Monday, March 6, 2017

The History of the Foley Meat Locker

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If you have ever visited Grand Champion Meats in Foley or Crosslake, you might not realize that the beginnings of the company were really quite humble. We weren’t always coming up with creative products like raspberry chipotle chicken breast or gummy bear bratwurst. Actually, when we began, we were rather small.

image1 (1).JPGJerry and Linda Gall purchased Foley Locker Inc. from Bud Hansen in February of 1971. At that time, Foley Meat Locker was a custom processing operation that included beef, hogs, and wild game and locker storage rental space. Bud Hansen, battling cancer at the time, was looking to pass the business to someone young who would continue the business. Jerry was just 23 years old at the time.
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Jerry and Jack in 2011

Back in the locker’s first days, there was one other full-time employee besides Jerry and Linda – a meat wrapper who worked for the previous owners. Part-time employees were called in when they were needed, but most of the time, it was just those three.

In 1975, a man named Jack Abfalter approached Jerry asking for a job. Jack had been working for Robel Meat Packing in St. Cloud until they went on strike. Jack was still working at the Foley Locker when Jerry celebrated his 40th anniversary in 2011.

Over time, the business began to expand. Jerry and Linda began processing sausage and added a small meat case for retail products. Locker rental space was pushed out as the business grew.

The Locker became a member of the American Association of Meat Processors (AAMP) and which provided some valuable learning experiences in the meat industry.
They also joined the Minnesota Association of Meat Processors (MAMP) and the yearly convention became an annual trip for Jerry, Linda, and their three daughters. “They grew up in the industry, so they enjoyed visiting the vendor booths and getting pool time and pizza on the side,”  says Linda.

Their youngest daughter, Kelly, joined the family business full-time after completing an associate's degree at St. Cloud State University in 1997. Kelly became a co-owner alongside her father in 2001. In a 2012 article in the local newspaper, Kelly admitted that the gummy bear brats were her favorite because “the gummies’ separate flavors give each bite something different.” Her creative ideas and knowledge helped expand the business even further - eventually adding the second retail store in Crosslake, Minnesota in 2013.

From a small 8-foot retail cooler, Foley Meat Locker – now doing business as: Grand Champion Meats – has come a long way.  Today, Grand Champion Meats is still family owned and operated.  The two locations have a total of 22 employees. Grand Champion Meats continues to offer custom beef, pork and wild game processing. You will find the freshest cuts of beef and pork, as well as a wide variety of sausages, smoked products, chicken, and seafood. Even gummy bear brats.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Four New Recipes for your Football Viewing Party

Throw on your team colors and toss some cold ones in the fridge because the biggest game in football is just around the corner! Are you ready to wow your party guests with an array of meal and appetizer options? Take a look at some of our favorite new tailgating recipes at Grand Champion Meats.

Southwest Steak Nachos
With all of its cheesy, savory, and spicy goodness, nachos are a sure crowd-pleaser. Our beef skirt and flank steak cuts will slice nicely into thin strips and fit perfectly on each chip. This Southwest Steak N’ Ranch Nachos recipe will score a touchdown for you at each and every football viewing party. These nachos will be gone in less than the 30 minutes it takes to make them.
The Best Chili on Earth
Spicy chili on a football Sunday is about as All-American as you can get. Rethink your old recipes by using the best quality fresh ground beef found at Grand Champion Meats in this Best Chili on Earth recipe. Customize your chili with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, jalapeno slices, green onions, or tortilla strips. You can switch this recipe from the stovetop to a slow cooker to maximize time spent on your Super Bowl party menu.
Sweet and Spicy Bacon Chicken Wraps
shutterstock_184076318.jpgFor a truly inspired play, make these Sweet and Spicy Bacon Chicken Wraps. Our boneless skinless chicken breasts will make your time in the kitchen shorter and sweeter, while our very popular hickory smoked bacon will deliver on smoky and savory deliciousness. If you are throwing a themed team party, attach small paper pendants of your team to toothpicks or short skewers to make them more festive.
Sweet and Spicy Shrimp Kabobs
If you are looking to add some lighter fare to your tailgating party, look no further than these Sweet and Spicy Shrimp Kabobs. Grand Champion offers both cooked and uncooked shrimp as well as shrimp on a stick to make the preparation for this recipe even easier. This recipe is delicious as is, but we encourage you to customize your own shrimp kabobs. Cube cuts of our marinated boneless pork chops or boneless prime rib roast to make surf ‘n turf kabobs. Rotate in green peppers, red onions, asparagus, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and more!
For more ideas and a full list of our products, visit Grand Champion Meats before you start your football Sunday grocery list.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Tips for Creating Favorite Fall Meals

