LOCAVORE’S DELIGHT: The Series # 48.Follow us as we explore the bounty of our region’s farms.
While we’re sad to say goodbye to those sweet summer tomatoes, fall is officially here, and there’s a whole new set of crops on the block. The key to this whole local food system is really having locally produced food available year-round, because people need to eat year-round. We’re starting to see that become more of a reality here in the Piedmont, where more farms are growing crops that are available during both the spring and fall.
It’s easy to eat strawberries all year, because conventional farming makes that possible. But when we eat foods that aren’t really in season where we live, we’re really doing ourselves (and our local farmers) a big disservice. There are some excellent crops that can’t tolerate high heat but can tolerate cool nights; radishes, turnips, beets, spinach, Swiss chard, and cabbage are all delicious spring and fall crops.
When I think about one spring and fall crop in particular – cabbage – I don’t picture the perfectly smooth, spherical mounds we’re so accustomed to seeing in the grocery store. Instead, we picture Early Jersey Wakefield cabbage. It’s a pointy-topped variety of cabbage that used to be really popular in this area; but sadly, it has become less available. Farmers used to love growing it because it’s so sweet and wonderful. The reason it’s less common nowadays is that if you get an inordinate amount of rain, the cabbages will split, making them less attractive and less profitable. Because most farmers can’t afford that loss of investment, many gravitate toward plainer varieties. We’re really excited about three farms we work with regularly that do a strong job of growing at least three seasons’ worth of produce. All three – Schicker’s Acre, Guilford College, and Farlow Farm – supply us with some amazing cabbage!
North Carolina coleslaw – whether it’s the creamy slaw from “down east,” or the barbecue slaw from around Lexington – is made from generic cabbage. But if you can get your hands on some pointy-topped cabbage (such as Early Jersey Wakefield or Caraflex) when you visit the farmer’s market this fall, we urge you not to cook it. Shave it and make some coleslaw. Maybe it’s an Asian slaw with some ginger-sesame vinaigrette, or perhaps your favorite barbecue coleslaw; whatever your preference, these less-common types of cabbage will make your coleslaw sublime. (And when you happen upon some heavy, dense, flat-headed cabbage, that stuff is ideal for braising. That’s how we prepare our mustard-braised cabbage.)
Our coleslaw recipe is made with our own buttermilk salad dressing, and it was developed to play a complementary role to the smoky pulled pork sandwich on our lunch menu.
Another great fall dish we love is red cabbage cooked with wine and cranberries, which is delicious. It is wonderful with grilled meats like chicken or pork.
We really want to celebrate fall crops and encourage more people to plant all kinds of edible crops throughout the year. Ultimately, that’s the only way we’ll have a sustainable food system: by extending the seasons, and embracing the produce available to us within each of those seasons.
Cabbage originated in Europe, and it was a staple in people’s cuisine during the Middle Ages.
In Britain during World War I, cabbage leaves were used to treat trench foot because their leaves have cooling properties.
Cabbage is full of vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and folate, and it also has anti-inflammatory properties.
Cabbage should be wrapped and stored in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator, and should keep for up to a week or so.
There are many different varieties of cabbage. Some of the most common are:
Green: This is one of the most common and versatile types of cabbage. It has large, tightly packed leaves and can fluctuate in size — from baseball to basketball size!
Red: This tightly packed cabbage actually has more of a purple hue, and it is often smaller than green cabbages.
Bok Choy: This dark green cabbage is more like Swiss Chard than other cabbages. It has crunchy stems and tender leaves, and it is best eaten in stir-frys.
Napa (also referred to as Chinese or celery cabbage): This mild cabbage looks more like a lighter colored romaine lettuce than its other cabbage relatives. It has an oblong shape, and its leaves grow off of thick stalks.
Savoy: Green and loosely packed, with a ruffled, lace-like texture, this is one of the most tender varieties of cabbage
Lucky 32 Slaw
8 cup cabbage, sliced ¼ inch
2 cup carrots, ¼ inch julienne
½ cup red onion, ¼ inch dice
1 tbsp salt
1 cup Buttermilk Herb Dressing
1 ½ tsp Old Bay spice
¾ tsp celery seed
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Cut cabbage into quarters, and then slice into ¼ inch thick slices.
In a bowl, toss cabbage, julienned carrots, diced red onion, and salt to combine.
Let mixture sit at room temperature for 20 minutes, then rinse salt off and drain well. Set aside. In a bowl, combine Buttermilk Herb Dressing, Old Bay spice, celery seed, and vinegar. Add buttermilk herb mixture to cabbage mixture and combine well.
Makes 3 quarts
Buttermilk Herb Dressing
3 cup buttermilk
1½ cup sour cream
1½ cup mayonnaise
1½tbsp granulated garlic
1½ tsp dried oregano leaves
2 tbsp chopped chives
1 tsp Tabasco® sauce
1½ tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt & pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients well.
