Posted on

Mortadella Madness

It’s been many years in the making, but we finally nailed a Mortadella recipe! Originating in Italy, Mortadella is basically fancy bologna – which made us think, “hey, how hard can it be to make a low-rent lunchmeat?” Pretty damn hard, it turns out.

One of our first brushes with Mortadella manufacture resulted in a flavor not unlike a wet, fetid dog and a texture that was mealy. It was perhaps the most inedible product we have ever made at the Smokehaus, before or since. We threw the whole batch away – there was nothing else to do with it. 

Bologna was surprisingly hard-to-get, like some sort of across the tracks romantic tableau where you try to sweep the town drunk’s daughter off her feet only to realize that she isn’t really interested (at least not without some effort). We mistakenly thought Mortadella was a sure thing. We quickly moved on to less complicated garde manger duties, like dry-cured Saucisson Sec and country-style pate. 

A few more attempts here and there resulted in similar failures, leading us to believe that Oscar Meyer (and his millions of dollars worth of machines) had us licked. But this winter has been a winter of discovery – the punishing weather forced us to tinker, to dream, to get a little risky – and we culminated our Mad Professor moods attempting  another round with Mortadella: The One That Got Away. 

We hit the books and got on the phone, lining up the best local pork we could find, along with the most celestial back fat on earth. We ordered synthetic casings – a Smokehaus first – and discussed cooking methods (smoking v. poaching v. roasting v. a combination) in a fairly argumentative way, all of us desperately craving the same two goals: 1) Not to f@#% this up, and 2) To eat copious amounts of Mortadella. We bought exquisite organic pistachios. We diced perfect cubes of lardon. We emulsified. We stuffed. We hung. We waited. 

The outcome of this first heavily anticipated meat torpedo was, if not a disaster, at least a solid rebuke. Although the flavor, color, and shape were exactly as designed, the texture was so powdery, so resistant to the creamy, hammy bliss that is intrinsic to Mortadella, that it actually somehow was able to remove any resonant moisture in your mouth as you ate it. Kind of like a reverse-treat. Like the lunchmeat was punishing us by taking our saliva away after years of drooling about it. Bitch. 

But we tried again.

We adjusted the fat ratio (which is a little stunning, even by our hedonistic standards) along with a few other key technique-oriented factors and voila: Mortadella is finally on our side, pink and perfect. Creamy, dreamy, studded with mild pistachio and aggressive peppercorn – we are definitely going steady. 

mortadella; smokehaus mortadella

Posted on

What We Eat

For all the years leading up to my time at the Smokehaus, I ate the Cajun Finn. Exclusively. My only deviation was if I was lucky enough to show up on Taco Tuesday. Once I started working here, I knew I needed to explore the very expansive menu for no other reason than product knowledge. While doing research under the cloak of product testing, I learned what I’ve always known: we make some ridiculously good food. If you’ve ever come to the deli and asked the person working what their favorite sandwich is and saw them hesitate, hmm and haw… it’s for good reason. There’s much to choose from and rarely is it a bad choice. While I still love The Finn, I have yet to go wrong deviating from my old standby.

I took an informal poll of some staff (okay, I drug them aside and demanded an answer), veteran and new-ish and everything in-between. Here are the results: 

Nic P: “Italiensk. I love it because it features our salamundos (large diameter salamis) and the mortadella which are some of my favorite products we make here.”

Cho: “Probably The ‘06 because I really like our bison pastrami. Our meats are so quality and you can really taste it in the pastrami. And who doesn’t love a toasty sandwich?”

Tyler: “The ‘06 or a Phoebe for a good food coma. If I need to go light: Sitka Sushi for the win. Or, a pizza on a naan”.  Author’s notes: I had to inform Tyler that pizza, indeed, is not on our menu. No, really, we can’t make you a pizza.

Emma: “Spring Roll on a Square (vegan mode!). I love the pickled veg, it has such a unique flavor profile. The almonds? DEVINE. So good! They give it the crunch. God bless Patricia.” Author’s Note: Our Spring Roll used to be served on a Naan (thus, the “roll”) but moving forward it will be served on a square ciabatta which makes this solid vegetarian option a vegan sandwich too!

Cal: “D-Luxxx with Turkey. Always the turkey. Or, a Cold Turkey or, a Cedar’s Secret. The turkey is so good.” Author’s note: Cal’s been working here since he’s been in the womb. So if he says the turkey’s good, it’s good.

Nicholas Matthew Ruszat Klee: “For years I’ve ordered the Cold Turkey, now I make the Cold Turkey, thus the circle of life continues.” When asked what he would do if we were out of Crayo, a critical ingredient in this second best selling sandwich, Nick responded, mournfully, that he “would simply weep”. 

Taylor P: “Big Dipper. The porketta here is so good and it feels like the regional favorite that I grew up eating is less common. Plus, people generally wouldn’t think of making a sandwich with this as the key ingredient.”

Brian: “Hedonist or Bahn Faux Mi. Both feature the country pâté which has such a great, complex flavor. I see people who have worked here for a very long time regularly eat the country pâté which is an indicator that a product is good and has lasting power.”

Justin: “Bahn Faux Mi.” Author’s notes: Justin is a man of few words.

Ben: “I worked in the pizza industry for a long time. When I go to a place that specializes in pizza, I get the most basic thing they have, a cheese pizza. If their crust and their sauce aren’t great, their pizza won’t be great. So here, I would recommend some of our most basic sandwiches like the The Northern Bagel with Smoked Salmon or Gravlax. You’ll get to taste what we do best and guaranteed, it will be delicious.”

What products are gluten free?

Every variety of Smoked Fish, Gravlax, every variety of Bratwurst, Smoked Turkey, Smoked Ham, Corned Beef, Country Pate, Porketta, Mortadella and Lamb (only available on a sandwich), Andouille, Bacon, Pancetta, Bison Buddies, Polish Sausage, Chorizo, Pork Loin, Beef Pastrami, Beef & Pork Summer Sausage, Saucisson Sec, Pepperoni, Peppemundo, Salamini & Salamundo.