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Smoked Berkshire Ham Cooking Instructions

 

So it’s still a little frozen (or a lot frozen)?

You can defrost your roast in your fridge with a sheet pan underneath it. This will take less than 48 hours so plan accordingly.

So you want to cook this beauty up?

Heat ham in a 325 degree oven in an uncovered baking dish, on a rack, until internal temperature reads 140 degrees.
We recommend 18 minutes per pound. Let the ham rest for approximately 10 minutes before slicing.

Are you looking for more creative and adventurous ways of cooking your Smoked Berkshire Ham? Follow this link to find five ways to devour Smoked Ham. 

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A Practical Guide to Northern Waters Smokehaus: Samples, Part 1

I have been mulling over the concept of a “Practical Guide to the Smokehaus” for a few months now. The task is daunting. It requires a vastness and depth of focus that could end up too vague or underdeveloped, and a precision of information that could lead us to conclusions that are not necessarily earned—a bunch of disconnected data gathered from anecdotes and opinions, leaving everyone wondering “why should I care about this?” As the weaver of this web, I find the task of creating a concise and comprehensive guide to your Northern Waters Smokehaus experience beyond my present resources and abilities. So, a thought occurred to me: I could save myself a great deal of concern over quality of output, I could generate a steady stream of content in digestible morsels, I could use this marketing-based writing as a means to connect with my co-workers and fellow human-beings; I could make it a weekly column, and I could get real answers to a variety of frequently asked questions from my esteemed colleagues. What follows is my first attempt:

“What goes well with this?” “Could you make a sample platter with the best stuff?” “What should I get?”

These are but a few of the daunting questions my co-workers and I engage with every day in the deli. I usually default to asking customers what they tend to like, then customizing my recommendations based on their response and my knowledge of our products. This doesn’t always work out. I am human and sometimes my preferences don’t line up with the customer’s. Sometimes the customer just wants someone else to do the thinking for them (which is very valid, and to which I often relate). And sometimes it is best just to judge by taste.

Today’s topic: The ideal sample-platter. (Note: complex sample platters at Northern Waters Smokehaus will still be made primarily at our employees’ discretion, but you are always welcome to sample individual finished products.)

“What would be on your ideal sample platter?” This is the question I asked my co-workers. Given the time and resources to prepare an inspiring combination of flavors or a greatest hits-style spread to share with our customers, what end result would we see, by each deli employee.

Leif “Pork loin Squealy Dan samples. No, wait. That sounds like a lot of work. I don’t want everyone to come in expecting me to have those prepared,” At this time, I assured him that this is just a thought-experiment, and that he wouldn’t be required to make these, though we discuss whether to make them as sandwiches that are then slivered into samples, individually assembled/toasted open-face sandwich bites, or topped saltine crackers. We also discuss deep-fried saltine crackers—unrelated. “Oh, and I changed my mind: They’d be porketta Squealy Dans.”

Michael — Michael had just finished telling me about why salmon tails are his favorite product we carry, when I sprung this second question on him: “Tails, pancetta, a mix of the salumi, and a Jerry bread [Jerry bakes several of our breads in-haus],” Which kind of Jerry bread? “Definitely the rye.”

Hyland — “Saucisson sec with slices of pear or apple or cucumber. And a really nutty Brie.” Cele: You’re a really nutty brie. “Your mom’s a really nutty Brie,” Cele: No she’s not. She’s a really nutty T—. “I’d also put out castel vetrano olives.”

Cele — “Olivada, chèvre, pork loin, salamini, cajun salmon and black pepper salmon,” Any crackers? “Yea. Ritz. Because we’re fancy.”

Lucy — “Probably ham, pepperoni, saucisson, traditional [salmon] and bread.” Lucy grew up around Northern Waters Smokehaus food, and offered that the glue of this hypothetical sample platter is nostalgia for her childhood. She didn’t say that exactly. I am just trying to paraphrase her poetically.

Jacob — As I described my task, a light brightened behind Jacob’s eyes: “I already know what I’d make. ‘Lutheran Sushi’ — Is that offensive?” For those who don’t already know, Lutheran Sushi is a term which I am not going to research the origin of at this moment, but which I have come to understand as sliced meat, spackled with a binding condiment and wrapped around a pickle spear. When pressed on his preferred variety, he replied, “Pork loin, for sure. With mayo.”

