Blog submitted by Nadine Naujoks
Just east of Lake Lure in Cove Creek, Deer Valley Farms sits on 20 acres of rich bottom land. The family owned farm yields fruits and vegetables, herbs and flowers. What sets this farm apart from many like it in the area is a creek that comes down over about one-half mile of waterfalls producing the oxygen rich waters that trout just love. Twenty years ago owner Bob Young dug out an irregular shaped pond fed by the creek. The pond is roughly 3 acres and 14 feet deep and is home to about 4,000 rainbow trout.
Trout and salmon’s natural redness is due to astaxanthin, an anti-oxidant that wild salmon and trout absorb from their natural diet. Astaxathin is a natural carotene in the same family as beta-carotene that gives carrots, apricots and other vegetables their rich color. Only fish such as salmon and trout retain natural carotenes in their reddish-pinkish flesh. Many farmed fish have a paleness to their flesh due to being fed exclusively commercial foods and therefore an artificial astaxathin is added to give the meat the reddish color people expect in their trout and salmon.
Bob, a strictly organic farmer, attributes the consistent quality of the flesh, its beautiful color and delicate texture, to the quality of the water, natural environment of his pond and a special food formulated especially for rainbow trout. Most farmed fish food is about 22% protein and 8% fat. The food Bob uses is 48% protein and 18% fat.
Using cast nets, Bob works with upwards of 6 interns to harvest then clean, filet, weigh and package the fish for sale.
While Deer Valley Farms does not sell directly to the public, don’t fret, you can get Deer Valley Farms’ rainbow year ‘round at the Mill Spring Farm Store.
Tuscan Grilled Trout
A simple garlic-and-herb-infused oil combined with wine vinegar acts as both a basting liquid and a sauce for the fish. The trout skin protects the flesh and turns an appealing golden brown during grilling.
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, cut into thin slices
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
About 2 pounds trout fillets
Light the grill or heat the broiler. In a small stainless-steel saucepan, combine the oil, garlic, sage, and rosemary. Cook over moderately low heat until the garlic just starts to brown, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper.
Put the trout fillets in a medium glass dish or stainless-steel pan. Sprinkle the fish with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add half of the oil-and-vinegar mixture and turn to coat. Grill or broil the fish skin-side down for 2 minutes. Turn and cook until just done, about 2 minutes longer for 1/4-inch-thick fillets. To serve, whisk the remaining oil-and-vinegar mixture and pour it over the hot fish.