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1998 – Year One in Smoked Fish History

A damaged ship that Eric inspected! Photo by the fantastic Pete Clure.

Smoked fish has many histories – and ours officially began back in the 90’s.  To celebrate our 20-year anniversary, we have collected stories from all over Northern Waters Smokehaus for every year we’ve been in business. Our deli opened its doors in 2001 and basically hit the ground running. We’ve been selling smoked fish, meats, salumi, and sandwiches out of that little location for so long that some regulars call us an institution (thanks, y’all). However, our company was actually founded in 1998 on separate banks of Lake Superior almost single-handedly by co-owner Eric Goerdt.

Fresh from his experiences in Alaska and Hawaii, Eric had already begun to make his way into the Twin Ports community. He worked for the Coast Guard inspecting ships for safety and had started several key relationships through this work. As a petty officer, he wasn’t required to wear his uniform on inspections. Eric, ever the rebel, would run around ore boats in his civies, scampering from rivet to trivet, cracking jokes and making folks laugh. “The food on those ships is AMAZING,” said Eric when I asked him about those days. “They ate like farmers – piles of gravy, pork chops, pies: they didn’t have that much (pastime) activity, so food was a big deal.”

Eric consequently started selling the sailors smoked fish – a perfect fit for his burgeoning career. By the end of 1998, he had fine-tuned some recipes and had enough of a business plan to get to work, smoking salmon in small batches at a nondescript business center in Superior, WI. His limited equipment meant a lot of cleaning: he had to fully hose down the one cooler he used in between raw and cooked, so he was constantly busy. As he smoked and cleaned, drove and hustled fish at the ports, his local following grew. “I put the fish in a little cooler in the lobby,” he remembered, “with a bucket beside it for the honor system – it worked!” People from all over the Twin Ports began gobbling down the miraculous kippered fish. When the fish was cooling, he would head over to a tiny brew pub, Twin Ports Brewery, to socialize and drink microbrews (Eric knows as much about beer as anyone I’ve ever met, and even had some rough plans to run his own pub until he realized he might miss out on some elements of family life if he was at a bar until the wee hours). It was at TPB that he met even more people – people who would become close friends and customers. The adventure had begun!

 

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Always Smoking Something

Throughout the years, people have asked us what our slogan “Nos Fumant Aliquid” means. It appears on social media, our register receipts, menus, stickers, and other ephemera. Roughly speaking, it translates to “Always Smoking Something,” though the Latin is only as good as a very early version of Google Translate. But the words sound good and the translation is pretty accurate. Today I looked in at the Latin translating dictionary at Notre Dame and got some of the nitty-gritty on the phrase:

n.os PRON 5 3 NOM P C n.os PRON 5 3 ACC P C [XXXAX] we (pl.), us; fum.ant V 1 1 PRES ACTIVE IND 3 P fumo, fumare, fumavi, – V [XXXCX] smoke, steam, fume, reek; aliqu.id PRON 1 0 NOM S N aliqu.id PRON 1 0 ACC S N [XXXAO] anyone/anybody/anything; someone; some/few; some (particular) thing; some; any; a few; a particular/certain ~; some other; about/like (NUM); aliquid ADV POS aliquid ADV [XXXCO] to some degree/extent; somewhat
In other words: “We Smoke Anything.” Latin is a slippery language, but at the heart of it, the meaning is there. We’re experimental, enthusiastic, and excited about the possibilities of smoke and time.
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Top 5 Ways to Devour Ham

smoked ham steak

If you’re like me, you could eat ham pretty much any time and any old way. I’m not even picky about the quality – when I was a vegetarian, I still ate the really cheap ham because I figured it was mostly just ham-flavored water product (just one of my many vegetarian loopholes). I’ve had a taste of most of the world’s best hams – from Iberco to Benton to Parma – though I’d love to sample the Chinese varieties and have yet to try true Austrian Speck.

I also enjoy preparing ham at home (though less is usually more) – it is a resilient and helpful culinary substance that translates across cultures, mealtimes, textural impulses, and flavor profiles – and I almost always have it on hand. Here’s a few ideas and a recipe or two to kickstart your ham frenzy.

1. Burnt Ham Ends: Take a small ham (a partial picnic ham works great for this) and cut it up into uneven chunks. Toss the chunks in a mixture of molasses, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, and black pepper and roast in a 350 degree oven for up to 2 hours. The chunks will become blackened on the outside and stay moist and hammy on the inside. Eat with large portions of cheesy potatoes (a Minnesota staple involving frozen hashbrowns and cheese aplenty).

