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Smoke Signals Blog
Here at North Country Smokehouse, we’re practical people. We know there’s no need to fix what isn’t broken: That’s why we use traditional, family recipes passed down through generations. Another thing we know is that time is precious, and the more of it we can spend with our families and loved ones, the better. With that being said, we’ll keep this brief.
With a low and slow smoking process for all of our products, North Country’s focus is on timeless flavor above all else. While we craft our recipes the old-fashioned way, that doesn’t mean we’re afraid of efficiency. If we can prepare one meal and take away a week’s worth of leftovers, we’ll do it every time. After all, our products are hand-crafted to be the backbone for countless recipes.
Take our Spiral Sliced Ham, for instance. It’s well known for its classic, smoky-sweet flavor, glazed with a swirl of New England maple syrup and brown sugar. One of our most popular products, this cut is juicy, tender, smoked to perfection, and we’re always left wanting more once it’s gone. The message here? Don’t shy away from buying the 18-pound package, because we have three recipes to make the most out of this ham, and each one rivals the others.
Let’s Start with Dinner.
Begin by Cover the spiral ham with tin foil to prevent the meat from drying out. Place the ham in a preheated 325-degree oven for approximately 12-minutes per lb. A whole spiral ham will take approximately 3 hours to cook. After the ham has been removed from the oven, let sit for several minutes prior to serving. Don't be afraid to toss in your favorite vegetables alongside the ham, they will take on the savory sweetness of the meat for a perfect accompaniment.
The Sammy: Breakfast of Champions
After a night’s sleep, you’ll wake up the next morning ready for another delicious meal. Take the Spiral Ham out of the fridge and fry up a few slices on the griddle for a tried-and-true breakfast sandwich. Fresh eggs, cheese, and a flaky croissant complete the picture. This is what we call the extra hammy breakfast sammy. It’s the breakfast of Champions and doesn't take much time so you can move on with your day.
Lunchtime: Saving the Best for Last
Now, lunch is quickly approaching and you’ve worked up an appetite. Lucky for you, we’ve saved the best for last. Use what’s left of the spiral ham for a world-class Cuban Sandwich.
Pile it high on warm bread with swiss cheese, dill pickles, and toast it to perfection. It’s gooey, crunchy, and pretty much perfect. Nothing says comfort food quite like this.
There you have it: three ways to eat our spiral sliced ham. No drab leftovers here, each one of these delicious recipes is fit to be the hero.
North Country Smokehouse celebrated the grand opening of their new facility in October of last year. Significantly larger than the original smokehouse, the new building offers roughly five times the production capacity of the previous plant, presenting new opportunities to grow the business.
Building the new smokehouse in Claremont, N.H., was a top priority, the community being home to the company’s century-long evolution.
“North Country Smokehouse has always been a family-owned business and our founders have ties to Claremont that span generations. It was important that our community benefit from the added workforce required by the expansion. We now employ over 100 full-time residents, an increase of more than 200 percent,” said Aaron Corbett, North Country Smokehouse’s Chief Operating Officer.
Consistency is Key
Nestled in the valley of New Hampshire, with sweeping views of Vermont’s Mt. Ascutney, the new facility is the largest private investment in the city’s history. “It was important to maintain as much consistency as possible throughout the transition to the new facility, to ensure the products’ flavor and textures weren’t compromised in any way,” continued Corbett.
For more than two years, North Country partnered with CMC Design Build, Demand Management Institute and Eversource Energy to develop an Engineering Services Study. The purpose was to create a design that met the needs of food safety and compliance standards while ensuring the establishment was as eco-friendly and energy efficient as possible.
More than half of the new, 62,000 square-foot facility called for central refrigeration. Processing, packaging and storage areas require constant cold, controlled temperatures. To reach efficiency goals, North Country Smokehouse opted for a shell-in shell design with the production and staging areas of the facility enclosed to prevent direct exposure to the outside environment. This layer of tempered space added an extra level of insulation, helping to stabilize temperatures and increase efficiencies.
Food Safety Standards Set an Industry-Wide Example
“The entire plant was constructed to maximize food safety and minimize cross-contamination,” said Nate Larose, Director of Project Development for CMC Design Builds. “The USDA allows raw and further processed meats to flow through the same room but North Country Smokehouse opted for much more rigorous standards, building the entire plant to support the flow of product through the manufacturing process. This eliminated food safety risks and enhanced compliance with additional self-imposed standards from arrival to output.”
The new smokehouse rates among the top meat manufacturing facilities in the country from both an energy efficiency and food safety standpoint. “This is a project CMC Design Build is especially proud to be a part of. The new facility is an example of what other meat manufacturing operations should strive toward in the future,” continued Larose.
