We’re finally in for some colder nights, so it’s a good time to stock up on stew ingredients to fortify you against the chill.
Whether your preferred simmering method involves an Instant Pot, slow cooker, or good, old-fashioned Dutch oven, your first step is to gather everything you can at a winter farmers tailgate market. Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project has got a few ideas to get you started.
The warming spices of a Middle Eastern tagine (coriander, cinnamon, turmeric, paprika) are a great match for sweet potatoes and cauliflower, both available from Ten Mile Farm (Asheville City Market–Winter). Round it out with chickpeas and add a bit of dried fruit, like apricots or golden raisins, and green olives. Top with cilantro (from Lee’s One Fortune Farm at Asheville City Market–Winter and River Arts District Winter Market) and a dollop of yogurt and serve over couscous or rice.
Grab some greens for a hearty white bean soup. You can find bunches of kale and mustard greens from Highgate Farm (River Arts District Winter Market), collards from Wildwood Herbal, Jake’s Farm, or New Moon Herbs Farm (Asheville City Market–Winter), and rapini from Lee’s One Fortune. Whether you are using a meat or vegetarian stock, adding hard cheese rind to this base adds richness. Look for hard cheeses at Blue Ridge Mountain Creamery at Asheville City Market–Winter. Fennel, available from Ten Mile Farm, is another nice addition, alongside onions and garlic. And if you want to include meat, you can’t go wrong with Italian pork sausage from Dry Ridge Farm or Hickory Nut Gap Farm (both at Asheville City Market–Winter).
And since this is Western North Carolina, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project would be remiss if they didn’t mention at least one stew that makes use of that bottle of beer hiding at the back of the fridge. If it is, perchance, a stout, porter, or other dark beer, they suggest an Irish beef stew filled with root vegetables like carrots, turnips, and potatoes, available from multiple farms. Chuck, brisket, shank, oxtail, and short ribs are all great cuts for a beef stew (check for availability with Dry Ridge and Hickory Nut Gap), and you can start by browning your meat with bacon or bacon drippings.
Remove the meat, cook onions and garlic, then return it to the pot with vegetables, your beer, and beef or chicken broth, and simmer slowly for several hours, until the meat is tender. Enjoy with buttered bread from one of the many bakers at markets, including J Bread, Simple Bread, and Crust Never Sleeps at Asheville City Market–Winter, and Walnut Schoolhouse and Urban Peasants (gluten free) at River Arts District Winter Market.
Area farmers tailgate markets take place throughout the region, even through the winter. As always, you can find information about farms, tailgate markets, and farm stands, including locations and hours, by visiting ASAP’s online Local Food Guide at appalachiangrown.org.
Prepared by Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project.