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Minnesota Meat Markets


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#1 snowangel

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 07:11 PM

Paul is fascinated with Minnesota history, and our family history has been one of many, many road trips (no longer in a 1963 Chevy pick-up or a 1990 Ford Bronco; nor do we keep beer in the car, we now have a mini-van :blink: and kids).

But the mini-van now sports a coupla books -- one on Minnesota place names, and one on historical places and markers. It also sports a map and a nice computer print-out of meat markets. I actually call the meat markets for hours and we plan our trips accordingly. Since most of these places are closed on Sundays, our Sunday drives now occur on Saturday.

Now, when we go for meat, we go for sausages and bacon, not fresh meat.

In the past year and a half, we have been to not one, not two, but 22 (!) places that sell "artisnal" sausages and bacon. Now, up here in Minnesota, they do not call them artisnal, but they are. Locally produced from home-spun family recipes. The resutls have ranged from the remarkable to the forgettable.

One thing that's interesting is that as we head to the northeastern part of the state, there isn't much, although the quad cities (Virginia, Hibbing, Eveleth, Mountain Iron) is an exception -- perhaps because of the Italian influence. But, Southern MN is amazing. Chalk it up to the German/Czeck influence.

But, even here in the Twin Cities, within 30 minutes of my house in the culinary wasteland called Coon Rapids, I can get to more places that are doing charcuterie than I can count on one hand.

I've got some serious notes on the places we have visited, and in the next couple of days, will document them all. Tomorrow morning, to celebrate Paul's birthday, we will have a bacon taste-testing of bacons purchased in Hampton, Cannon Falls, Dennison and Nerstrand.

And oh my, were the colors in the Big Woods State Park in Nerstrand breathtaking today!

So, let's keep track of our favorite places for bacon and sausauges (include fresh meat if you wish). Supermarkets need not apply.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#2 ilikefood

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Posted 12 October 2008 - 06:14 PM

Snowangel,

Thank you for documenting your travels and experiences. I look forward seeing where you have been and what's good to eat. Although I live in River Falls, Wisconsin and drive to St. Paul every day, I haven't had the time and money to search out the good meat places. Hopefully this will change :)

#3 Hard H2O

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Posted 13 October 2008 - 09:03 AM

Snowangel,

Thank you for documenting your travels and experiences. I look forward seeing where you have been and what's good to eat. Although I live in River Falls, Wisconsin and drive to St. Paul every day, I haven't had the time and money to search out the good meat places. Hopefully this will change :)

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Flicker's in White Bear is a good start.

Jordan's in Woodbury is also good. They process our deer.

Morreli's is nice.

Nadeau's Market in Hugo used to do our beef.

Braham Meat Locker does our beef now.

Edited by Hard H2O, 13 October 2008 - 09:05 AM.


#4 snowangel

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Posted 13 October 2008 - 03:15 PM

So, let's reprise our most recent weekend before we get to previous ones.

What's so amazing is how small these towns are, and how the local "meat locker" is so busy.

Hampton: Greg's. They were on my radar because they placed #1 in bacon at the state fair. This place is in the middle of no-where, on Hwy. 52, just south of Hampton. Very visible because it's on the highway and the side facing south-bound traffic says something like "smoked meat." This place was hopping. Old guys bringing in their dead chickens, cows and pigs for processing. We bought some ring sausage and bacon. We bought the regular bacon, not the double smoked. For breakfast, this ranked highest, because it was the sweetest of what we had purchased. For BLT's, a thumbs down. Just goes to show that bacon in different dishes serves different purposes. We haven't tried the sausage yet.

Cannon Falls: Lorentz Meat's. Oddly, they don't have a retail location, but do sell their wares at the EconoFoods on Main Street. They do have a dedicated cooler at the EconoFoods that only has their products. A variety of sausages and bacon (only one kind). This was my favorite all purpose bacon of this taste testing (only the four we visited that beautiful Saturday). None of the sausages hit me that day, so no Lorentz sausages for a future report. (I should add that I'm not a big fan of smoked sausages -- call me a heretic because in general, I'm all over smoked meat products).

Denison: Meat Locker. I'm not even sure what the name is. Dennison, for as beautiful as the area is, is singularly and unattractive town, and this place was a hole in the wall. They had one cooler with a couple of kinds of sausages (none in stock for what was advertised on the sign) and three packages of bacon. More on their bacon after the Nerstrand report. Clearly, they are a meat locker, and their purpose is primarily for breaking down cows, chickens and pigs. They had a HUGE freezer.

