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5 Things: March 15th

This week, though still classically slow-season Smokehaus, was full of excitement.

1- For starters, we launched our first official NWS Happy Hour, which runs Mondays through Thursdays from 5-7pm and features our new Chicago-ish Haus-ki Dog. Happy Hour specials and hours may change seasonally, but we’re excited about our current lineup.

2- Many of our employees have skills and backstories worth highlighting, if only there were enough hours in the day to interview and write about all of them. But we’re making a start. In honor of her swift and popularly-heralded rise to NWS excellence through phenomenal baked goods, we published a profile of new deli employee & baker, Patricia.

3- Our cookbook dreams are coming to fruition. While specific details aren’t yet available, we’ve been producing a ton of content. Our vision is intact, we’ve already produced a mock-up of an entire chapter, and last weekend we took care of one how-to photo shoot about porketta.

Enjoy some behind-the-scenes photos while you wait for the finished product.

4- Tonight (March 15th) we’ll be popped-up at Hoops Brewing, selling smoked chicken wings, sauced to order with a variety of Northern Waters Restaurant sauces—maple sambal, soy ginger, and hausmade buffalo, to be specific. NWR may no longer exist with us on the Material Plane, but its legacy survives through the Smokehaus.

As far as I know, smoked chicken wings are a rarity in the Twin Ports, not to mention our particular variety, which are brined, “dried” to help form the crispy outer layer, kippered, then hit with a lot of smoke to finish them off.

5- I know the weather comes up frequently, but the battle between dwindling Winter and impending Spring rages on, and alongside the standard freezing rain, we also had a day of one of my favorite weather phenomena: creepy, heavy fog. Inevitably, we’ll get a blizzard in mid-April, but for now, it appears the thaw is on its way.

Here are some more photos by Jacob in our media department, in lieu of pretty words. See you here again next week.

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Patricia’s Baked Goods

It’s in our motto—we’re always smoking something—but we’re not just a one-trick pony, and lately, it seems like something is always getting baked.

We have several bakers on staff—which I wouldn’t have been able to say a year ago*—but today we’re showcasing one of our recent hires, Patricia. If you’ve been reading the 5 Things™ blog the past few weeks, there have been several mentions of her work at the Smokehaus. It’s making waves.

Carrot cake cream cheese cookies, peanut butter curry cookies, triple ginger cookies. Ugh.

Patricia has been baking off-and-on for the last fifteen years. At nineteen, she attended a six-month intensive baking course at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts in Vancouver, British Columbia, which she described as, “pretty old-school. A lot of old French men yelling at me.” Eventually, she and her brother opened Elfvin’s Bakery, a wholesale bakery in Grand Marais, which they owned and operated for three years before selling it to new owners who rebranded it as the Gunflint Baking Company.

Stack these decadent cookie sandwiches high.

After a move to Duluth and several years of living it up on our end of the North Shore, she arrived at our deli, and immediately brightened it up with her easygoing and upbeat personality—and her baked goods.

Triple- (sometimes quadruple-) ginger cookies.

In addition to cookies, she’s also been heating things up with a variety of savory pastries, including scones using the end-pieces (see: repurposed “waste,” a very exciting for our sustainability-oriented hearts and minds) of the snack sticks that we have begun cutting to exact sizes—Smoked Salmon Buddy & Scallion Cream Cheese Scones and Royale With Cheese Scones, by way of example—and rotating meat & cheese combo puff pastries. At press time, she is plotting Pastrami, Swiss & Red Onion Pastries for tomorrow. Croissants, she informed me, are coming soon, as well as crackers. The anticipation is real.

Sweet peanut butter cookies with a complex chord of curry.

Patricia is brimming with ideas of new pastries and sweet treats to debut in the shop, and we’re grateful for it. As her coworkers, we are the first line of defense in testing these treats for proverbial “poison.” It’s not much, but it’s honest (and delicious) work.

The savory pastries make for a quick and easy light lunch. Non-sandwiched cookies are also an option with your Box Lunch. Enjoy a few more photos of her work. Perhaps stop in and enjoy a few examples of her work in-person.

