Those who know me well might recall that I’m not a huge fan of potatoes. I know, I know — how can someone not like potatoes (particularly someone who’s Irish!?!). But alas, they’ve never been my favorite vegetable. That’s not to say I haven’t had a few spuds that were, on all unbiased accounts, very well prepared. However, knowing that potatoes are a crowd pleaser, I’ve whipped up (no pun intended) several potato recipes in the past that have been, dare I say, quite delicious.
Recently I had the opportunity to interview two incredible farmers: Patrick Thiel from Prairie Creek and Cory Carman of Carman Ranch, for an article I wrote on behalf of Actively Northwest. The full article can be found below (and on ANW’s site here). And for those who are just looking for a few hearty recipes, keep on reading!
Argentine-Style Steak Salad with Cherry Tomatoes, Sweet Corn, and Chimichurri
Instead of serving a large steak to each person, make a giant salad and top with sliced, grilled flank steak for a filling meal. Chimichurri sauce, a classic accompaniment for grilled steak in Argentina, is loaded with fresh herbs making a bright, flavorful addition to this fall harvest salad.
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley (1/2 large bunch)
- 2 tablespoons oregano leaves
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup sherry or red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
In a food processor, pulse together all ingredients until coarsely ground, but not fully pureed. Set aside to let flavors meld. Meanwhile, grill the steak:
For the steak:
- 1.5 pound grass-finished flank, skirt or hangar steak
- 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
- Olive oil for grilling
Heat a grill over medium high. Brush steaks with olive oil, and sprinkle steak with salt and pepper. Grill over medium high heat 5 minutes on first side. Flip, and take internal temperature. Continue grilling another 5-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the steak, until the internal temp reaches 125 for rare, 130 for medium rare, 140 for medium well (note that the temp will continue to rise after you remove it from the grill). Set aside, tent with foil for to rest for 10 minutes (if you slice into it immediately, all the juices will run out). Meanwhile, make the salad:
For the salad:
- 8 oz arugula, washed and dried
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes (sungold, sweet 100s, or other local tomato)
- 2 ears of corn, shucked and kernels cut from the cob (no need to cook, fresh raw corn is delicious!)
- 2 Tablespoons each red wine vinegar and olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus black pepper to taste
While the steak is resting, whisk together oil, vinegar and salt. Toss arugula with the vinaigrette in a large bowl. Top with the tomatoes and corn, and set aside.
Slice steak thinly across the grain (do not cut with the grain, or it will be tough). Top salad with slices of steak, and drizzle with Chimichurri sauce.
Warm Roasted Potatoes with Mustard and Herbs
This simple, classic potato preparation is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Perfect served with a juicy steak, but also a great accompaniment for grilled fish or chicken.
Small waxy potatoes, such as fingerlings or Yukon Gold, will hold their shape during roasting. For those in the Portland area, check out Prairie Creek Farm at the PSU farmer’s market a variety of locally grown, organic potatoes.
- 1 lb. small waxy potatoes, such as fingerling or Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled but scrubbed well.
- 1 Tablespoon. chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat an oven to 400°F
If the potatoes are larger than 1 1/2 inches in diameter, slice them in half. Place them on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with the herbs. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, garlic and mustard. Drizzle the mixture evenly over the potatoes, then season generously with salt and pepper. Toss to coat the potatoes evenly, then spread them out in a single layer.
Roast the potatoes, tossing them 2 or 3 times, until the skins are golden and the flesh is tender when pierced with a fork, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a warmed serving dish and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Mini Meatloaves with Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans
Meatloaf is delicious, but unfortunately many renditions are greasy, heavy and bland. This meatloaf is made with grass finished beef, which has a more pronounced “beefiness” and is lower in saturated fat than the meat from corn-finished cattle. A secret ingredient to keep the meatloaf moist: grated carrots. Pick up some organic carrots from Prairie Creek’s farmstand, or your own local market to add a bit of sweetness and fiber to these quick meatloaves.
The best part of this meal is that everything can be roasted on sheet pans in the oven, making cooking a snap.
- 1 pound Yukon Gold or red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch wedges
- 1 pound green beans, trimmed
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt + pepper to taste
- 2 pounds grass-finished beef
- 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 1/3 cup milk
- 3 carrots, grated
- 1/2 yellow onion, grated
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tablespoon worcestershire
- 1/4 cup ketchup (look for one made without corn syrup)
Heat oven to 425-degrees.
Combine potatoes, beans, garlic, and thyme on a jelly-roll pan. Drizzle with oil sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Set aside while making meatloaves.
Combine beef, milk, breadcrumbs, carrot, onion, egg, 2 tablespoons ketchup, Worcestershire and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Form the mixture into 8 small loaves about 2 by 4 inches each and place on a greased baking sheet. Brush the tops with the remaining ketchup.
