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The 5 Top Smokehaus Sandwiches of 2020 (So Far)

There will be no surprises in today’s blog—just a sober look at the eating preferences of our customers since January 1st of this year.

Take a guess which sandwich will be #1. If you find that you’re correct, give yourself a pat on the back, you savvy market analyst, you!

#5 The Great Summer Caper

The once Summertime special that proved too viable to restrict to one season. The Great Summer Caper consists of a toasted Lake Superior Bakehouse Bagel (or one of our new gluten-free bagels), scallion cream cheese, capers (duh!), tomato, red onion, lettuce, and the true star of the show, Black Pepper & Coriander smoked Atlantic salmon.

BP&C (as commonly* abbreviated) is a highly popular fish case offering which, before the Summer of 2018, didn’t show up on any sandwiches. Which isn’t to say it wasn’t requested on sandwiches. It was. Often.

Now, thanks to the Summer special that just wouldn’t quit, you can substitute BP&C on all your favorite fish sandwiches, or The Wagner, if you’re feeling bold and saucy.

*by me.

#4 The Pastrami Mommy

Of the sandwiches on this list, the Pastrami Mommy has evolved the most. Formerly an exclusively Bison Pastrami sandwich, served on a very dark rye bread, it is currently made on our lighter hausmade rye bread (thank you, Jerry!), typically with Beef Pastrami, though still intermittently with Bison Pastrami when the smokers have time or reason to make it.

For those who don’t know, the price of bison has skyrocketed since the Wild West-esque days when I began working at NWS—thus, we reserve the majority of our bison production for Corned Bison and Bison Buddies.

Back to the Pastrami Mommy: Changes aside, the popularity of this sandwich has remained consistent, likely due in part to Guy Fieri’s enthusiasm about it on our decade-old Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives spot, but ultimately due to the merit of this sandwich.

Hausmade rye, mayo, and hausmade mustard, piled high with a quarter-pound of pastrami, zesty pepperoncini, provolone cheese, and mixed greens. Sounds tasty, right?

#3 The Cold Turkey

The savory-sweet delight that’s nearly impossible to quit: Maple-Sage Smoked Ferndale Farms Turkey Breast cradled in a few ounces of Crayo, nestled alongside mixed greens and Swiss cheese, all on a hausmade ciabatta (thanks again, Jerry!).

Frankly, if our sandwich menu ever vexes you, the Cold Turkey is a great default. It’s a sandwich that many, even among our very sandwich-spoiled staff, view as comfort food. It’s the perennial, “nothing too exciting today, just the Cold Turkey.” Which is not a bad thing at all. Add a Jean Jacket if you want some excitement.

#2 The Northern Bagel

A simple foundation with an abundance of flavor is the secret of this sandwich. Our Traditional Smoked Atlantic Salmon already has a lot going for it, from its outer smoke-catching pellicle to it’s brown sugar-sweet, moist and flaky flesh. Marry that amazing flavor to hausmade scallion cream cheese and a Lake Superior Bakehouse bagel, and you’ve got a winning combination.

One major benefit of this simple setup is accessibility. You can eat this thing anywhere, and you’re probably not going to make a mess. It’s a great sandwich on-the-go, whether that’s the trailhead, the beach, or the car. And while the technical aspect of this sandwich may suffice, more importantly, it also tastes really good.

The Northern Bagel is even available from the comfort of your own home kitchen!

#1 The Cajun Finn

Honestly, did you imagine anything else would be in this spot?

The Cajun Finn’s reputation precedes it. The Cajun Finn has had such an impact upon our deli and our community that it has made its way onto a piece of our merchandise—which, by the way, is on sale for $15 during the month of March: That’s $5 off! And lifetime 10%-off your in-store purchases as long as you’re wearing the shirt-slash-any of our merch!—and at least a couple other menus in town *wink emoji*

This blog hasn’t featured any specific sales numbers for these sandwiches, but based on the sales records from which this content emerged, the Finn sold roughly as many units as the three sandwiches below it combined.

Having fond memories of your last Cajun Finn? Want to hit that high again? Have a kit shipped to your doorstep!


