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5 Ways We Save On Waste

Improving sustainability and reducing food waste should be a goal of any restaurant (or deli), and with the proper planning and creative thinking, isn’t terribly difficult to accomplish.

In your home kitchen, you’ve surely found that certain undesirable or inedible parts of food—carcasses, stems, papery vegetable skins, et cetera—make some of the best broths and stocks, and the burnt bits clinging to the pan are the basis of the most flavorful sauces. And of course organic material properly handled eventually yields nutrient-rich soil. One can extrapolate this philosophy to many areas of food production and life in general.

We need to move away from the idea that the unaesthetic, or not immediately necessary, parts of food are bad, or “waste,” or in some capacity destined for the trash. Today, let’s look at the ways we at NWS make the most of our food production. We’re not a perfect example of sustainability and optimization in food production, but we’re always looking for ways to innovate and improve.

Crostini/Croutons.

Bread—it’s gotta be fresh, right? For a sandwich, we wholeheartedly agree with you. That’s why we methodically cycle through frozen loaves of our haus-baked Pullman rye and white bread loaves, and bake off hero rolls and haus-baked ciabattas steadily throughout the day.

But sometimes there’s a slow few days, or too many heroes and ciabattas for a slow evening. Sometimes the closers like to bring a few rolls home, but relying on that just isn’t sufficient.

The solution was simple—throw them into freezer-ready bags, and let them dry out in the deep freeze. The moisture-sapped bread, though somewhat tedious to cut through, is primed for making crostini and croutons. 

Cut them to the appropriate size and shape, spread them out in a single layer on a sheet pan, dress them with olive oil, garlic powder, coarse salt, and dry thyme. Bake at 350°F for 10-15 minutes (know thine oven!) rotating the pan once at the halfway mark. Guess what: You’ve got crostini (or croutons!)

Smoked Salmon Pâté.

We could make our smoked salmon pâté exclusively with whole pieces of smoked salmon. That would be fine—in fact, it would be good. It would also mean we’d need to order and process twice as much fish.

Somewhere along the line we found an elegant solution to this problem. We prep Cajun, Traditional, and Black Pepper & Coriander smoked salmon daily for our sandwich line. Only the finest slices of that smoked salmon end up in sandwich portions.

(An adjacent category is the salmon that, during the kippering process, just becomes overwhelmingly moist and practically falls off the skin. This salmon is great for eating, but doesn’t look as nice as a gift, or on a platter, or as we’re placing it on the scale to weigh it.)

This is more for ease of use on our end of things than it is for the customers receiving the sandwiches. It all tastes roughly the same, and some would even argue that the seasoned belly-fat scraps taste a little bit better. 

That’s why they end up in the pâté. The “scraps” of “waste” from prep are oily and have a steeper ratio of seasoning to meat, and most importantly, they’re not going in the garbage. Additionally, we have the flexibility of making smoked salmon pâté on a daily basis (if need be) without needing to take salmon out of our fish case.

By the way, our debut cookbook, which is currently in development, will feature a recipe for making NWS Smoked Salmon Pâté from a single chunk of Traditional Smoked Atlantic Salmon, so you can take matters into your own hands!

Snack Stick Ends.

The main problem with selling our non-fish snack sticks (Bison Buddies, Big Jims, and Royales With Cheese) by unit price ($3/per, $2/per, and $2/per respectively) is the need to make those units a consistent side. This means we cut about 1/2” off of each stick. These ends get vacuum sealed and tossed in the deep freeze. To combat this mountain of cured meat nubs, we’ve implemented a handful of plans. 

1.) When we have cheese curds, we package cheese curds and meat nubs and sell them out of the Grab & Go case. 

2.) Sometimes we just package meat nubs with each other and sell them out of the Grab & Go case. 

3.) Frequently, Patricia will have an awesome pasty idea that utilizes some of the meat nubs, and I bet you can guess where we sell them.

4.) And, of course, they make great fodder for sample platters in the deli. 

Dip Sauce.

The zesty three-pepper sauce we serve alongside our Big Dipper sandwich is not only delicious—it is also very clever. Preservative liquids may not make the tastiest beverages, but they’re basically water, salt (sometimes sugar), vinegar, and seasonings, so they can easily be repurposed. 

Our Royale With Cheese snack sticks include pickle juice in the recipe to emulate the pickle slices on a bacon-cheeseburger. The dip sauce contains a sacred/secret ratio of the following—liquid from the roasted red pepper can, liquid from the pepperoncini (pickled sweet yellow peppers) tub, and a healthy dose of sriracha.

Sure, it’s easy enough to just dump such things down the drain, but next time you’re thinking about dumping your kimchi juice, or pickle juice, or what have you, down the drain—think again. There’s seasoning potential with which to experiment.

Fish Skin Dog Treats.

The skin of your smoked fish is not garbage. We used to compost them, but recently we’ve had a change of heart. Pets love fish skins—certain mushers in the area have even come to us asking for fish skins to feed their sled dogs.