Roast the vegetables on the upper rack and the meatloaves on the lower rack until potatoes are tender, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meatloaves registers 165°F, approximately 30 minutes.
Prairie Creek and Carman Ranch
Name: Patrick Thiel and Cory Carman
Find Prairie Creek and Carman Ranch at the Portland Farmers Market
There is nothing more traditional or satisfying than a meat and potatoes dinner. But just because it’s hearty doesn’t mean it can’t be healthy. In fact, a meal of grass finished beef, organic potatoes and fresh vegetables will fulfill both your appetite and nutritional needs. And there’s no better place to find the makings for this feast than the Prairie Creek – Carman Ranch booth at the Portland Farmers Market, your one-stop-shop for local meat and potatoes.
The Prairie Creek and Carman Ranch Story
Both Prairie Creek and Carman Ranch have long, storied family histories of farming the Wallowa Valley in eastern Oregon. Yet one thing has remained constant through the generations: a profound appreciation, respect and devotion to the land, their product, and the communities they serve. Today, both Cory Carman and Patrick Thiel have taken charge of their respective family businesses, and through their stewardship have helped advance Oregon’s growing local food movement with a focus on sustainable, community-focused food production.
Actively Northwest had the opportunity to speak with both Cory and Patrick, and through these conversations it became apparent that these two producers share more than just a farm stand at the PSU market.
Both Cory and Patrick grew up in the farming community of eastern Oregon, and both spent time away pursuing other interests before eventually returning to the family business. Patrick’s early aspirations in aerospace led him to study manufacturing engineering in college. But his family’s farm hit hard times while he was away, prompting his return to Oregon. “As an artisan farmer my Dad couldn’t manage it all, but together the two of us made it work. I stayed farming with him because it was his lifeblood, and while it’s difficult at times, I’m much happier in this lifestyle.”
Patrick’s father, Gene Thiel, was not only a dedicated farmer, he was one of the early champions of the organic food movement in Oregon. Under Gene and Patrick’s careful nurturing of the soil and crops, Prairie Creek’s potatoes gained wide acclaim, and their vegetables frequently appear on the menus of Portland’s top restaurants.
So what makes Prairie Creek’s produce so special? “It’s the land,” Patrick explained. “Our climate and our soil is very healthy, and as a result there is a unique flavor that is noticeable in our product. The cooler climate brings out the sugars, and the glacial silt is high in minerals, imparting a special taste and a nutritional value that you can’t get out of the clay soils in California.”
Cory Carman was also raised in the Wallowa Valley, spending her childhood riding horses and helping her parents and grandparents raise cattle. But like Patrick, she departed to pursue her own interests, earning a degree in public policy and taking a job on Capitol Hill. Yet during one summer when Cory returned to help out, she rediscovered her attachment to the land and passion for ranching. Cory and her husband, Dave Flynn, have raised their own family on the ranch, carrying the torch of the generations before her.
Like Patrick and Gene Thiel, the Carman family maintains a deep appreciation for the natural environment, which is reflected in the quality, taste and nutritional value of their beef. As Cory explained, “like fine wine, there is an actual terroir – or flavor profile — in the beef based on where the animal is grown, how they are raised, and the types of grasses they eat. (Oregon) has phenomenal grassland, and our cattle’s taste and nutritional content reflects the quality of the grass they consume.”
Not only does Carman Ranch’s beef taste delicious, it’s also much better for you than commercially raised and processed meat. “What we’re doing is different from the vast majority of other ranches that claim to be producing grass-fed beef. Most of those cattle are finished — meaning they are fattened up — on grain in a feedlot, before being slaughtered in large processing plants. Our cattle is grass finished, meaning they eat grass their entire life, and they never go on a feedlot. The beef is much higher in healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, lower in saturated fat, and higher in essential vitamins and minerals.
While health benefits and taste are reason enough to seek out their market stand, the most inspiring aspect of the Carman Ranch – Prairie Creek story is the collaboration between these two operations. Realizing that staffing a market stand was unmanageable on their own, they trade off market days to help ease the burden of driving over 300 miles each way to serve the Portland community every week.
This shared effort and collaboration is not unique to these farms, but reflects the greater movement toward community-supported, sustainable, and healthy farming practices across the Northwest. “It’s a collaborative community with a swelling effect that is being mimicked across the country,” Patrick explains. “People are working hard to express their talents, and they aren’t doing it competitively; they’re doing it with courage to do what is best for the land, and for the community as a whole.” For Cory, this same community motivates her through long days on the ranch. “I love the connection with people who are committed to this more natural, healthy way of raising and growing food. We are struggling to keep up with demand, and that’s a good sign not only for our business, but for the local food movement overall.”
For those who want to support this community, or simply want to try the delicious vegetables and beef grown by these two producers, visit them at the Portland Farmers Market through the end of fall. And once you’ve stocked up, check out these hearty, healthful recipe ideas for your next meat-and-potatoes dinner.