Nerstrand: Nerstand Meat Market. This place was hopping, just like Greg's. We got bacon, and as I perused the sausage selection, I saw a packaged with a printed label that said "misc" with the word "RED" printed in red Sharpee above it. What a lovely choice. This was a fab sausage -- redolent of sweet red peppers and a few -- remember this is Scandinavian MN Lutheran country -- a very nice blens, not too finely ground, not too coarse. I wish I'd bought more.

But, back to the bacon. Greg's was the favorite for breakfast, and we were a house divided on the rest -- I liked Lorentz best, Peter Nerstrand and Paul Dennison.

These are all homespun places, and we are clearly the strangers, as the owner gets caught up on Norma's health (she has cancer) and Joyce's new baby. But, they are friendly, and have all of the time in the world to talk about their product.

If we don't head to the Cabin this weekend, we're contemplating a run to Foley, MN (4 meat markets!) and Pierz (which has a meat market that the NYTimes proclaimed a few years ago has the best bacon in the country).

Such bounty!
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#5 snowangel

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Posted 13 October 2008 - 03:27 PM

Now, I digress, and return to a 4th of July trip, and some not smoked meat.

We were heading to Duluth for a night with a friend, and bound and determined to take Scenic Highway 23, peeling off 35 at Askov. I dutifully did my duty to search out meat markets.

One popped up (that I didn't know about) -- Kettle River Jerky. I mapquested it, and found what looked like the right place. A steel building, with just a house number. I gingerly knocked on the door, and a "come on in" was heard. Me: "Do you sell retail?" Her: "Why of course." Me: "Let me get my husband from the car, he has the money."

Turns out they turn out a lot of jerky. They make jerky two days a week, and three days a week he delivers to convenience stores (Her: "We go as far south a Hinkley!")

So, Paul and I talked to her about what kinds of jerky (flavors) they sell, and we settle on terikayi (sp?) for Peter and sweet and spicy for Paul. So, she takes us into the back room, she goes into the cooler and pulls out two packages, each 4 oz. No sooner does she pull them out that she realizes that these are unlabled packages, and she doesn't remember which is which. We don't care, figuring we'll figure it out as we eat it. We get to the front room to pay, and she asks if we'd like a bag on the hot and spicy jerky ends.

Price? $5.00 for 12 oz. of jerkey. Memory? Priceless.

Minnesota is amazing.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#6 snowangel

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 03:36 PM

Although we have been to four meat markets today, I will go back to our last weekend at The Cabin.

We left here on a Friday morning, and try as we might, we cannot find a meat market in Cloquet. They are all closed up.

So, first stop was F & D meats in Virginia. We got some sausages for the freezer (jalapeno and garlic brats -- both are winners). We have tried their bacon in the past, and don't care for it as much as some others that are available in the state. Part of the problem is that they slice it too thick (for more on my thoughts on this, click here.

Also at F & D, we got a Fraboni's ring balogna. Although Paul liked it, Peter and I found it too "mushy" (read, well too emulsified) and quite frankly, it surely could have used some garlic or something else for "punch." We've tried Fraboni's bacon and breakfast sausage a while ago, and the former was too thickly sliced, and the latter were, well, lacking in something.

Next stop was Zup's in Cook. This place is nice because it is a full-service supermarket, so I can pick up all of the stuff I've forgotten (and BTW, they now have better bagged ice than they used to have; bigger cubes do last longer in a cocktail!). We got bacon and some pork sausage.

Zup's has really great bacon, and the price was right. $2.99/lb. The breakfast sausage was just so-so -- certainly not nearly seasoned enough.

Finally, on the way home, we stopped at TJ's Country Corner in Mahtowa. We've been driving south on I-35 for years, and seeing this sign -- "our wurst is best" -- so we have stopped twice this summer. Mahtowa is so small that it doesn't even have a population listed on the Town Sign. This is a full service store -- gas station (very pricey), but they do have a clean bathroom, can sell you a fishing/hunting license, serves as the DNR station, and also serves as the post-office. It is also sort of a full service grocery, dispensing not only most anything you'd want (not a large selection, but they cover the basics), but advice to the town folks. It's clear that folks come from aways away for the brats. They do not smoke meats, so all of their sausages are fresh, and they do carry some regional and seasonal specialties that are hard to come by. The flavour of the jalapeno brats this time were great, but the texture a bit dry. I'd try then again, figuring that maybe it was just that batch of pork. But, the onion and garlic were spot on.

