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:
- Greensboro Farmers Curb Market
- Deep Roots Market
- Bestway Grocery
- Loaf Bakery
- Camino Bakery
- Washington Perk & Provisions
- Company Shops Market
- Chatham Marketplace
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!
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.
- 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.
- 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
Posted March 2014