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Story and photos by Christopher Bates
I am asked often to recommend the gastro hot spots around the lakes, and at the top of my list is always Shirk Meats. As our sole purveyor of beef and pork at FLX Wienery (and at home), I have had the opportunity to get to know their quality very well over the last year. Owned by Naomi and her husband (and butcher) Luke Shirk, this is a family-run operation you have to see to believe. Whether its their 13-year-old daughter Emma working the cash register or the real little ones lugging subprimals of meat half their size out to your car, it’s impossible not to feel the passion that this family has for their craft.
And craft it is. Working with locally raised animals, without hormones or antibiotics, the quality shows. The art of the butcher is also clearly on display here, with well trimmed, properly aged cuts that will make any meat-eater salivate. With a case is full of bright, rosy meat (yes, even pork with color!) including all of your standard cuts, and a freezer full of items for the more adventurous, it’s cleat that nothing goes to waste here (think goat livers, sheep tongues and pork jowls along with some of the most delicious rabbits). And the skill doesn’t stop simply with cutting steaks and roasts, it continues with house-made sausages, cured and smoked meats, scrapples and jerky, as well as one of our favorite items, their smoked hot dogs. On our menu since day one, it was not a quick decision for us. Weeks of tasting a dozen different dogs for our red hots, it turned out the best was right in our backyard, and once we had Shirks’ house-smoked hot dogs, there was no going back. Hope you will take the time (it is a little out of the way) to check out Shirks Meats on your next trip by. Here’s a little recipe to get you inspired.
Fish Sauce Marinated Steak2 inches of ginger root 6-10 cloves of garlic 1 bunch scallions 1 bunch cilantro 1 chuck steak ¼ cup Vietnamese fish sauce Sriracha hot chili sauce, to taste ( I would use about 2 tablespoons) 2 tablespoon fresh black pepper 1 large chuck steak
Slice ginger into ¼-inch thick slices. Smash gently with the bottom of a pan or meat tenderizer. Smash garlic cloves as well. Chop the scallions and cilantro roughly. Mix ginger, garlic, scallions and cilantro with the fish sauce, Sriracha and black pepper. Use this mixture to marinate to steak before grilling (24 hours is great, 48 better, but if you only have 30 mins, that’s fine too) to your preferred temperature. Slice across the grain. One large chuck steak will feed 4-6 people. Be sure to taste the steak before seasoning with salt–the fish sauce adds a lot.
Shirk Meats, 4342 John Green Road, Dundee, 607.243.5581
Master Sommelier Christopher Bates and his wife Isabel Bogadtke own F.L.X. Wienery in Dundee, and operate Element Winery. Additionally, Christopher teaches about wine and cooking for the International Culinary Center in NYC and the Court of Master Sommeliers.