Makes 6 cups
½ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup fruity red wine
1 cup cranberries, dried
1 tbsp canola oil
¼ cup yellow onion, diced
1 lb red cabbage, chopped
1 cup vegetable stock
Combine wine and vinegar and add cranberries. Allow to sit for 10 minutes or until the cranberries soften.
Heat oil in skillet to medium-high, and sauté onions until golden.
Add rough chopped cabbage and sauté until shiny and softened, but not wilted.
Add stock and wine/cranberry mixture and simmer for five minutes.
LOCAVORE’S DELIGHT: The Series # 47. Follow us as we explore the bounty of our region’s farms.
Potatoes are so humble. Much like cucumbers, they tend to be overlooked and taken for granted, but we’d be lost without them. They’re such a staple in our diets and have been for decades. One of the reasons potatoes have a reputation for being commonplace is that they are such a commodity in America. There is a huge amount of effort for a meager return for most small farmers. That’s why folks you meet at the farmers market rarely grow potatoes (unless it’s for themselves): They can’t possibly sell heirloom potatoes at a price acceptable to someone used to buying commodity potatoes in the grocery store.
At Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, when it comes to making potato salad or roasted potatoes, we love showcasing the local bounty. Two farms that have really figured it out and we love doing business with are Farlow Farm (they grow a red-skin variety called Red Pontiac) and Plum Granny Farm (they grow some gorgeous fingerlings – Laratte, Red Thumb and German Butterball). By growing novel varieties that people don’t commonly see in stores, they’re able to set their own prices, making it worth their effort to grow potatoes.
Potatoes are best categorized by their texture: starchy or waxy. If potatoes are meant to be fluffy for French fries or mashed potatoes, you need a starchy potato. Our favorite way to eat starchy potatoes is mashed, with lots of Homeland Creamery buttermilk.Mashed potatoes are just so yummy — fluffy, starchy, tangy and rich. However, if you’re making potato salad, you should use a waxy potato so you get more texture.
One of the best books we’ve read got us excited about potatoes: It’s called Serious Pig, by John Thorne. He devotes an entire chapter to the potato, describing how he drove all around Maine in pursuit of heirloom varieties of potatoes and old potato recipes. Check it out for this and other essays about quintessentially American foods from across the country.
Potatoes make it onto Lucky’s seasonal menu (see recipes below) in several tasty ways, including:
Rustic Potato Salad, which is so popular it helps us purchase lots of Farlow potatoes. While this year we smoked the potatoes after boiling them, before mixing them with the remaining ingredients, that may prove to be a challenge at home. Simply boiling these potatoes until they’re tender and making this recipe as suggested will be delightful and delicious enough.
Smoked Salmon Hash is another dish we serve at Lucky’s. It reminds me of the time I spent living in Oregon. There, this dish was called “Red Flannel Hash,” after the lumberjacks who stereotypically enjoyed it as a hearty breakfast.
Duck-Fat Potatoes are a side dish here at the restaurant, and they are even more beloved by the staff than our guests. Maybe it has something to do with the name, which sounds so luxurious. It is such a wonderful addition to a meal with roasted meat, and it can be enjoyed any time of day. The trick here is finding a store discerning enough to stock duck fat — you can definitely find it at Fresh Market. Alternatively, you could substitute bacon fat from that coffee can on the back of your stove; just be sure to adjust the salt in the recipe.
The potato is a member of the perennial nightshade family, Solanum tuberosum,and is native to the Andes.
Potatoes are the world’s fourth-largest food crop, and Europe’s per capita production is the highest in the world.
China is currently first in the world’s potato production.
Potatoes are a good source of vitamins B6 and C, as well as copper, potassium and dietary fiber.
The Incas believed potatoes served many natural healing purposes, such as treating blemishes, frostbite, sunburn, toothaches and sore throats, and helping to heal broken bones.
While French fries are classified as “French,” Belgians claim that they originated in Belgium, and both countries still dispute the addictive treat’s origin.
French fries were first introduced to the U.S. sometime in the early 1800s, when Thomas Jefferson served them in the White House.
The potato was the first vegetable ever grown in space.
Potatoes should not be stored in the refrigerator, as their high starch content will convert to sugar, making them unpalatable.
Potatoes should also not be stored near onions, as the gases that each vegetable expels cause them both to spoil.
Potatoes can be stored for a few months at cellar temperature in the dark, so with a spring and a fall crop, it is possible to get these potatoes for most of the year. Ask your favorite farmer about growing potatoes.
You like po-tay-toe, I like po-tah-toe
There are more than 4,000 different varieties of potatoes in the world. Here are some of the most common:
Russets (Idaho): Very starchy, with thick, abrasive brown skin, white flesh, and an elliptical shape. Their fluffy, dry texture makes them ideal for mashed potatoes, and they easily absorb cream and butter.
Yukon Gold: Both starchy and waxy, these round, golden (on the inside and out) potatoes are versatile. Their moist texture makes them perfect for really creamy mashed potatoes, potato salads and French fries. They have a thin, delicate skin, so they fall apart easily when cooked too long.