More on our finding today tomorrow and in the coming days, and I really need to get caught up on the stuff I haven't posted about yet. There are some real gems here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes!
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#7 snowangel

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 08:50 AM

Last weekend, we headed west and hit four meat markets, and yesterday morning had a bacon taste testing. For a bacon taste testing, we lay the bacon slices out on a rack oover a half sheet pan. The bacon is laid out in alpha order by name of meat market, and by using a rack, the grease doesn't co-mingle. Might not be totally scientific, but it sure is a fun way to start a weekend.

First stop was at McDonald's Meats in Clear Lake, MN. This place is just south of Highway 10, and are one of our favorites. Our family thinks they have the best bacon (try the regular or the raspberry chipotle). Best yet, one of Heidi's PCA's goes to school in St. Cloud, so when she heads back to the Cities, will often stop and shop for me! We also picked up a package of their jalapeno/cheddar smoked brats for Diana; I personally don't think cheese (other than feba) has a place in a sausage, but they are her favorites. We also got a package of salsa brats. I would have preferred a bit more kick, but these were outstanding brats. Nice grind, the right amount of fat/emulsification. We did not include their bacon in the taste testing.

Next stop was St. Joe's Meat Market in St. Joseph. This place was hopping, and is one of the most full-service markets we've been too -- not only do they have tons of meat, but a healthy selection of groceries, as well. Busy enough that it was a "take a number" day. Here, we got bacon, and some sort of ring sausage called "Grebnoski-Eikmeir Style." They not only had the regular cuts of meat, brats, sausages, bacon, etc. that we see at all of these meat markets, but a mind-boggling array of offal. Sweet breads were $3.29/lb. Why didn't I get any?

Next stop was in Pierz at Theilen's Meat Market. They also have a store in Little Falls (home of Charles Lindberg, for you history buffs). Several years ago, the New York Times pronounced them as having the Best Bacon in the country. So, naturally, we got bacon. We also got a package of what they call "little brats." Think a brat that's sort of in between a regular brat and a hot dog in size. The brats were absolutely outstanding -- they tie in our opinions with another place (more on that one in another post) for best in the state.

The final stop was at the Foley Meat Locker. Foley is amazing. A town of just over 2,000 folks with not one, not two, but FIVE meat markets. This is an area of the state with a tremendous amount of cattle, sheep, etc. In fact, I think on our drive from St. Cloud to Foley, we saw at least two creameries. When we got to the Foley Meat Locker, the sign said they were closed, but the person exiting, saw us and said that yes, although they were closed, they'd still be happy to help us. Purchases were bacon and tomato/basil brats. The latter, while outstanding as a brat, could have used some more basil or tomatoes. Perhaps sun-dried tomatoes would have been a better option. We also got a package of coarse ground weiners, which regularly take the Grand Champion award at the Minnesota State Fair. We have not tried the weiners yet.

So, as to our bacon taste-testing. As I mentioned earlier, we did not include McDonalds. The bacon from St. Joe's Meat Market was the least cured and smoked of the lot, and we would probably not get it again. Theilen's and Foley met with a mixed verdict. Theilen's was much smokier, but Foley's was a bit saltier (but not too salty). We sort of agreed that Foley's made a better breakfast bacon, but we'd prefer Theilen's on a BLT or burger.

One word of advice if you are intending to hit any of these small town meat markets. Call ahead for hours. Some are open until 5:00 or 6:00 pm on Saturdays, but many of them close sometime between noon and 2:00 pm. Hours last weekend, and for the next few weekends will be vastly expanded due to the deer hunting season. In fact, many of them will even be open on Sundays. The reason Foley was actually open a couple of hours later last weekend was due to preparation for the venison season.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#8 Darcie B

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 08:33 AM

Susan, thanks for doing this leg work - my husband and I are moving to Faribault at the beginning of December (what a time to move to MN!), and knowing that we can get good bacon is reassuring, since we ran out of our home smoked bacon and won't have time to smoke any more until we get settled in.