However, keeping those skins around in our cooler is poor management of space. Again, the solution is simple: Bake them. You can do this quite easily with your own leftover fish skins.

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Scrape the excess fat and meat off of the fish skins and place them on a baking sheet in a single layer, scale side up. Bake them for 10 minutes, rotating the pan at the halfway point.

After they cool, you’ve got some shelf-stable snacks for your pets. They break into smaller, bite-sized pieces easily, and animals love them.

If your animals have plenty of treats, or if you’re living in an animal-free zone and still want to make the most of your fish skins, just salt them (with coarse sea salt) right out of the oven, while they’re still hot. Now, instead of animal treats, you’ve got a nice little salty snack, or salad topping, or whatever you might want to do with a crispy, salty fish skin.


How do you save on waste in your kitchen? We’d love to know. Leave some love in the comments.

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5 Things: January 31st, 2020

Here we are, already one-twelfth of the way through 2020. It’s going by so quickly. Let’s not tarry: Here’s a snapshot of our week:

Eric’s been out of town (and will be for a bit longer).

Beyond being a great boss/leader/guru, Eric is a family man. While he’s been down in Iowa, helping out with family things, we’ve been doing our best to just hold it together. Eric, if you’re reading this, we miss you!

In his element; in his favorite shirt.

We’re rearranging our sandwich menu.

The sandwich menu is verging on out of control—and we’re adding eight sandwiches to it within the next two months, including six next week. With that in-mind, our amazing illustrator and creative director, Flo, has been out of the (extremely distracting) office all week, re-hand-painting (and color-coding) a large portion of the menu.

The Smokehaus wouldn’t be the same without Flo’s amazing eye for food-styling, design and illustration. Thank you, Flo, for everything you do!

A few Flo fishes

Hannah and Andy have been emptying out the 3rd-floor office.

All the walls on the left hand side (pictured below) are coming down, and being replaced with more cooler space—and maybe a desk for Andy—while the rest of us cram into the new office space, at least until the renovation is complete and equilibrium is attainable.

Here’s a short pictorial tribute to this office:

Walkie-talkie codenames.

Apologies to everyone else who has to live with us in the DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace—we are the weirdos walking around the building with walkie-talkies, making up codenames like “Cougar,” “Meltdown!,” “1225,” and “Hot Snake,” to communicate with each other while we transition between office spaces.

If you run into us in a crowded elevator, it’s okay to look away and pretend we’re not there. We understand.

Codename: Leify Greenz

Sub-list: What I would bring to the game day celebration.

Maybe you love the sport and maybe you just love the food—Either way, enjoying time with friends and family is never a bad thing. You’re spending your time on a deli and smokehouse’s blog, so you likely have a decent handle on setting up a snack table, but you might be looking for something special (or easy—or both) to take your game day snack table to the next level. Well, we’ve got options.

My recommendations, based on what we currently have in-stock:

All-Season Fillet

Let’s face it: smoked salmon is what we’re known for. The All-Season is our ultimate party favor—all the flavors so no-one feels left out; easy to prep (we’ve even got card with helpful instructions in our deli); food for fingers, forks, or your favorite crackers. One fillet is probably enough for everyone at the party to get a chance to enjoy it.

Salumi

Thin-sliced dry-cured meat—packs a lot of flavor into each bite and goes a long way. Right now we have Salamini, Saucisson Sec, and Spanish-style Chorizo in spades.

Snack Sticks

Whether you keep them full-length or cut them up into itty-bits, these snack sticks are guaranteed to please, for any palate—Bison Buddies have a little bit of kick, Big Jims remind me of ground beef and taco seasoning browning on the stovetop, Royale With Cheese are a bacon-cheeseburger in a stick, and Smoked Salmon Sticks are made with delicious sockeye salmon and tied together with buttery goodness.

The Usual Suspects

Two delicious hausmade cheese spreads and an exquisite salmon spread—just dip in your knife or cracker, then place immediately in mouth.

Cheese Spread

Honestly, our entire cheese selection is a fairly safe bet, but this spreadable cheddar is guaranteed to appeal to everyone.


That’s all for now! See you next week. If you’re still itching for more NWS content to imbibe, check out this week’s series of Sandwich Lab blogs.

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Sandwich Lab: The Catbus and The Sorta-Torta

The two Sandwich Lab specials we’ll be talking about today share a common thread—attempts at encapsulating favorite food experiences using the ingredients readily available at our deli. One to a savory Japanese pancake, the other to a staple of Mexican lunch menus.

Emma and Patricia have each come up with creations that blend components we’ve had all along into sandwiches that stand out from our other offerings. Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at The Catbus and The Sorta-Torta.

The Catbus

The Catbus is an okonomiyaki-inspired sandwich that’s named after an iconic Studio Ghibli character, and as such, it is pure Smokehaus sandwich menu in intention and execution: an attempt to recreate a favorite food experience with ingredients we have on-hand, paired with a pop-cultural reference for a name.