Sam — “Hedonist bites. Saltine crackers spread with a bite of country pâté, a dab of mayo and mustard, a slice of onion, and a cornichon pickle slice. They’re great for tipping people who are on the fence about country pâté or the hedonist.”

In the spirit of not making my co-workers bear the entire burden of producing content, I’ll give my take on the week’s subject at the end:

Ned — “I sure hope we continue carrying our Sogn Tomme cheese,” This is my inner-monologue. “I had no idea what it was before we started selling it,” It’s a fatty, crumbly sheep’s milk cheese. “But I sure enjoyed the time I served it with smoked Alaskan King Salmon and blueberries, drizzled in honey, atop Carr’s water crackers.” This inner monologue is extrapolated from my frenzied mental short-hand.

From here on out, y’all can expect these practical guides on a variety of subjects, returning to some topics (like this) to eventually document all of my co-workers’ suggestions, and musing on new ideas as they occur. Hopefully, you’ll receive sagely advice from myself and my co-workers to guide you through your NWS experience, inspire you to try something new, or enhance your old favorites.

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“5” Things

Welcome back. We’re gathered here to address some things. There are more than five this week, since I realized halfway into a drive to Chicago that I hadn’t yet drafted the 5 Things™ post last Friday.

  1. Fall hours! For those who have not yet stopped in for a late-evening sandwich to be met with closed doors, we have moved to our Winter hours: 10am-8pm Monday through Saturday, still 10am-6pm Sunday.
  2. Our “library” is up and running! What is more important: Knowledge or Imagination? I don’t have a conclusive answer, but here at Northern Waters Smokehaus we be
    lieve in a combination of both. Our recipes and business practices are rooted in tradition, but cultivated by that special something that only we, as individuals, can bring to the table. I’m supposed to be talking about a bookshelf here. Bookshelves are exciting enough, easy enough to understand their purpose, but the worlds they can contain are infinite and wonderful and complicated and complex. I think, in a way, that Northern Waters Smokehaus is like a well-stocked bookcase. I’m losing track of this metaphor. Here are some photographs.

  3. Coach visited us! John, aka Coach, a gosh-darn Smokehaus legend, came into town for a friend’s wedding, and we had the joy of serving him and his our Hot Pastrami special. In addition to years of dedicated service and top-notch joking, Coach was also an early tester of our mail order Sandwich Kit initiative after his time at NWS. Thanks for being you, Coach.
  4. We placed an order for 3,000 boxes! Mail Order season is a wild world, and it is almost upon us. To the uninitiated, three thousand boxes likely sounds like a lot. It turns out, the uninitiated are absolutely correct, as it doesn’t take a genius to recognize the masochism to which we subject ourselves each winter. Our boxes come from All Boxes Direct, and are additionally packaged with recycled denim insulation (we add a Jean Jacket to every order).
  5. The Hygge Collection is available! I took a semester of Norwegian in college, but I still struggle with the pronunciation of this word. Fortunately, I’m a pretty good Googler, so I found out the word is Danish and denotes a sense of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of contentment and well-being. This collaborative Dewitt-Seitz Marketplace picnic basket—featuring products from NWS, Hepzibah’s Sweet Shoppe, Blue Heron Trading Company, and Amazing Grace Bakery & Café—might bring a little hygge to you or someone you hold dear.
  6. We’re getting another slicer! It’s no secret that a huge part of our business’s success is our mail order market, but we’re not just slinging whole hams, porkettas, and turkey breasts. Previously, a good portion of the M.O. department’s days would be spent on one or both of the slicers downstairs, but now they will never have to leave the comfort of their very hygge office—even to slice their meats.
  7. The afternoons & evenings have slowed down (temporarily)! Obviously we’re grateful that our business experiences a bunch of endlessly busy days, but from time to time it is enjoyable for those of us on the ground floor to have some shifts to unwind, mess around and convince the restaurant across the hall to deep fry a couple of maple sage turkey & cottage bacon Monte Cristos, tell stories, share favorite music, and give curious customers a little extra attention. It might surprise you, but many humans seek personal enrichment and rewarding experiences, even on the clock. Smokehausers are artists, intellectuals, parents, activists, comedians, scientists, and just genuinely good people, and during the slow season, we have the opportunity to cultivate our own personalities within the context of our workplace.
  8. Sandwich Lab is coming up soon! I’ll write more about this in a future post, but plans are already being laid and sandwich experiments are being refined for our new tradition, the Sandwich Lab, in which we re-learn and re-analyze our techniques, pitch and vote on new potential menu items, and eat a lot of food, and which will be held this year on November 6th. We’ll be closing the shop a little early that day, so we have some space to innovate.

