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Twin Cities are Ganging Up On Us (In a Good Way)

When it comes to Minneapolis, we’ve been trying to get our foot in the culinary door for years – with some success: writers like Rachel Hutton and Rick Nelson have been heaping on praise since the Mid-Aughts, our fanciest distributor, Classic Provisions, has remained a hugely supportive and helpful resource and mouthpiece, and Page Productions plunked us into prime-time Food Network territory when they scouted us for Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.

 However, when you’re a business in triage formation (due to a good kind of boom) you don’t get around much anymore. It was just last week that we finally were able to break free of the deli and check out our urban counterparts, hoping for inspiration, new products, and some fantastic food.
Who knew there would be so much love? Everywhere we went, we were treated like long-lost cousins: lavished with food, drink, and attention, regaled with information, and positively bolstered with support. And the food was amazing. 

We really enjoyed Midtown Global Market: the spicy curry from Safari Express, the cleverly-named snackies from Left-Handed Cook, and the cheese samples from Grassroots Gourmet whetted our appetites, culminating in a trip downtown and a beer garden bacchanale at Butcher and the Boar, where the riot of garnish on their foot-long hot dogs elevates them to a spiritual plane, and the brussels sprouts are so good they could make you tear up. 

 One of the best stops on our tour was the Minneapolis meat church Kramarczuk’s, where we got a tour, some tips, and heaps of Eastern-European style charcuterie. To be acknowledged by a deservedly worshiped shop like Kramarczuk’s was absolutely beautiful and absolutely unexpected. 

 We finished our trip at the warehouse of Classic Provisions, where we perused aisles upon aisles, cooler upon cooler of the finest foods in the world. The awe was ushered by the equally fine staff at Classic, who somehow know the story behind every one of their hundreds of products. Who knew a warehouse could be an enlightening experience? 

When we returned to the Smokehaus this week, we had plenty of stories, menu ideas, and new products to share, but also our Classic Provisions and Kramarczuk’s spoils, which are being devoured as I type.
So, thanks, Minneapolis. We didn’t know how much we needed that – you burst our Duluth bubble and we don’t need it anymore, because if we took one thing away from this experience (besides several pounds of sausage, specialty chocolate, and enough domestic cheese to open a temporary fondue restaurant) it is that food makes the world smaller, it binds us together, but it is of course bigger any of us – it makes so much possible. This is something we always knew, but started to forget. 

Here’s a few shots of our show-and-tell, courtesy of Kramarczuk’s, Classic Provisions, and Grassroots Gourmet:

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Smokehaus Recipe: Carne Adobada

We have been making carne adobada since the early days of Northern Waters Smokehaus: Eric “discovered” this spicy, satiating dish while visiting his wife’s family in New Mexico. The New Mexican chile, or Hatch Chile, is integral to the recipe – feel free to simplify any or all of the other ingredients, but be firm on this one.

This recipe is a large one, but you can cut it in half if you want to. However, be warned – you will want leftovers, as adobada is great with eggs, in tamales, in soups, as enchilada filling, etcetera. This recipe also requires at least 24 hours (ours takes 3 days), and is especially well worth the time if you make the full amount.

Dried hatch chiles for Carne Adobada

Carne Adobada

10 pounds fat-marbled pork – we use Berkshire pork hams or cheeks, but collar-butts and shoulders work fine.

1/2 pound dried Hatch or New Mexican Chilies, available online or, if you’re lucky, at a nearby grocery store.

7 (or so) cloves of garlic

2 Tablespoons of chicken base, or 1 cup chicken stock (in which case  lessen the water quantity accordingly)

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Healthy squirt of Sriracha or the like

1 quart of water (if using chicken stock instead of base, lessen the water quantity by 1 cup)

Instructions: 

Berkshire pork to be used in Carne Adobada On a large cutting board, cut the pork into 1 1/2 – 2 inch cubes. Don’t worry too much about trimming away fat: most of it will be dissolved and enveloped into the sauce as it cooks. Throw the cubes in a large roaster/cast iron/enamel-coated Dutch oven. Use a sharp knife, and enjoy the zen that comes from spending so much time breaking up a large piece of meat.

 

In a large food processor or blender, pulse the garlic. Cut the woody stems off of the chilies and add to the food processor, seeds and all. Feel free to wear kitchen gloves – the chilies get rather tingly, especially in the eye region. A half pound of chilies should nearly fill a 14 cup processor. If you are using a smaller model, simply split the recipe and do a double batch. 

When you have piled in all the trimmed chilies, add the chicken base or stock, sugar, cumin, salt, cinnamon, oregano, and Sriracha. Pulse a few times, then slowly begin to add the water through the feed tube. If you add it too fast, you may have a mini-chile explosion on your hands (and on your kitchen), so take your time, and don’t let the mixture level  exceed the lid of the processor. When all the water has been added, let the mixture blend until it is slightly thick and relatively smooth, about 5 more minutes. 

Carne Adobada SauceTaste the mixture, and specifically check for salt. It will be quite spicy, but this attribute will mellow over time, so don’t fret if it knocks your tastebuds back into your palette.

Dump the sauce over your meat cubes, and mix well. Cover the mixture and let marinate, refrigerated, for at least 24 hours, but up to 3 days.

Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Place the covered mixture in the oven and let roast for 45 minutes. Reduce the heat to 300ºF and let roast for at least 3 more hours (but preferably 4), stirring once in a while. Uncover and let roast until browned and tender – approximately 30 minutes more. When it’s cool enough to taste, check for salt.

Serve with tortillas and not much else – a touch of yogurt or sour cream and a lightly-dressed pile of bitter greens on the side works out well, but through years of due diligence, we find adobada is best in its simplified form.

 

Carne Adobada Tacos

Eating Carne Adobada

Empty Carne Adobada plate

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Gratitude

What did we do n our summer vacation? A whole lot of smoking, curing, cooking, and serving … with enough room for pleasure.
Thanks
We’ve been blessed with a beautiful, blissful, and extremely busy summer … and we owe a lot of it to the Duluth weather gods, but also to you.
Northern Waters Smokehaus has added many new staff members, lost a few (to the wilds of Alaska, the hipster-sway of Portland, and the ever-present tug of Minneapolis haute cuisine) – but we remain faithfully the same old Smokehaus we’ve always been: hungry, exuberant, curious, and earnest.
 hula hoop Smokehaus party

As our Smokehaus family continues to grow, so does our food knowledge and desire for more flavors, products, and service, so we’ve been spending some time in the basement, developing new recipes and refining some old favorites. Stay tuned for recipes and hints; for now here are a few images that conjure fragments of what was a remarkable summer.

beer fridge; Northern Waters Smokehaus 




Thanks, everybody. Sincerely.