I had heard about Steve’s Meat Market in Ellendale, Minnesota from a friend so I decided to take a trip to find out if it lives up to its billing. On the drive into Ellendale, I saw a large yellow sign welcoming visitors to the town with “Home of Steve’s Meat Market” dominating the town welcome sign. I thought that there would be one of two outcomes for this trip: a small-town meat market that thinks too highly of itself or a place that delivers what it promises.
The outside of Steve’s Meat Market is not very remarkable. It looks like just another shop in a small town, but upon walking inside I was greeted by the pleasant staff and dozens upon dozens of Minnesota Association of Meat Processors and national awards spanning several decades. Founded in 1973 and winning more than 360 awards since 1975, I started to get a sense of just how special Steve’s Meat Market really is.
Not only does Steve’s have a full meat counter, but they will also do custom processing. With a fantastic selection of meats and light groceries sprawling throughout the store, I was asked by the friendly clerk if I was looking for anything in particular. Of course I replied, “bacon.” She pointed me to the back of the store. Steve’s has a small bacon section, but boasts of selling “simply the BEST smoked bacon on the market today.” Reading this sign created an exciting challenge for me, a Bacon Scout, having sampled many different bacons in the past year. I snapped up two packages: thick sliced and pepper bacon.
Thick Sliced “Low Salt” Bacon
Steve’s thick sliced bacon is hickory smoked and is cut to the perfect thickness, with a great fat to meat ratio. It’s about 8.5 inches long uncooked so it will fit nicely into a 12 inch pan. Slowly cooking it over a medium-low heat seems to produce the best results. After cooking it for more than 30 minutes, I was eager to dazzle my taste buds with the delectable meat candy. Shrinking only to a respectable 6.75 inches, I served the piping hot bacon to my family with chocolate chip pancakes. Not only did everyone thoroughly enjoy the bacon, I can agree that Steve’s is simply the best smoked meat on the market, but with one caveat. If you like a strong smoky flavor, this bacon doesn’t deliver, but it’s overall characteristics and flavor profile catapult it to it’s top shelf status.
Steve’s pepper bacon is also “low salt” and is cut to about the same thickness as the thick sliced bacon. It measured the same as the thick sliced bacon both cooked and uncooked. Once again, I was not disappointed. Steve’s pepper bacon is delicious, worth every bite, and not one bit too spicy. My young children had no complaints about the spice. It has a unique flavor definitely different from the thick sliced bacon. It was a robust flavor and not just barely different like some other companies. It is a fantastic bacon that I highly recommend.
I also purchased two New York Strip steaks, grilled them medium-rare, and found those to be quite tasty too.
If you are ever traveling down I-35 in Southern Minnesota near Owatonna you owe it to yourself to check out Steve’s Meat Market in Ellendale; it is the real deal. Steve’s is a Bacon Scouts top choice.