Do you know if any of the places closer to us (Nerstrand, Cannon Falls, Dennison) offer fresh meats? I'm looking for a good butcher too.
Visit my blog: Bakin-n-bacon
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#9 snowangel

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Posted 06 January 2009 - 04:01 PM

Darcie:

The place in Dennison was basically a meat locker -- seemed as if most of what they did was butcher and wrap for someone who provided their own animal. Check out the meat market in Nerstrand.

I'm sorry to say that we haven't done Faribault yet, so I don't know what they have to offer, but the place in Hastings looked great (not that far). I'm surprised to note that Northfield doesn't seem to sport a meat market!

Another place that has come highly recommended is a place called Nick's in Hayward, MN (Albert Lea area).

Oh, and since you are moving here, you absolutely must find Hope butter. Locally produced in Hope, MN. A few years ago, some Twin Cities chefs did some comparisons of butters -- fancy European ones, some up-scale American ones, and Hope won, hands down. (They tested on bread, in baked goods and for sauteeing.)

This reminds me that I need to pull out my list and give details on some other spots.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#10 snowangel

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Posted 07 February 2009 - 12:51 PM

Last weekend, we made a trip to New Ulm, which we visit two or three times per year (close friends).

Anyone who drives to New Ulm should not miss a stop in Nicollet at Schmitt's Meat Market. Nicollet is a small town with two meat markets, but Schmitt's is the clear winner (we've had bacon from the other place -- George's -- and it was disappointing, but they do offer strange meats, like ostrich).

Anyway, at 11:00 am, Schmitt's was hopping. They must have had 20 staff working, and there must have been 50 customers in the store. We got bacon (always good), habernero beef sticks (also outstanding), some ring sausage and cannibal (hand-chopped sirloin mixed with diced white onions and pepper). They were so busy we had to wait for them to finish the second batch of cannibal. We also picked up a load of venison summer sausage and brats for my FIL -- he opted to have it processed at Schmitt's. But, if there's one thing you MUST buy if you visit Schmitt's is their garlic summer sausage. They just flat excel at this. Nicely smoked, and not too mushy. I don't think "dry" is the right word, but it's the best word I can think of. I also picked up four of the most beautiful pork chops I've seen in years.

On a previous trip to New Ulm, we detoured to Sleepy Eye to their meat market. Disappointing bacon; outstanding breakfast sausage.

The other stop on that trip was to the Sausage Shoppe in New Ulm. Minnesota Monthly had proclaimed that they have the best brats in the state. I'd beg to differ.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#11 Betts

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Posted 17 April 2009 - 02:08 PM

Oh Susan - I love your posts. I know that this is the neighbor to the east but I have it on good authority- the guy who cuts my hair and an avid foodie- that Nolochek is A-one.

http://www.nolechekmeats.com

Personally - I'm not wild about Thielen's bacon but it has a huge following.

I love a Sat morning trip to Kramarzchuk's (sp?) for a one stop sausage -a -palooza. Love, love, love the krakowska - put it in the trunk for the ride home, your car won't smell the same again and the #1 Polish.

If you are close enough to Canada to get genuine peameal bacon, the kind that a butcher cuts off the piece for you and then home to a fry pan and toast -- HEAVEN.

#12 snowangel

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 07:21 PM

We head north in a week to our cabin (to celebrate my b-day!), so naturally, I'm always on the look-out for new meat markets. And, once again, I'm thinking meat of the smoked and cured variety, not just a good steak (although I'm always on the look out for those).

We regularly stop at F & D in Virginia and Zups in Cook, but two others are on my radar -- Makinen Market in Makinen, MN and the Koshar Sausage Kitchen in Gilbert.

Anyone have experience with either of these places? I'm thinking we'll hit both of them.

Also, if it's rainy, a trip to The Falls (International Falls) will be in the works. Anything worth reporting on in Da Falls (food-wise)?
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#13 snowangel

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Posted 05 August 2009 - 09:05 PM

A report. We stopped at the Koshar Sausage Shop in Gilbert on our way to the cabin, after stopping at Half Moon Lake (just south of Eveleth) to drop off care packages for two of the kids (one a counselor, one a camper -- and, think crap like Pringles, Sour War Heads, etc.).