Red Bliss: Next to Russets, this variety of potatoes is one of the most common. These round, red-skinned potatoes are best for making potato salad because they have a waxy texture and hold their shape really well when cooked.
New(Creamer): These pale yellow, petite potatoes are harvested young, before their sugars fully convert to starch. They’re quite sweet and waxier then mature potatoes. They have a smooth, thin skin that you don’t need to peel, and they are great for roasting whole. They don’t keep as long as other potatoes.
Fingerlings: These purple, red, yellow and gold potatoes are oblong, firm and waxy. They are great in potato salads, and also used for roasting whole.
Boil whole potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes. Chill in ice water to cool quickly. Quarter the potatoes, place in a mixing bowl and season with salt. Combine remaining ingredients in a separate bowl. Whisk until well combined. Fold mixture into potatoes. Salt to taste.
Makes 8 cups
Smoked Salmon Hash
¾ cup hash brown potatoes (see recipe below)
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp red onions, julienned
¾ cup beaten eggs
2 oz smoked salmon, rinsed well and cut into pieces
Salt & pepper to taste
¼ tsp chopped chives
Heat oil in a sauté pan and add potatoes and onions. Heat through. Add salmon and eggs to pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook while stirring with a rubber spatula. When eggs are cooked, turn out into a serving bowl and garnish with chives.
Makes 1 serving
Hash Brown Potatoes
1 lb Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced
2 tbsp butter
Salt & pepper to taste
Heat butter in a skillet. Add potatoes and spread over the pan. Season with salt & pepper. Allow potatoes to cook for about 5-7 minutes. Turn potatoes over and continue cooking until done.
Duck Fat Potatoes
¼ cup duck fat
½ lb julienned yellow onions
2 lbs new potatoes, cut in wedges
½ tbsp salt
½ tsp pepper
Melt duck fat in a large skillet. Add onions and cook until softened. Add potatoes and seasoning, stir, spread out into a single layer and cover. Cook about 10 minutes, scrape bottom, turn potatoes over and spread into a single layer again; cover and cook 10 minutes. Scrape bottom, turn potatoes over and spread into a single layer again; cover and cook five minutes. Turn off heat; let rest for 10 minutes covered.
LOCAVORE’S DELIGHT: The Series # 46. Follow us as we explore the bounty of our region’s farms.
The three vegetables that we most associate with summer are tomatoes, summer squash and cucumbers. We all have neighbors or grandparents who grow mounds of them each summer, bringing fresh produce to every cookout. Because they are so common, we think sometimes the potential of vegetables like these gets overlooked.
Lately, though, people have been celebrating heirloom tomatoes—and how wonderful they can be, eaten with just a touch of salt! If we paid that sort of attention to every overlooked vegetable that we took for granted, the possibilities would be amazing. One of the other veggies on that list — cucumbers — is one that folks often have “too many” of. But there are countless great things to do with them! Cucumbers come in all shapes, sizes and colors.
Many people will tell you the best way to eat a cucumber is to pickle it. At Luckys, we buy white cucumbers from Mark Schicker, and turn them into pickles. We also have purchased Armenian, English and Japanese cucumbers from Guilford College Farm and Screech Owl Greenhouse.
Traditional fermented pickles are really cucumbers on a higher plane. By immersing cucumbers in a saltwater brine, osmosis extracts moisture from the cucumbers and the moisture that comes out undergoes a malolactic fermentation. The salt inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria, while the lactic acid creates a sourness that makes our mouths pucker ever so delightfully.
Our pickles are flavored with dill, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, and they are featured on our pickle plate alongside some roasted radishes, crackers and Green Goddess Dressing. We’re also excited to have three different kinds of pickles on our new featured menu — pickled watermelon rind, the above-mentioned dill pickles and zucchini pickles, with a Summer Breeze Gazpacho Jelly by our Summer recipe contest winner Felice Bogus! Be sure to stop by and try some of the many different ways we celebrate this humble vegetable.
Contest Winner! Summer Breeze Gazpacho Jelly (by Felice Bogus), with three kinds of pickles: zucchini, dill, and watermelon, with stoned wheat crackers
One favorite summertime Southern dish is cucumbers with white vinegar, salt and pepper — an answer to a quick pickle. It just has a simplicity and bracing tanginess that reminds us of summer. (And, if avocados are on sale, you can buy some and eat them the same way.) Our cucumber salad is my take on my this simple dish. It’s as easy as can be, and yet it hits every note. On the other end of the spectrum lies our cucumber avocado soup, which is the perfect antidote to a hot summer’s day. It’s deceptively light on the palate, but there’s an extensive array of flavors going on, so you’ll notice different nuances each time you taste it. It’s been our most requested recipe from our seasonal menus over the last five years.
Cucumbers come from the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae, along with melons, squash and pumpkins, and they originated in India.
They are one of the easiest vegetables to grow at home, and they thrive in both tropical and temperate climates. Some people grow them on fence lines, so the cucumbers grow in the air and won’t rot from sitting on the moist ground.