It’s looking like it will be a busy weekend in the Canal Park area, and with favorable winds and sunshine, that should hopefully carry over to our deli.

If you’re craving NWS sandwiches and smoked fish, but not craving the wait, try our Delivery/Pick-up service.

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5 Things: Leap Day Eve 2020

Welcome back, friends and foes alike, to our weekly dish. Due to some time mismanagement, this week’s 5 Things™ will be an exercise in speed-blogging, and is brought to you by fish oil capsules, two bags of this tea, and Patricia’s Chocolate Chip Cookies.

You certainly have a busy Friday ahead of you, whether it’s a day at work, a promise you’ve made, or just 100% doing you, so without further ado, here’s the goods.

We’re hiring again.

A few folks moved to Seattle, a handful of us have enjoyed vacations, and the weekends (plus select weekdays) have been busier than anticipated, and as such, we’ve come to find some spots that need filling in our fairly barebones operation.

If you’re looking for part time deli or dishing work (12-20 hours to week, which will grow into more hours closer to Summer) at the coolest spot in Duluth, shoot Greg (our H.R. guy) a résumé at greg@nwsmokehaus.com or drop one off in the deli. We’re especially looking for weekend availability at this time.

Benefits include competitive wages with annual raises, a free meal with every shift*, a sweet employee discount, cool coworkers, lots of snacks (y’know how I’m always talking about the fun new food I get to eat—this blog barely scratches the surface), and much more that doesn’t fit into my speed-writing regimen.

*Easily one of the best parts of working for this company, as you may come to discover.

The All Things Traditional sale is coming to a close.

Tomorrow (2/29/20) is the final day of our 10% off mail order sale on any item featuring Traditional Smoked Atlantic Salmon.

The discount is applied to your pre-shipping cart, and is not tied to orders shipped during the sale dates. Plan ahead for your Trad-loving friend’s birthday, or a holiday of your choice, and save money by placing your order before midnight on Saturday.

Cajun Finn shirts are going on sale!

For the entirety of March, our Cajun Finn t-shirts are $15! That’s $5 off! Best purchased in multiples, so you and the squad can match, these shirts (and all of our merchandise) get you a lifetime 10%-off when you shop in our deli while wearing them.

You read that correctly—stroll into our deli carrying an NWS tote, wearing a hat or T-shirt, and get 10%-off at the register. Forever. Word of mouth advertising (and the odd television spot, and magazine feature) built our deli into what it is, so consider it a token of our gratitude for your marketing help.

A handful of designs that live right by my “desk”

New merchandise is in development.

This coming Monday, the marketing team and any staff who have ideas, are meeting to design and pitch the next wave of Smokehaus swag. From what I’ve heard, people have already put in a bunch of work on their designs and ideas, and within the next few months, we’ll be seeing some awesome new merch in the deli. That’s in addition to an awesome piece of Duluth Pack-made Smokehaus gear that we’ll be introducing to the world right before Summer.

New and exciting ways to snatch that 10%-off discount are forthcoming.

What type of NWS apparel have you always wanted? Let us know in the comments.

New meat snacks are also forthcoming!

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of sampling a tester batch of Maple Bacon Jerky and Hot Dogs (I don’t know how we’re branding them yet, so I just capitalized the first letters).

For now, I will just say that both of those meat snacks were already quite tasty—even in these early stages—so I can’t wait for the rest of you carnivores to try them.

Keep your eyes on our social media platforms and we’ll let you know the day they appear in the deli.


Speaking of the deli, I’m just about due for an opening shift there. Enjoy the photos that Zac adds to this blog, and have a pleasant rest of your day.

We love you forever.

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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: February 14th, 2020

Welcome back to 5 Things™! We have so much to tell you about.

Everyone is sick, injured, or on vacation.

Business slows down in the post-holiday winter season. This makes it an excellent time for our staff to plan vacations, and most who do have no trouble getting that time-off approved.

But what happens during all those overlapping vacations when the remaining folks start dropping due to midwinter illness and injuries?

This is the photo I use when I’m not sure what kind of photo I should use.

Apparently, we handle it just fine. The 3rd-floor office-dwellers swoop in to run deliveries. The delivery and deli staff chip in to make sure prep is complete on time. The sandwich makers flip that switch that turns them from sandwich-making humans into sandwich-making machines.