This was a really nice place. Extremely clean, and very clearly a sausage shop. No "meat" other than sausages. Best polish sausages I've ever had. Very smoky, and very "wrinkly" and dry when purchased. Since it was raining when we got to the cabin, we stuck them in a skillet with some water, and they plumped nicely. Good spice, plenty of garlic, nice coarse grind. We also got some wild rice brats, which were outstanding.

This place is like four miles off the beaten Hwy. 53 path to Virginia, so we will go back. Note: their sausages are more expensive than those at F & D in Virginia or Zup's in Cook, but they are worth it, if you don't want jalapeno.

Gilbert itself is interesting. A typical Iron Range town, the houses are cheek to jowl. Very tidy. 1,800 people, 8 bars, and a couple of off-sale places.

So, from Gilbert, we stopped in Virginia at F&D Meats. Jalapeno Brats and Jalapeno Bacon. I continue to ask them to slice the bacon for me, as the stuff in the case is just a bit too thick. Just north of F & D, every day of the week at this time of year, is a farmer's market with some good stuff.

But, on the way home, we stopped at the Makinen Meat Market. Scary. This place is a combo of convenience store, liquor store, meat market, post office. There must have been an on-sale part as well, as the entire joint smelled not of sausages, but of stale beer and smokes. Their sausages were a buck and a half more per pound then I've ever seen, and we couldn't even get anyone to help us. So, I used the restroom, and we got back to the Hyw. 53 and stopped a bought a Coke.

Edited to add: We also stopped at Zup's for ice and milk, and some smoked fish. I really like the smoked whitefish from Everett's in Port Wing, WI that we get at Zup's in Cook.

Edited by snowangel, 05 August 2009 - 09:08 PM.

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#14 snowangel

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 08:21 PM

The Porketta from F & D Meatsin Virginia is 'da bomb. We liked it better than the Fraboni's (wich we had a a year ago). A friend picked up a porketta from Zup's (the Cook location) on her way home on Monday, and decided after cooking the Zup's one that she liked F&D's better. We just wished we more liked their bacon. For us, it's Zup's or MacDonald's in Clear Lake, until we make more trips and discover yet more bacon.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#15 Hard H2O

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Posted 25 September 2009 - 11:00 AM

I know this is about Minnesota meat markets but I recently visited a good one in Hudson, WI. Is that close enough?

My company moved from Oakdale, MN to River Falls, WI. The commute takes me through a bit of new territory.

One of the service guys is from the area and has brought in sausage from R.J.'s Meats in Hudson and cookies from Best Made in River falls. I knew I had to stop and try both.

I first stopped at the outlet store at Best Made. Their cookies are awesome and the outlet store has a great selection. The snickerdoodle, sugar, chocolate chip, and oatmeal raisin are fabulous. I am not a big fan of the English toffee. I am going to have to go back for more cookies, bars, frozen dough...

R.J.'s is a champion sausage house in WI. I think the took home a few ribbons this year at the WI state fair. I bought some blueberry wild rice summer sausage, mushroom and swiss brats, and tomato and basil brats. All were delicious. R.J.'s will be a regular stop for me in my commute home.

#16 snowangel

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Posted 25 September 2009 - 12:06 PM

Hudson is definitely close enough, and likely to be on the map for a Saturday fall/colours day trip. Thanks for the recommendation. Does R. J.'s also do bacon?
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#17 snowangel

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 09:13 AM

Last Saturday was a beautiful day, so we headed over to the St. Croix, driving from north of Taylor's Falls all the way down to Point Douglas (confluence of the St. Croix and the Mighty Miss). We detoured to Hudson and stopped at R. J's. We got bacon and brats. The brats were very good, but not the best I've had. The bacon, which is sliced to order, is a really really great breakfast bacon. Not overly smokey, just the right amount of sweet. I wouldn't use it as a flavouring agent in a pasta dish (for example) because I'd opt for something stronger, but for breakfast, absolutely wonderful. I'm also impressed that they slice to order, since I'm sort of picky about that -- I don't want it thin or thick, just somewhere in the middle.
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#18 TheUnknownCook

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 03:29 AM

snowangel:
I'm not much of a carnivore anymore, but I have heard of Wrazidlo's Old World Meats, 226 S Basswood Ave, Duluth, MN 55811 (218) 722-2333

Da' Range['I'm from Da' Range, I'm Da' Ranged!'--NOT!]:
You already know about Koshar's in Gilbert, and F&D Meats in Virginia. I heard that the Zupancich brothers won some sausage competition, and they also work at the meat department at Eveleth Country Foods. The Zupancich family have stores in: Aurora, Babbitt, Cook, Ely, Silver Bay.
If I hear of any good butcher shops, I'll let you know. :cool:
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#19 MattJohnson

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 07:59 AM

Last weekend, we made a trip to New Ulm, which we visit two or three times per year (close friends).