Cucumbers, which are over 95% water, are low in calories and rich in B vitamins.
Cucumbers sometimes get a bad rap for being hard to digest, when actually it’s not the cucumber, but rather the seeds that are hard to digest.
There are three main types of cucumbers:
Slicing cucumbers are meant to be eaten fresh and are usually uniform in color –long, smooth, and thick-skinned.
While any cucumber can be pickled, pickling cucumbers, or Kirby cucumbers, work best. They have bumpy, spiny skins, are never waxed, and range in color from pale yellow to dark green.
Burpless cucumbers are the sweetest type of cucumber. They have thin skins, are easier to digest, and are practically seedless. They can grow up to two feet long.
Some of the most common varieties within each of the three types are:
English Cucumbers: Usually around 12 inches long, these cucumbers are of the seedless variety, and have a thin, smooth skin.
Garden Cucumbers: Dark green, with smooth skin, these are the most common cucumber in North America. They usually are waxed, so make sure you peel them first.
Armenian Cucumbers: Long, thin, and with a thin skin and soft seeds, Armenian cucumbers are ideal for eating raw, not pickling. This is my favorite cucumber, because the tiny seeds are barely there, the skins aren’t tough, and they just look really cool when you prepare them because of their ridged texture.
Kirby (or Pickling) Cucumbers: Short, oftentimes bumpy, these vary in color from yellow to dark green. They are good to eat raw, but they’re especially ideal for pickling.
Persian Cucumbers: Similar to English Cucumbers, these are mild in taste. Sometimes bumpy, and with thin skins, they are ideal for eating raw.
Cucumber Storage and Preparation Tips
Whenever you want to use cucumbers as an ingredient (like in our Weaver Tuna Salad), you should chop them up, salt them, let them sit for about 30 minutes, and then rinse the salt off. Because cucumbers are so watery, the salt helps draw the excess water out so your dish won’t get waterlogged when you combine the cucumbers with your other ingredients.
Store cucumbers in your refrigerator. If they are kept at room temperature for too long, they’ll start to wilt and lose their wonderful crunch.
For more on pickling, check out our previous post.
Place all ingredients in a large bowl and puree with an immersion blender on low speed. When mixture begins to become liquid, increase speed on blender until liquefied.
Makes 1 gallon
Recipe: Weaver Tuna Salad
Another way to use those cucumbers is in our Weaver Tuna Salad. This dish is named for Mike Weaver, a founding partner of Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants and Hotels and an amazing man in his own right. This is one of only a handful of dishes that have been on Lucky 32’s menu since day one.
¼ cup diced cucumbers
1 tsp kosher salt
6 oz can chunk white Albacore tuna
1/3 cup Lemon-Mustard Vinaigrette Dressing (see recipe below)
pepper to taste
Mix together cucumbers and salt; allow to sit for ten minutes. Pour off liquid and combine cucumbers with remaining ingredients.
Makes 1 cup
Recipe: Lemon Mustard Vinaigrette Dressing
1½ tbsp water
2/3 cupGulden’s Mustard
1 ½ tbsp red wine vinegar
1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
1 cup canola oil
In a mixing bowl, combine water, mustard, vinegar and lemon juice. Whisk until well blended. Slowly pour oil into the mixing bowl while whisking till well emulsified.
Makes 2 cups
Herbed Cucumber Sauce
This sauce is sort of our take on Tzatziki. It was a very popular fish topping when the menu was arrayed a bit differently. Now we use it to balance the Voodoo Sauce on our Bayou Shrimp Cakes plate, where all of the elements are brought into harmony by the wonderful herbed cucumber sauce.
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 cup plain yogurt
1 tbsp garlic, whole, peeled and chopped
3½ tsp lemon juice
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
6 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
Peel and slice cucumbers lengthwise. Remove seeds and dice. Toss with salt and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Pour off accumulated liquid. Combine cucumbers with remaining ingredients; mix well.
Makes 3 cups
For more about our seasonal recipes, see our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Blog Recipe Index: http://lucky32southernkitchen.com/recipes/
Lucky 32’s 25th anniversary recipe winners
On June 5, Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen celebrated its 25th anniversary, and in the spirit of this joyous occasion, we invited fans to submit their best recipes using fresh summer veggies. The submissions were impressive, inspiring, and mouthwatering. Though it was difficult only picking a few, it ultimately came down to the recipes that most embody our commitment to seasonal and local.
So without further ado, we’re pleased to announce the winner and runners up of our 25th anniversary recipe contest!
I like that the winning recipe, Felice Bogus’s Summer Breeze Gazpacho Jelly, is a new twist on something familiar. It merges two classics — Gazpacho and Tomato Aspic — and re-imagines them. Plus, it boasts lots of fresh, seasonal produce that you can find right now, at your local farmers market. You will see Felice’s recipe on our menu from Aug. 13 – Sept. 30.
We also selected two recipe runners up, because there were so many great recipes to choose from. Runners up are:
Ashley Brown’s Summer Garden Cheddar Bake. This dish was instantly appealing to me because of its varying textures and simplicity. Also, it’s comfort food — how can you go wrong with corn and cheese?