When you think about your favorite meals to cook in the fall, what do you think about making? At Grand Champion Meats, we envision hearty, savory, and satisfying meals that make your mouth water as soon as you sit down at the dinner table.
On your next visit, take a gander at our pre-seasoned meats including sausage and pork, marinated pork chops and chicken breasts, versatile deli and specialty items, and Ready-to-Bake Meatloaf that will add quick shortcuts to those busy fall nights.

With a great variety of abundant fresh cuts of beef, pork, chicken, sausage and more at Grand Champion Meats, there are endless recipes to try this season. Our stew meat will be the best part of every stew you create this fall. Try these quintessential recipes that will leave your home smelling delicious and inviting using Grand Champion products:

Want more ideas on cooking balanced and satisfying meals in the fall? Experiment with the following tips:

  • IMG_2165.JPGUse citrusy flavors and zesty seasonings in your cooking if you want to hold on to a few more days of summer. Think limes and lemons for a few more fish taco dinners. McDonald’s Meats has an array of seasonings and sauces for you to try.
  • Meal prepping is more than a current food trend. Learn to use it to your advantage for a reliable source of healthy food and a well-balanced diet throughout your busy schedule. Meal planning can also cut down on your monthly food budget.
  • Cook in bulk. Grab a piece of tinfoil and use it to divide out three separate sections in your baking dish. Distribute your meat (shredded chicken, pork, etc.) evenly, and season each section with a different marinade or rub. Think Italian seasonings in the first section, a BBQ marinade in the second, and a Buffalo sauce in the third. This way you can cook efficiently while creating different flavors for different meals for the week.
  • Test new recipes! There’s always a place at the table for your classic, know-everybody-will-love-it meals, but who knows what else will become a staple in your household?

With a fantastic variety of products, experiment with new recipes at Grand Champion Meats and find your family’s new fall favorites!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Meal Prep: Delicious Ideas for the Week

In case you haven’t heard, preparing meals in big batches can be an easy and efficient way to supply meals for the workweek. This method of meal preparation is great for both single adults and families with school-aged children.

For families getting back into the groove of a new school year, it can be difficult to balance easy, cost-efficient recipes with delicious flavors and healthy nutrients. With some planning, the search for delicious, well-rounded, and healthy meals on those busy work nights will become much easier.

Meal prep is also an excellent option if you are looking to overhaul your diet. Planning and cooking your own meals can help you be more aware of what you are consuming, and it can help you stick to long-term health goals.

There can be many methods to meal prep, but we’re going to focus on delicious grilled dishes to get the most out of the warm weather. Take a peek at some of our best tips for cooking big-batch, grilled meals that you can prep for the Monday through Friday grind:

Choose Your Meats Wisely
For some much-needed protein, incorporate healthy cuts of meat into your meal prep entrees. Chicken is an inexpensive and healthy option, but can easily dry out by the third or fourth day. Chicken thighs can be more flavorful and won’t dry out as quickly. Pork tenderloins, turkey breast, and lean cuts of beef are also great options. Salmon is the perfect addition to get some omega-3 fatty acids, which are excellent for reducing inflammation in the body and lowering cholesterol. Use marinades, spices, and rubs to maximize flavor.
Encourage Your Kids to Help
Sunday meal prep can be an excellent time to enlist some help from your kids. This can help alleviate some of the time it takes to meal prep. It will also be a great time to teach your kids cooking skills and enforce nutritional habits that they can carry into adulthood. Check out these ideas for lunchtime meal prep for teens.

