Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Stehlin's meats:

We were on a lard-quest, and we could not be stopped. We could not be dissuaded from our goal of local, kettle cooked lard, free of stabilizers and preservatives.

The purpose of our visit

Of course, we had good reason. The latest step on David's art of the biscuit journey was to make buttermilk biscuits with real lard. And so began our quest. After a few inquiries and many referrals, we made the journey up to Colerain to Stehlin's meats, one of the only butcher shops in Ohio that slaughters their own meat. And where we, more importantly, could find the much sought after lard.

I learned a lot of things during our visit, tour of the facility and short interview with Mr. John Stehlin. I also learned, more importantly, that when your co-workers ask about your weekend, it's probably not ideal to lead off with an enthusiastic recount of your slaughterhouse visit. Just trust me on this one.

Stehlin's has been in business since 1913. We took a short tour with John as he showed us around.

How do things work here?

"Well...in what I call a de-ssembly-line process, we process cattle on Mondays and hogs on Tuesdays, then we sell it in the store all week long. The animals are all local, sometimes occasionally from as far as eastern Indiana."

piggy de-fuzzer

"In our pork processing room, we make all our sausages, cook them in the large kettle here, and stuff them into the casing. Over here is one of our sausage storage coolers and over here is one of our smoking coolers. They lay in cure for 2 weeks, then we take them and put in the smoke house. We smoke ham, sausage, cottage ham, bacon, smoked pork loin, dried beef. We still use real hickory wood, without any sort of liquid smoke or shavings."

real hickory

that's some nice wood there

How many hours would you say you work?

"We put in 5-6 days a week. We don't work on Sundays unless we have to. That happens occasionally, especially around Christmas. We all average about 46 hours a week. When I was a kid, we worked 6 days a week, and we were up to around 55-60 hours a week."

When did you start working here?

"When I was growing up I started when I was about 12, then worked through high school, when
I graduated high school, I started full time here."

Stehlin's is being run by its fourth generation, and John's son recently started working there. Stehlin's is unique because much of the meat you buy from your store butcher--especially the pork--comes pre-slaughtered and shipped in a box from a larger slaughterhouse that has several farms' animals from all over the country contracted to it.

What are some specific products that people come back to Stehlin's for?

"We've got a lot of unique products. The bone in beef brings a lot of people in. The variety of pork cuts--a Boston butt, you can't get them any fresher then we have here. Our fresh smoked pork sausage, cottage ham and bacon. We also have what we consider the top quality beef and pork, that keeps people coming back."

cottage ham

There are also sweetbreads available for purchase, something we've never seen available at any butcher shop. We filled our grocery bag with the much sought after lard, two rib eyes, pork sausage, goetta, Canadian bacon, and a slice of "Johnny in the bag", Stehlin's twist on a traditional blood sausage.

herrrrre's Johnny!

Stehlin's has a deli, and apparently fantastic buffalo chicken salad.
Someone had even written a thank-you note about it, which was displayed proudly on the counter.

The next morning, we made the awaited biscuits with sausage gravy. It was incredible how much the texture of the biscuit changed using lard instead of butter. I found I could only eat half of the rich biscuit, and promptly laid down on the floor afterward, ready for a post brunch nap.

and cue Biscuit and gravy food-porn


Our trip brought much reward. Later that week, we made the goetta, which I liked because it was not heavily seasoned. Good goetta doesn't need a lot of spices in it, in my opinion. It was a little looser than what we were used to, which made it challenging to cook. We made a dirty rice dish with the goetta and served it alongside the rib eyes, which were expertly butchered.


  1. Next time be sure to get the smoked sausage. It's pretty awesome.

  2. Nice write up. Avrils on court street also has lard most weekends.

  3. Stehlin's has the best goetta I've found!


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