Anyone who drives to New Ulm should not miss a stop in Nicollet at Schmitt's Meat Market. Nicollet is a small town with two meat markets, but Schmitt's is the clear winner (we've had bacon from the other place -- George's -- and it was disappointing, but they do offer strange meats, like ostrich).

Anyway, at 11:00 am, Schmitt's was hopping. They must have had 20 staff working, and there must have been 50 customers in the store. We got bacon (always good), habernero beef sticks (also outstanding), some ring sausage and cannibal (hand-chopped sirloin mixed with diced white onions and pepper). They were so busy we had to wait for them to finish the second batch of cannibal. We also picked up a load of venison summer sausage and brats for my FIL -- he opted to have it processed at Schmitt's. But, if there's one thing you MUST buy if you visit Schmitt's is their garlic summer sausage. They just flat excel at this. Nicely smoked, and not too mushy. I don't think "dry" is the right word, but it's the best word I can think of. I also picked up four of the most beautiful pork chops I've seen in years.


Just got around to this topic. I have to agree with you! My grandparents live in New Ulm and growing up we often were passing through. I'd always angle for the beef sticks. The summer sausage is fantastic. The place is synonymous with grandma, grandpa in my mind. I wish I could get there more often.

#20 snowangel

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 03:38 PM

Thanks, Unknown, for the reference to Old World Meats in Duluth. I don't know how that one has escaped me, but we're going up to Duluth for a weekend in December, and it will definitely be a stop.

And, glad, Matt, that you have enjoyed and has as many memories of Schmitt's as we have.

I finally found my notes about a pheasant hunting trip we took last year (to New Richland to my best friend's family farm). We left early, and really took the long way there (road construction). From that trip:

Pekama Meat Market in Jordan (they don't have a website). Bacon (slices to order, which I always like as I can specify how thick I want it -- half way between thick and thin). Outstanding, as were the brats.

Odenthal Meats in Heiderberg, MN (just south of New Prague). Oddly enough New Prague (as German a town as you can find, next to New Ulm) doesn't seem to have a meat market (or at least a Google search didn't reveal one), but Heiderberg is just a couple of miles south. Bacon was fine (we've had better, and we've sure had far worse!), but the country smoked sausages were outstanding.

We also hit a place in New Richland -- Morgan's Meat Market in New Ulm and Steve's Meat Market in Ellendale (interesting history on the name of Ellendale; PM me if you are interested). Morgan's was largely a meat locker with very little in a case to offer. Bacon at both was servicable, but I would not go out of my way for these two places.

Oh, but I forgot about Montgomery, which we also hit on the way down. A town of 2,500, 3 meat markets. Edel's had absolutely wonderful brats. Good bacon. Not the best, but way better than average. The Montgomery Meat Locker was just that, primarily a meat locker. They had two types of brats, we bought two of each -- definitely way above average. Then there was Kenik's Meat Processing. Decent stuff. Since Montgomery is home to may of the Czech's in MN, we also got some kolochy's (sp?).

For some reason, the more sophisticated the web side, the lower the quality, although there are many folks out there who would consider what is offered in these towns puts to shame what most supermarkets can produce. We're picky, and with good reason.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#21 snowangel

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Posted 01 December 2009 - 10:36 PM

For the past 13 Thanksgiving Day weekends, three college buddies (we've known each other since the mid-70's!) head to Blue Fin Bay for a long weekend (three rules -- no kids, no pets, no husbands), complete with chick flicks, music and a ton of cooking.

Bacon makes an appearance, and we all make a point of stopping at new-to-us meat markets in search of "artisnal" bacon.

For the last six years at Blue Fin, we've had the same "neighbors." Somehow, as we've become acquainted with them (I think it was in the outdoor -- yes, we get into an outdoor hot tub in MN in November), the topic of bacon came up. So, I came armed with bacon from Hackenmeuller's in Robbinsdale and they came armed with bacon from Fred's IGA in Nashwauk.