Scones by Patricia, Cheddar Chive Chorizo Biscuits by Jerry.
This one looks like a map. I like that.
Helpful diagram.

*My baker comment might be taken as fighting words amongst our talented staff. Surely, we have many talented bakers among our coworkers, but only recently have we utilized their talents in a large-scale commercial sense.

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Cheese Wiz: Shepherd’s Hope

Back again from our friends in Nerstrand, MN, Shepherd’s Way Farms, I reintroduce to you:

Shepherd’s Hope is a unique mild, fresh sheep’s milk cheese with a gentle citrus note at the finish. Another multiple award-winning cheese from Shepherd’s Way Farms. Shepherd’s Hope is exceptional with a crisp Chardonnay and a fresh baguette, or in a tomato basil salad.

But wait… haven’t we had this cheese before?
YES! AND IT’S AMAZING.

However, there is something a little extra special about this specific batch of Shepherd’s Hope.. You may recall from my last cheese update that I went down to the farm and spent the afternoon learning about Shepherd’s Hope. More specifically about the drop in barometric pressure caused all the mama sheep to give birth to baby lambs all at once. 120 lambs to be precise!
After a mammal is born, it is extremely important that they have their mother’s milk. This first milking is hyper packed with nutrients and protein and is called colostrum. This cheese IS NOT colostrum milk. Rather it is the first batch of cheese made from the mother sheep’s milk after the baby lambs have had their fill.

REALLY EXCITING MILK!

 This sheep didn’t appreciate me staring at all the butts


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5 Things: March 8th, 2019

Welcome back, friends.

Glad to see you. The sun is shining where I’m writing, and this week had several discrete events worthy of the title “Thing™.” Let us not tarry long on introductions, but hasten to the investigation of these Things™.


A couple of auspicious visits:

Northern Waters Smokehaus is pretty well accustomed to high-status visits. We’ve had the privilege of appearing on a few national cable network programs in the past decade, and while I’m not going to name-drop, there are a number of well-known individuals with local roots who join the masses and wait in line for our food when they happen into town.

Secretly, many of us behind the counter recognize them and get excited when they stop into the shop, but, consummate professionals that we are, we play it cool.

This week, however, I couldn’t contain myself. I was working my first deli shift in what felt like several weeks, so my filter of professional boundaries was perhaps off-kilter, when I received a call from my dear friend, Flo, in the marketing department. The Pitchfork Music Festival had just announced its line-up, which featured, among other exciting acts, local global music legends, Low.

Flo and I have attended the festival together on more than one occasion, so I was excited to hear that the lineup had been announced, but I was doubly-excited to see none other than a member of Low—and co-creator of our famous Cajun Finn sandwich—waiting for a sandwich from our deli. This individual’s identity will be kept vague, since I didn’t ask permission to tell this story in a public forum, and even beloved artists deserve privacy, but they were quite understanding and played-along generously when I held the phone to my chest and shouted,

“Hey, you’re playing Pitchfork [Music Festival](?),”

and again, slightly louder, when they didn’t hear the first time.

It was a moment that has subsequently been described to me as “very Duluth.” And that is the story of how I finally lost my cool and shouted details about someone’s life to them while on-the-clock.

Listen to my favorite Low record below:


Another visit came from someone who, like it or not, has chosen a path that puts them right in the public eye: the 41st Governor of Minnesota, Tim Walz. Truth be told, I probably would not have known about this had I not chosen to unburden the office’s Wi-Fi, and blog out of the deli.

As I typed away in a corner of our small seating area, Minnesota’s public servant-in-chief enjoyed a sandwich—maybe a salad, I didn’t ask—behind me. It wasn’t until the hunger hit me, and I stepped behind the sandwich line to make myself some lunch, that he revealed himself.

Yes, I participated in an electoral process that prominently featured him, but I did not recognize him less than five feet away from me. Is this a tale of his humility, or of my obliviousness, or of something else altogether? The jury is out. The jury, in fact, has neither been consulted, nor even informed of the known facts.