2. Ham Shred: Like the above, this one involves annihilation. Braise the ham for 4 hours at 300 degrees, covered, with the liquid of your choice (ham or pork stock is nice and subtle). Take the lid off and using two forks shred the meat (it should be extremely yielding at this point). The shreddy meat should soak up all the residual fat and liquid. Tong up mountains of ham shred onto the platform of your choice: hamburger buns with mustard and Swiss; bowls of rice and furikake, tortillas with pineapple salsa; or large portions of cheesy potatoes are all suitable candidates.

3. Ham-n-RamenKeep it simple with your favorite instant variety or make your own, but garnish with perfect strips of thick-cut ham rectangles that have been marinated for an hour or so in miso paste and soy sauce and then seared until dark and irresistible. Bonus points for garnishing with a coddled egg or a dollop of cheesy potatoes. You’ve never had a cheese element in your Ramen? Neither have I. I bet it’s good.

4.  Double-Smoked Ham: This is a scam that I see sometimes – a business will advertise their ham or bacon as “double-smoked,” but it’s really just pre-cooked stuff a company will purchase and then run it through their own smoker to claim it as their’s. All the hard work of curing, resting, and cooking has already been accomplished, but the company gets to slap a sticker on it and profit off some unnamed smokehouse’s work. And they charge you more for this ruse. Might I suggest you DYI this scheme and double smoke your own damn ham? Simply fire up your charcoal grill (preferably with hardwood, but you can use hardwood charcoal  if you prefer), plop the ham on the grate, cover, and let her rip. Greg Conley, the Grill Zsar of Superior Street, has a more technical set of instructions:

For charcoal grill:  Use lump charcoal, charcoal briquets, or ideally, a combination of the two. You don’t need to use a lot of fuel, as you don’t want it to get particularly hot. Once the coals are ready to go, dump or shove them all to one side. Remember, you can always add more fuel as needed. The idea is that you go at a pretty low temperature (200-250 degrees Farenheit is ideal) for as long as possible without drying out the ham. A cast iron pan of water can be added to the grill next to the coals, which will help regulate the temperature and also keep humidity on the meat. Once you have your coals situated, wrap the bottom of the ham with foil and place it on the opposite side from the coals. You will need to check the temp to make sure the ham is not scorching. If it is getting scorched, you may need to remove some coals. When the ham is placed and the coals are regulated, you will want to place some soaked wood chips, moist sawdust or green wood  (maple, any fruit wood, hickory, mesquite) directly on the hot coals. You will then want to just crack the bottom and top vents on the grill so that you have minimal oxygen going over the coals. Your soaked wood should start to smolder, and you will see white smoke billowing out from the vents and lids. From there, give it at least an hour on the grill (you can use an internal thermometer if you want the ham to be warmed up and served immediately) or more based on how smoky you want it. You’ll need to replenish your soaked or green wood every 15-30 minutes or so, depending on how quickly the smoke is depleted. You can go as long as you want as long as the heat is regulated and how much fuel and green or soaked wood you have.

For the gas grill: Most gas grills have at least two burners, often situated side by side with separate controls. The method for using your gas grill to smoke ham is the same as using a charcoal grill, except MUCH EASIER. In this case, rather than shove coals to the side, you just light one burner on one side and put the ham on the opposite side. Everything else is the same.

5. Easter Ham, Perfected: I like this particularly with our Smokehouse Berkshire Ham.

Set a half ham face down on a rack in a large roasting pan, and score the outside with a sharp knife in a diamond pattern. Stud the diamond points with cloves for an old-fashioned come-hither ham look.

Pour enough beer (lager) into the bottom of the pan so that it is about an inch high. Take two sticks of lemongrass and cut them into three-inch lengths. Toss them in. Cut three inches of fresh, peeled ginger into 1/2-inch chunks and add them to the mix. Slice up 2-3 shallots and have them follow suit. Cover the whole shebang in foil and place it in a 325 degree oven for about 70 minutes (for a 7 pound ham).

After the initial bake, take the ham out, remove the foil, and glaze the ham with a mixture of the following:

  • 1½ teaspoons dry mustard powder
  • 1/2 cup clover honey
  •  ¼ cup xiaoxing wine

The mixture will be runny, so scoring the ham at the beginning will really help capture it. Put the uncovered ham in the oven for another 20 minutes or so, or until nicely colored. Voila: a really tasty ham is made even tastier! Serve with cheesy potatoes, miso-glazed carrots, or nothing at all.

 

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We’re Going To The Super Bowl!

