This post is sponsored by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services. I’m always honored to partner with them to bring you bounty from my home state, in this case, Polish Sausage with Apples Onions and Butternut Squash.
See all our Got To Be NC Chicken Posts here.
Got To Be NC Pork
It is a real joy to live in a state with such a strong agricultural community. There are hundreds and hundreds of family farms spread across North Carolina, from the mountains to the coast. Our dedicated farmers are raising everything from chicken, beef, and pork to fruits, grains, and vegetables. There is plenty of commodity production here, but most of the farms in North Carolina are small farms with limited production and limited distribution. And a lot of that distribution happens at farmers markets across the state.
That’s right. You can head over to your nearest farmers market, and I can almost guarantee you’ll find at least one vendor offering meats along with all the vendors selling fruits and vegetables. You know what this means? You can purchase everything you need for an entire meal, whether it’s Meatless Monday or not, at your local farmers market. The next time you’re at your North Carolina farmers market, don’t forget the meat!
This post is part of the Got To Be NC Bloggers Got To Be NC Pork Promotion. We’re featuring five pork producers from around our state who sell at the state-run farmers market.
A Visit with Mike Jones of MAE Farm
When I found out there was a pork promotion happening, I knew exactly who I wanted to feature and which vendor I wanted to get my pork from. MAE Farm is located in Louisburg, NC, and they’ve been selling their meats at their stall at the North Carolina State Farmers Market in Raleigh for at least as long as The Beloved and I have been in the area. Over the years, we’ve enjoyed their sausages, barbecue, pork chops and more, so I was eager to speak to farmer and owner, Mike Jones, about MAE Farm.
Listen to Mike tell his story in his own words here.
If you’re in a hurry, let me give you a quick recap of some of the topics he covers so you can come back when you have time.
- Why he named his farm MAE Farm
- Why locally raised and processed pork costs more–what are you getting for your money?
- How commodity pork is treated differently than pork from local farmers.
- Why is the meat at the farmers market frozen?
- MAE Farm is a market within a market.
- Others products available from the MAE Farm stall
- A day in the life of the pigs at MAE Farm
My takeaways are as follows:
- Supporting local, family farms strengthens our local economy.
- Pork that has been sustainably raised in as natural an environment as possible is better and more healthy for us and our families.
- Shopping at the MAE Farm stall at the State Farmers Market not only gives us access to MAE Farm meats but also to eggs, chicken, milk, yogurt, kefir, and more from other local vendors.
Before we get to the Polish Sausage with Apples Onions and Butternut, please take some time to check out our other talented bloggers’ recipes and profiles of NC pork producers selling their pork at local farmers markets.
Got To Be NC Pork at Your Local NC Farmers Market
How delicious does all of this look?! We have a great lineup for everything from Taco Tuesday to Stir Fry Saturday (if that’s not a thing, it should be), to 1-pot meals, a southern twist on a Canadian classic comfort food, and some seriously southern marinated pork chops. Enjoy!
- Mustard & Molasses Marinated NC Pork Chops from Heidi Billotto Food featuring pork from A Way of Life Farm
- Polish Sausage with Apples Onions and Butternut Squash from Pastry Chef Online featuring pork from MAE Farm (you’re here!)
- North Carolina Pork & Five Pepper Stir-Fry from Life of a Ginger featuring pork from Rockin’ B Farms
- Carolina Poutine with Pulled Pork from TriadFoodies featuring pork from Mill River Farm
- Tacos al Pastor from Hispanic Mama featuring pork from Bull City Farm
Polish Sausage with Apples Onions and Butternut Squash
Despite what the thermometer at our house says, it is fall, and our State Farmers Market is full of gorgeous NC apples and butternut squash. As far as I’m concerned, putting apples and winter squash together in a dish is a no-brainer. Add in mellow caramelized onions and the juicy, flavorful Polish Sausage from MAE Farm, and you are in business.
For the Sausage, Apples, Onions and Butternut
- 4 links smoked Polish sausage, I used MAE Farm Polish sausage
- 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cooking apples, washed, cored and sliced (peeling optional)
- 1 1/2 cups butternut squash, diced
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 1/3 cup apple cider
- 1/3 cup chicken stock, store bought or homemade
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
For the Spaetzle (technique courtesy of Ken Albala)
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose or bread flour
- heavy pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper
- several gratings fresh nutmeg
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1-1 1/4 cup whole milk, enough to make a thick batter
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
For the Sausage, Apples, Onions and Butternut Squash
- Slice the sausage into bite-sized coins and cook in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside. Drain out all but 2 Tablespoons of fat from the pan and return it to medium-low heat.
- Add the sliced onion and a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook for a minute or so and then add the garlic.
- Increase the heat to medium and cook slowly until lightly caramelized and soft all the way through, about 15 minutes. Reserve a large spoonful of the onions and set aside.
- To the remaining onions, add the sliced apples and diced butternut along with another pinch of salt and pepper and the poultry seasoning. Cook until beginning to soften and gain some color, about 5 minutes.
- Add the apple cider, chicken stock, and apple cider vinegar. Cover the pan and cook about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are al dente.
- Remove the lid from the pan and increase the heat to medium high to reduce the liquid to a glaze, about 5 minutes.
- Return the meat to the pan and heat through. Adjust seasonings as necessary, and serve with the spaetzle.
For the Spaetzle
- Put a large pot of water on to boil.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and dry seasonings.
- Beat the egg together with 1 cup of milk and mix into the dry ingredients.
- You should end up with a thick pancake batter. If the batter doesn't flow off your whisk or fork, stir in additional milk until you have the right consistency. Do not lose sleep over this. A little thick or a little thin, these will still be delicious.
- Open a large, zip-top bag and tuck inside a large cup or glass with the bag folded back all around over the lip of the glass (like you'd put a trashcan liner in a trash can. This will help you get the batter into the bag without making a mess, especially if you don't have an extra set of hands to help you.
- Press the batter down into one corner of the bag. Once the water is boiling, lightly salt it, and then snip off about 1/4" of the corner of the bag.
- Hold the bag over the pot of boiling water, and stream the batter into the water.
- When all the noodles are floating, you're done. This will take about a minute. Drain the spaetzle and toss with the butter.
- Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the buttered spaetzle, a pinch of salt and pepper, and the reserved onions to the pan and cook, tossing with a spatula frequently, until the spaetzle turns a lovely deep golden-brown in spots, about 5 minutes.
Y’all, the MAE Farm Polish sausage is so flavorful and so juicy, and the local fruits and vegetables are so fresh, this is about the healthiest comfort food I can imagine. I know you’re going to love this 1-pot meal of sausage with apples onions and butternut squash.
Cook with foods raised locally with love and care, and remember it’s as close as your local farmers market. Next time you head out, grab a cooler and some ice packs, because along with your fruits, breads, and vegetables, you won’t want to forget the pork!