In the plain bacon taste test, they tied. But, the killer was the garlic pepper bacon from Fred's. That stuff, on toasted sourdough, with lettuce, mayo and oven-roasted cherry tomatoes was to die for. Might replace my current BLT fav, which is the jalapeno bacon from F & D in Virginia.

Our neighbors and us agreed that we do need to be on the lookout for meat markets that smoke their own in small towns and have another exchange next year!
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#22 snowangel

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Posted 07 December 2009 - 09:54 PM

While not a meat market, a recent stop at Russ Kendall's in Knife River, MN (on scenic 61 between Duluth and Two Harbors) served as a reminder just why I stop there every time I've within shouting distance of Duluth. We're heading to Duluth this weekend, and will be sure and report on Old World Meats.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#23 dave43

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Posted 08 December 2009 - 09:46 PM

I know this thread is more about sausage and bacon and it looks like Susan has done her homework but one gem is absent from this thread. Northern Waters Smokehaus in Duluth. The owner Eric Goerdt recently took top prize for his Salamini at Batali's Salumi's contest in Seattle. his stuff is ridiculously good especially considering the fact that he hasn't been making salumi too long...in fact he finished the dry cure course at Iowa State not too long ago. This is the same course that noted Head to tail chef Chris Consentino of Incanto/Boccalone and Mike Phillip's of Minneapolis' Craftsmen completed. Also it's not bacon and not Minnesota but La Quercia should be mentioned for making prosciutto that rivals Italy's best. Just like Goerdt's Artisan Salumi, la Quercia in Iowa is using the finest free range Berkshire pork to make charcuterie that rivals anything out there.

#24 Smithy

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 05:41 PM

Sorry I'm so late coming to this party. Yes, by all means for the Duluth area: Old World Meats, Northern Waters Smokehaus and honorable mention to Russ Kendall's in Knife River! Northern Waters does wonderful things with cured meats and smoked fish, and in general I prefer their smoked fish to that of Russ Kendall's. They also make a mean sandwich. Russ Kendall's has a quirkier old-North-Shore atmosphere, and their fish is good.

Old World Meats has an old-fashioned atmosphere of good meats, fresh and cured, and the knowledge of what to do with them. If you call ahead to check on a supply (say, short ribs) they can probably get them for you. They'll cut to order. They're friendly. And they have a surprisingly good stock of fresh fish and seafood. I'm not as crazy about their smoked salmon as of Northern Waters' but I'd never turn it down, either. This is the third generation of Wrazidlos to run the business, and I hope they do well. I'm pretty sure they're open on Sunday, also. We got a free-range turkey from them a couple of years ago when we were going to be in town, and there was no comparison with the poor Jenny-O things from the grocery store.

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#25 snowangel

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 10:23 PM

Thanks, Nancy and Dave, for the recommendation for the Northern Waters Snokehaus. I'll force my husband to turn off of thre freewya and head to Canal Park this weekend. And, we'll stop at Old World Meats.

But, we will also stop at Kendalls's. It's been part and parcel of our life since the early 80's. There's a certain charm to those businesses along Scenic 61.

I'll report back after this weekend.

Edited to add: What should I get at Northern Waters? I'd prefer to get smoked fish, local and not farm raised.

Edited by snowangel, 09 December 2009 - 10:28 PM.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#26 snowangel

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Posted 13 December 2009 - 07:42 PM

I hope no one takes me wrong. We liked the smoked fish at Northern Waters. Their plain smoked salmon was a bit salty.

But, I'm sorry, we've been doing Russ Kendall's for some 30 years. There is the atmosphere. There is the Finish Grand-daughter with dread locks. There is the location. Its not chic. Next time, it's Russ's. We're accustomated to the taste of their fish, and it wasn't as salty. Call it tradition. Hopefully, the road construction on scenic 61 will be done soon, but it won't deter us. We know the backroads well.

But, we did get bacon and sausages from Old World Meats in Duluth, and I will report after we've eaten them. Their Bloody Mary beef sticks are wonderful, as is there jerky. Not too wet, but tjust the right amount of dry.

One of the things that got me about Old World Meats is that even the young men behind the counter know their way around meat. A 25 year old man that knows all about a tri-tip! We'll be back.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"