Get Those Veggies In
With prepackaged meals, boxed dinners, and plenty of fast food options on every corner, it can be hard to get those essential veggies in. This can be dangerous because you can miss out on vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and more. With meal prep, getting those essential nutrients in will be a breeze. Mix it up by using new veggies like broccoli, bell peppers, red onions, zucchini, squash and more. Cook them on kebabs or in a grill basket. Vegetables are delicious on the grill, so incorporate some of these grilled vegetable ideas into your meal prep boxes.
Aim for Versatility
It can be easy to get bored of having the same exact meal day after day, so build some versatility into your meal prep. Do this in a variety of ways. When you cook in bulk, split your protein into three sections. Flavor each section differently to add some “spice” into your meals. For example, cook one section in buffalo sauce for spicy wraps, one section with chipotle spices for flavorful burrito bowls, and one in a lemon sauce to pair perfectly with asparagus and potatoes. Delicious and versatile!

No matter the recipes you use, meal prep can make your weeks much easier and more enjoyable. With some efficient planning and cooking, Sunday evening meal preps will leave you with time to spend with those who matter the most!

For an array of healthy protein options and nutritious snack options to add to your workweek meals—such as our 15 different flavors of snack sticks—visit Grand Champion Meats.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Essential Grilling Tools - For Every Day of the Week

Excited to experiment with new tools and grill recipes this summer? These essential tools are capable of enhancing every weekend BBQ dish or weekday meal you grill. Check out our top tips for tools and recipes to grill every night this summer:
Monday: A Wood Plank
Grilling on a wooden plank can add a certain magic touch to a Monday-night meal. Cooking on a wood plank can leave a mild smoky flavor as well prevent food from drying out due to damp smoke from soaked wood. You can find planks in a variety of aromatic woods ranging from alder, hickory, maple, and more in groceries stores, gourmet stores, and hardware stores.

What to try: A cedar wood plank gives off a gentle flavor making it an excellent tool for seafood. Pair our salmon fillets with a cedar wood plank for this Cedar Plank-Grilled Salmon with Avocado-Orange Salsa.
Tuesday: A Basting Brush
Want to keep your food moist and add extra flavor to your grilled dinner? Use a basting brush. Try a traditional boar brush to spread the most flavor or a dishwater-safe silicone brush for easy cleaning.

What to try: Use our chicken breasts to make this intensely flavorful Grilled Chicken Kebabs with Sun-Dried Tomato Puree.
Wednesday: A Meat Thermometer
One of most simple yet incredibly useful tools in a kitchen is a meat thermometer. Since different grills and different meats cook at different rates, you will need a tool to ensure properly cooked food for a healthy (e.g. safe) and delicious meal. For properly cooked meat, remember that beef is cooked at 145 degrees, poultry at 165 degrees, pork at 160 degrees, and lamb at 145 degrees. It is also important to let the meat rest for a juicy, tender, and much more delicious meal.

What to try: Use an instant read thermometer for a big chop. Test out this Gigantic Rib-Eye Steak recipe.
Thursday: A Grilling Spatula
For a safe time flipping food, use a grilling spatula. Silicone and metal spatulas with a long handle are best for grip and durability. It’s a simple and versatile tool for the grill.

What to try: A spatula is an excellent tool to cook delicate fish fillets. Try these outrageously tasty Grilled Fish Steaks using our Walleye Filets.

Friday: A Chimney Starter
A chimney starter is a serious tool that burns hotter and drier than propane meaning that your food will be left with a smokier and crispier crunch. Grab some charcoal and get ready to grill!

What to try: For the most satisfying meal of the summer, try this Dry Aged Chimney Porterhouse.
Saturday: Meat Claws
A fun tool for the week, meat claws will make you feel like Wolverine at the grill. The sharp prongs of the meat claws are perfect for shredding meat for sandwiches, wraps, and casseroles. Use chicken for festive fajitas, pork for pulled pork sandwiches, or beef for Mexican beef sandwiches.

What to try: Grill one of our boneless pork loin roasts, and shred it for Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwiches.
Sunday: A Grill Basket
An excellent grill tool for lighter meals, a grill basket is an all-purpose tool that every true grill chef needs. Grill baskets come in a variety of styles: expertly shaped baskets for meatballs and sliders; long and slender baskets for corn, or half-circle baskets for the ultimate quesadilla. We recommend getting a large and all-purpose grill basket for grilling a variety of foods.

