Shepherd’s Way Farms makes some of my favorite sheep’s milk cheeses. It’s no secret that their cheese is good—they’ve received scores of accolades for their popular black wax coated Friesago, soft and creamy Hidden Falls, light and tangy Shepherd’s Hope, and spicy Big Woods Blue cheeses. Imagine my surprise, then, when I headed to Mill City Market and found a freezer full of unfamiliar sausages at the Shepherd’s Way market stand.
That’s right, three weeks ago, Steven and Jodi Ohlsen Read of Shepherd’s Way introduced several new varieties of specialty sausages, and they’re made with pasture-raised lamb and pork from their farm in Nerstrand, Minn.
In addition to the existing Merguez, Westlund, and Barlage sausages, the Reads are now selling a sausage made with orange peel and red wine called Sogn Harvest, a Sage and Ginger breakfast sausage, a Big Woods Blue traditional bratwurst made with blue cheese, smoked snack sticks called Birr Sticks, and a hard-to-find smoked sausage link (which is rumored to have notes of coriander and mustard) called Woodsman.
“I’ve always been interested in specialty meats,” said Steven Read. “Charcuterie is an emerging trend, and it’s been fun developing new ideas and seeing them become final products. It’s gratifying and exciting to see people responding.”
The small-scale Sage and Ginger sausage, with just a slight essence of ginger, makes a good breakfast sausage, but could very well be served any time of the day, and a pack of Birr Sticks tucked in with your camping gear will make the great outdoors all the greater this summer. According to Read, the Woodsman links seem to be flying off the shelves faster than they can make them.
Read grew up Swedish in Minnesota, and says making cased sausages and meat sticks simply reflect his upbringing.
Although the Reads raised the animals on their farm and developed the recipes for their new line of specialty meats, they didn’t have the ability to make their own sausages on-site, so they teamed up with sausage maker Dean Anderson at Geneva Meats in Geneva, Minn. Read explained that processing off-site was less expensive than having on-site facilities and licensing, although he acknowledged that it would be fun to have their own processing facility someday. The work they do on their small, family-based farm demonstrates their support of local, sustainable, slow food—they’ve hosted thousands of visitors to the farm, educating and promoting sustainable agriculture, land stewardship, and local foods.
Shepherd’s Way Farms’ new line of sausages can purchased at the Mill City Farmers’ Market, or you can send them an email and they’ll bring them to the St. Paul Farmers’ Market for you. They hope to start selling the new sausages at local co-ops this summer.