Pelkin's Smokey Meat Market, with over 80 varieties of brats, expands beyond Crivitz, Suamico to Resch Plaza for Packers tailgaters
Brats stuffed with sauerkraut. Brat-sized hot dogs loaded with mac and cheese. Meat snack sticks packed with pizza flavors. Pelkin's Smokey Meat Market is a veritable smorgasbord for carnivores not bound to tradition when it comes to sausages and other meats.
Though Pelkin's makes more than 80 varieties of bratwursts, manager Kevin Goldberg said the traditional German-style brat is its best seller.
The traditional brat will get a wider audience after PMI Entertainment Group announced in August that Pelkin’s Smokey Meat Market is the official supplier of hot dogs, brats and beef snacks. PMI manages the Resch Center, Resch Expo and Resch Plaza.
The precooked versions of Pelkin's German brats and skinless hot dogs will be at the concession stands for Green Bay Gamblers games, concerts and other events at the Resch Center and Resch Expo. That includes the Bart Starr Plaza Tailgate Party, where they'll likely be in demand Sunday for the Green Bay Packers' first home game of the 2022 season.
In addition to an ever-changing lineup of brats, Pelkin's makes more than 20 snack stick flavors and about 10 wieners, as well as summer sausage, ring bologna, bacon and other smoked meats. And they fill their Crivitz and Suamico meat counters with hamburgers, stuffed chops, marinated chicken, and house-cut steaks and other meats.
They sell more than 100 Wisconsin-made cheeses and fill an entire wall with seasonings — many of which they use to make their products. And they devote another space to a wide range of sauces, marinades and pickled goods. And they sell beer, wine and liquor. And ice cream toppings — for those with the willpower to save room for dessert. (Ice cream sold separately.)
If that all sounds like a meat-centric grocery store, it's part of the journey that started in 1973 when the Pelkin family started a grocery store in Crivitz. For a time the family also owned the Piggly Wiggly in Coleman.
Denis Pelkin began processing deer and other wild game in the 1980s. He then started making traditional bratwurst, wieners and other smoked meats. The popularity of the products led Denis to opening the Crivitz retail shop and processing operation in 2014.
Last year, Pelkin's opened the Suamico shop. Both stores have about the same amount of retail space. Butchering and bone-in cuts of meat get done at the Crivitz location, Goldberg said.
Even with the added retail location and supplying meats for Resch Center events, Goldberg said they still make bratwurst and hot dogs in small batches. By hand. Hand-ground. Hand-seasoned. Hand-mixed. Each batch of bratwurst made 25 pounds at a time.
Mixing and stuffing sausages by hand in small batches allows them to maintain better control of the flavor and quality, Goldberg said.
Though, it does mean a package of brats or hot dogs may not have the same uniform shape as those made in a more automated process.
The bratwurst start with a medium grind of pork. From there, the texture varies wildly depending on what else gest stuffed in the casing. Whole elbow macaroni and diced cheese in the mac and cheese brats. Eggs, cheese, bacon, maple syrup and hash browns in the breakfast brat.
A breakfast brat would pair well with the Green Bay Packers game Oct. 9 in London and its 8:30 a.m. kickoff. Pelkin's also makes a bloody mary brat for that morning cocktail. Pro tip: Goldberg said their chicken tomato basil brat tastes more like a bloody mary than the brat version.
Pelkin's deep-freezes about 60 brat variations (usually four to a pack) at the Suamico store. They also rotate two fresh brat flavors weekly in the meat case.
With all of those options, Goldberg said it can be fun to play brat roulette. Fry up a bunch of different flavors and let them soak in a beer bath. It becomes difficult to tell which brat is which after a good beer bath soak — though Goldberg said you can usually spot the green chunks of jalapenos — giving guests a surprise bite.
The skinless wieners have the same snap and robust hit of smoky spice flavor of the natural casing versions. The traditional hot dogs fit traditional hot dog buns. You'll need to break out the brat buns for some of the flavored hot dogs, like the mac and cheese.
Pelkin's runs three smokers — every day — to keep up with demand. They use smokers made by Wisconsin-based PS Seasoning & Spices. They're also Pelkin's main seasoning supplier.
More: PS Seasonings blends spices, mixes and more for America's largest retailers
"In order to do what we do, we use a lot of different spices and seasonings so why not have it labeled for us to sell?" Goldberg said. "I don't know if I could put a number to it, it's probably hundreds of different spices and seasonings."
It's enough to fill a wall and then some.
It's about 40 minutes between the locations, said Goldberg, who makes the drive daily to Suamico from his home in Crivitz.
They felt confident that opening this location would be successful because they had some customers who would make the drive from as far away as Milwaukee to stock up at the store in Crivitz.
Adding the Resch Center and Expo as regular customers will be a boon, Goldberg said, noting that often the PMI folks will put together gift baskets with Pelkin's products for performers like Luke Combs, who performs Sept. 16 and 17 at the Resch Center. Which he figures will further spread the word of Pelkin's mastery of smoked meats.
Pelkin's Smokey Meat Market locations
- Crivitz: 600 S. U.S. 441. Phone 715-854-3681
- Suamico: 1756 Riverside Drive. Phone 920-600-0024
Contact Daniel Higgins firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @HigginsEats on Twitter and Instagram and like on Facebook.