Okonomiyaki, a savory Japanese pancake sometimes referred to as “Japanese pizza,” translates to “grilled as you like it.” Haus-baked Prince Myshkin rye bread, toasted alongside red onion and kimchi, dressed with mayo and sriracha, and garnished with cilantro is undeniably how we like it: simple, savory (prepare to come face-to-face with the subtle power of fish sauce), and just a little spicy.

The Catbus joins our menu on Monday, February 3rd, alongside Alᚦings Considered, the Sorta-Torta, and the Salmon Melt.

The Sorta-Torta

The Sorta-Torta is a bright new addition to our sandwich menu. Between the slices of Spanish-style Chorizo, fresh jalapeño, sriracha, and black pepper, there’s plenty of spice to wake up your taste buds, with hausmade cumin slaw, mayo and cheddar cheese to balance the scale.

This sandwich is like no other on our menu, and that’s just how Patricia planned it.

Spending many of her years on this planet in the Twin Cities, around plenty of places that offered fantastic tortas, she wanted to see what she could use around the Smokehaus to recreate that experience. A few standard torta ingredients are absent or remixed—aficionados will notice the lack of refried beans, and choosing a hero roll over pan francés—hence, the “sorta,” but there’s no need to dwell on what this sandwich isn’t, because it’s tasty as heck.

The Sorta-Torta joins our menu on Monday, February 3rd, alongside Alᚦings Considered, the Catbus, and the Salmon Melt.


Thanks for tuning-in yet again to this series about the upcoming additions to our sandwich menu. We hope you are too—whether you’ll be visiting our deli tomorrow or in a few months, they’ll be here for you.

We’re so dang excited to share all these new sandwiches with you next week, but let’s not forget about the returning favorites from last year’s Sandwich Lab cycle—the Wagner and the Sebu-Chan

WHAT IS SANDWICH LAB?

A STORY PILFERED FROM PAST BLOGS.

*Bum bum*

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:

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, 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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Sandwich Lab: Alþings Considered and The Salmon Melt

Sandwich Lab Specials are back! Rather than running monthlong specials like last year, we’re going to bring all the new sandwiches to you at the same time, and keep them around for a while longer. Each one of our sandwiches eventually develops some degree of cult-following, and we want to give these staff-favorite newbies the same opportunity.

Today, we’ll be talking about two sandwiches that share something in common with each other, and with our most successful sandwich model: fish sandwiches. This is the first installment in a series of blogs about the eight sandwiches set to grace our menu before summer, including six new sandwiches—four from the most recent Sandwich Lab, and two collaborations—and two returning favorites from last year’s Sandwich Lab.

Not your average matpakke.

Alþings Considered is based on the open-faced sandwiches Andrew beheld at his bestemor‘s 90th birthday in Stavagner, Norway: rye bread, brushed with cream cheese and topped with gravlax, capers, lemon slices, fresh dill, and other fixings.

After Andrew joined the Smokehaus team, he began trying to recapture the majesty of de smørbrødene, finding the necessary ingredients readily available on our sandwich line and in the prep kitchen.

Andrew’s take on this sandwich begins with two slices of our haus-baked Prince Myshkin rye bread, a few generous swipes of scallion cream cheese, capers, Atlantic salmon gravlax, tomato slices, hausmade quick pickles, and a hausmade Nordic slaw developed just for this sandwich, featuring thinly-sliced cabbage, radish, and lemon, dressed with vinegar and dill.

At the very least, this smørbrød is a reminder that gravlax is amazing. At best, well, you’ll just have to try it for yourself and find out.

And what about that name? How are you meant to pronounce that non-Roman character? I’ll spare you the cursory linguistic and historical lessons, and skip ahead to the answer—it’s a voiceless dental non-sibilant fricative consonant. If that’s not helpful, think of NPR. If that’s still not helpful, there are some clues in this paragraph for you to follow in pursuit of the origin of this name.

Alþings Considered joins our menu on Monday, February 3rd, alongside the Catbus, the Sorta-Torta, and the Salmon Melt.

Speaking of the Salmon Melt

TK, our beloved inventory expert and wine connoisseur, sought to fill an obvious gap on our menu.

In TK’s words, “The tuna melt is one of the best deli sandwiches ever.” While we’ve never been a tuna joint, we have something that compares quite favorably to the average tuna salad: Smoked Salmon Pâté.

TK’s Salmon Melt is a essentially a classic tuna melt, with a hearty portion of our Smoked Salmon Pâté substituted for the tuna salad: Two slices of buttered haus-baked Pullman white bread, toasted alongside cheddar cheese-topped salmon pâté, assembled with a chunky dill pickle/red onion/celery relish.

The Salmon Melt gives our Smoked Salmon Pâté—which itself features the bright and exciting blend of such flavors as lemon juice, horseradish, Cajun seasoning, dill, scallions, and parsley—another context in which to shine, and in unexpected circumstances: served hot.

The Salmon Melt joins our menu on Monday, February 3rd, alongside the Catbus, the Sorta-Torta, and the aforementioned Alᚦings Considered.


