This is a Sponsored Post. I am receiving compensation from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, to raise awareness about purchasing poultry at farmer’s markets. All opinions and content are my own.
Going to farmers’ markets is my idea of fun. I love the endlessly varied, ever-changing, seasonally-inspired displays of food, and the equally-varied, ever-changing community of people I find there, working to sell their products or browsing to find the ingredients they want or need for the kitchen. No wonder I have ended up working in a field where going to the farmers’ market can be part of my job.
When the NC Department of Agriculture invited me to write this post, my “Yes!” came fast, because it meant heading to one of the many farmers’ markets I can drive to and enjoy. I knew to expect an early-fall abundance of crisp, fresh picked vegetables and glorious aromatic fruit, but this story focuses on thinking bigger when heading to the farmers’ market. We know we will find what we need for side dishes, the salad fixings, the fresh herbs for seasoning and sweet, ripe fruit for baking, jamming and eating outright. But not everyone knows to look for a main course item which is widely available in NC’s farmers’ markets, and that is chicken.
My farmers’ market for this post was the North Carolina State Farmer’s Market in Raleigh, located three minutes off of Interstate 40. I began on the wonderful produce aisle above, and found great inspiration in every color, some late summer, some early fall goodness at every turn.
I picked up some redskin potatoes and some late summer okra, along with salad goodies and a lovely cantaloupe. And peaches. Peaches! And field peas for later in the week.Then I spotted the glorious treasure of muscadine and scuppernong grapes. I adore them, and can’t get enough of them during their season, which is right now and on into the early fall. That helped me settle on my chicken recipe: I knew right then that I would make my friend Sandra Gutierrez‘s chicken with scuppernong grapes and white wine and herbs, from her wonderful cookbook, The New Southern-Latino Table. All I needed was the chicken.
I headed over to the next row in the Raleigh Farmer’s Market, which includes some covered and enclosed buildings and the seafood market. (I didn’t have time to eat there, but I made a mental note to come back on my next visit mid-morning, so I could have lunch at the market before heading home.) On this day, I had a mission and a destination. I was looking for my farmer, David Duong, who raises pastured poultry at Oak Ridge Farms, his 34-acre farm in Zebulon, NC.
David grew up in Virginia, and came to North Carolina in 2005 to major in agriculture at NC State. He majored in poultry science, and settled in the Raleigh area to work in research through NC State. He loved the science but after a decade inside, he longed to get out into the field, literally. With the goal of raising pastured poultry and pigs, he purchased his land in 2013 and began growing his farm into a “back to basics” operation where he could raise chickens, ducks, and turkeys, and keep a small garden for his own use, including canning and cooking for pleasure.
As a small vendor, he partnered with MAE Farm Meats, which is a longtime vendor located in the covered building near the seafood restaurant. They carry an array of meats, cheeses, and other products, and were delighted to welcome David to their circle of vendors. His local, pasture-raised poultry is popular with their customers, and he appreciates being able to reach customers at this year-round farmers’ market destination.
David Duong does the processing for his poultry himself at Oak Ridge Farms, and has whole chickens, wings, legs and thighs, and breasts available at Mae Farm Meats. Come fall, he will take orders for his pasture raised turkeys, and you know I am looking forward to getting on his list.
My farmers’ market motto was “Don’t Forget the Chicken!” and having met David and enjoyed checking out the MAE Farm Meats, (I bought a big blue-tinted hubbard squash just because it was so gorgeous) I headed home to cook.
The recipe is simple to prepare, basic steps, with one challenge: The Grapes. You’ll see in this photo how large the seeds are in these local NC treasures, so there was a little time halving the grapes and getting the seeds out. But was it worth it? Yes it was!
I bought a whole chicken because I wanted to make a stew as well as this dish. I froze the backs, wings, and bones, browned the chicken pieces and set them aside, cooked onions in the chicken-y pan, and then added white wine and mustard to bring everything together. The grapes were a seasonal delight, but I will be heading back to the Raleigh Farmers’ Market soon, for butternut squash, apples, pears, onions, garlic, parsnips, carrots, and chicken. I won’t forget the chicken!
The state-run farmers’ markets of North Carolina are open year-round, and whatever the season gives us will be on offer.
We loved this dish, and I hope you will love it, too! I hope you head to the farmers’ market some day soon, and remember to look for chicken and other main-course ingredients, along with the glorious produce you expect to find there. Isn’t this rainbow of peppers of all heats and colors magnificent? Farmers’ markets have so much goodness to share, season after season.
My NC State Farmers’ Market continues to be blessed with summertime vegetables and fruits in abundance, from cucumbers and tomatoes to corn and okra. The delightful vendors tell me that will last for a while longer so if you are homesick for summer blessings, go get you some peaches, cantaloupes, bell peppers and tomatoes aplenty, while they still thrive. And of course, don’t forget the chicken, which is a year-round staple in our wonderful NC farmers’ markets.
I cooked okra on a hot skillet, cut side down, and tossed it with olive oil, fresh herbs, salt and pepper. Red skin potatoes, quartered and trimmed but skins left on, made divine mashed potatoes, which I boosted with chopped fresh herbs.
Just so you know you’ve got lots of options in terms of wonderful NC Farmers’ Markets with delicious local chicken, along with options on how to cook it, here is a big basketful of stories posted by my fellow NC food bloggers.
Got To Be NC Chicken at Your Local NC Farmer’s Market
- Sheet Pan Chicken from Off the Eaten Path
- NC Farmer’s Market Feast from Nancie’s Table
- North Carolina Seared Duck Breast from The World on a Table
- Farmer’s Market Chicken Salad from Adventures of Frugal Mom
- Crispy Roasted Chicken with Blueberry Gastrique from Nik Snacks
- Sandra Gutierrez’s Chicken with Muscadine and Scuppernong Grapes
- 1 large chicken (4 ½ - 5 pounds) cut into 10 serving pieces
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 cups thinly sliced Vidalia onion
- 3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 cup white wine
- 3 cups muscadine or scuppernong grapes, halved and seeded
- A handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, and season with the salt and pepper, In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown the chicken pieces on all sides, and transfer them to a platter. Discard all but one tablespoon of the oil remaining in the pan.
- Add the onions to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and shiny, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, mustard, bay leaf, and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring often, until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the wine and deglaze by scraping the bottom of the pan, letting the wine come to a boil. Return the chicken to the pan, along with all the juices that have collected at the bottom of the platter. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the grapes and their skins, and stir well. Cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, so that the juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a fork. Taste the sauce, and adjust with salt and pepper as needed. Transfer the stew to a deep serving platter or large serving bowl, sprinkle with parsley, and serve hot.
- Note: If any skins slip off the grapes as you prepare them, include those skins in the recipe, as they bring flavor and texture to the finished dish.
- You can substitute another grape, removing the seeds if need be. Cook the sauce for additional time to reduce it, as only muscadines and scuppernongs contain extra pectin, which helps to thicken the sauce.
You can substitute another grape, removing the seeds if need be. Cook the sauce for additional time to reduce it, as only muscadines and scuppernongs contain extra pectin, which helps to thicken the sauce.