Some time earlier than Christmas, the Hardt family very generously despatched me a stunning present field of meat products, and once I stated I’d love to understand how a few of them have been made – particularly their liver dumplings – they invited me to come and visit their store. Additionally they gave me some delicious products to take residence at the end of my go to, nevertheless all editorial and opinions are my own.
Warning: this submit accommodates photographs of animal elements and uncooked meat.
I’m standing outdoors a small and virtually deserted railway station on a cold, sunny Tuesday morning when Wolfgang Hardt pulls over in a large white van emblazoned with a swirl of brown and orange studying Metzgerei Hardt (“Hardt Butcher’s Shop”). He reaches throughout the front seats to push open the passenger door, greets me with twinkling eyes and a beaming grin beneath his bristling grey moustache, and I hop in beside him.
I’ve come to Limburgerhof in Germany’s Palatinate (Pfalz) region to spend the morning with the Hardt family and study their enterprise. As we drive the brief distance to their primary premises on Kalmitweg, Wolfgang tells me a bit about his fifth era household enterprise – and waxes lyrical about the joys of Charolais beef.
A family business
Anne-Marie and Wolfgang Hardt
Wolfgang and Annemarie Hardt have run their business here in Limburgerhof since 1975. Their foremost premises is considered one of two websites in the small city, with a 3rd in close by Ludwigshafen; additionally they have regular stands at numerous weekly farmers markets in the area. The three outlets will in the future be passed down to their daughters, however for now they run the business as a household, with a friendly staff of just about 50 individuals – none of whom stay greater than 10km away.
Wolfgang started working in his father’s butcher’s shop at the age of 13, and loves his job as much at this time as he did back then, taking nice satisfaction from the craftsmanship required by his work. He estimates that round 80% of his clients have a family historical past with the shop, and it’s definitely a really sociable place to buy one’s meat: most of Hardt’s clients are regulars, and I get into a really energetic discussion about regional products with a few them while I’m here.
Metzgerei Hardt: the butcher’s shop
Metzgerei Hardt, Limburgerhof
Kalmitsweg is a quiet road lined with small terraced houses that have charming arched doorways the likes of which I’ve never seen earlier than. Metzgerei Hardt sits at the finish of a short strip of outlets, subsequent door to a gourmand delicatessen and somewhat additional down from an ice cream parlour that gets raving critiques. Hardt’s is extensive with giant front home windows; inside, the shop is long and slender. The long and superbly polished glass counter that runs the length of it is sandwiched between a large fridge stacked with jars and tins at one end and a small dry-aged beef cooler at the other.
The counter itself is an excellent sight. It’s full of countless cold cuts, from garlic and blood sausages to Mettwurst and bologna; there’s meat ready-sliced for slipping into sandwiches, and spreadable sausages in skins for scooping out and smearing onto bread. There are salamis and hams, meats and greens in aspic, and small plastic pots filled with creamy Fleischsalat (“meat salad” made with strips of bologna, gherkins and onion). There are Palatinate favourites including stuffed pig’s stomach, liver sausage and liver dumplings, and selfmade readymeals on supply, too. I spot stuffed peppers, lasagne, cabbage roulades (Kohlrouladen) and Maultaschen, conventional Swabian pasta pockets full of greens or ground meat.
Behind the counter, rows of dried sausages dangle before creamy-yellow tiles; beneath these sit a few slabs of pink bacon, a number of lunch dishes to take away (rice, hen, or ravioli), and a gorgeous entire savoury Herrentorte (actually “man tart”) complete with a golden egg-washed crust. At the far end of the shop, I take a while to admire the carefully-labelled jars and tins stacked neatly in the fridge – do-it-yourself sausagemeat and pâtés as well as reheatable meat dishes, all ready for longer-term storage.
Behind the scenes
Bratwurst being made; Wienerwürstchen and Käseknacker beneath the sprinkler
Wolfgang lifts the little picket gate subsequent to the till and leads me by means of to the back of the store immediately into the production space. In the first of a small community of rooms, a bustling kitchen is full of employees busy chopping greens and stirring large pots of steaming goulash on the stove. Hardt’s do catering too, getting ready weekly menus for close by kindergartens as well as spreads of food for other native occasions.
The subsequent room – the kitchen during which all Hardt’s selfmade specials are prepared – is a hive of activity, too. A quickly-growing pile of Bratwürste are being made by hand on a big steel workbench; a crate filled with just-made garlic sausages awaits a water tub. Another of Wolfgang’s colleagues is getting ready the components for the Palatinate’s well-known liver dumplings.