Thanks for tuning in to this latest series of product features. Scandinavian fans, please forgive my sloppy attempts at Norwegian linguistic and cultural analysis: I took one semester of Norwegian at St. Olaf College, and my best friend moved to Norway a decade ago—we’re just pretending that makes me qualified.

For more information about Sandwich Lab, please read the copy-pasted details below:

What is Sandwich Lab?

A story pilfered from past blogs.

*Bum bum*

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:

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, 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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Product Feature: Smoked Jerky

“Do you have any jerky?”

The above has been a common refrain while acquainting our customers with the deli cases. And now we can finally answer in the affirmative.

Jerky is here! Our beloved owner, Eric, always eager to listen to what the people want, then give them a better version than they expected, spent some serious one-on-one time with his home smoker developing these recipes, and is finally ready to present his work to the world!

Right now, we’re offering three flavors of Haus-smoked jerky, with plans to grow that list. Like all products at NWS, our jerky is made with the highest-quality—locally-sourced where applicable—meats, perfectly seasoned and processed by skilled hands.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the flavors:

Maple Bourbon Bison Jerky

Sometimes simple is better.

Our Smoked Maple Bourbon Bison Jerky follows that philosophy, letting mouthwatering strands of North American Bison Eye of Round speak for themselves, with just the right amount of maple syrup and bourbon, and a healthy dose of salt and pepper.

Maple Bourbon Bison Jerky is available in our deli for $19 1/2lb

Umami Tsunami Bison Jerky

Ride the savory wave!

Experience another side of bison, packed with a palate-awakening blend of flavors—Tamari, Worcestershire sauce, Sambal, Shio Koji, ketchup, and, of course, black pepper—and smoke-finished to perfection.

And it’s fun to say aloud.

Umami Tsunami Bison Jerky is available in our deli for $19 1/2lb

Wild Sockeye Salmon Jerky

Our savory-sweet Wild Sockeye Salmon Jerky will make your mouth water!

Flavored with a blend of ingredients that will remind longtime Smokehaus fans of our old sockeye gravlax—fresh ginger, fresh garlic, and lemon juice—and tied-together with sugar, and the potent umami combo of Sambal Oelek and Shio Koji, this sockeye salmon jerky is destined to be a hit.

There’s nothing fishy about it, except the Wild Sockeye flavor you love.

Wild Sockeye Salmon Jerky is available in our deli for $20 1/2lb


Our smoked jerky is a perfect answer to hunger right out of the deli case, or saved for later on. It’s smoked and dehydrated, so you can take it with you on the trails, on a plane, or in the car. We’ve priced it out to sell by weight, and rest assured, even a quarter-pound goes a long way.

Expect more flavors coming soon. Rumor has it Eric’s got Turkey Jerky on his mind.

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Product Feature: Snack Sticks

Snack sticks are great. NWS snack sticks are amazing. But don’t just take our word for it. Even with periodic availability issues (usually related to so many people wanting them!) they’re still among our top sellers. Around here, we call them Buddies.

Made by hand from the highest-quality regionally-sourced* meats, and thoughtfully selected seasonings and ingredients, these little buddies are great for sharing and snacking on-the-go. To the right recipient, a six-pack of these sticks is a perfect gift.

Need something quick and easy for a potluck gathering? Buddies. Heading out of town and searching for something travel-friendly? Buddies. Running out of cooler space, but craving that NWS fix? Pack a few buddies.

Currently, we have four snack stick offerings: Big Jims, Bison Buddies, Smoked Salmon Buddies, and Royale With Cheese. If (when?) we add more snack sticks to our roster, we’ll update this page.

*When possible. Sockeye and Atlantic salmon still live outside the Midwest.

Big Jims

Big Jim Hatch chiles are big peppers with big flavor! Growing 8-14 inches, and producing meaty pods with a mouthwatering sweetness and smoky medium heat, these peppers are the foundation of the adobada sauce that make these smoked beef and bacon sticks stand out.

Big Jims remind me of hanging around the kitchen while my mother sautéed pounds of ground beef and chopped onions with a packet of taco seasoning, sneaking spoonfuls whenever she stepped away from the stove. They’re great for any palate, with plenty of interesting spice, but a mild heat that won’t leave you sweating.

We like to serve Big Jims alongside Cajun-seasoned cheese curds and our hausmade cheddar crackers, but they wouldn’t be out of place on any snack platter. I’m dreaming of bites of Big Jims alongside crisp, sweet apple slices.

Bison Buddies 

Bison is the original North American meat source, and it’s on an upswing. It’s lean, mean, and green—environmentally speaking. Our premier snack stick features a 5:1 ratio of sustainably-raised, antibiotic- and hormone-free North American Bison, LLC chuck roast and Heritage Berkshire pork. 

They’re a NWS classic, with the perfect amount of snap, and a complex flavor that begins with a sweetness at the tip of the tongue, developing into a mild spice and the complementary tastes of bison and Berkshire pork dancing on the middle tastebuds, finishing with a light burn at the back of the mouth—thank you, paprika, cayenne, and red pepper flakes. All the while, you’ll enjoy hints of black pepper, coriander, garlic, and ground mustard.

