The Village Meat Shop in Canning is renowned for its smoked pepperoni; I’ve had people tell me it’s the best you can find in the province. Oscar Huntley and his son, Andrew, make the pepperoni in their smokehouse in Scott’s Bay, using a recipe originated by the former owner of the shop.
Andrew, who runs the shop with his father, tells me that in a way, their pepperoni is unique. It’s made the old-fashioned way, using wood-fired smoking, which gives the pepperoni a unique flavour.
“We use maple wood for all our smoking,” Andrew says. “And this adds to the flavour. It’s preservative-free as well.”
How popular is the pepperoni?
Huntley says he and his father often prepare, on average, some 800 pounds of pepperoni a week in their smokehouse. This past Christmas, however, they turned out a record 1,400 pounds in one week, just to meet the holiday demand for pepperoni.
The Huntleys do custom smoking for their customers as well, usually hams and bacon. Recently, Andrew says, they’ve been experimenting with the preparation of deli meats, Montreal smoked beef and such.
To prepare their pepperoni, the Huntleys begin by mixing pork and beef (the ratio is about 70 pounds of pork to 30 pounds of beef) and putting it through a grinder. After spices and water are added, the mixture is ground again; then it goes into sausage casing, and from there, into the smokehouse, where it will take several hours to cure.
OK, the pepperoni is great. I’ve been told they have great store made sausage too, but if you like a meat that’s really different, the Huntleys occasionally bring in ground bison – or as some of us call it, bison burgers. As far as I know, this is the only place in the Valley where you can buy ground up bison, and if you like a wild game taste in your burgers, this is worth a try.
Following the credo that “everything’s got to be used,” Andrew Huntley said he was delighted when he found a use for all the bones he had been throwing out from their butcher shop.
“I came across smoked dog bones at a local store and decided we could do it too,” he said. “At times, we smoke up to 200 pounds of bones in a week and it’s popular with local dog owners.”
I can attest to that. My bird dog, Jake, loves them. He’s a kennel dog that rarely gets in the house, but in case you’re wondering if life in a kennel is hard on a dog in the winter, Jake has an electric “Hound Heater” in his insulated house inside my shed, so he’s more than comfortable in the coldest of weather.
However, life in the offseason can be boring for Jake and other hunting dogs, and this is where the smoked bones come in. Having bones to gnaw at during long winter days in the kennel keeps Jake from being bored. If the way he reacts when I give him a smoked bone is any indication, I’d say the smoking process must give the bones a flavour dogs really like.
No question the Huntley’s pepperoni is unbeatable, but that sideline of theirs – smoked dog bones – is unbeatable as well. Just ask my bird dog.