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Northern Waters Smokehaus

University of Chicago Press


A port city where shipping, the fur trade, hunting, and fishing—and infamously long, cold winters—have made the preserving and preparing of meat a singular art, Duluth, Minnesota, was uniquely well suited for the Northern Waters Smokehaus when Eric Goerdt launched it in 1998. Fresh off a stint in Sitka, Alaska, where he’d learned a method of smoking fish called kippering, Goerdt set up shop, and soon what had started as a small sandwich counter expanded into a downtown mainstay with a worldwide trade in its signature offerings, all manner of meat and fish smoked and cured on site. A celebration of the Smokehaus’s singular contribution to the region’s cuisine, Smoke on the Waterfront brings two decades of experience to the table, laying out for food-smoking devotees and for home cooks the stories, recipes, and techniques that have made the establishment a beloved fixture of Third Coast culture.

The Northern Waters Smokehaus crew shares their many ways of preserving food (smoking, canning, fermenting, charcuterie), including detailed instructions for their kippering process. Smoke on the Waterfront presents recipes that take advantage of the natural bounty of Lake Superior’s north shore and capture the flavor of a port city’s old-world charm—all workable with simple equipment, such as kettle grills, allowing home cooks to bring the delicious flavors of the Northern Waters Smokehaus to their own kitchens. From simple sandwich construction all the way to sausage twisting, these recipes give readers an opportunity to up their game or to savor their own view of the Smokehaus experience: brining, grilling, freezing, pickling, and fermentation; preparing a charcuterie board, with guidance on sausage, confit, rillettes, light butchery, and sourdough; and roasting, smoking, and braising meats.

Whitefish smoked or made into a spread or stock; lake trout curried or stuffed with gremolata; pulled pork Minnesota style, smoked wings, and ribs and kimchi with maple sambal; pickled peppers, onions, jalapeños, mushrooms, and, of course, sauerkraut; smoked Polish, Andouille, lamb, and potato sausages; eelpout étouffée, confit duck legs, poultry liver gravy, and pâté; three-day duck poutine, porketta and pasta, braised ruminant, bison pastrami: that’s a sample of the provisions that run from roe and gravy to casseroles, chowder, and ice cream. Featuring beautiful photographs, carefully crafted recipes, and the pithy conversational comments of the restaurant’s veterans, Smoke on the Waterfront evokes the history and the promise of a rich regional culture that endures—and transcends—boundaries.

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