Bison Buddies are perhaps best served as they come, eaten within moments of us handing them over to you, but their spicier side comes alive after some time under heat, which activates the various dehydrated peppers in their recipe. Or, if you’re feeling cute, buy yourself a can of Pillsbury puff pastry, cut the Buddies into thirds, and make yourself some Blanket Buddies.

Smoked Salmon Buddies

Save the deep-fried ground cod sticks for the kids. Our Smoked Salmon Buddies aren’t your average fish stick. Wild sockeye salmon (with just a touch of Atlantic salmon, for fat content) seasoned with ginger, black pepper, and coriander, make these a rare, but unforgettable, treat.

These salmon sticks shine alongside cream cheese or our hausmade Boursin cheese, and while they pique interest just as often for their peculiarity as their flavor, they’ve captivated the hearts and taste buds of many skeptics.

Royale With Cheese

Named after what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in France: It’s a bacon-cheeseburger in a stick! Ground beef, smoked bacon, and high temperature cheddar cheese form the base of this stick, highlighted by the savory combination of caramelized onion, pickle juice, ketchup, and mustard—smoked to perfection.

These rich and delicious sticks are great cold and on-the-go, but give them a few minutes on the grill or skillet, and wrap them in a large leaf of crispy lettuce, and you’ve got yourself the ultimate easy bun-free burger experience. We’ve done the math, and that equals more room for french fries!


All of our snack sticks are available as often as we can keep up with the demand in our deli fish and meat cases. Big Jims and Royales are $2/stick. Bison Buddies are $3/stick. Smoked Salmon Buddies are $28/lb.

Trimmings from the ends of the sticks are mixed up in 1-pound containers we call “Little Pals” and are available from our Grab & Go case whenever we have time to package them up.

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5 Customer Favorites

Another lap ’round the sun is complete! To start off this blogging year, we’re going to linger a while longer in the previous year, looking at our all-around bestselling items—which to some might be quite obvious. To avoid clinging too dearly to the past, I will then attempt to work a preview of what to expect in the upcoming year into each section.

#1 — The Cajun Finn

No question here. Whether by sheer virtue of its flavor, or the potency of word-of-mouth advertising, this sandwich sells roughly as many units as the bottom half of the sandwich menu combined (a point for W.o.M.), and has repeat—and three-peat, and onward—customers (a major point for V.o.F.).

Fish sandwiches are among our most popular items overall, and come Spring of 2020, we’ll have a new one making a stop on our menu. Last year, for the Friends of the Boundary Waters Fundraiser, we auctioned off future naming rights for a limited-run fish sandwich to be featured on our menu.

So, right now, it’s in development and unnamed, but it’s highly likely to be a hit. A percentage of proceeds from each sandwich sold will be donated to Friends of the Boundary Waters efforts to protect one of Minnesota’s greatest natural treasures. With that in mind, perhaps all of the Cajun Fanns* could work together and turn the Untitled Fish Sandwich into our new bestseller. Delicious activism.

The Cajun Finn sold just under 15,000 units in 2019.

*Came up with this one on the spot, and now it’s canon. Y’all are henceforth Cajun Fanns.

#2 — Chips

Chips are a highly visible, relatively inexpensive side dish, and a great companion to a sandwich. Do you ever just mess around and throw chips right on your sandwich? I sure do.

The future of chips at NWS is exciting. At the end of 2019, a few boxes of new chips showed up at our proverbial doorstep for sampling. I can tell you from first- and secondhand experience that we Smokehausers enjoyed the new chips, and one particular flavor enjoyed a short run in our deli (perhaps with a longer stay to come). Beyond that, we’ve begun making moves to develop our own line of NWS chips. Ah, future goals—so uncertain, but so exciting.

#3 — Bison Buddies

The original Smokehaus snack stick reigns supreme. Bison Buddies are sweetly smoky, with a gentle kick of heat to the back of the tongue (a little less gentle if they spend some time on a skillet), and convenient to purchase and enjoy.

Bison is the better version of beef: leaner, more nutritious—high in protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and zinc—and, in most cases, raised without antibiotics and hormones.

Though our Bison Pastrami is now only made intermittently in small batches, the Great American Mammal still has its presence in our deli in the form of these snack sticks, and Corned Bison, one of our sandwich line meat options (and the superior choice for The ’06 sandwich).

The Pack Lunch—the launch item of an upcoming collaboration with our neighbors Duluth Pack—is a Corned Bison sandwich with a daring-yet-dependable cohort of flavors to enhance it. Stay tuned for more details about this exciting collaboration.

#4 — Big Jims/Royale With Cheese

Bison may be the better version of beef, but these beef sticks are not something you want to ignore.

The Big Jims (named after the Hatch Chiles that give them their distinct flavor) are my favorite snack sticks we currently offer.

Royale(s) With Cheese are our bacon cheeseburger-themed snack sticks. They’re replete with the flavors of beef and bacon (obviously), onion, pickle juice, and cheese (again, quite obviously).