That’s all for this week. I hope none of you lost sleep last week over the missed post. I had sustained no debilitating injuries that kept me from writing, just a bunch of gigs in a row that distracted my simple mind. I’m 99.9% sure I’ll be back here with more Things™ next week, same-ish time.

Oh, and about that Monte Cristo: We made it on our haus-made white bread with swiss and cheddar cheese, and they covered it with French toast batter and graham cracker crumbles before they fried it. We enjoyed it, at their request, with our crayo. The marketing meeting notes inform me our delicious crayo—delicious is an understatement, by the way—will be part of an upcoming mail-order special, so stay tuned for more updates about that.

And finally, Happy Halloweekend, ya ghouls!

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One ham meatball, many options

 

Baby, do I love ham! But let’s say that you cooked a ham for a special occasion and had A LOT of it left over.  Ham is great (pro tip: it also freezes really well), but if your ham leftover contingency arsenal consists solely of ham sandwiches… you’re going to become incredibly tired of ham sandwiches. One delicious option that it seems hardly anyone knows about for ham is making it into a meatball! You can use basically any old meatball recipe that you like and just substitute ham for part or all of the ground meat. The sauce recipes are also just guidelines, so add or subtract things as your taste dictates. What follows here is a basic ham meatball recipe that can be served in any style that you deem solid. I’ve given you the recipes for a Swedish gravy or a sweet n sour sauce , but I am positive that these meatballs would also land favorably in a soup, skewered up with peppers on the grill, in a stir fry or as a topping on a pizza. As with any meatball, I recommend making a whole bunch of them at once if you have the ingredients and freezing the excess balls raw, which will make for quick and easy meals in the future.

 

For the meatballs:

½ lb ground beef (or any ground meat)
½ lb Northern Waters Smokehaus Berkshire ham,  ground up in a food processor or meat grinder
1 large egg
1 slice of white bread, crust removed
¼ C milk
½ cup onion, minced
4 T olive oil or any neutral oil ( I recommend using 4 T butter for the Swedish version)

Place the milk and the slice of bread in a small saucepan. Bring the milk to a gentle simmer until it is absorbed by the slice of bread (a couple of minutes). Using a fork, shred up the bread and milk, then place it in a mixing bowl. Add the onion and the egg to the bread, mixing it into a loose paste. Add the ground meat and ground ham last, mixing it by hand until just combined (try to gently incorporate all ingredients until they are just holding together enough to form your meatballs). The meatballs can be as large or as small as you would like. Once the meatballs are formed, bring a large skillet to medium heat with the oil or butter in it, and brown your meatballs on all sides. At this point, you can continue cooking them until they are cooked through, or finish them in whatever sauce you are serving them in.  Either way, once the meatballs are ready to come out of the pan, drain them first on a paper towel, paper bag, or on a rack. Do not completely clean out your pan- you may need it to make your sauce in! Makes 4-6 main course servings.



For sweet and sour sauce:
1 ½ C water
¼ C distilled white vinegar
¼ cup ketchup
3 T cornstarch (you can substitute all purpose flour)
3 T soy sauce
(Optional) diced pineapple, peppers

Scallions to garnish

Whisk the water, vinegar, ketchup, cornstarch, soy sauce and optional vegetables together and add to a large sauce pan (you can do this in the same pan you cooked your meatballs in but be sure to drain off any excess oil). Bring the sauce to a simmer for 3 minutes or so. Add meatballs to the sauce and simmer until cooked through.
Serve as a stand-alone appetizer, over rice, or lo mein noodles. Garnish with chopped scallions or chives.