This is a public shoutout to our staff, who rock even in the most barebones arrangements!

Turkey jerky is now available.

We’re at the height of our experimentation phase, and I’m loving it. The latest in our line of jerky is made with Ferndale Farms turkey, seasoned with Tamari soy sauce, maple syrup, and Sambal Oelek. It’s simple in execution, but has great complexity in its flavor.

It’s just a little bit sweet at first, with a growing heat that gently lights up your whole mouth, and while that is setting, the smoky flavor and the inimitable taste of turkey set in—it’s a comparable experience to the pleasure of eating the Cedar’s Secret sandwich. It’s just tough enough to trigger your carnivorous tearing and gnawing instincts, but easily chewed.

But as much as I have to say about it, you’re just going to have to find out for yourself.

The smoked Ferndale Farms turkey jerky is available for $16/half-pound in our deli. Why price it by the half-pound? Because a half-pound goes a long way!

Smoked salmon jerky is a success!

People are loving our sockeye jerky. Even during this slower time of the year, the batches we make are selling out at a steady pace, and we’ve received glowing reviews from the folks who have sampled and/or purchased it. Do yourself a favor and—at the very least—ask us for a sample next time you’re in. We’re steadily upgrading our jerky production equipment as we go, so it now comes in larger, more even strips, but here’s some eye candy of the early sockeye jerky.

Our sockeye jerky is seasoned with fresh ginger, fresh garlic, lemon juice, Tamari soy sauce, Sambal Oelek chili paste and Shio Koji. Yum.

Smoked sockeye jerky is available in our deli for $20/half pound.

NWS smoked fish coming to Coastal Seafoods!

Twin Cities and Metro Area folks, this news is directed right at you: Coastal Seafoods, in Minneapolis and St. Paul, will be carrying a selection of our Smoked Atlantic Salmon—Traditional, Dill, Black Pepper & Coriander, and All-Season Fillets!

Our excitement over this is two-fold: First, we’re happy to extend our influence to the Twin Cities, and second, we’re really into what Coastal Seafoods is doing.

There’s probably a few more folds and facets to our excitement—including the Minneapolis location’s proximity to United Noodles, another of our favorite food markets—but let’s not go overboard.

If you’re reading this blog on the day it was published, definitely call either location to check on availability, but it should be in stock as of this weekend.

Lola, the hibiscus, is thriving!

Lola—who was only recently named—joined the cast of DeWitt-Seitz marketplace characters in Summer 2018, flowering beautifully on our patio seating area. After that, however, all bets were off: Duluth’s climate is not ideal for hibiscus, hardy as they are.

We all rooted for Lola as she continued to struggle through the following year-and-some-change, but it wasn’t until Flo began rigorous, regimented care of our dear hibiscus—naming her in the process—that she truly began to thrive.

Now Lola is spritzed with water three times a week, and has a prime sunlight location in our office, which will only improve in our new office.


Happy Valentine’s Day! We love you forever!

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5 Things: All Things Traditional

All of February, we’re running a 10%-off mail order sale on all Smoked Traditional Atlantic Salmon products, including A Hygge Box.

Instead of regaling the release of four new sandwiches, and the return of two sandwiches, or blathering about the ongoing emptying of our office, we’ll let this week be a self-guided tour. Follow the links to explore the world of Smoked Traditional Atlantic Salmon—an item that consistently hangs at the top of our bestsellers list.


In other news: Yesterday, your friendly neighborhood blogger had his first bite of The Pack Lunch—the premier sandwich of our upcoming collaborative relationship with our own friendly neighbors at Duluth Pack—and it is really good! Haus rye, with horseradish mayo, a quarter-pound of Corned Bison, cornichon pickles, red onion, maple syrup, and lettuce comprise this perfect trailside sandwich, which will be launched alongside an awesome new Duluth Pack-designed Smokehaus tote bag. Expect a launch date sometime shortly after the ides of March.

In similar fashion, an as-of-yet unnamed smoked fish sandwich will be arriving around the same time. A lovely supporter of the Boundary Waters won the naming rights in the Friends of the Boundary Waters auction last year. We can’t wait to see what sort of name they come up with!

