Like the bratwurst and Wiener schnitzel you gobbled up at an Amana eatery? Stop by the Amana Meat Shop & Smokehouse to take home a taste of the signature meats from the local menus, along with a slew of side dishes and condiments, from horseradish jelly and German mustard to cheese curds, spaetzle and sauerkraut.
The list is seemingly endless, with jars of jellies and pickled vegetables lining shelves near meat cases chock full of thick slabs of bacon, hams, jerky and brats and summer sausages in more flavors than you can imagine. High in demand is head cheese, too, hearkening back to the days when nothing went to waste on the butcher block.
Need a kitchen gadget for your home or home-away-from-home at the nearby RV park? Grab one to go. Need a side salad for your Lily Lake picnic? Check out the meat case in the front room. Forget your cooler? The meat shop has those, too, along with ice and gel packs for safely toting your treasures home. Or you can order meats and treats to be shipped across the United States and Canada.
The Amana Meat Shop is steeped in traditions and recipes dating back to its 1858 origins, when it was a slice of the colonies’ communal way of life. Residents were expected to work in one of the village enterprises, ranging from kitchens and shops to fields and specialized trades like blacksmithing. In return, they received food and housing and shared meals at communal tables.
In those days, “all seven villages had their own meat shop,” said Tim Blattner, 31, of Walford. He’s worked at the Amana Meat Shop for 10 years and now serves as production manager at the facility that supplies local restaurants as well as customers.
Even though the Amana store lies one block off the main street winding through the village, thousands of tourists and regulars find the rustic building with its front-entry shop and adjacent showroom in the original smokehouse. Word-of-mouth, signage around town, online guides and the shop’s product catalog help drive the business, Blattner said.
Rich, smokey aromas greet visitors as they step over the threshold into a slice of yesteryear, where displays of old-fashioned tools and butcher equipment continue to fascinate customers. Nostalgia and personal service are among the draws of meat shops, which counter the modern fast-paced, one-stop-shopping mind-set.
“We greet our regulars by their first name,” Blattner said, just like in the television show “Cheers.”
The shop is busy year-round, but business ramps up as the holidays approach, when smoked turkeys and bone-in hams grace dining tables. Thick-cut smoked bacon also is in demand, and Blattner said beef jerky “flies off the shelf.”
Perennially popular brats are smoked in 400-pound racks for three hours, then chilled for three hours before being packaged. Hams, which need to be smoked overnight, are processed off-site, using the Amana recipes and specifications. The Amana facility’s one smokehouse isn’t designed to keep up with production and demand, he said.
The meat shop is a busy place behind the scenes, too, employing three full-time and two or three people part-time in production, four full-time and four part-time in retail, three full-time in mailing and three more workers in the office.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Amana Meat Shop & Smokehouse
WHERE: 4513 F St., Amana
HOURS: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday; closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. other holidays
SHIPPING: United States and Canada
DETAILS: 1-(800) 373-6328 or Amanameatshop.com