Winter 2016 Meat Round Up

Wondering when you can get Red Gate Grocer meat products?
January 2017! An initial slate of offerings include sausage, ground beef, and of course… bacon!

So, while I’m no chef, I do love to eat and to ‘play’ with food whenever possible. If I had one wish, it would be that there were more hours in my days that I could devote to trying new things in the kitchen and trying to replicate the recipes from the many great chefs we are fortunate to work with.

As often as possible, we try to cook in-house and sample the quality and flavors of the products we bring to market—and yesterday happened to be one of those days. We got a chance to sample our most recent batch of bacon, sourced from pork grown by Mark Ford in Troy, PA and masterfully smoked by our friends at Leona Meat Plant just down the road from Mark’s farm.

Now, you may think that I am simply going to give glowing reviews of all products all the time, but ask around here and folks will tell different. I promise to do the same here.


First, my hit on bacon—I am not a crazy, bacon-belongs-on-everything kind of guy…but I do love me some pork products. In bacon, I’m typically looking for a thicker cut (unless I’m wrapping scallops or shrimp) with at least a 50/50 split between meet and fat cover, a nice even smoke and a tolerable salt level. I’m a believer that if you really want maple flavor in your bacon, you should probably serve it alongside pancakes. I have been sorely disappointed in many no-nitrate bacons over the years and as such, do not seek them out for my larder. I do, however, look for locally sourced and processed bacon and try not to pitch a fit when I see a Smithfield or Hormel pack in a friend’s fridge.

With that said, this batch of bacon is excellent. ( 5 out of 5)

  • Smoke/salt ratio was perfect (!) in my humble opinion—didn’t feel as though I needed to slug down my glass of OJ as soon as I swallowed.

  • Nice tight seal on the packaging with a great pink color showing through. Slices were layered properly showcasing the meatiness of the bacon.

  • Did I mention this bacon is no-nitrate? I am impressed…

  • Very meaty bellies, thick-cut— as Mark raises his animals naturally, the bellies are a bit smaller than factory farmed hogs, so each slice is a little shorter than mainstream, commodity offerings–18 slices in the 1# pack I opened

Breakfast Sausage Links

Grower: Steve Winkler, Lucki 7 Farms Rodman, NY Processor: Dino’s Sausage Utica, NY

I am a self-acknowledged sausage head. I am one of those crazy, sausage-can-go-in-just-about-everything kind of people. Maybe the only other person I’ve met who has a similar level of obsession (let’s steer clear of the word ‘problem’, ok?), would be my colleague Asa…that dude can put back some links! At one of our local diners here, I have been known to answer ‘both’ to the quintessential question: “patties or links?”. However, I’ve gotta say, there is often a disappointing aftertaste to most commodity breakfast sausages—I’m not really sure what it is, perhaps a preservative or something in the spice blends, but it does not taste ‘clean’.

Breakfast Sausage
  • Links were well formed, grind was perfect (I mean, it’s from Dino’s…if anyone knows how to make a fresh sausage properly, it’s Chris) browned up evenly

  • Taste was markedly ‘clean’—the sage was well balanced and didn’t overpower the pork

  • Slight demerit for packaging—links were slightly flattened in the cryo package—probably unavoidable with a small, fresh sausage. Cryo was tight however.

Ground Chorizo + Recipe

 Grower: Mark Ford Processor: Leona Meat Plant Troy, PA

At the suggestion of another colleague, Joe (our resident local protein guru), who absolutely raves about this product, I took a pack home last night with zero idea what I was going to do with it. When confronted with my winter share CSA box containing yet another 10 hakurei turnips (I had 15 in my crisper already) and some more potatoes—I decided a chorizo hash was in order.

– 5 small potatoes, ¼” dice (or 1 medium to large sweet potato) – appx. 2 cups
– 1 medium yellow or white onion
– 3 cloves garlic, chopped
– 5-10 (depending on size) hakurei turnips, ¼” dice (or spiralized!) – appx. 4 cups
– 1# ground chorizo
– 2tsp. ground cumin
– 1tsp. paprika
– Salt/pepper to taste

In a large skillet sauté onion, garlic over medium/high until just soft—add potatoes. Fry appx. 5 minutes until potatoes start to crisp, add turnip. Stir occasionally and cook another 5 minutes. Add ground chorizo and cook until browned through. I served over beer braised collards sweetened with just a touch of maple syrup.

Tell me that’s not good!


Thanks for reading—and happy eating, folks.

About the Author

Dana Stafford