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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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5 Things: January 24th, 2020

It’s my favorite time of year to be at work. I’m happy to see the business battling sales records all Summer long, and there is a certain excitement that comes with the furious tide of December mail order days, but I prefer taking life a bit slower.

The post-holidays Winter to early Spring segment of the year is the time when we try new things, be they grab & go items, like cookies, pasta salads, and condiments, or new smoked meat and fish products for our deli cases. Right now, our fish, meat, and grab & go cases are fully-stocked with goodies.

It’s also the time for larger projects, and planning for the aforementioned projects: A break from the routine, and, of course, time for a few more breaths between each movement.

Here’s a few things that happened this week.

Megan cleaned and organized the deep freeze.

No one asked, “Hey, Megan—would you like to clean the deep freeze?” In fact, it was Megan who asked, “Hey, is it cool if I clean the deep freeze?”

Four hours later, it went from a chaotic state—which, for my anxiety’s sake, I don’t have a photo of—to this nice, organized area in which I will still always irrationally fear becoming trapped.

This is much better.

Thank you, Megan!

Work began on our new office.

The plan is to knock down a few walls in our current third floor office, so we can fit another large walk-in cooler in our collective space, leaving only enough room for the mail order office and workstations.

Meanwhile, Rosewater Music has moved their operation to a new location, and we’re taking over that space—conveniently also on the third floor of the DeWitt-Seitz building—to accommodate our creative team, managers, and anyone else who would be displaced.

More details and photos will be coming in the next handful of weeks.

We finally have jerky.

This business may be in its third decade of life, but we haven’t run out of ideas yet.

Jerky is an often-requested item at our deli, and with the success of other take & eat items like our host of snack sticks, and Patricia’s various baked goods, Eric decided it was time to give the people what they wanted.

We’re currently offering three varieties of Smoked Jerky—Umami Tsunami Bison Jerky, Maple Bourbon Bison Jerky, and Sockeye Salmon Jerky—with plans of new varieties to come.

Learn more about our Smoked Jerky here.

Soba Noodle Salad.

Patricia came up with this delicious new use for our Teriyaki Smoked Tofu, which is now available out of our deli meat case for $8.50/lb.

I could say some more about it, or you could just read the list of ingredients:

The savvy cook will know what to do with this list better than I, but if you’d like to skip all the steps of smoking tofu, preparing the noodles, chopping and grating the ingredients, and more, just stop in and try it.

Patricia is working on a few other pasta salads at the moment, and always up to something new in the bakery. We’ll do our best to inform you as each of these new offerings occurs.

Sandwich Lab Specials return!

This is the preview to the preview: Next week we’ll be announcing the FOUR NEW SANDWICHES coming to our menu from the November 2019 Sandwich Lab.

And two sandwiches from last year’s cycle of monthlong Sandwich Lab Specials join the permanent menu: The Wagner and The Sebu-Chan. Each selected based on their successful sales numbers, as well as their popularity amongst our staff, who voted these the top two.

On top of all that, come March, we’ll be offering two new sandwiches: an as-of-yet unnamed smoked fish sandwich in development, and The Pack Lunch, our sandwich collaboration with our friendly neighbors at Duluth Pack.

2020 is going to be a big year for new options at the Smokehaus.


After all that I’ve said about this being a slow time of year, the news broke to me this morning that there will be two hockey tournaments in town this weekend, so gear up for a busy handful of days in Canal Park.

See you next week, with a bunch of new Product Features, and at least five more Things™.

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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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5 Things: November 15th, 2019

Mail Order season is suddenly upon us. The third-floor DeWitt-Seitz office is already primed for near-optimal success is preparing hundreds of skillfully packed boxes. You know what? This is my first Thing™ this week. Let’s play it again.

Mail Order season is suddenly upon us.

The third-floor DeWitt-Seitz office is already primed for near-optimal success is preparing hundreds of skillfully packed boxes. Any surface that could possibly be repurposed as a work surface is or soon will be.

Storage space is at an all-time premium—we’ve even rented spaces in Proctor, MN and Superior, WI to keep from overburdening our DeWitt-Seitz location.