In a mere week and a half, our amazing catering crew are going to pack two vans, four coolers, our 6-foot-long Douglas fir serving board, and around 100 pounds of smoked goodness and head to Minneapolis to cater (along with several other folks) the Official Super Bowl Tailgate Party. It’s the biggest crowd we’ve ever catered, but we feel like all our years of catering have been great training for an event like the Superbowl.

We were thrilled to get an email from a company that organizes the Superbowl village vendors: it was a huge logistical challenge but in typical Smokehaus fashion we rapidly decided to do it and figure out how later. I filled out the application, answered some follow-up questions, and left it on the horizon for the better part of December. To participate, we would need to essentially staff a condensed version of our already-condensed deli in Duluth: sandwich coolers, prep areas, abridged menus, and (most troublingly) a staff who a) could find an affordable place to stay in the Twin Cities for a week during the Superbowl inundation and b) would not leave a hole in the schedule with their absence.

I was in the middle of loosely sorting this out and fielding plenty of interest from all corners of the Smokehaus when we got the congratulatory email, and above all the logistical concerns I knew we were in for a great adventure. About a half an hour after that the second email came in explaining that the first missive was sent by mistake – but congratulations, we were first on the waiting list. Annoyance was mixed with a splash of relief, but every time the Superbowl came up, I felt a little baby kick of rejection.

A few weeks later, Eric was contacted through an old friend from Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and was asked to participate in a different Superbowl event: as a caterer at the  2018 Players Tailgate Party. This was a BIG deal – 2,000 people – by far our largest headcount, kitty-corner to a major event in Minnesota, with plenty of opportunities to share our smoked fish, charcuterie, and years of food styling trial and error with a brand new group of customers. We once again assumed the formation, said yes, and figured it out. Staffed, condo’d (thanks to a staffer’s parents), prep listed, and fully stoked, we’re going to the Superbowl(!), and once again, we’re in for a great adventure.

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5 Things: Plus Bonus Best of 2017

 

5 Things

  1. We got to feed the new senator! Tina Smith celebrated her first public appearance in Duluth right down the street at Hoops Brewing, and we supplied the snacks! Jeremy and I threw together some adorable little “bites” – gravlax, ham and pimiento, and salmon pate all made appearances. We enjoyed a pint and watched as hundreds of folks piled into the taproom.
  2. Superbowl Madness! We are concocting specials, unique grab-n-go items, fantastic décor, and many an attempted sports pun this month in preparation for the big game (it’s in Minnesota this year, doncha know). Flo has been sending ADORABLE “Stadium Status” newsletters and postcards, and the shop is looking cute enough for ‘Ye. Annemarie is a closeted football fanatic (Go Seahawks), so it’s been pretty fun to watch her squirm as the rest of us in officeland struggle with the terminology.
  3. Budget Task Force has new members, and a bigger whiteboard. We’re rearing to go for 2018. We even created a wish list, with new ovens at the top. Jerry’s going to be BUSY this year, guaranteed.
  4. We sliced cheese on the electric slicer, and life will never be the same. We did this years ago, but the dulling effects and overwhelming prep list shut us down, but we now know that it’s a (nother) goal for 2018 to bring back the fresh-sliced cheese – it is delicious!
  5. Cookbook genesis: we are beginning in earnest to create a Smokehaus cookbook! We’ve amassed tons of recipes, images, stories, and artifacts over the past 20 years, and we’re ready to compile it into some kind of (gorgeous) semblance of order. Stay tuned!

EXTRA 7, Best Of 2017 (According to Mary, General Manager):

  1. New website pictures: with Flo’s styling, Stephen’s photography, and the collective editing of Smokehaus Team Creative, the website looks like a million dollars. Our food deserves it.
  2. Boot in the Barn: a dream come true feast at Hemlock Preserve, this event was smashing. We plan to sell the very special porchetta in upcoming holiday seasons (and for events), and now know the secret behind great limoncello (hint: it’s lemons and time).
  3. T.K.’s (and others’) experiments: from half-sour pickles with chile to cumin slaw to “Tickle Sauce,” there are some truly awesome new things coming down the pike at NWSH. As soon as we have the proper space and plans, customers can expect to jump on the pickle/tickle train, too. In the meantime, Nic’s romesco and Caesar salad may make appearances as soon as this winter.
  4. The big board: we’ve used it several times this year and every time it’s absolutely glorious.
  5. “Goodbye Horses” radio on Spotify.
  6. The Budget Task Force – we are starting to practice open book management and it’s awesome! We already have several ideas for business development, and the energy and ideas during these meetings are genuinely enjoyable.
  7. So many wonderful times at the Restaurant: I haven’t even begun to process the fact that I can’t eat those wings whenever I want, but instead I’m feeling grateful that we had our time together. From the wine list to the INCREDIBLE staff, the restaurant defines a lot about what made 2017 great.