For Swedish gravy:
4 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. flour
2 cups beef broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
¼ t nutmeg
½ t garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

chopped parsley to garnish (optional)

In the pan you cooked your meatballs in, add 4 T of butter and bring to a medium heat until foamy. Try to use the butter heating time to scrape the browned bits off of the bottom of the pan with a spatula or fork. Slowly incorporate flour, whisking until it turns a light brown color. Slowly whisk in broth and heavy cream. Whisk in Worchestershire, Dijon mustard, nutmeg and garlic powder. Bring to a simmer until sauce starts to thicken. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add your meatballs and heat until cooked through. Serve over mashed potatoes or egg noodles and garnish with chopped parsley.

 

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5 Things That Happened This Week

As Summer pushes onward toward its inevitable end, Northern Waters Smokehaus finds itself embroiled in growing pains and the joy of new beginnings. A lot has been happening around here in the past week—continuations of capital improvements, commencements of new bargains, and the laying of plans for special occasions.

Before my preamble becomes too amble-y, let’s get to our five things:

  1. We have a sink upstairs! This may not sound as exciting as I have made it out to be, but it’s a significant step in the renovation of our third-floor office. For some time we have wanted to expand our food prep capabilities, and that dream is well on its way to being a reality. Next week we’re tearing out the carpet, and then it’s Food Safe City in this joint! Aside from the chaos of remodeling a jam-packed office—who can’t enjoy a little chaos from time to time?—the only drawback is that we’re taking a brief pause on mail orders. Mail order will be on hiatus August 6th-9th due to temporary lack of space.
  2. Totes! We have new tote bags for sale and a special deal running throughout the month of August. It totes slipped our minds to let you know earlier, but here it is:
    When you buy a tote, at time of purchase you get 20% off every item you can fit in that tote. Sandwiches, smoked fish, cheese, tube meats, posters, crackers, beverages, olives, slaws—I could go on,but I believe you get the gist—are all 20% off, so long as you can fit them in your tote bag. Please note, you’ll be buying the tote itself at full price, and the sale is limited to one full tote of discounted goods per customer.
  3. Last pop-up of the Summer! Tonight (Friday) we’ll be at Hoops Brewing slinging tacos from 5pm until they’re gone. The tacos will be tasty and the salsas will be fresh.
  4. Business is good…sometimes too good. Thanks to you, our awesome customers, we have been regularly selling out of a bunch of our inventory. This is a double-edged sword, of course, as our business is thriving, sometimes at the expense of our customers being able to get their favorite items. A frozen Berkshire ham that arrives at our store takes two weeks to become the delicious smoked ham in our deli case, and our salumi cures for up to a month.  Ciscos are fantastic when we have them, but I still haven’t quite figured out when they’re in-season. Production doesn’t really ever slow down for us, and we do our best to keep our little deli fully stocked. So shoutout to you, dear customers, for keeping us on our feet, but please bear with us if you ever catch us without your favorite item. If you’re curious, you can check in with us to see if and when we’ll have a particular item in stock.
  5. Bread joys and woes. Our beloved baker, Jerry, has been steadily honing his craft in our kitchen. All of our rye bread is now made in-haus, as well as the rosemary potato rolls upon which we serve our Monday smokers’ choice special. White bread and stiratos are in the works, but not quite ready for mass-production. Baking bread is truly an art-form, and one we are glad to be adding to our establishment. We recently purchased a new (much larger) oven to bake said bread, though it hasn’t been a perfectly smooth ride thus far. There have been a few technical issues with the oven over the past week that have put a hitch in our production. Fortunately, Jerry is a gosh-darn workhorse, and has us stocked on rye and potato rolls for weeks to come.So there you have it. It’s been a pretty exciting ride around these parts. Thanks for bearing with us in the long lines, and for your patience with us during our growth spurt. You, and our love of good food, are the reason we’re here.

    Stay tuned for exciting updates in the near future. Planning for our 20th Anniversary party is ongoing and we’ll be making announcements soon. Unless I decide to write another blog post in the meantime, I’ll see you next week.

