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Smoke Signals Blog
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It happens every year. Back-to-School season sneaks up and brings with it lots of time-consuming activities, like forms for filling, clothes for buying, and sports practices for shuttling to and from. After the slower days of summer, it can be hard to adjust. When it comes to question, “What’s for dinner?” are you fighting off the temptation to yell “Every man for himself!” in response? The answer is simple: Snack Dinner.
You heard right. Here’s our take:
Step 1: Prepare a few simple snacks. Make them delicious. Ingredients are the key here.
Step 2: Set everyone loose to fill their plates with what they want.
Step 3: Bask in the bit of extra time you have from no cooking and way fewer dishes.
The beauty of snack dinner is that it can be made up of virtually anything, from all the odds-and-ends in the crisper drawer to leftovers from yesterday’s lunch. But in case you need help taking it to the next level, here are a few of our favorite meaty, satisfying snack dinners to get you started.
Stack it Up
You know how at fancy parties, they serve things skewered on toothpicks? One of our favorite ways to make snack dinner even more fun is to skewer a couple tasty morsels on a toothpick to grab and munch (no black tie required). A classic combination (inspired by summer) is a slice of our double-smoked pepperoni, a ball of fresh mozzarella, and a cherry tomato on top. The smoky pepperoni lends a spicy punch to the mild cheese, punctuated by the bright burst of sweet tomato. It’s the perfect, balanced bite. But use your imagination and create your own stacks: Swap a bit of ham or smoked chicken for the pepperoni, or an olive for the tomato. Better yet, make a few of each so everyone can pick what they like.
Pigs in a Blanket 2.0
Those little sausages wrapped in dough aren’t outdated, they’re “time-tested.” Ever brought a tray to a gathering? They’re the first to go for a reason: they’re really dang good. The bold flavors of our Tomato Basil Sausage or Jalapeno Cheddar Sausage will take them to the next level. Wrap them in a piece of store-bought pastry, slice them up, then bake until the pastry is golden and the sausage has flavored it with its deep, smoky goodness. Cook up a few trays, call the troops, and watch them disappear before anyone can even manage to ask what you’re feeding them tonight.
Keep it Simple
For the busiest nights, stick with a classic. Slice up some vegetables, add a few of your favorite cheeses, and don’t forget to pile on the deli meat. Olives, nuts, and berries make perfect additions, too. The key to making a snack tray that will get gobbled up instead of picked at? Flavor, of course. Our maple-marinated, spice-infused deli ham and turkey lend incredible smoky flavor that will make this snack dinner intensely satisfying.
Next time you’re tempted to throw your hands in the air and admit defeat to your local fast-food chain, pause. As long as you have a few smoky, savory staples in your fridge, easy, delicious dinner is only a few minutes away.
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Business partners Mike Hammond and John Kelley describe it as a kitchen on four wheels, and that's just what it is. Detailed with white and gold lettering, and painted black all over, the big Epic Food Truck made its debut run at noon on a sizzling hot Friday at the North Country Smokehouse at 19 Syd Clarke Drive.
In no time at all, the company’s 100-plus employees formed long lines during lunch hour outside the truck’s service window.
On the menu were mouth-watering pulled pork sandwiches smothered in barbecue sauce, hot gravy poutine, and deep-fried smoked duck.
North Country Smokehouse, the food truck’s sponsor, supplied all the meat products.
“This isn’t just anything. This is amazing. There you go,” said food truck employee Josie Lafreniere to one hungry customer.
Lafreniere handed out the sandwich baskets as fast as she could load them. For Hammond and Kelley, it was “hustle time” working the grill and deep fryers.
“This stuff will melt in your mouth — so good,” Lafreniere said to the next person standing in line.
Sharon Companion, North Country Smokehouse office manager, said Friday’s official launch of the food truck was to help promote the new business, and her company’s sponsorship.
“This is their first real event,” Companion said. “I just had my lunch. It was very good.”
Both Hammond, 46, and Kelley, 52, are longtime friends and co-owners of Farro Deli in downtown Claremont. The deli uses North Country Smokehouse meats exclusively.
While Kelley was recuperating from a skiing accident in January, Hammond pitched his longtime dream of starting a food truck business.
“We both like the same kind of food. We were already using (North Country Smokehouse) products at the deli. It’s top of the line,” Hammond said. “It’s called ‘epic’ for a reason.”
In April, the business partners purchased a used 2004 Freightliner diesel truck, in immaculate condition, that was a U.S. Postal Service vehicle in a former life.
Hammond said the truck needed three months to be outfitted with a pair of deep fryers, a grill top, two burner stoves, freezer, refrigerator, hot water heater, and other kitchen essentials in Virginia.
On Wednesday, Hammond and Kelley held a soft opening at Claremont Cycle Depot. They also have a city vendor’s permit to operate at Broad Street Park.
Hammond said the food truck will run on a flexible schedule as a catering service at weddings, festivals, and other events.