Bonnie Olbrich’s Yukon Gold Warm Potato Salad. Finally, a potato salad sans mayo! I have no qualms about mayo, but it’s refreshing to see a potato salad without it, and this one is a beauty. The Dijon packs some zing, and the vinegar brightens everything up.
For honorable mentions, we were really drawn to the Green Peach Salad, but sadly it’s too late in the season to get our hands on any green peaches. This is definitely a keeper for earlier next summer though! The Hoppin’ John Salad was another dish that piqued my interest, with its dynamic flavors and array of colors. It would be perfect for a summer potluck!
A big thanks to all our amazing contestants — we appreciate your creativity and enthusiasm, and we thank you for helping us celebrate 25 wonderful years at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen!
Winning Recipe: Summer Breeze Gazpacho Jelly, submitted by Felice Bogus
For gazpacho water:
4 large tomatoes, (preferably heirloom), chopped
2 ½ cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
¼ tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp kosher salt
A few dashes hot sauce, such as Texas Pete®
3 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 (¼-oz.) packets of gelatin
½ cucumber, peeled and finely diced
½ green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 tomato, seeded and finely diced
1 yellow squash, peeled and finely diced
8-12 jumbo NC shrimp (head-on preferred), steamed
4-6 tbsp chopped avocado
Make the gazpacho water. Place all the gazpacho water ingredients, except the gelatin, in a blender, and puree well. Blend in batches, if necessary. Line a colander with a double thickness of cheesecloth and place it over a non-reactive bowl. Pour the puree into the colander and gather up the edges of the cheesecloth. Tie with a string and press the vegetables gently. Refrigerate overnight, placing weights on the puree to help extract the water.
The next day, adjust seasoning as needed. Then, pour 1 c. gazpacho water in a small saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin powder over it. Let rest 5 minutes. Heat the saucepan over medium heat about 1 minute, until the gelatin is melted. Stir the warm mixture into the remaining gazpacho water. Refrigerate until partially set, about the consistency of raw egg whites. Serves 4-6
Recipe Runner Up: Summer Garden Cheddar Bake, submitted by Ashley Brown
¼ cup butter
1 lb squash, halved and sliced, laid out on paper towel to drain a bit
1 cup corn cut from the ear, raw
1 lb good quality shredded sharp cheddar
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp baking powder
salt and pepper to taste (usually 1 tsp. salt, ½ tsp. pepper)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Put your butter in a 9×13 inch baking dish in the oven while it preheats until butter is melted. While the butter is melting, mix all remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Pour mixture over melted butter and bake until golden brown and squash is tender, about 40-45 minutes. Allow to cool, cut into squares and serve. Serves 8-10
½ cup firmly packed fresh flat leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 bunch (5-6) green onions, white and tender green parts only, sliced
Place potatoes in a large pot, and add water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, adding 1 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to medium, and cook 20-30 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain, cool slightly. Pat dry. Transfer to a large bowl. Whisk together olive oil , next three ingredients, 2 tablespoons water and 1 teaspoon salt in a small bowl until blended and smooth. Adjust seasoning. Stir in parsley and green onions. Dice potatoes into small pieces. Toss gently with olive oil mixture. Adjust seasoning. Serves 4-6
Blue crabs are beautiful swimmers
Callinectes sapidus — commonly known as “Blue Crab” — is in short supply these days. Real American Blue Crab is what those of us in the South think of when it’s time to eat crab, whether we’re enjoying it as soft-shell crab, crab cakes, boiled crab or steamed crab. Blue Crab’s scientific name translates to “beautiful savory swimmer,” and this crustacean lives up to its name: It is sought after for its sweet and tender meat, and it’s considered a delicacy in many parts of the world. Most Blue Crabs are harvested in the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, but they’re becoming more of a rarity owing to several factors including imported crabmeat and agricultural run-off into their spawning waters (Blue Crabs live and spawn in brackish waters, and they are highly susceptible to environmental changes).
Crabmeat needs to be cleaned by hand, and American labor is expensive, so in the U.S. it’s typical to encounter crab cakes made with imported meat from different species of crab. At Lucky 32, however, we only buy fresh American Blue Crab meat — we want to know where our food comes from. Because crabs are harvested between spring and fall, we don’t feature crab on our menu year-round; instead, we prefer to feature it when its flavor is at its peak. You don’t have to drive to the coast to get fresh, just-caught flavor of real American Blue Crab: When crab is on our menu, be sure to come and get it!
Where to find fresh crab in the Piedmont:
Ocean Fresh Seafood Market: 954 E. Bessemer Ave., Greensboro
The Shrimp Connection: At Swedebread Organic Farm Market, Piedmont Triad Farmer’s Market-Colfax, Summerfield Farms and Josh’s Farmers Market. Click herefor addresses and hours.
