brandy or vodka.

Make strawberry vinegar

Fill a mason jar with some of the bruised and overripe strawberries. Add red wine vinegar, cap it off, and let it sit for about a month.

Mash it up, then strain the berries out, and keep the strawberry vinegar/juice.

Add strawberry vinegar to grilled summer vegetables. Place lightly salted grilled vegetables on the plate and sprinkle with a little strawberry vinegar. It will remind you of spring, brightens the flavor, and adds a little zest to the bland expanse that is summer squash.

Strawberries on the rocks

Steep berries in a mason jar full of your favorite booze, such as bourbon or brandy. Let the jar sit for a few months. Purée, then strain out the berry mash.

It would be fine if you let the strawberries soak for a day, but I try to do things like that for a month or so.

Freeze strawberries to last you the whole summer

  • Wash whole berries.
  • Drain berries on a kitchen towel.
  • Trim off the green part and any excessively white part.
  • Set the trimmed strawberries on a parchment paper lined baking tray. Space them out so they don’t touch.
  • Set the pan of strawberries in the freezer, uncovered, overnight.
  • Then, collect the strawberries and put them in a ziploc freezer bag for long-term storage.

Materials needed: pan, knife, parchment paper, freshly picked strawberries, a freezer, and a ziploc bag for storage.

Use frozen strawberries for ice cubes. Eat them frozen for a sweet summer treat. Thaw them out and chop them up as needed for pancakes, or our special infused vinegar.

Materials needed: Freshly picked strawberries, parchment paper, a pan, knife, freezer, and ziploc bags for storage.
Line the baking tray with parchment paper.


Trim off the green tops.
Set berries on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Space out the berries so they don’t touch each other.

For more about our seasonal recipes, see our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Blog Recipe Index:http://lucky32southernkitchen.com/recipes/


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