Despite each of these snack sticks spending only slightly more than six months in our deli, the numbers don’t lie: they share the spotlight with heavy-hitters like the Cajun Finn and Traditional Atlantic Salmon, which had a full Sun Cycle to earn their place on this list. In their half-year of availability, each sold around 9,000 units. That positions them to outsell even the legendary Cajun Finn, if given a whole year.

Which is why I’m delighted to announce that Bison Jerky and Turkey Jerky should be hitting the shelves soon, with plans to experiment with other varieties after the initial launch.

Jerky has been a glaring omission in our deli for long enough, and given the recent success of our line of snack sticks—Smoked Salmon Buddies didn’t make Top 5/6 bestsellers, but they’re up there, and the smokers just finished a new batch!—Eric spent some time with his home smoker developing jerky recipes. Our social media pages are great places to stay updated on the launch of these new items.

#5 — Traditional Atlantic Salmon

Smoked fish is the reason we’re here, so it makes a lot of sense that it occupies a third of this list.

smoked atlantic salmon traditional style

Our Traditional Smoked Atlantic Salmon has a short and sweet ingredients list: Atlantic salmon, salt, and brown sugar. Alongside our signature kippering technique of smoking, which through a gradual increase of temperature throughout the process, forms a pellicle that locks in moisture, this simple combination of ingredients lets the delicious, buttery taste and tender consistency of Atlantic salmon shine through.

Uncertain quite how to tie in this final preview, the blogger proceeds as follows:

Last year’s monthly Sandwich Lab specials were a fun diversion, with varying levels of popularity and success. This year, we want to let the winners have a bit more time to shine.

In November of 2019, we came together yet again, sharing our pet sandwiches for peer review. Four have been selected to represent a new era of the NWS sandwich menu, and they will all join the menu together, for a handful of months. In addition, the overall favorites from last year’s cycle of monthlong specials—The Sebu-Chan and The Wagner—will be joining the menu full-time.

We know what you’re thinking: How will we fit seven-ish new sandwiches on that already packed board?

We’re working on it.

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My Favorite Things™ (December 27th, 2019)

Here it is.

The final 5 Things™ of the year.

We’re going to do something special this time around.

But first, I’m going to mess around with the headings for a bit.

Okay, that’s enough.

Here are My Favorite Things™ that happened this year at NWS. I took a deep dive, noting the moments in this blog that sparked the most joy in me, then tried to whittle it down to five, but was unable. What can I say? I’m a sentimental person. Hopefully, uncut as it is, this list gives you a hint at the sort of year we’ve had at the Smokehaus.

The Adisalad joined our menu.

The Adisalad is New Year’s resolution food: Haus kimchi or sauerkraut, a delicious assortment of pickled vegetables, with fresh cucumber slices, and chopped Marcona almonds over mixed greens and thin-sliced cabbage.

The salad joined the menu in January, and quickly became my lunch break of choice for somewhere around three months—after which I began transposing it into sandwich form, because carbs are great. Among its other noteworthy attributes are its position on our menu as a middle ground between the Ensaladita and the two-meals-in-one-package NWS Salad (in both size and price) and its status as vegan-friendly option (choosing ‘kraut over kimchi).

New Sticks.

When they’re in-stock, Bison Buddies are one of our top-selling items. Eric and the Smokers (not Eric’s band name, but could be) caught wise to this trend and whipped up an assortment of new snack sticks—with future plans to develop more—to please our constituents in search of something quick, easy, and flavorful. The current selection (at full capacity) features Big Jim Hatch Chile beef sticks, Royale With Cheese bacon-cheeseburger sticks, and Smoked Sockeye Salmon Buddies alongside the Bison Buddies. Everyone loves snack sticks!

Smoked Sockeye Sticks aka Salmon Buddies

Patricia made donuts and brought them in to share.

Working at NWS in the Patricia era has been a joy for a handful of reasons—new and exciting cookies, cheddar crackers, pasties, and samples of each new item as they emerge—but the day she brought in a tray of cake donuts she’d made that morning was a favorite of mine. Yes, our dear Patricia just whipped up some cake donuts in her kitchen on a whim.

Patricia’s initial plan was to try a donut Cuban sandwich with our Minnesota Pulled Pork. Though I do not know whether she succeeded in that goal, I do recall making a Northern Donut—yes: a donut with scallion cream cheese and smoked Atlantic salmon. It was not good enough for the menu (and would’ve been far better with our Atlantic salmon gravlax), but I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t enjoy it.

The Sandwich Lab Series.

I can’t believe it took me this long to get to this Thing™. Sandwich Lab (our annual pedantic and artistic gathering in the pursuit of sandwich excellence) easily got a nod in over 50% of the blog content this year. For good reason, too. Last year’s Lab had so many high-quality offerings that we elected to feature them all (in roughly one-month intervals) on the menu.

Since a great deal has already been said about these sandwiches, here’s a list of their names and their ingredients to sate you. And of course you can always follow that hyperlink I just provided if you care to read more.