Beyond the Build – Real-Time Efficiencies
The facilities sustainable initiatives go beyond heating and cooling equipment features. The smokehouse was constructed with LED prescriptive lighting, high-performance insulated doors, sub-floor heating, and advanced filtration systems, all designed to aid in the facilities annual kWh savings. The new facility is currently estimated to save the company more than 1.2 million kWh per year.
Critical equipment and refrigeration updates are sent to the staff in real-time. This ensures repairs are made quickly and lessens energy loss associated with machine malfunctions. Heating and cooling equipment auto-adjusts to support on and off-peak production hours, and the LED lighting is motion censored, automatically turning off the lights in idle areas. In addition to the daily efficiencies performed by the building itself, the staff maintains a rigorous preventative maintenance schedule and participates in plant-wide recycling programs to ensure all the corrugated cardboard is recycled. Today, more than a year after the opening of the new facility, North Country Smokehouse remains committed to lessening their carbon footprint wherever possible.
To learn more about North Country Smokehouse, please visit www.ncsmokehouse.com.
Hearty & Full of Flavor
Ah, Saint Patrick’s Day. For the Irish, March 17 is a day of cultural celebration. For meat lovers all over the world, it’s a day of flavorful possibility. Yes, you can brine a brisket and slow-cook it in a Dutch oven for hours…But we’re quite happy dressing our Irish Brand Banger Sausage—a traditional Emerald Isle blend of pork, spices, and bread crumbs—with onion gravy on a bed of mashed potatoes for a traditional feast that takes less than 30 to fix.
History has it that the name “Bangers” comes from the fact that these sausages used to burst (bang!) while cooking due to the inclusion of bread crumbs (otherwise known as “rusk”) in the meat.
Just like any simple dish, Bangers and Mash is all about the ingredients, so most recipes you’ll find explicitly articulate the need for great quality sausage. We’re glad to oblige.
- 1 (12 ounce) pkg. North Country Smokehouse Irish Brand Bangers
- 2 lbs. white potato
- 1 large, white onion
- 1/4 cup of butter
- A tsp. of dried milk
- A pinch of dried mustard
- A dash of salt and pepper
- 6 cups of beef broth
- 2 cups of red wine
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F (95 degrees C).
Cook the Irish Brand Bangers in a skillet over medium-low heat until browned on all sides, about 6 minutes per side. Transfer to an oven-safe dish and move to the preheated oven to keep warm.
Place 2 lbs of peeled and cubed potatoes into a saucepan over medium heat, cover with water, and boil until potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and allow to steam dry for a minute or two. Mix in 1/4 cup of butter, a bit of milk, dry mustard, salt, and black pepper and mash until fluffy and smooth. Set aside.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium-high heat; cook the onions until translucent and just starting to brown, about 8 minutes. Pour in 6 cups of beef broth and 2 cups red wine; boil the mixture down to about half its volume, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Traditional gravy is thin and liquidy, so you can cook longer to increase thickness to your preference.
To serve, place a sausage onto a serving plate with about 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes. Pour the onion gravy over the sausage and potatoes.
Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI), a universal, farm-to-fork safety and quality compliance program that awards food manufacturing companies with Safe Quality Food (SQF) Certifications, awarded North Country Smokehouse, a family-owned, artisanal smoked meat producer with a strong history of culinary excellence, the SQF Quality Shield.
A certification from SQFI is the only one of its kind recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), and it is the only program with a food quality component added to its food safety platform. The goal of SQFI is to consistently apply standards of food safety and quality on a global level. The program includes assessment of all facets of the food-processing industry. It also helps ensure producers, suppliers, retailers and consumers that the food products manufactured in a specific facility are safe to eat and are of the best possible quality and consistency.
The SQF Quality Shield is the highest level of achievement the program offers for companies with “Comprehensive Food Safety and Quality Management Systems.” SQF certification is comprised of three levels, each with a more rigorous standard of compliance than the one before. To earn this certification, North Country Smokehouse was required to document and prove that quality actions are being taken to correct or prevent sub-par quality and inconsistencies through critical control points of production.
“We’re proud to receive the SQF Quality Shield and earn a higher degree of trust in the global marketplace. Achieving this certification is a testament to the hard work put forth by our Quality Control Department, managerial and production staff,” said Aaron Corbett, COO, North Country Smokehouse.
“The SQF Quality Shied is a tangible demonstration of our commitment to product quality and food safety, and we are proud to be considered a global leader.”