He thanked us for the delicious food, introduced himself to us, and engaged with a few customers who overheard him. The details get hazy from there. Honestly, I checked out at that point because preparing my lunch was of greater urgency to me at that time.

I’m not going to take any political stances on the company blog, fear not, except that being kind and showing gratitude to service industry employees is good praxis.


A pop-up and a new event:

On Wednesday, we had a pop-up at Bent Paddle Brewing Company’s tap room in the Lincoln Park Craft District. Such pop-ups are pretty old-hat by now. NWS setting up shop for a night at a local tap room wouldn’t be much to write about—rather, I and others have written about it so many times that it seems unfair to count that among the Things™—however, we debuted a new item at this pop-up: The Haus-ki, our very tangential take on the Chicago dog. More about the Haus-ki, and our new Happy Hour, which is when we’ll be selling it, is available here.

The marketing department is all out on a project I’m about to tell you about, so here is a placeholder Haus-ki until I receive pop-up photos.

Some cookbook content fun:

This morning, a handful of the marketing & design staff are taking a break from their typical workday to prepare for a photo-shoot. It should be no secret that we have dreams of releasing a cookbook in the near future, and though we have a wealth of photography related to our business and products, there will never be enough.

This particular photo-shoot pertains to producing a porketta in a backyard smoking apparatus. Today’s tasks are a lot of shoveling, creating the mise en scene for the shoot, and rolling the porketta. Tomorrow, we’ll be enacting and documenting the rest of the process. It’s supposed to snow tomorrow, which could undermine our work, or result in some pretty cool action shots.


A New ‘Wich:

The Spinderella is in full-effect until April 1st! Worth trying at least once, worth double stamps on your sandwich card.


Baker appreciation:

Volumes could and will be written about the impact that our recently-establish Baking Department has had on our business, but I’ll keep it brief:

Jerry’s White Bread, Prince Myshkin Rye, Chorizo-Cheddar-Chive Biscuits, Rosemary Potato Rolls, and Ciabattas have further increased our pride of ownership in the food we make. I’ve always liked the bread we’ve used at NWS, and there are certainly some baked items we’re still buying from outside vendors, but being able to say, “on a hausmade [bread of whatever variety]” feels good, and to top it off, it is high-quality product they’re baking down there.

If you’ve noticed some bright yellow pasty-looking items during your recent forays into our shop, and been confused or intrigued, those are Lucy’s Jamaican Hand-Pies, made with our fresh chorizo, and yes, they are a very delicious, filling, easy to eat (with one hand!) item that you should definitely not pass up.

And, of course, what would a 5 Things™ post be without a shoutout to Patricia, who used up all of the Royale With Cheese trimmings we’ve accumulated—since we began cutting our Buddies to a specific cost rather than selling them by weight—to make savory bacon-cheeseburger snack stick and tomato scones.


Closing thoughts:

We have a new sink! The other one was falling off the wall from years of overuse.

Fresh.

Do I even keep track of my Thing™-count anymore?

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Announcing: Smokehaus Happy Hour

Hey!

Time: Mondays through Thursdays, 5 to 7 pm, beginning Monday, March 11th.

Place: Northern Waters Smokehaus Deli→

Details: One of our new Royale With Cheese bacon-cheeseburger sticks, toasted and topped with mustard, celery salt, tomatoes, pickles, and pepperoncini on a hausmade ciabatta roll with your choice of a bag of chips or a can of LaCroix. $6+tax. Only available in-store. Friendship and goodwill in abundance, for you to carry into the rest of the world. Probably good music.

The Haus-ki is here.

We debuted our spin on the Chicago dog last night at Bent Paddle Brewing Company’s tap room, but this dog is too good to save for pop-ups alone, so we’re bringing it to you four days a week, live from our deli.

The Haus-ki.

True happiness may come from within, but a Haus-ki couldn’t hurt.

We’re teaming this dog up with your choice the usual suspects—

—alongside the standard NWS accoutrements. For only $6 ($6.38 after tax)! There’s not much more to say than this is a tasty treat for a hot deal.

