Years ago, when I was an eager untrained cook I would select some ambitious recipe far above my skill level. I’d bring in the book to my buddy the butcher for review and we would discuss the cut of meat called for. Many times he’d even suggest a substitute cut and cooking method that would yield a far better result.
If you’re at all into food and food trends, the “ FarmtoTable” movement is currently one of the biggest trends in the world of nutrition. People are becoming more mindful of supporting our rural farm stands and farmers markets for the freshest produce, and we’re just as eager to find that same combination of local and fresh in our meats.
For many folks grocery shopping involves multiple stops, the first of which is the local butcher. You take a number, and as you wait to be called, you eavesdrop on the customers and staff, for a free lesson in meat.
Butchers have all the answers. They have spent years learning their trade, and are often more than delighted to impart their knowledge. Portions for a crowd, organic versus grass fed, meat grades like prime, select, or choice, marbling and maturity are all great questions a “meat maestro” can advise on and guide you in selecting the most nutritious, flavorful, and versatile cuts.
We are extremely fortunate to have three family owned, third and fourth generation businesses right here in Walworth County. FarmtoTable is no trendy movement or buzzword to these folks, it’s the way it’s been done from the beginning. If it’s any movement at all it’s all about building a relationship between hard working farmers and people like you and me that want the best on our tables.
“Quality,Variety and Superior Service”
Sorgs Quality Meat and Sausages on Highway 14 in Darien is a third generation full service butcher shop. It got its start as a roadside stand in 1942, where Andrew and Anna Sorg sold eggs and chickens. In 1957 the Sorgs built their own processing facility and began butchering their own products along with the meat of other local farmers.
Sorgs has grown to a large retail outlet that carries freshly butchered meats as well as homemade sausages. Andy Sorg III is the sausage master, and prides himself on his flavorings and creativity. In fact, Andy has produced over 60 flavors of brats. Even his hot dogs, which my dogs and I personally love, have a unique ingredient. When I asked Barb Sorg what she wants our readers to know about Sorgs, her response was, “Friendly service is what you’ll get behind the counter”. That friendly service is the reason customers have been coming for generations, to stock their freezers with these quality products.
N4290 Highway 14, Darien
LAKE GENEVA COUNTRY MEATS
“Taste the Difference”
Last year Lake Geneva Country Meats celebrated 50 years in the business. Originally known as Lake Geneva Packing Company. It was started by John and Rita Leahy in 1965 on highway 50 just east of Lake Geneva. Custom processing was a necessity for people who bought meat from farmers in order to fill their freezers with locally raised meat. Over the years they have had multiple expansions, added a retail store, received numerous awards, and become members of Wisconsin Meat Hall of Fame. Now days, you can also like them on Facebook, of course!
Since they opened for business they have become known for processing. But in 1978, sausage production was limited. So they decided to expand the field a bit by adding a sausage kitchen, which eventually became home to the award winning, handcrafted Leahy’s Sausages. In fact, their sausage maker, Jeff Schmalfeldt became one of the first Master Meat Crafters after completing an two year program at the University of Wisconsin.
Another significant designation is the USDA inspection status sought after by John so he would be able to ship product across state lines. What does that mean to us? This means that every item being processed has the watchful eye of a USDA inspector right on premises.
Even though John and Rita have passed, the business is still run by the family. Daughter Kathy and her husband Scott have been hands on for over 15 years, and now their son Nick has become responsible for the addition of an educational website, an online shop, Facebook page, and an expanded retail space which includes fresh produce, wine, artisanal cheese selection, and much more.
Lake Geneva Country Meats
5907 State Road 50 East, Lake Geneva
WILSON COUNTY MEAT MARKET
“From Our Farm To Your Table”
Behind Wilson Farm Meats is another multiple generation story that brings the FarmtoTable movement full circle. In the 1870s, the Wilsons immigrated from Scotland to Wisconsin and purchased their land just outside of Burlington, where they began to raise lambs. In the 1940s, the next generation began raising heritage breeds of hogs. These breeds have pedigrees that date back to the colonization from America, when European immigrants brought them over to the new world. Today Scott Wilson continues to oversee the hog breeding operations of the Wilson Prairie View Farms. They carry the high distinction of being the only SPF (specific pathogen free) certified hog operation in the state of Wisconsin. This means that Wilson’s hogs are disease free and rigorously tested to maintain the integrity of the herds. Most of what the hogs are fed is also raised on the farm, including corn and soybeans.
Looking for a place to showcase his “designer” pork, Scott purchased the Elkhorn Locker Plant in Elkhorn and renamed it Wilson Farm Meats. The business includes custom butchering, processing and packaging of all the popular cuts of meat including these descendants of the Mayflower. Six years ago Bob Schmaling stepped in to bring his grocery store expertise to the shop. With the addition of several smokehouses, they now offer cured and smoked meats. In fact you can pick up just about everything you need for a superb meal including Wisconsin cheeses, wines, beers, and specialty grocery items.
Wilson Farm Meats
406 South Wisconsin St., Elkhorn
M, W, Thurs, Friday, Sunday 12- 5 PM
Tuesday – CLOSED
Saturday 10 – 5
Photographer: Matt Haas
By: Cynthia Fueredi