Just this year, my favorite natural foods grocery store (previously 100% locally owned and operated) sold out to a larger, nationwide natural grocery chain. Mixed feelings have been expressed, though mostly resentment has shown through (a la Asheville’s (in)famous activism). We LIKED our hometown’s natural foods grocer just fine, thank you. This isn’t to say that I haven’t wholeheartedly appreciated the other nationwide-brand’s stores as I’ve travelled in areas that otherwise wouldn’t have organic and natural food offerings; but in the South’s own “Parisian” mecca, hubbub of all things organic, sustainable, permacultured, local and community-supported, it is popular opinion (and my own) that the store we had was meeting our needs and then some, without having to bow to larger corporate agendas – however ‘natural’ they may be.
And so, to retire my soapbox and explain what this has to do with the actual meal I cooked yesterday, let me say that there isn’t near the selection of local foods there once was, and I’ve had to settle for *regional* sources for my 4th Dark Days meal; Drunken Chuck Roast.
I had in mind that I wanted to make something in the slow cooker, and a local cut of meat from Hickory Nut Gap Farm, just east of town, set the stage. Supporting roles were filled a la *regional* carte and ended up being: SC sweet potatoes, SC green cabbage, SC leeks, thyme from the garden of a local herb vendor and a 22oz. bottle of Asheville Brewing Company’s Auld Asheville Ale – their seasonal sensation.
Loosely following a recipe from Joy of Cooking, I cut the 1 1/2 lb. chuck roast into 2″ cubes, generously rubbed them down with salt, pepper and thyme before throwing them into a hot skillet with a pat of local lard (also Hickory Nut Gap’s) and browned them on all sides. Into the slow cooker they went as I flash crisped the chopped cabbage and leeks. The sweet potatoes I cubed and tossed right into the cooker along with the green veggies and followed all this with the whole bottle of ale. A few dashes more of salt, pepper and thyme and I left it to heat and simmer for about 5 hours.
No exaggeration, the most succulent, tender, falling-apart and flavorful stew I have ever had the privilege of having in my mouth. That’s loc..*regional* flavor. I would (and will) do this again in a heartbeat! Just another meal to add to your winter recipes.