There are plenty of ethical, buy-local shoppers who aren’t on the grass-fed-beef bandwagon. Its sinewy texture and pungent flavor can feel alarming, and making a sloppy joe with grass-fed beef can be nearly impossible without a voracious jabbing effort to break it up in the skillet. And newspapers seem to teem with beef horror stories, making one question the worth and safety of eating red meat at all. Further, buying beef you don’t enjoy because it’s the ethical thing to do, well, that’s hardly satisfying, especially at today’s per-pound prices.
Compromise at old-fashioned butcher shops like Osseo Meat Market and Deli, a suburban institution that prides itself on service, quality, and the virtues of homemade summer sausage. Dick and Fay Welk, who have owned Osseo Meats for 30 years, and their plentiful staff are helpful, knowledgeable, and talented in the art of small-town butchery. In the vast metro area, businesses that offer conversation, prices, and quality like that at Osseo Meats are exemplary. Here, you can spend $50 and walk away with a bag full of meat, know exactly how to cook it, and feel good about it.
Osseo Meats buys from a wholesaler. Its meat comes from several states, including Minnesota. It’s not grass-fed. But they make their own summer sausage and sell it for less than $5 a pound, and it’s delicious — not at all greasy, mild and soft. It’s a simple pleasure done right. Monica Albeck, the Welks’ daughter, said her family’s business prides itself on its homemade quality, offering items like fresh jerky, bacon, hams, sausages and bratwurst, jalapeno-olive cheese spread, horseradish sweet pickles, salads, lutefisk, Swedish potato sausage, lefse, jalapeno-cheddar beef sticks — you name it.
There’s also a full deli selection, but it’s dwarfed by what must be a 65-foot service case with eye-grabbing steaks, roasts, tenderloins and seafood, which is where the service comes in. Albeck said that with meat, there can be a lot riding on your purchase, and often face-to-face help ensures dinner comes out right. “When you’re buying a prime rib at $9.99 a pound, nobody wants to mess that up,” Albeck said.
Noon weekdays, though, is dominated by the lunch bar, where everything costs $5.45 a pound. Sandwiches are make-your-own with several high-quality, yet no-frills, meat, bread / roll and cheese choices, and the vast tray of specialty condiments is not to be missed. The hot bar consists of bratwurst, soup and a daily special, usually a nap-inducing turkey tetrazzini, goulash, meatloaf or salisbury steak, sometimes even paired with sides like potatoes and green beans. A decently-equipped sandwich paired with a couple spoonfuls of goulash won’t run more than $6 or $7, helping you afford one of the homemade desserts atop the deli case.
And for those who can’t resist trying a new mustard, meat rub or horseradish sauce, Osseo Meats has a plethora. It’s hard to decide what there’s more of — bottles, jars and cans of seasoning goodies or metal tchotchkes hanging above in display cases. It’s like the Cracker Barrel times ten. You’ve never seen so many die-cast metal cars, trucks and tractors.
Osseo Meats is well worth the trip, especially since Fleet Farm is right across Highway 169. Which is perfect, because saving so much on steaks leaves enough cash for a die-cast John Deere tractor.
Osseo Meat Market & Deli
Butcher and deli in Osseo, MN
344 County Rd. 81 E
Osseo, MN 55369
8am-6pm Mon-Wed, Fri