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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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Great Moments in the Smokehaus Lexicon: The Story of The Gorilla

Every business has their unique jargon. The restaurant industry in general is fraught with code – a hold-over from expediting short orders coupled with the Tower of Babel-scale mix of languages that populate many American eateries, there are general terms we all seem to know: “86,” “all-day,” “to fly,” “slammed,” etc., but each place usually creates its own set of slang over time and the Smokehaus isn’t an exception. Today we shall reveal the story of one of our most mystifying sandwich titles: The Gorilla.

We didn’t always smoke meat. We started off sticking to fish – Eric had one smallish smoker off-site in a commercial kitchen and a license that allowed him to smoke and sell it but forbade him to distribute anything that had hooves, fur, or mammary glands (like fish versus swine, the FDA and USDA are also two different animals, and one has deeper pockets and some pretty outstanding long-term relationships with big ag that pretty much eliminates small-time processors like us from selling to anyone, anywhere except our own storefront, but that’s a story for another time). Eventually, we moved our operation to Dewitt Seitz, directly under our retail space. This enabled us to start smoking sausage, pastrami, ham, and pork loin. Eric would tinker around with backyard-smoker recipe favorites, adapting them to the more formal demands of our commercial Vortron units, and we the few employees at the time would reap the rewards. What a time to be alive and carnivorous!

Eventually, like so many crossroads in life, it came down to perfecting the simplest recipe: the ham.

The first perfect batch was glorious – rosy, glistening mounds of promise, made even more pristine by the charred unholy walls of the smoker. Like Aphrodite in the lap of Hephaestus, the natural beauty of the ham was elevated to irresistible by its company, and we sawed off pieces straight from the rack, surrounding the smoker and taking turns with the knife. There is nothing like meat from the smoker. Smoky, yes, and tender and salty and sweet – but there is a delicacy when it is newly made that wears off after it has been cooled and stored. Even more heavy-handed items like pastrami or andouille are touched with this grace note when the smoke clears and we open the big stainless door. Ham is perhaps most demonstrative of this phenomenon, and this first batch was a revelation to us all.

Eric’s best childhood friend Dan was in town, and was among the few to enjoy this singular experience. The two had grown up together in Iowa, Dan was currently living in New York City, and they still keep in touch. As the silence that fell over our greasy mouths began to dissipate with the mumblings and exclamations of pleasure, Dan began to tell us a tale.

“I had the craziest dream last night. I don’t know if it’s because I was sleeping in Eric’s basement where it’s extra dark, extra quiet and extra cold? Anyway, I dreamt like all night last night, but all I remember is this one part. I was in my parents’ house back in Iowa, it was at night, I was alone. There was a sliding glass door off the living room, and the deck was lit up. There was this enormous gorilla pounding on the door to get in, and it was terrifying. He pounded and pounded, and would pace back and forth in between poundings. I didn’t know what to do – the thing must have weighed a ton and there was just this thin layer of glass between us, but I couldn’t run away. It just kept taunting me, rattling the glass. It was one of those full-grown silverback types you see on PBS, with smart, shiny eyes and big yellow teeth.  But the thing is, the gorilla was wearing a jean jacket.”

Urban worldliness mixed with childhood fantasy? Wilderness anxiety? Brain flush? We didn’t know what Dan’s psyche was up to, but we did know that we thought it was hilarious. The image coupled with the meat high was enough to send us into cry-laughter for several minutes. It was a wonderful feeling. Eventually, when we calmed down, we started to talk sandwiches. We knew this basic but beautiful meat deserved the same on the menu, and settled for a simple ham, Swiss, lettuce, mustard, and mayo sandwich on rye. Name-wise, we half-heartedly tossed a few around. I particularly wanted it to be called the Bukowski, but we all knew that it really could only be The Gorilla.

Later, when we discovered that our most popular two sandwiches (The Cajun Finn and Cold Turkey) were significantly boosted by the addition of cilantro and Sriracha, we found a place to hang the Jean Jacket – a secret menu addition that delights many customers to this day, though few know the origin. In fact, you can add a Jean Jacket to nearly anything on the menu, though I still think the Gorilla is best au natural. So, the next time you order a Gorilla, or add a jean jacket, remember that it comes from a very honest ether – and you are having a taste of Smokehaus history.