 

 

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5 Things To Do With Porketta

porketta

5 Ways to Cook Smokehaus Porketta

So, you’ve got your beautiful hand-rolled slab of heaven – now what? There are many ways to cook Porketta, including a straightforward, roast til it’s hot approach. But for the creative-hearted and culinarily curious we have assembled a short list of preparations for your dining pleasure.

 

 

  1. Low and Slow: Roast Porketta at 325, covered and doused with a cup or so of liquid (white wine, lager, chicken stock or even a mild fruit juice such as apple will do). Keep it covered for the first hour and a half, then uncover and continue to roast until fall-apart tender (maybe another 45-60 minutes). When ready, take the roast out, let it sit for 5 minutes, and then shred like your life depends on it. You can use forks, tongs, or even gloved hands (but be careful – it will be hot!). Eat the whole delicious mixture over mashed potatoes, with your favorite pasta, or on a hard roll.
  2. Grill it: Because the Porketta is fully cooked, you need not worry about finessing your fire too much. You can reheat the Porketta in your oven at a higher temperature (say, 375) and when it because hot to the touch, transfer to a hot grill to crisp up the exterior crust. The results will be crunchy, smoky, and oh-so-meaty.
  3. Cute it Up: Cube it up? Cube your Porketta by cutting it into ½ inch chunks. Sprinkle with paprika and gently fry on a medium-heat skillet until the sides are crispy. Skewer them with other bite-sized cubed items like potatoes, cocktail onions, fennel, or sweet peppers (or our favorite – all of the above!). Serve on your holiday menu, or as an appetizer for a dinner party, or as a very high class midnight snack.
  4. Take it to the Club: Make an incredibly savory club sandwich by layering thin slicesof Porketta, right out of the package (it’s fully cooked, you know) with shaved fennel, sundried tomatoes, and crispy pancetta, and lemon basil mayonnaise (you can just amp up your Hellman’s with a dusting of lemon zest and handful of shredded basil or you can make your own). You can serve it on stirato or focaccia, but if you’re feeling sinister might we recommend a triple-decker with slices of your local grocery store’s most pillowy version of Italian bread, toasted.
  5.  Go Full Holiday Roast: Place your Porketta on a rack in a large roasting pan, uncovered. Begin roasting the Porketta at 375 while you prepare your other ingredients. Wash fingerling potatoes or quarter them, quarter fennel, rutabaga, and or sweet potatoes. Toss all with olive oil and light salt (the Porketta is going to help flavor them all) and arrange them in the now-hot roaster when they’re ready (make sure you take the roaster out of the oven to accomplish this – safety first!). Cook all until vegetables are soft – around 45 minutes to an hour. Serve with something green, like Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, or green beans. Buon appetito!

 

 

porketta

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Cajun Finn – The Inside Story

The humble beginnings of a Titan among sandwiches

The Cajun Finn is our most popular sandwich by far – we outsell our second most popular sandwich (The Cold Turkey) by nearly double the amount of Cajun Finns. Invented early on in our deli life – around 2004 – the sandwich began as many of recipes did – with the help of customers and the use of ingredients that happened to be around.

Regular customer, dream pop superstar, and all around cool guy Al Sparhawk happened to be in the shop to purchase his favorite at the time, Smoked Atlantic Cajun Salmon. Eric asked if Al wanted to try a sandwich, and Al and Eric basically improvised until they came up with a fairly cohesive mish-mash of the ingredients we had for the purpose of experimentation, including pepperoncini (Eric had a huge hot pepper faze), roasted red peppers (because ripe tomato season is too damn short in Northeast MN), and wild leek cream cheese (I wish we could still make this, but we’d have to hire a team of licensed foragers to bag up an airplane-hanger’s worth every season to keep up with demand).  A sprinkling of greens and a freshly-baked stirato later and before you could say “The Great Destroyer” a wonderful sandwich was born.

Variations on the sandwich have included double cream cheese, no cream cheese/add mustard, add bison pastrami (Affectionately called “The Big Diaper”) and of course the celebrated jean jacket – adding Sriracha and cilantro. But the original recipe, invented on the fly to please a regular, is still a peppery, smoky, sweet, and spicy sandwich that is hard to beat.