At North Country Smokehouse on Friday, Lafreniere said the food was “worth the wait.”
North Country employee Justin Rowe of Claremont was quick to agree.
The food was delicious, he said, “although I didn’t have the pulled pork. I had the duck fry things.”
“It’s really good,” said employee Ellen Donatelli of Unity. “The pulled pork — yes. They’re pretty good to us here.”
Article written by Allen Stein, The Eagle Times
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Paleo is one of the biggest diet trends at the moment and for good reason: people are getting great health benefits while eating really good food. The paleo philosophy and diet plan revolve around the idea that our bodies have evolved to handle certain foods: namely vegetables, healthy fats, and animal protein. (Read: Fantastic! All the bacon you want!) Who wouldn’t love this diet? Bring on the meat tornado.
Before you jump on the bandwagon, though, you should know about the flip side. The diet guidelines also suggest that our bodies haven’t adapted to digesting certain food groups and should be eliminated. On this list are: grains, dairy, sugar, and processed oils, just to name a few. If you’ve tried the Paleo lifestyle before, you know those restrictions can make it tough to pick healthy foods that are still delicious and packed with flavor. What’s a caveman to do?
Enter Smoky, Flavorful Paleo-Friendly Foods
Whether you’re just dabbling in the Paleo lifestyle or a seasoned pro, there’s no reason to eat the same boring old paleo staples over and over, or deny yourself some of your favorite foods. North Country Smokehouse has plenty of options that are Paleo-friendly while still having that deep smokiness and mouth-watering flavor you’re looking for. A caveman cannot live on hard-boiled eggs alone.
Remember how we said one of the best parts of going Paleo is all that bacon? Well, there’s a catch. A lot of bacon is made with sugar, either to add flavor or as part of the curing process. Some bacon you can find at the store is sugar-free, but falls flat in terms of flavor. And there’s nothing more disappointing than disappointing bacon. But never fear, cave dwellers, we slow-smoke our bacon to add incredible, mouthwatering flavor that doesn’t rely on extra sugar or artificial flavorings. Try wrapping a few slices of our Sugar-Free Applewood Smoked Bacon around asparagus spears and roasting or grilling them, for a quick, Paleo-approved meal that’s as flavorful and delicious as it is effective.
If you’re following a sugar-free or Paleo diet while also trying to keep your family fed, you know how hard it can be to come up with meal ideas that keep everyone happy. Enter our Old-Fashioned Natural Kielbasa, redolent with onion, marjoram, and other spices, and slow-smoked to perfection. Just slice up a few links, toss them with your favorite vegetables and a bit of olive oil, and dinner’s ready faster than you can say, “20 minutes in a hot oven.” You haven’t had vegetables until you’ve eaten vegetables roasted alongside Kielbasa, where they can soak up every bit of the smoky flavor.
When you’re new to a sugar-free lifestyle, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut, eating the same old things on repeat, sacrificing flavor for simplicity and convenience. You can guess how we feel about that, right? Our Mexican-style chorizo is loaded with cumin, red pepper, and other Mexican spices, balanced with a hint of brandy, and packed with bold, punchy flavor. Served on a bed of grilled peppers, it’ll leave you saying, “Tacos who?” (Just kidding. It’s a little sad that tacos aren’t paleo-approved.)
Sugar-free and Paleo-friendly doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor. In fact, all of our sugar-free products are smoked low and slow to lock in bold flavors and give you plenty of tempting, mouthwatering options while sticking to your diet. Now that’s a lifestyle trend we can get behind.
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A Breakfast with Bold Flavor
We're all about simple recipes that bring folks together at breakfast table. Bacon & eggs belong together.
- 1 small white onion, sliced thin
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 small red tomato - chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced fine
- 2 slices sandwich bread, cut or torn into small pieces
- 2 links North Country Smokehouse certified humane, Chorizo with Brandy sausage - diced
- 8 eggs
- 4 oz. diced cheese (we used Jack but any firm cheese would work)
- 1/3 C olive oil, divided
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F.
2. In a large cast-iron pan, heat ½ of the olive oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the red, green, tomato, and jalapeno peppers and a pinch of salt. Cook 2 minutes, then add the diced North Country Smokehouse sausage.
3. Cook together until the vegetables are softened and the diced sausage starts to color lightly on the edges. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
4. Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a medium bowl until well beaten and uniform in color. Add the bread and diced cheese.
5. Once the vegetable mixture has cooled slightly, add it all to the eggs and stir to combine.
6. Wipe out the cast iron pan and add the second ½ of the oil. Heat over medium heat, then add the contents of the bowl and spread into an even layer. Cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes, until the edges of the frittata, pull away slightly from the pan.
7. Transfer to the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until the center is set. Allow to cool an additional 10-15 minutes before removing from the pan intact, or slicing and serving. Serve with fruit, hot coffee, a simple green salad.