What to try: Grill baskets are especially good for grilling smaller items that would otherwise fall through your grill trap. Try this recipe for Grilled Vegetable Basket for a healthy and oh-so-delicious addition to your BBQ.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Grand Champion Meats’ Owner Kelly Gall Washa Earns ‘Master Meat Crafter’ Distinction

Grand Champion Meats’ owner and operator Kelly Gall Washa recently received the distinction of Master Meat Crafter.


The University of Wisconsin-Madison Meat Science Extension and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, offer a two-year training course focused on meat science and specialty meat product manufacture. This is the third graduating class of the Master Meat Crafter program. Through this specialized program, Kelly Gall Washa, along with 24 other individuals, earned the distinction of Master Meat Crafter.

Students of the program cover topics focused on general meat processing, fresh meats, curing meats, fermented and dried products, cooked and emulsified products, food safety and meat microbiology, and development and implementation of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP).

The program offers the opportunity to take several meat science courses and workshops as well as an exclusive mentorship program to share knowledge with employees and peers. Students, of the course, also conduct individual research projects based in their respective processing plants. The aims of the course included providing participants with an in-depth and comprehensive knowledge of meat science and meat processing principles, providing development opportunities for the growth and mobility of future meat industry leaders and innovators, and ensuring the strength, quality, and longevity of the United States meat industry.

The program was conducted by University of Wisconsin-Madison Associate Professor and Extension Meat Specialist Dr. Jeff Sindelar and was initially intended to improve the meat industry in Wisconsin. Graduates have the ability to improve their respective meat businesses, adding expertise to the mastery of meat crafting. Each graduate will be able to exhibit their expertise, knowledge, and qualifications by using a Master Meat Crafter logo to product labels, signage, and personal branding.

We are proud to announce that our owner and operator has earned this Distinction. Everyone at Grand Champion Meats is excited to see how Grand Champion will grow thanks to Kelly’s knowledge.

For more information on this program, visit the Master Meat Crafter Training Program.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Creating the Perfect Valentine's Dinner

Cooking a meal at home can be a much more romantic and more meaningful way of showing how much you care for your partner. With some help from Grand Champion Meats, your home cooked meal can be just as indulgent and delectable as a meal you would get at a fancy restaurant. In addition to creating a personal and private meal at home, you get to avoid an overcrowded and bustling restaurant. Let us help you create the perfect dinner for Valentine’s Day.
Create a Romantic Atmosphere
Every romantic and memorable dinner needs to have a little ambiance. To set the mood, fill the room with romantic lighting. Set the dimmer, string twinkling lights on the banister, set candles at the dinner table, or set the fireplace to a low roar. Another way to set a relaxing tone for the evening is to engage in a small wine tasting or indulge in a new cocktail before dinner. If you are feeling especially ambitious, create a cheese board to go with pre-dinner cocktails.

And, of course, what is a classic Valentine’s Dinner without some romantic music. Create a playlist of classic love songs or travel down memory lane with your favorite songs to set the atmosphere.
Making a Delicious and Delectable Menu
Preparing a meal at home doesn’t have to be an arduous, all-day affair. Grand Champion Meats offers an array of high-quality fresh-cut meats to help enhance any recipe including a selection of top-notch cuts of steak ranging from ribeye, porterhouse, chuck eye, T-bone, New York strip, and sirloin. It is possible to cook the perfect steak indoors without firing up the grill.

Grand Champion Meats also offers delicious seafood selections including lobster tails, scallops, shrimp, and fish fillets that can enhance Surf-and-Turf recipes or that can stand alone as a seafood dish.

Once dinner is gone, finish the night with some dessert and post-dinner drinks in front of the fire. Have a second part of the evening planned with a movie marathon. If you are feeling ambitious, bundle up and walk off your indulgent dinner in the moonlit snow.

To see the entire selection of available products, visit the Grand Champion Meats selection list. However you chose to celebrate your Valentine’s Day evening, be sure to relax and celebrate with your loved one!