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5 Things Volume 3

Volume 3

It’s the last official Friday of the summer! We’ve been honking right along, despite the competition (or welcome reprieve) of the State Fair, with catering, special events, and delivery.

  1. We cranked out 67 BEAUTIFUL raviolo for our Boot in the Barn Feast on September 9th. Eric’s special pasta recipe is stuffed with Bayfield sheep’s milk ricotta, Parmigiano Reggiano, Minnesota sweet corn, leeks, and love. 
  2. Stephen finished the Cedar Lounge menu – making this cozy Superior watering hole even more unique: it’s the only place in Superior we will be providing regular delivery!
  3. Northern Waters Restaurant has been offering a Burbot Po’ Boy sandwich – based on the New Orleans original but adapted for the Northwoods, it’s a must-try! 
  4. Ken Hammerlund, mystical vegetable genius (aka our tomato guy), appeared with his own blend hot sauce. We’ve been working on our own recipe, and his zesty, veggie-infused concoction is a great inspiration.
  5. Woody’s brand new baby boy has robbed him from our basement! Jeremy has been holding down the prep room nonetheless, even as the sandwich cooler has been on the fritz, employees have called in sick, and delivery has exploded! Thanks, Jerbaby Boi.
  6. BONUS: Boot in the Barn planning is revving up. We’ve selected a remarkable amount of crystal, travertine, bronze, and silver to make a Medici marvel. Ci vediamo li! 
    
    

 

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Boot in the Barn: A Celebration of the Harvest

Boot in the Barn: A Celebration of the Harvest

September 9th at 5pm 

 

School’s back, winter’s coming, and it’s almost time to tuck in. We are celebrating the bounty of late summer Italian-style with a lavish dinner in a spectacular location, and you’re invited.

Northern Waters Smokehaus is hosting another Barn Dinner in Esko at the beautiful Hemlock Preserve. A private estate that plays hosts to weddings and parties every season, Hemlock includes a large barn dining room, a lavish nook-laden lounge, and views of the Saint Louis Valley.

The $75 tickets grant entrance to the historic barn, where guests will be served cocktails, beer, wine, and spritzers and then receive a 5 course meal celebrating the harvest. The menu will include local seasonal ingredients and is inspired by Italian (specifically Tuscan) cuisine, which parallels Smokehaus food in all the right ways – it celebrates simple ingredients, isn’t afraid to party a little bit, and demands technique in every step.

The meal will include campari cocktails, beer, wine, and non-alcoholic drinks; a pasta course; fire-licked porchetta made with Berkshire pork loin and belly (a very special blend) and stuffed with sage, rosemary, and garlic; a salad course; dessert; hausmade limoncello; and coffee.

Music, as usual, will be provided – just bring yourself, relax, and celebrate the season.

This will be the last public dinner offered by Northern Waters Smokehaus for the year at Hemlock Preserve. You can order tickets online, email or call Mary or Flo at (218) 724-7307 ext 201

 

 

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Special Delivery – Coming to a Brewery Near You

smokehaus apparel bmx jersey 2

Northern Waters Smokehaus is teaming up with local breweries and bars to offer their one-of-a-kind sandwiches and catering  delivery to foodless businesses throughout the Twin Ports.

 

Starting with the 250-seat Hoops Brewery in Canal Park, the Smokehaus delivery mobile and fleet of bikes will deliver Cajun Finns, Pastrami Mommys, and Sitka Sushis all over town to feed hungry bar patrons some classic Duluth cuisine. The small deli and sandwich shop can get pretty congested, so customers hoping to avoid lines and the hustle and bustle of “the shop” can simply hop on their phones, scroll through the full menu online, and be eating a Cold Turkey with extra Crayo and a Jean Jacket (that’s cilantro and Sriracha, FYI) in 45 minutes via delivery.

 

Smokehaus food, painstakingly developed in the basement of the Dewitt Seitz Building for nearly 20 years, is ideal for beer sipping. Rich, slightly smoky, touched with salt, and eminently snackable, Smoked Salmon with Black Pepper and Coriander, Berkshire Pork Loin, Bison Buddies, and Curried Leg of Lamb can all stand up to a generous IPA – both beer and the Smokehaus’s recipes have a rich (mostly) European legacy. With such a delightful crop of talented brewmeisters in the Twin Ports and a delivery department full of energetic Smokehausers, it seems a supreme match for the food-brew-curious and longstanding culinary intelligentsia alike. Smokehaus delivery has been bringing the goods to Duluthians since 2015.

 

First offered through brand-spanking-new Hoops Brewing but soon to hit the bar at The Cedar Lounge and others to be announced.