Whether you want to stay a while to socialize, or just long enough to grab a dog, join us, and let’s be happy together.

The first NWS Happy Hour is Monday, March 11th from 5 to 7pm. In the spirit of food bringing people together, this happy hour deal will not be available via delivery. We hope to see you there.

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Can’t eat a whole roast? How about a Ketta Steak?

Generously brought to Minnesota’s Iron Range by Italian immigrants, this boneless pork roast is a showstopper. Talk to any authentic Italian and they’ll tell you exactly how their grandma makes it—and how yours should too. There are endless varieties of porchetta, but ours has gained some serious recognition. High praises from longtime Iron Rangers and multiple features in Bon Appetit are among those regards.

It would be a crime to deprive you of our Berkshire Porketta, so for the month of March we’re sharing it with loyal customers like you! All of March, if you spend $150 you’ll receive one free Porketta Steak! Just fill up your cart with $150 worth of Smokehaus goodies and follow the checkout process to proceed.


Some Boring Details

Free Porketta Steak Offer valid for orders of $150 or more using the pop-up box on the check-out page. Must click YES! in box to receive the free Porketta Steak.
Offer valid through the month of March and expires 3/30 at 11:59pm.

Exclusion
Offer is limited to stock on hand; offer is nontransferable and is not redeemable for cash.
This offer is extended to our MAIL ORDER customers. The free Porketta Steak offer is not valid for customers of our other departments (Canal Park Deli, Delivery, Pick Up or Catering).

Questions?
 Contact a Smokehauser at mailorder@nwsmokehaus.com or call us (218) 724-7307

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Porketta & Pasta

Ingredients

1 Pound Pasta, Such as Linguine or Spaghetti—or better yet, homemade Tagliatelle 

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1/2 Yellow Onion, thin sliced

1 Pound Porketta, chunked at 1/2 inch (or so)

1/4 – 1/2  Cup Starchy Pasta Water

1/4 Cup Cream

Lemon Zest from 1 Lemon

1/2 Cup Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped

Salt and Pepper

Directions
This recipe works well as a come-together-quick meal, as the heavily-spiced porketta does most of the flavor work for you. 
1. Put a large pot of water on heat and heavily salt it. When it boils, cook pasta al dente. Reserve some of the pasta-cooking water.

 
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over low heat and cook the onions slowly, adding a little salt, until they are golden. Toss in the porketta and increase the heat and stir the pan so that the onion and porketta are well combined and cook long enough to heat the porketta and render it a bit. 


3. When it is browned, deglaze the pan with some of the starchy pasta water, lifting any of the glorious fond from the pan. 


4. When the mixture is loosened, add cream and heat. Adjust salt and pepper. Turn heat down to low. Add pasta and toss to coat. If it seems too dry, add more starchy pasta water.


5. When the pasta is thoroughly combined and heated through, top with lemon zest and parsley and serve.

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SANDWICH LAB: The Spinderella

IN THE DELICATESSEN SCENE, NEVER SHAKING UP YOUR SANDWICH MENU IS CONSIDERED ESPECIALLY HEINOUS. AT NORTHERN WATERS SMOKEHAUS, THE DEDICATED DELI EMPLOYEES WHO INNOVATE ON THE SANDWICH MENU ARE MEMBERS OF AN ELITE SQUAD KNOWN AS THE SANDWICH LAB. THESE ARE THEIR STORIES:


It’s Monday, March 4th. That means our hottest new sandwich (which will be served cold) drops today. Peep the video below.

Press play. Sound “on” for best results.

Salt & Pepper alone do not a taste make. Essential seasonings though they may be, they’re at their best when they are tying-together and highlighting a mix of flavors.

This audacious new Sandwich Lab experiment is known as the Spinderella, and it’s a gustatory tribute to the DJ of the legendary hip-hop outfit Salt’n’Pepa—she who deftly mixes the soundscape that supports the MCs’ rhythms and rhymes. The ‘Wich’s blend of ingredients is eclectic—mayo, mustard, dill pickle, salumi mix, turkey, red onion, and cilantro on a hero roll, with scallion cream cheese (for dippin’)—but elegantly mixed to create something greater than the mere sum of its parts.

