Local Food For Carnivores

“Garden Talk” TomorrowPlease join me as I co-host “Garden Talk” with Dr. Sue Hamilton, Director of UT Gardens, Saturday morning at 8:00 on WNOX-FM 100.3.

Local Food for CarnivoresWhen we discuss local food, too often we limit ourselves to the vegetables and fruits our skilled local farmers bring to the markets each season. We also have numerous local producers of foods for carnivores, not to mention the lacto- and ovo-vegetarians in the audience.

In earlier posts, I have mentioned Benton’s Smoky Mountain pork products from Madisonville. They grow and cure some of the best bacon and country ham you will ever taste, made from their heritage breed hogs.Closer to home, in Knox County we have Strong Stock Farms, whose grass fed beef from the herd they have developed for generations is unsurpassed for flavor, based on our recent taste test. (Recipe at the end of this post.)

Over in Deer Lodge, Tennessee, West Wind Farms grows and sells beef, pork and poultry. Available frozen, as well as in the meat case at Three Rivers Market, their poultry line includes duck and Cornish hen, as well as chicken and turkey.Here are some local growers whose products are available at Three Rivers Market and other venues around town:

Pastured Eggs, Pork --JEM Farm, Rogersville, TNPastured Eggs--Riverplains Farm, Strawberry Plains, TNMilk--Cruze Dairy Farm, Knoxville, TNTrout—Sunburst Trout Farm, Canton, NCRegarding the last listing, if you have never had trout produced in the Smoky Mountains, you should try it. Trout is featured on the menus of several of the better restaurants in Gatlinburg. I order it when I have the opportunity. Trout are in the same family as salmon, and their flesh contains healthy fats. Mild-flavored trout is delicious simply grilled or pan fried and served with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

All these products cost more than their supermarket counterparts. We set out to try grass fed beef in one of our favorite recipes. The result convinced us the extra cost is worth it for the flavor. We try to keep our consumption of red meat low in comparison to other protein sources, so we figure an occasional splurge on some great beef is reasonable.The recipe that follows produces some of the best meatloaf you’ll ever taste, even if you make it with supermarket ground beef. With Strong Stock Farm’s grass-fed beef, it becomes a gourmet treat worthy of a master chef. It has the perfect texture for slicing, ideal for making sandwiches from the leftovers. (If you happen to have any.)

Knoxville Meat LoafTime: about 1 ½ hours
Servings: 4 to 6

¼ cup oatmeal, not quick-cooking¼ cup  V8 or tomato juice
1 teaspoon black Hawaiian sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
¼ cup minced green pepper
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef 
Combine the oatmeal and juice in a large bowl. Add the salt, pepper and celery seed. Melt the butter in a small skillet and sauté the shallot, pepper and garlic until the shallot is translucent. Add to the bowl with the other ingredients and mix well. Add the beef and mix gently with your hands until the mixture is well combined and uniform. Shape into a small loaf and bake in a preheated 350°F oven until a meat thermometer registers 165°F, or about 45 minutes to one hour. Remove from the oven and lest rest for at least 10 minutes, then slice and serve.