The Bacon Beat

Bacon & Brown Sugar: Sweet & Savory Holiday Appetizer Ideas

Bacon & Brown Sugar: Sweet & Savory Holiday Appetizer Ideas

Thinking about what special treats you’re going to prepare for the holidays? We’d like to mention that it's the most wonderful time of the year...because it's time for extra bacon! The holidays give us all an opportunity to indulge in wonderfully rich snacks and sides, so we selected three easy and decadent treats for you to whip up. Best of all, these tasty bites are super simple and they all happen to involved two things: Bacon & Brown Sugar, which we think you’ll agree make mighty fine partners after you try these recipe ideas!
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How To Prepare Your Nolechek's Holiday Ham

How To Prepare Your Nolechek's Holiday Ham

Need some tips on how to prepare a perfect Nolechek’s Hickory Smoked Ham for the upcoming holiday? We'll give you a few of our best ham cooking pro tips in this installation of Nolechek's Bacon Beat, including how to gently warm, custom glaze, and serve everyone’s favorite Christmas table centerpiece! 
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Nolechek's Even More Wisconsin Bratwurst Sausage Sampler

Send Wisconsin’s Best Meat & Cheese: Nolechek’s Top 5 Gift Picks

We've created our list of Nolechek's Favorite Holiday Gift Picks to help you with your holiday shopping. Covering everything from gifts for your favorite bacon lover to snack assortments for people who like to party, plus peeks at some of our featured Wisconsin cheeses, we'll help you choose the perfect Wisconsin-made gifts for friends and family. 
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Giving Thanks at Nolechek's Meats

Giving Thanks at Nolechek's Meats

One of the most profound realizations I’ve had the past two years is how thankful I am for my faith, family, and friends. I am beyond grateful for the people in my life – whether past, present, or the ones I have yet to meet; whether they relate to my personal life or I know them through the business.
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Nolechek's Favorite Thanksgiving Snacks

Nolechek's Favorite Thanksgiving Snacks

We put together a list of our favorite Nolechek's snacks so you can make impressive snacks for your Thanksgiving and holiday gatherings, Wisconsin-style!
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Nolechek's Smoky Thanksgiving Sidedishes

Smoky Sides for Thanksgiving

What's on the menu besides turkey (or a nice Nolechek’s Hickory Smoked Ham) and stuffing? We put some of our favorite Nolechek's side dishes together to help give you some ideas for new holiday side dish favorites. From creamy Bacon Mashed Potatoes to crisp Wedge Salads and caramelized Roasted Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, we have our Top 5 Thanksgiving Side Dish Ideas all picked out for you! 
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Game Day Recipe: Nolechek's Bacon Beer Cheese Dip

Game Day Recipe: Nolechek's Bacon Beer Cheese Dip

If you're from Wisconsin or have lived in our state for any length of time, you've probably experienced the creamy, savory goodness that is Beer Cheese Dip. A good batch of Beer Cheese Dip is just about as close to football party food perfection as you can get...and we have the secret ingredient to bring it ALL the way to the level of perfection...
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Lindsey Fox Talks: Learning Nolechek's Production Techniques

Lindsey Fox Talks: Learning Nolechek's Production Techniques

Today I had the opportunity to cure a batch of our famous Hickory Smoked Honey Cured Bacon. Typically, Chad, Nolechek’s resident bacon curing-smoking-slicing expert, cures each 2000-pound batch of our bacon. However, today he was on the schedule to slice with Jenn, Caroline, and Lucille and I was on deck to cure. As I was curing, I was reminiscing about products I learned how to make and what it means to carry on the tradition of making ham, bacon, and sausage that’s been passed on to me by Bill and Kelly. 

Growing up in the business, I wasn’t responsible for making the actual product, but instead worked in retail, packaging, developing HACCP, and of course, cleaning. If there’s one thing I learned at a very young age, was you can’t clean enough and if you weren’t busy, there is always something that needs to be cleaned. My least favorite and still is today, is cleaning ceilings. But, I digress. 

I didn’t go down into production until a year after I returned to Nolechek’s, in 2015. Chad was transitioning out of the business and there was a void to fill and it was time for me to learn to chop sausage. The University of Wisconsin – Meat Science offers short courses on meat processing, so I took signed up to learn the science behind what we do in production at Nolechek’s. 

The first surprise was that most meat processors use a grinder to mix in seasonings, water, and create the right consistency. We’ve used a bowl chopper at Nolechek’s Meats since the early-70s. The first bowl chopper we used had a cast iron bowl, four blades, a 50-pound capacity and cost $8,000, which was a large investment for Nolechek’s at that time. A chopper allows us to process sausage at a much lower temperature, which allows for better extraction of protein, binding of water, and overall yield. Each of these elements are important because it allows us to craft sausage that offers the highest quality texture, mouthfeel, and visual particle definition. Today we use an Alpina bowl chopper that has six blades, three speeds, and a 100-pound capacity. We can run it as slow as 300 rpm, to mix cheese in; or as fast as 1000 rpm to create an emulsion for skinless wieners. 

I was so intimidated to learn how to run the chopper because it’s not a black-and-white process. You must be aware of the start temperature of the raw product, the order in which you chop the lean and fat, and how the texture should look when finished. There are so many variables to take into consideration. Fresh sausage is chopped differently than smoked sausage and specific products in each category are chopped differently, too. Today, Chad and I split chopping duties, depending on what is scheduled for production. I chop summer sausage because Chad runs the Poly-Clip and stuffs it, but Chad chops fresh bratwurst and other smoked sausage because I’m responsible for hanging the product on those days. 