If you can’t make it to see Salt’n’Pepa on tour this spring/summer, or to any of DJ Spinderella’s upcoming solo shows, just can’t wait, or even if you can do any or all of those things, stop by our shop and try our culinary tribute to the classic hip-hop trio during the month of March. Each Sandwich Lab special purchased gets you two stamps on your sandwich card.

The Spinderella is available in our deli and via delivery for $13+tax.


WHAT IS SANDWICH LAB?
AT NORTHERN WATERS SMOKEHAUS, OUR WORK IS PLAYING WITH FOOD. THAT MEANS SOMETIMES, IN THE LINE OF DUTY, WE STUMBLE UPON AN AMAZING COMBINATION OF INGREDIENTS THAT EVOLVES OVER SEVERAL SHIFT-MEALS INTO A NOTEWORTHY NEW SANDWICH. OTHER TIMES WE UNCOVER A MORE EFFICIENT WAY TO BUILD A SANDWICH, OR WE SWAP AN INGREDIENT ON A CURRENT MENU ITEM.SANDWICH LAB IS AN ANNUAL GATHERING OF OUR STAFF TO REFINE OUR SANDWICH-LINE SKILLS, TO COME TO AGREEMENT ON ANY CONTROVERSIES, AND—THE BEST PART—TO INTRODUCE OUR PET SANDWICHES TO THE GREATER SMOKEHAUS COMMUNITY.
NOTABLE SANDWICH LAB FINDINGS FROM PREVIOUS YEARS INCLUDE THE CEDARS’S SECRET, THE PURPLE RANGE, THE PHOEBE, AND THE PORK LION. LAST YEAR’S SANDWICH LAB HAD SO MANY GOOD SANDWICHES THAT WE COULDN’T DECIDE ON JUST ONE OR TWO TO ADD TO THE MENU, SO WE DECIDED TO GIVE THEM ALL A CHANCE TO SHINE, AS MONTH-LONG SPECIALS.
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From TK’s Desk: Friesago

New cheese this week!

Last weekend, Nic and I had the pleasure to travel down to God’s Country, southern Minnesota, where we spent the afternoon at Shepherd’s Way Farm, a sheep & cheese farm. Jodi Ohlsen Read, the Master Cheesemaker, is a master of her craft and a badass person. For her, cheese and raising animals isn’t her job, it’s her life and passion…. And just as the barometric pressure dropped (when we got that big snowstorm) ALL of their pregnant sheep gave birth, AT ONCE! This can be a common phenomenon in the animal world.

Shepherd’s Way cheese is classified as farmstead cheese – meaning that the animals are raised and milked—and the cheese is made—right on site. Not a very typical practice in this day and age.

From the farm, I present to you, FRIESAGO  (free sah go)  $28/LB –

A 2017 First Place American Cheese Society winner for Farmstead Sheep Milk, Friesago is a natural-rind semi-aged sheep milk cheese with a dense texture, pleasant mild flavor, and a slightly nutty finish. A multiple award-winner, Friesago is versatile as a table cheese and as a cooking cheese.

Substitute Asiago cheese with this local Friesago and you will thank yourself.  Grate this over your pasta, soups, salads or try this: Brown some butter, drizzle it over thinly sliced smoked ham, then with a mandoline, thinly slice the cheese over it… man, oh man, I’m making this at my next dinner party. Woof. Or put it on your charcuterie plate.  

A little tidbit about sheep’s milk & cheese… sheep don’t produce the same volume of milk as cows do (sheep yield about 1 qt of milk a day where a cow can be milked twice a day getting 8 qts). Sheep’s milk has almost double the amount of protein in it (as well as double the amount of calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc,  thiamin, riboflavin, Vit. B6 and B12, and Vit. D, and the 10 essential amino acids) – meaning there is almost double the amount of solids in it, allowing you to produce the same amount of curds with significantly less the amount of milk. Wild, isn’t it? And sheep’s milk tends to be easier on the stomach for folks who cannot digest cow’s milk.