  • The Breakfast Club – Bagel, scallion cream cheese, smoked turkey, smoked pancetta (crispy), red onion, cilantro.
  • The Wagner – Hero roll, mayo, mustard, smoked turkey or smoked pastrami (unofficial 3rd option: black pepper and coriander salmon), quick pickles, cilantro, sriracha.
  • The Spinderella – Hero roll, mayo, mustard, dill pickle, smoked turkey, salami, red onion, cilantro. Side of scallion cream cheese, for dippin’.
  • The Bloody Mary – Johnson’s Bakery kaiser roll, green olives, chopped dill pickle, summer sausage, smoked pancetta, cheddar cheese, Haus bloody mary mix, tomato, red onion, cilantro.
  • The Wallaby – Haus-baked Prince Myshkin Rye, smashed avocado, lemon pepper, tomato, basil, balsamic vinegar.
  • The Sebu-chan – Haus-baked ciabatta, scallion cream cheese, gravlax, cucumber, tomato, red onion, cilantro, sriracha, lettuce.
  • The Fish Schtick – Haus-baked ciabatta, mayo, lemon pepper, traditional Atlantic salmon, Cornichon pickles, tomato, red onion, lettuce.
  • The Lake Trout Situation – Haus-baked pullman white bread (buttered and toasted), smoked lake trout salad, smoked pancetta crumbles, cilantro. Served open-faced—our take on a New England lobster roll.
  • The G.O.A.T. – Lake Superior Bakehouse bagel, chèvre, crispy sliced smoked andouille, sliced Cortland apple, lettuce.

This porketta photo shoot.

Right around the time we began working in earnest on the cookbook, our creative team had the bright idea of trying to capture the heart of backyard smoking. This behind-the-scenes look at that shoot was one of my favorite Things™ largely because of the captions, but in no small part due to Greg’s rustic charm and bright attire.

This workplace drama.

Posing by porkettas isn’t the only thing Greg-with-two-Gs is good for. He and Leif have had an ongoing struggle for office dominance that has provided high-quality entertainment to anyone who might tune in.

An update:

This corrupted image of Smoked Ribs and Beans.

What better way to commemorate this delicious though short-lived daily special than this odd photograph? Designers, take note: You can now easily extract the exact color palette of our Smoked Ribs free of charge.

Working on the NWS Cookbook.

Bubbling below the surface of everything else going on this year—the strategic expansion and retraction of our menu, the addition of beer and wine (and cider, and alcoholic seltzer) to our deli, all of the new baked goods, and changes in leadership roles—has been a lot of work on the first-ever Northern Waters Smokehaus cookbook.

While there’s still quite a bit of work ahead of us, and the anticipated release date falls somewhere no sooner than Summer 2021, these past ten months of work on the book have been an exciting, sometimes nerve-wracking, ultimately very fulfilling ride.

These new faces.

The new folks who have joined our team have been pretty alright this year.

That’s all for 5 Things™ in 2019! See you next year!

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5 Things: August 23rd, 2019

Summer isn’t over yet, but the morning air is crisper, and the pace of life is slowing down. The tall ships have come and gone, the flood of students is just beginning to trickle into town. Walking past our deli, it may not always appear this way, but life is on the calmer side, at least for a few weeks.

But that doesn’t mean life at the Smokehaus is any less interesting.

We have new faces in the deli.

Faces.

For those keeping score, over the past few weeks we’ve steadily mentioned that we’re hiring, and as a result, we already have a handful of new staff training in. I’d caution the world to be patient with and/or kind to them, since they are new and the pace of our little deli can be overwhelming, but they’re already performing like seasoned veterans.

Labor Day Mail Order Sale.

Labor Daybor

Beginning August 26th, we’re running a mail order special: 20% off your cart (online only) when you enter the discount code bluecollar. The sale runs through Labor Day (9/2). However, if you want your food to arrive in time for Labor Day weekend celebrations, place your order by Tuesday, August 27th—those orders will be shipped on Wednesday (8/28) and arrive by Friday (8/30). Otherwise, you can schedule your shipping date for whenever you’d like. Pro-tip: this is the best mail order sale of the year, so if you know exactly what you want to order for Fall and Winter holidays, this is a good time to do it.

Speaking of Mail Order, here’s our updated holiday shipping schedule.

Bookmark this page as an easy reference when ordering for holidays, and you’ll be guaranteed to get your orders at the perfect interval for gifting or entertaining. Become the master of your own destiny; know for yourself exactly when to place orders, and when to have them shipped for best results.

Monday night D&D returns to The Midnight Axe.

Images unrelated.

The Summer season of our unofficial office Dungeons and Dragons crew is coming to a close with a short adventure tying us back into our ongoing campaign, right before our DM heads on an extended vacation, leaving us to fend for ourselves.

This Summer, we set our main campaign to the side, in order to focus on a handful of smaller, unconnected adventures. Not only did this allow each of us to test out a number of character ideas, and novel settings, but it also gave us time to miss our main characters, as distance does indeed make the heart grow fonder.