Locals Seafood (at the Raleigh City Farmers Market @ City Market): 214 E. Martin St., Raleigh; and at the Raleigh State Farmers Market, inside the Market Shoppes at 209 Farmers Market Dr., Raleigh
Tips on buying, prepping and cooking fresh crab:
Visit retail locations with reliable fishmongers who turn their inventory over quickly.
Talk to your fishmonger. Ask them what’s good, what’s the freshest, and where their crabmeat came from. The same applies when you go out to eat. Always ask where your seafood came from, if it’s not already stated on the menu.
When prepping crab, carefully pick through the meat for any remnants of shell that escaped the initial cleaning.
Remember that crabmeat is packaged pre-cooked, so all you need to do is re-heat it. Just be careful you don’t cook it at too high of a temperature, the higher the heat, the more likely it is you’ll rob the meat of its moisture. Crabcakes especially are ideal when they’re just warm enough in the center, rather than piping hot.
24 oz lump crabmeat
3 tbsp diced celery
3 tbsp diced green pepper
6 tbsp diced red onion
2 eggs, beaten
1½ tbsp mayonnaise
1½ tsp Delaware Bay seasoning
1 tsp ground mustard
3 tbsp grated Reggiano Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup panko (breadcrumbs)
Pick through the crabmeat to remove all shells. Puree celery, bell peppers and onions in food processor; squeeze out juice and use pulp in recipe. Add all ingredients (except the crabmeat and breadcrumbs) to a large bowl. Thoroughly blend together. Add crabmeat and breadcrumbs, and mix well. Let mixture rest for 10 minutes before forming into cakes. Portion cakes to desired size and sauté in hot oil until golden on both sides. Makes 8 crab cakes.
Deviled Crab Dip
1 pound crabmeat
1 tbsp canola oil
½ tbsp chopped garlic
¾ tsp ground mustard
2 tbsp horseradish
¾ tsp celery salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp Florida Bay seasoning
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tbsp parsley flakes
1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp Tabasco® Sauce
2 cups heavy cream
4 oz cream cheese
Heat oil in a saucepot; sweat the garlic. Add the mustard, celery salt, horseradish, pepper, Florida Bay, kosher salt, parsley, Worcestershire, and Tabasco®. Stir to mix well. Slowly add the cream, whisking to blend well. Continue cooking until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and cool. Whip cream cheese in a mixer and add cooled sauce while mixer is running. When fully mixed, fold in crabmeat. Yield: 1½ quarts.
Crab and corn season coincide at the end of summer, so this soup is the perfect end-of-summer dish. It captures the essence of both the sweet corn and the crab. So many of us grow up eating crab and corn soup, and really love it, but never have a family recipe. In comes Elizabeth Wiegand, a wonderful food writer and cookbook author. We asked her for permission to serve her soup in our restaurant, and it’s been a hit ever since.
1/8 pound unsalted butter
4 cups diced yellow onions
½ cup diced roasted red peppers
1/8 cup minced garlic
2 cups water
1 quart crab stock
6 cups corn off the cob
½ tsp cayenne pepper
salt & black pepper to taste
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Melt butter in a saucepot. Sweat the onions until golden. Add the roasted peppers and garlic, then cook until fragrant. Add the water and stock and bring just to a boil. Add the corn and seasonings; simmer for 10-12 minutes. Add cream, bring back to a simmer and turn off the heat. Adjust salt to taste. Makes 3 quarts.
Fun Facts about Crabs
While there are around 850 species of crab, the most common harvested species are: Blue, Dungeness, Red King, Blue King, Box, Snow and Stone.
Crabs have 10 legs.
Crabs molt (shed their old shell) each year, and grow new, larger shells; if the crabs are harvested before this new shell hardens, they are known as “softshell crabs.”
Male crabs have larger claws than female crabs.
A group of crabs is called a cast.
Crabmeat is a good source of vitamins A, B and C, omega-3, zinc and copper.
To learn more about crabs, visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s website, and check out their Seafood Watch list to learn about which crabs are the most sustainable. To learn more about sustainable seafood in general, check out this NPR interview, with sustainable seafood advocate and author, Paul Greenberg.
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?
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
LOCAVORE’S DELIGHT: The Series # 42. Follow us as we explore the bounty of our region’s farms.
We spend a lot of time on this blog talking about what we get and how we craft it into the delectable dishes that you’ve come to know and love at our restaurant. This post is a bit different; we’d love to take you behind the scenes of the genesis of one of our newest dishes – “Shepherd’s Croquettes.” It all started with a desire to find the perfect lamb dish…
The center of the lamb industry in the United States is in Colorado, because they can raise lamb at high altitudes (where they thrive and are not as susceptible to heat waves). Colorado lamb typically is finished on corn like beef, and correspondingly has a taste and texture reminiscent of beef, but it comes with a premium price tag. Most of the other lamb on the market is New Zealand or Australian grass-fed lamb, which is a breed that does well in warmer climates, so it has a significantly different flavor profile. They are leaner, and gamier in taste, and smaller animals in general. Most American diners prefer the taste of Colorado lamb and the price of Australian lamb. In the past, in our restaurants, we didn’t focus on lamb because we weren’t able to get the highest quality of lamb at a good value, and we didn’t have a story about lamb worth telling. Then we met Craig Rogers.