Some may say a disadvantage to using a bowl chopper is that there can be a wide range of variability because it is operator-controlled. But, to me that was the challenge, and I knew I had perfected the craft of using the bowl chopper when the consistency of the product was the same between batches. I no longer referenced my cheat sheets to see if the lean goes in before the fat (fresh bratwurst) or the fat before the lean (summer sausage), what temperatures to chop the lean and fat to (skinless wieners); and most importantly, I (rarely) ask Kelly anymore if the texture looks right. It truly is an art form that I learned from Chad and perfected under the watchful eye of Bill and Kelly. 

I also found myself reminiscing about learning to cure bacon with Bill and how it was a multi-step process that started with observing and asking questions, moved to writing down the steps, and ended with me speaking up and telling him I was ready to have a go at it by myself. The whole process of curing is methodical; from preparing the individual components for the brine (ascorbic, salt, cure, honey) to mixing them according to a specific order so that all ingredients are properly distributed in the solution to running the needle injector and finishing the process with tumbling the bellies. It’s all part of a process that has remained unchanged since I can remember. 

I think the most impressive thing about what we do at Nolechek’s is that the consistency and quality of our product that has withstood the test of time. It’s our attention to detail and knowing, from start to finish, who has been involved in crafting each product and being proud of the fact that everyone understands how important they are to the process at each level. It’s about the story and the people behind the products that really make them special…besides how they taste, of course. The story and the people are what creates a connection with our fans and in turn, our fans share their stories and connections with our products. How they remember coming to the store with parents or grandparents; the special meals they would enjoy with family when they came to visit; or the people they remember that worked here from generations past. It’s all part of the bigger picture and every single bit of it is what makes Nolechek’s Meats special and meaningful, we create food that is an experience. 

  - Lindsey Fox

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Fall Comfort Food: Polish Sausage from Nolechek's Meats

Fall Comfort Food: Polish Sausage from Nolechek's Meats

What's the difference between Polish Sausage and Kielbasa? The answer may surprise you...

...However you grill it, mix things up with a variety of sausage flavors from Nolechek's Meats. For a classic taste, choose from Unsmoked Polish Sausage with Garlic or Hickory Smoked Garlic Polish Sausage. If garlic isn't for you, serve up Nolechek's Plain Polish Sausage. And, for a perfect Wisconsin Polish Sausage bite, pick up some Garlic Polish Sausage with Sauerkraut.
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Meats for Your Sweet: Sweetest Day Gift Ideas

Meats for Your Sweet: Sweetest Day Gift Ideas

Did you know that Sweetest Day dates back nearly 100 years? Since then, it's evolved into a popular holiday for sweethearts, primarily men. That's right! Guys get their special day, too, and Nolechek's is your one stop (meat!) shop for Sweetest Day.
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Food History: Jaternice Sausage

Food History: Jaternice Sausage

Food is one of the strongest, most tangible connections to our past. For people of Czech descent, Jaternice - a traditional Bohemian sausage - can be traced back hundreds of years to their ancestral homeland. This hearty sausage utilizes the whole hog - including parts that are often discarded today - and is a testament to the frugality and practicality of the Czech people. Fortunately for us, Czech immigrants passed down their recipes through the generations, so that we can continue to enjoy this traditional Old World sausage today. 

For some, eating snout-to-tail may sound intimidating. On the contrary, using the whole animal is not only environmentally and economically responsible, it's also delicious! We craft our Jaternice with the highest quality barley, pork cuts, and pork skins. Seasoned with hints of marjoram, sage, onion, and garlic, Nolechek’s Jaternice is a simple and comforting specialty sausage. Squeeze the sausage out of its casing as a hash and top it with an egg for breakfast. Or spread it on crackers as a tasty snack. For a heartier meal, serve baked, broiled, or grilled Jaternice Sausages with sauerkraut, potatoes, and a crusty loaf of good bread on the side. 

Nolechek's Meats Old World Sausages

Finding authentic, Old World sausages can be a challenge. That's why Nolechek's is committed to honoring our Bohemian heritage by crafting traditional products, including Jaternice, Kishka, and Swedish-Style Potato Sausage (OK, not Bohemian but amazing). These are some of our most unique and popular specialty sausage and we ship them across the United States. We also sell these sausages in our store right here in Thorpe, Wisconsin. We invite you to "czech" them out!

P.S. If you want to ask for Jaternice by name, it's pronounced 'ya-ter-neet-sa' - it's fun to say and even better to eat!

Enjoy!

Nolechek’s Meats

 

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Low-Carb Recipe: Nolechek's Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeño Cream Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast

Low-Carb Recipe: Nolechek's Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeño Cream Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast

Here’s a creamy, savory, spicy entrée that lets you keep your low-carb and keto goals in line while feeling like you’re trying something new. Juicy chicken breast gets butterflied and stuffed with garlicy jalapeño cream cheese and then wrapped in Nolechek’s hickory smoked bacon before baking. …and if you don’t like heat, just leave out the jalapeño and green chile powder and enjoy a garlic cream cheese stuffed bacon wrapped chicken breast without the spice!
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