Eric Goerdt has been a stalwart of northern Minnesota’s local foods community for years, smoking fish from Lake Superior as well as turkey, pork, and bison from animals raised in the region. And I’ve been a fan of his Northern Waters Smokehaus in Duluth for quite some time. (I just tried to link to an article I wrote about him so long ago that Minnesota Monthly didn’t even archive its articles online!) But, somehow, I’d never tried Goerdt’s hand-cured salumi, until I recently received a box full of samples.
Goerdt currently produces three types of salumi: salamini, saucisson sec, and pepperoni (if you’d like to see his process, check out the cool Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives video on Northern Waters at the end of this post). The finished product looks pretty much the way it might have in Europe a few hundred years ago: lumpy links bound in string, natural casing covered in white mold. Salami is considered the most complicated of charcuterie, but these taste like Goerdt has cracked the code of the artisanal curing process.
Goerdt’s salamini is heavy on the garlic and fennel, and finishes with a slight tang—it’s the salami that earned first place in a contest hosted by Mario Batali’s father, Armandino, who runs Seattle’s famed Salumi! The French-style saussicon sec is more subtly seasoned with French four spice (pepper, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves) so more of the pure pork flavor comes through. And the pepperoni is like the stuff on frozen supermarket pizzas, taken up a dozen notches. It’s the most intense of the three, rich with red wine, sweet with fennel, and spiked with enough crushed red pepper to leave a burning sensation in the back of the throat.
Goerdt’s cured meats are only available at Northern Waters, in the DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace, or for mail-order online. Slice one up at your next fancy wine-and-cheese fête, or pack one for the hiking trail—they’re versatile like that.