“The Midnight Axe” is the name—generated by rolling percentile dice against a chart of fantasy party names—of our primary party. When we’re not embroiled in a scavenger hunt for a cache of money embezzled long ago from the treasury of the Manhattan-esque city of Waterdeep, and avoiding/averting the frequent pitfalls of gangs whose rivalry we earned incidentally, we’re just trying to earn a mostly-honest living running a tavern called The Malt Solstice. However, some way or another, we’ve gained some notoriety as adventurers—and it’s drawn some public interest.

In our session on Monday, Harrison (our Dungeon Master) presented each of us with three characters (shout out to Harrison for developing fifteen character concepts in a single weekend) who are looking, for one reason or another, to join our ranks. This coming session, we’ll be embarking on a mission with our chosen secondary characters to discover their strengths, and how they’ll fit into our adventuring party. Perhaps they’ll join us on the front lines, perhaps they’ll stick around headquarters and craft potions nonstop, perhaps they’ll alternate between venturing into the Undermountain (where our campaign has us heading) and providing security at the Malt Solstice. Only time will tell.

Character biographies forthcoming.

Patricia’s corner.

Let’s get personal.

Let’s get one thing straight: Any week that there are not five immediately obvious other Things™ to talk about, Patricia is going to get a nod. Ever since she moved to full-time baking, we’ve become accustomed to carrying an assortment of cookies—chocolate chip, ginger, peanut butter curry, carrot cake cookie sandwiches with honey cream cheese, coconut macaroons (which are gluten-free*), and most recently chocolate walnut flourless cookies (also gluten-free**)—pasties, cheddar crackers, savory scones, and even personal pizzas. This week’s pizza featured smoked bacon, blackberries, and chèvre, and her pizza sauce, in general, is composed of the odds-and-ends bits of tomato from the morning’s prep.

That’s honestly one of the best things about Patricia’s approach to baking for NWS—by utilizing more parts of the foods we use, we generate substantially less waste as a business, which improves our model of sustainability (not to mention profitability) overall, and in the process, we end up with these delicious, fan-favorite items in our deli

*/**: It’s worth noting that these are not baked in a completely gluten-free environment. In terms of ingredients, they are entirely gluten-free, but those at serious risk should be aware of the chance of cross-contamination.

I got to observe production of Country Pâté.

Observe.

Compiling recipes for the cookbook is great fun, but not without its challenges. In addition to needing to massively scale down some recipes—we’re operating under the assumption you’ll never need to make one-hundred pounds of Smoked Whitefish at home—other recipes in our own workbooks lack, well, instruction.

Country pâté, for example, is just a list of ingredients, which our skilled production crew understands how to massage—eh, grind—into the savory loaves we all love. Brandt happened to catch me during a fresh air break yesterday to let me know he was making it.

Seeing that static list of ingredients—browned bacon and onion; Berkshire liver, pork and back fat; brandy; cure; rosemary and thyme; etc.—ground once and then half again (to achieve the preferred inconsistent consistency), mixed with what could reasonably pass as TLC, and packaged to chill overnight before being packed into loaf pans and slow-cooked, was enlightening, and proof that someone needs to write down those steps, because there’s a lot of them. If not for our own benefit, certainly for the book.

Once again, I’d like to give a public shout-out to the smokers for the sheer volume of high-quality product they consistently churn out.

I’ve done it again. Yesterday, I stared at my week’s notes and wondered, “which five Things™ am I going to write about? Are there five Things™ that may intrigue or inspire our readership(?),” and here I am, writing Thing™ six-and-a-half. I hope you’re happy.

We hope to see you in our deli this weekend—whether you wait in line, or skip the line via pickup —or your name and address in our delivery system. If you’re going to be near Canal Park/Downtown, make sure you bring ear protection, because the Tribute Fest will be rocking hard.

Stay tuned in the next handful of weeks for some new sandwich options—including your blogger’s own contribution to the Sandwich Lab specials—and exciting collaborations.

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SANDWICH LAB: The Lake Trout Situation

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:


Jacob’s Lake Trout Situation

Like a flavor flash-mob, this sandwich is incoming to shake up your everyday life. 

A minute ago the Smoked Lake Superior Lake Trout was hanging around some lemons and scallions, having an impassioned conversation; but the crispy Smoked Pancetta, wasabi mayo, cucumbers, cilantro and thin-sliced cabbage were just scrolling on their phones, minding their business. Next thing you know, the buttered, toasted, white bread shows up, and suddenly the courtyard (where I imagine this is all happening) comes alive, and onlookers are astounded as these seemingly separate entities come together in a meticulously choreographed song-and-dance.

Meticulously choreographed.

Yes, it has been choreographed, and meticulously. Abs are out and fists are pumping. This Situation of a sandwich required extensive development, but has turned into something quite special. Inspired by the Jersey Shore and classic New England Lobster rolls, with that particular NWS flair, this just might be the smoked lake trout sandwich we’ve been waiting our whole lives for.

Try it during the month of August, and receive not only a scintillating gustatory experience, but two stamps on your sandwich card. This is the cutting-edge of Smokehaus sandwiches. The Lake Trout Situation costs $10 + 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.