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:

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