Border Springs Farm
Craig Rogers is the owner and shepherd of Border Springs Farm, in Patrick Springs,Virginia. The farm is a breathtaking sight, situated among 60 acres of the scenic rolling hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The small family-run farm raises Kathadin and Texel sheep, herded by a vigilant pack of hard working border collies. The lambs they raise are healthy—free of hormones and antibiotics, and that care really shows in the amazing flavor of the lamb. Border Springs provide phenomenal lamb to some of the finest restaurants on the east coast, but , being only an hour and some change away from Greensboro, they feel like our neighbors, and we value their proximity.
The Evolution of Shepherd’s Pie
We’ve put chicken pot pie on our menu at Lucky’s in the recent years, and because it was so well received, we pondered doing variations on other pot pies. We hadn’t thought about doing Shepherd’s Pie until we started buying this incredible lamb from Border Springs Farm. Then we thought, what if we did real Shepherd’s Pie—not like the milquetoast 1950’s American version with ground beef and mashed potatoes. In America, we have a tradition of making things more convenient, and then they lose their symbolism. People who raise cows have never been called shepherds, so why make shepherd’s pie with beef? Instead, we wanted to use turnips, lamb stock and lamb, as an attempt to honor and recreate the Scottish heritage of the North Carolina Piedmont in a Shepherd’s Pie. So without actually having been to Scotland, that’s what we set out to do. We made a rich lamb stock and included ground lamb and turnips, since they’re abundant this time of year, and we topped it with mashed potatoes. It had a wonderful taste, but it was not a glamorous dish to look at, and an awkward one to serve, with the task of putting a solid over a liquid.
Last year we prepared a Shepherd’s Appreciation Dinner at Lucky’s. Naturally we served five courses of lamb. We wanted to make Shepherd’s Pie, but needed to do it family-style for 50 people, which presented a challenge. As a simpler alternative, we decided to mix the root vegetables and ground lamb in with the potato cakes, and breaded and fried them. We served them sitting in the gravy. We ended up crowning them “Shepherd Croquettes,” because croquettes are potato cakes and the word reminded me of the shepherd’s crook—a historic cane-like tool for catching sheep. Having shepherd’s pie in this kind of presentation delivers a textural element that traditional shepherd’s pie lacks. The croquettes provide that crispy, crunchy element so many folks crave and love. We like that we are presenting something familiar, but in a different form, and we think that’s become the hallmark of what we do at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen. The croquettes were an overwhelming success at that dinner, so we vowed to recreate these for the spring menu at Lucky’s the following year, and now they’re on our spring menu, for the month of March. One of the purposes of dining out is to eat the things you don’t cook. Some people may attempt this recipe at home, but others might not want to take the time for it. For me, the magic of dining in a restaurant is that you’re essentially dining in someone else’s home. This is our home. We spend more time in this restaurant than we do in our own homes, so we invite you to come into our home and try these croquettes for yourself this month.
2 pounds mashed potatoes
2 cups Croquette Filling
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 cup all purpose flour
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups breadcrumbs
Place mashed potatoes in a bowl and add Croquette Filling. Combine by hand until well mixed. Portion into 3 ounce cakes (should yield about 14 cakes). Place cakes on a pan and freeze. When ready to cook cakes, remove from freezer and allow to thaw in refrigerator. Set up a three pan breading station with flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs. Dip each cake into flour, then egg and then breadcrumbs (pressing the crumbs into the cake by hand). Place about 2 inches of oil in a skillet and heat. Fry cakes in hot oil until golden on both sides and then place on sheet tray in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Makes 14 cakes.
½ pound ground lamb
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
½ cup diced carrot
½ cup diced celery
½ cup pearl onions
½ cup chopped shittake mushrooms
½ cup diced turnip (peeled)
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried parsley
Heat butter in a sauté pan. Add lamb and brown. Season with salt and pepper. Add remaining ingredients and sauté until vegetables are tender. Strain. Makes 3 ½ cups.
One of the challenges of cooking southern food these days is for many people, southern food is synonymous with being inexpensive and coming from a can. When you cook food from scratch, with fresh, seasonal ingredients, and you reference old cookbooks and relative’s memories, it means something different for everyone. Interpretations of hushpuppies, meatloaf, and shrimp and grits differ from family to family. That being said, there are some dishes that we serve at Lucky 32 that resonate regardless of your background because they’re just simple, honest and hearty. The thing they all have in common is they’re kind of a Piedmont interpretation of one-pot wonders.