We’ve brought in seasonal reinforcements, who will be training in on Sunday the 17th, and making our Mail Order Director, Andy’s life way less stressful. It’s a whole thing.

We’ve updated our shipping policies and providers so that we’ll hopefully be turning a profit (albeit small) on each package shipped, rather than losing a little bit of money on each. For our small, family-owned, community-oriented business, this is great news.

We met with our publisher.

On Tuesday, a cohort of those of us involved in producing the first Northern Waters Smokehaus cookbook took a field trip to the University of Minnesota Press‘s office in Minneapolis. We’re honored and excited to be working with the press, and the feeling seems to be mutual. Icing on the cake: the building in which they’re located has very comfortable conference room chairs.

In the wake of that meeting, we’ve developed a plan to methodically comb through the rest of the recipe testing, while polishing the text into something worthy of telling the story of NWS, DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace, and our beloved City and Lake.

While the cookbook itself won’t be hitting shelves any time soon, it’s been 20+ years coming at this point, and it will be a great accomplishment to kick off the next two decades of NWS.

Rush Creek Reserve has returned.

For the uninitiated: RCR is Uplands Cheese Company’s (Dodgeville, WI) Autumn-exclusive, washed rind, raw cow’s milk cheese made with the rich and silky milk that emerges when the cows’ diets shift from Summer pastures to Fall and Winter hay.

The extremely seasonal, small batch cheese is sold in 12oz wheels ($35/wheel) that are intended to be served at room temperature in a single serving. (No worries if you and yours can’t manage that: Just re-package it in its breathable wrap and tuck it in the coldest part of the fridge.)

Maker Andy Hatch has described the cheese as a “savory custard, [which] exudes a very soft, delicate texture with a savory, rich finish likened to cured meat.”

Each wheel of the cheese is hand-wrapped with spruce bark, then aged 60 days before it is shipped off to distributors. For more information on serving—beyond the obvious: serve it on a fine cracker alongside a sparkling or dry white wine—chat with our deli staff.

You don’t want to miss out on this exceptional cheese, and the rest of the delicious offerings—including my personal favorite, the Shepherd’s Way Sogn Tomme—in our grab’n’go case, this holiday season.

The 127th Annual Sandwich Lab is this Sunday night!

On Sunday night at 7 p.m., the best of the best will be assembling to brush up our sandwich-making skills, pitch new sandwich ideas, and just generally have a good time.

Unlike our most recent Sunday night meeting, we’ll be open full business hours (all the way to 6pm) on Sunday. I didn’t realize that there had been so many until we received this official notice from our HR director, Greg:

We’ve smoked a few batches of North Road salmon.

The global salmon market is currently in flux—with causes and effects that extend outside of the purview of this particular blog post—and as a substantial importer of salmon, we strive to continue to bring you responsibly and sustainably sourced Atlantic salmon.

North Road provides huge (we’re talking five-pound filets!) , beautifully marbled salmon sourced from sustainable farms off the coasts of Norway and Scotland, and within the Faroe Islands. The smoked product is melt-in-your-mouth tender and has taken especially well to our brown sugar & salt cure, resulting in some of the best smoked salmon I’ve had the pleasure of eating, even by our stringent standards—especially with dill seasoning.

Currently, we’re only smoking it in small batches and selling it in our deli, alongside our other smoked salmon options. Next time you stop in the deli, ask for a sample and see for yourself, or just buy a big ol’ slab and show all your friends and family.

Thanks for tuning in!

NEXT WEEK ON 5 THINGS™: More about mail order season, a follow-up on Sandwich Lab, an in-depth look at our new enormous standing mixer (described to me as “something out of War of the Worlds”), and more!

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How to Score Salmon

So, you’ve got yourself a beautiful fillet of smoked salmon, and your guests are scheduled to arrive soon. What next? Time to score that salmon! Here’s a simple way to get the perfect bite-sized portions.

With a serrated knife, cut horizontally along the side of the salmon fillet.

With a serrated knife, cut vertically from top to bottom of the fillet.

Garnish salmon fillet with herb, citrus, & crackers.