The drive to the proverbial lake seems endlessly long and fraught with anticipation, not to mention dull snacks like peanut butter sandwiches and potato chips. For those who call a resort or cabin up north “home” on summer weekends, better munchies for the road may be in order.
Enter McDonald’s Meats, known affectionately as “The Jerky Stop.” A Clear Lake standby, McDonald’s is a third-generation family business established in 1914 by the late John Leo McDonald. Located on Highway 24 in Clear Lake, MN, the shop is perfectly situated for a northbound commute from the cities — take I-94 W to Clearwater, cut across Highway 24, and catch Highway 10 to continue your trek. Though the shop isn’t as flashy as the nearby Nelson Bros. Truckstop (an all-in-one bakery / gas station / restaurant / gift shop along the freeway), it certainly has plenty to offer with an old-fashioned, down-home ambiance.
The shop’s extensive selection of homemade jerky, sausages, bacon, and fresh steak is sure to tempt any carnivore. An entire cooler of snack food lines one wall and includes cheese curds, snack sticks, and 19 different kinds of jerky varying from venison to the standard beef or turkey. Other coolers contain a wide array of sausages and brats, all made in-house from fresh ingredients.
On a recent visit, we picked up three kinds of jerky, each still juicy and — unlike many gas station offerings — readily chewable. A teriyaki pork variety was cut into 1/2-inch-wide, short strips and seasoned with a Minnesotan-friendly blend of garlic powder, onion powder, spices, and soy sauce. This rather lighter-handed spice treatment made for a savory jerky in which the pork flavor shone through. McDonald’s elk jerky, meanwhile, was a blend of ground elk and beef, formed into flat lengths and smoked. The elk variety had a rather bland flavor, with a slight sweetness at the fore and a tender, easy-to-chew texture. McDonald’s turkey jerky proved to be the favorite of our three choices, with a smoky flavor imparted by the “real wood — not liquid — smoke” in which the shop takes pride. A sample of the new cheddar version of the shop’s “world-famous wild rice sausage” was a hit as well, offering a slightly zestier twist on the standard brat.
The next time you head toward Highway 10, forget the PB&J. For an omnivorous household, McDonald’s Meats has top offerings for snacks on the road, as well as dinner for your destination. Print out this coupon before you go, and you’ll get the cheddar wild rice sausage free!
McDonald’s Meats, Inc.
Center and Church Sts.
Clear Lake, MN 55319
OWNER: Dave McDonald
Sun Hours vary