Here are some photos I took of the farm & creamery:

OH! AND WE HAVE CHEESE CURDS FROM EICHTEN’S (out of Center City, Minnesota). We’ll let you know!

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“5” Things: March 1st

Some love the crisp Minnesota winter air.

It can be invigorating (I’ve heard). Jackets piled over sweaters sound cozy (in theory). Perhaps the most salient justification I can come up with is that the contrast of winter makes the balmy air of summer more meaningful.

All I know is that within minutes of touching down in Minnesota after my vacation, I was struck by a terrible cold, which kept me away from work, and still has me feeling like my head is stuck inside a fishbowl. Which wouldn’t really be so bad, if I didn’t want to provide you with a thoughtful 5 Things™ blog this week. Today’s blog is largely based on what sort of information I could gather in about two hours, while maintaining several arm’s lengths of distance between myself and all of my co-workers.

It is said that February is the cruelest month of the year, in terms of weather and temperature. I don’t know if any such things are said about March, but not “the cruelest month of the year” is good news to me.

Other good news this week includes:

A NWS Staff Party! We’re finally having our holiday party, and it is hosted by Pizza Lucé. Others may party more heartily, but nobody gets down quite like the Smokehaus. Our last party was the public 20th Anniversary party we threw back in September 2018, so it’ll be good to get back to basics and have a shindig for the team. I’m crossing all my fingers and toes, and I’m holding my breath as long as I can before the coughing fit is triggered, that I am back in good health in time for this party, since “free” Pizza Lucé pizza is a very exciting proposition.

Regardless of whether I am there, it is sure to be an excellent display of Smokehausers in the wild, gathered around the watering-hole, if we have any urban documentarians in our readership, that’s a free tip.

The Buddy System is not the official name of this new package deal, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think it should be*. Our grab&go case now features six-packs of Buddies—two each of our New Mexican hatch chile Big Jims, the bacon-cheeseburger-in-a-casing goodness of our Royale With Cheese, and the NWS classic, Bison Buddies. These six-packs are on sale for $12 each and make great gifts to yourself or others.

Same general appearance, vastly different flavor profile.

Smoked Salmon Buddies are the real deal as well. The smokers assure me the recipe—which includes a blend of Atlantic and Sockeye salmon as well as ginger and coriander (a couple of my favorite flavors)—is perfected. The Salmon Buds are available from our fish case for $3/stick.

Patricia continues to innovate with her cookies and pastries. This week, she took cues from authentic Jewish delis and whipped up a small batch of deli rolls: mini puff-pastries stuffed with turkey, pastrami and mustard, and topped with sesame seeds. This blog will almost always be posted on Friday, and yet so many of these exciting new small-batch items hit our shelves on Thursdays.

Heed this suggestion: if you want to be on the cutting-edge of new NWS specials and experiments, don’t wait for the announcement—just stop on in (or check our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages) and ask if there’s anything new and exciting to try.

On the cookie front, she basically hit my flavor preferences right on the nose with peanut butter & curry cookies. Thank you, Patricia.

Speaking of special things:

This is the last weekend that we’re serving the Sandwich Lab experiment known as The Wagner.

The Wagner is one heck of a sandwich. For those who haven’t tried it yet, it is your choice of Maple-Sage Smoked Turkey or Smoked Pastrami atop a mayonnaise-, Misty Mountain Mustard-, and sriracha-adorned hero roll, and topped with healthy portions of sweet’n’sour quick pickles and cilantro. This sandwich has the sauce, and if you’re keeping track of your sandwiches, it and the other monthly Sandwich Lab specials get you two stamps.

Catch it while you can. Sunday’s the last day.

Beginning Monday, March 4th, we’ll be serving up the next Sandwich Lab special: The Spinderella. Official announcement forthcoming.

I think, after like 8 Things™, that it is time for me to go back to sleep. It’s been real. I hope you grace us with your presence in the deli, or order some delivery/mail order so we can grace you with ours.

*It occurs to me we have used this name in a Homegrown Music Festival-related campaign. Please forgive any confusion I may have caused.