Farmers' Kitchen—Andean Agriculture
Written onNovember 25 , 2015
Located on the southern slope of Mt. Ascutney in Weathersfield, Cas-Cad-Nac Farm (CCNF) has been our home since 1995. A true labor of love, we originally purchased the property specifically for starting an alpaca-breeding operation. Today CCNF is a full-time, diversified, family-run enterprise.
Our farm has three primary sources of revenue. We are first and foremost producers of high-end alpaca-breeding stock, which we sell both throughout the U.S. and internationally. We’re also the co-owners of the Vermont Fiber Mill & Studio in Brandon, where we turn the majority of our herd’s annual fiber clip (alpacas are, after all, fiber-producing animals) into finished yarns and top for sale nationwide. Last, each year we process 30 to 40 of our 250 animals into a selection of fine meats (inspected by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture), which we offer for sale to individual consumers, to several local restaurants, and online.
Although relatively new to the North American culinary landscape, alpaca is a delicacy in many parts of Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, and for thousands of years has been a staple protein of the Andean Altiplano, where the animals originated. Alpaca is a mild flavored and lean red meat; when asked to describe it, we most often liken it to veal. It is a versatile meat, capable of working in a variety of different types of cuisines and recipes.
We already had been processing some of our non-
breeding animals for a few years when we met Pam Knights, one of the co-founders of the Vermont Fresh Network. Nowadays, Pam runs her own communications firm, Pam Knights Communications, and she works with farmers, restaurants, and the hospitality industry, so we began working with her on marketing our farm and its alpaca meat. The relationship brought us into contact with Pam’s son, Chef Jean-Luc Matecat. It was Jean-Luc who was the first chef here in Vermont to champion our alpaca, and he worked with us on developing the 18 recipes that would eventually become the Cas-Cad-Nac Farm Cookbook. Our family’s favorite recipe to come out of that project is Chef Matecat’s version of steak frites, which uses our alpaca striploin medallions. Lately, we’ve served them with the addition of a garlicky chimichurri sauce on the side. The combination of the tender little steaks with the nexus of salt, pepper, garlic, cilantro, and olive oil is very hard to beat!
Ian and Jennifer Lutz own Cas-Cad-Nac Farm in Weathersfield. The farm’s cookbook and its various cuts of alpaca meat may be purchased at the farm itself or can be ordered from the online store at CCNFalpaca.com.