Sometimes beef stew is chunky, with potatoes, and it tastes like pot roast. You can eat it over rice, and it really isn’t anything special, it’s just something to eat. However, if you want to explore some southern foodways, go visit these little mom and pop places and order the daily special. It’s kinda funny because you can order stew beef and rice and chose rice as your side simply because it sounds redundant, and what will come out is beef stew over rice, with a side of rice. The difference between beef stew and stew beef and rice is stew beef and rice is mostly meat. It’s about the meat and the gravy, whereas beef stew is about the vegetables, the meat, and the gravy. At Lucky’s, we thought it would just ring true to people’s sense of place if we called the dish stew beef. When it first arrived on the menu, there were a handful of folks who thought we had gotten it wrong, because they thought it was more like beef stew. However, it really resonated with some people because many of them hadn’t seen stew beef on a menu in a long time and it was nostalgic and comforting to them.
Stew Beef and Rice
2 ½ pounds beef tips
2 tbsp corn starch
salt and pepper to taste
1 ½ tbsp canola oil
2 cups yellow onions, diced medium
1 cup celery diced medium
1 cup carrots diced medium
2 fl oz red wine, Burgandy
1 quart beef stock
Season beef tips well with salt and pepper. Toss meat with cornstarch to evenly coat each piece. Heat oil in a large skillet, add meat and sear on all sides. Remove meat to an oven proof pan. Add onions, celery and carrots to a sauté pan and brown. Deglaze the sauté pan with wine and continue stirring. Add beef stock. Pour vegetable mixture over beef tips in oven proof pan. Cover with foil and cook for 2.5 hours at 300 degrees. Serve over rice. Makes: 6 servings
There’s a divide in North Carolina where people east of here prefer rolled dumplings in their chicken and “dumplings” (so they’re flat, like noodles), and those are referred to as chicken and pastry. West of the Triad instead of rolled noodles, chicken and dumplings is made with biscuit dough, which is dropped into a simmering pot. We wanted to recognize both of those traditions and make our own middle path, so what we do at the restaurant is make biscuit dough and roll it into little gnocchi style dumplings and cook them in the broth with the chicken. This is a dish that was a favorite for a long time, and when it appears on the feature menu, it’s on two menus in a row. It just recently came off, so we wanted to share the recipe with you.
Chicken and Dumplings
¼ cup canola oil
2 cups yellow onions, medium diced
1 ¼ cup carrots, medium diced
1 cup celery, medium diced
½ tbsp garlic, chopped
4 each bay leaves
1 tbsp thyme leaves
1 tsp black pepper
1 ½ tbsp salt (or to taste)
½ tbsp cayenne pepper
1/8 cup all purpose flour
1 gallon chicken stock
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/8 cup heavy cream
¼ cup dry cooking sherry
3 pounds roasted chicken, pulled or rough chopped
8 each Buttermilk Biscuit dough circles (see recipe)
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
Heat oil in a large sauce pot and sweat the onions until golden. Add carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, salt, pepper and cayenne. Continue to sauté until garlic is fragrant. Stir in flour and whisk until combined. Add stock and bring to a simmer, lower heat. Simmer until carrots are tender. Add sherry, cream and lemon juice. Add chicken.
Tear dough into ½ inch pieces and add to broth. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until dumplings are done. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley. Makes – 8 servings
While Jambalaya isn’t rooted in the Piedmont, it’s definitely become a tradition here at Lucky 32, and it actually evolved from our New Orleans menu. We’ve done a version of it for many years as part of the New Orleans menu. Once we graduated from doing American regional food to seasonal food, we decided to bring Jambalaya to the base menu and feature it year-round, because it’s not seasonal. Traditionally it’s based on Spanish Paella. It’s a pilaf-style rice dish with onions, celery, bell peppers and a combination of meat (often times crawfish, chicken, sausage, and sometimes oysters). It was created as a budget-conscious way to use rice to extend a meager portion of meat to feed a whole family. Some of us grew up eating it with ground beef and sausage, but at Lucky’s we like to make it with wild American shrimp, roasted chicken and andouille sausage. This dish is a comforting one, perfect for carrying you through these remaining frigid nights. It’s definitely south Louisiana soul food, as filtered through the North Carolina Piedmont.
5 tbsp canola oil
10 oz andouille sausage, cut into half moons
1 pound boneless chicken, chopped
1/3 cup green bell pepper, chopped
½ cup yellow onion, chopped
1/3 cup celery, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
2 cups long grain white rice
1 tsp ground paprika
3 tsp Creole Spice Blend (see recipe)
1 each bay leaf
1 pound small shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 cups chicken broth
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in large skillet. Add sausage and chicken. Sauté until chicken and sausage are browned on all sides. Remove to a plate. In the same sauté pan, add 3 tablespoons of oil. Add bell pepper, onion and celery.
Sauté for 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, rice and spices and continue stirring until oil has coated all of the rice and garlic is fragrant (about 3 minutes). Return chicken and sausage to pan and add shrimp.
Add broth and turn heat down to low and cover. Simmer until all liquid is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes. Adjust to taste with salt and pepper. Add additional chicken broth if needed. Makes – 6 servings
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 the ingredients to a large bowl and combine with a whisk until spices are evenly distributed. Store in an air tight container with a lid. Makes ¾ cup
What are some of your favorite one-pot wonders, or winter comfort meals?