Wolfgang opens the monumental door to the smokers and exhibits off an unlimited rack of dangling Käseknacker and Wienerwürstchen. The two sausages look so very comparable – long, skinny and pinkish-brown – that so as to inform the distinction between them, Wolfgang has taken to placing pepper in the Käseknacker to give them a speckled pores and skin. As soon as they’re executed, they’ll be pulled out of the smoker and rolled beneath a sprinkler for cooling earlier than being vacuum-sealed and cooked in scorching water. Only then will they be ready for sale.
Wolfgang Hardt displaying me around his walk-in fridge
Garlic sausages waiting to be cooked
Sausages for coldcuts in the walk-in fridge
We wander into the walk-in fridge where Wolfgang stores lots of his finished merchandise, after which he takes me down a slender corridor – the walls coated in orders and schedules – to where three males are at work, all sharp knives, white aprons and chainmail gloves, rigorously butchering a pig. To the right is a second walk-in fridge, the place the recent meat is stored, and Wolfgang proudly exhibits off his Charolais beef. We speak about where the Hardts get their meat: historically, the family all the time handled farmers instantly, however things have changed in recent times, and Wolfgang now obtains his uncooked products by way of a handler. As an EU-certified butcher, nevertheless, he is still in a position to be sure that he obtains top quality meat from producers he trusts.
How to make liver dumplings: a crash course in Leberknödel
Hottest of all Hardt’s merchandise are their in-house specials. Weisswurst, Mettwurst and Bratwurst – amongst others – are all made on a weekly rotation. (Production days are listed in German on their web site.) Tuesday is Leberknödel (liver dumpling) day, for which I’ve timed my go to especially: I’ve been longing to discover out what goes into this Palatinate basic, and I’m about to achieve this on a quite giant scale. Wolfgang leads me again into the production space to show me how it’s carried out.
The liver dumplings at Hardt’s are made up of 40% liver, 15% bacon, 20% pork stomach and cheeks, 15% breadcrumbs and 10% onions. The first step is grinding the meat, offal and onions in a large machine. It chugs away loudly, slowly swallowing the fat, darkish pink livers, fatty pink flesh and white onions into a big square funnel before churning all of it again out as a thick mess in a plastic crate beneath.
Liver ready to be minced
Pork belly waiting to be minced
Ground pork belly and cheeks, bacon, liver and onion
Next, in an adjacent and even bigger rotating mixer, a batch of day-old bread rolls are become superb crumbs. Ground spices are added – marjoram, coriander, salt, nutmeg, black pepper – and the dry mixture turns an unappealing off-grey. The bottom meat and onions are emptied in and combined with the breadcrumbs and spices. I’m gained’t lie, it’s not notably pretty sight, this brownish-pink meaty sludge, but this can be a lot of dumpling mixture for a lot of dumplings, and I’m impressed at the effectivity and care with which the process is completed.
Day-old bread rolls for bread crumbs
The meat, offal and onion combine being added to the breadcrumbs and spices
From here, the mixture is emptied into a 3rd, much smaller machine opposite the mixer and comes out of a giant nozzle like an amazing fat squeeze of thick, dirty pink toothpaste. Another of Wolfgang’s colleagues swipes handfuls of it away, moulding it gently into fist-sized balls. The uncooked liver dumplings wet, and when he sets them down very rigorously in rows in a purple plastic crate, they loosen up slightly but hold their shape.
Leberknödel in the glass counter at Metzgerei Hardt
The dumplings will now be saved in the fridge till the early hours of the following morning. (The method in its entirety takes so lengthy that they cut up the work over two days.) Finally, they’ll be vacuum-packed and cooked for 45 minutes at 80 levels earlier than being taken off to be bought at a farmers market.
Sausages for lunch
A Wienerwürstchen (left) and a Käseknacker (proper) for lunch, with mustard and a bread roll
Wolfgang, Annemarie and their colleagues have all made me really feel incredibly welcome at Hardt’s, and I’ve discovered an enormous amount during the course of the morning, nevertheless it’s time for me to get my practice house. Earlier than I depart, Wolfgang plucks a few freshly-smoked sausages off their cooling rack, grabs some mustard and a bread roll that’s been made at an area bakery, and sits me down to eat in the kitchen out the again. It’s a basic example of the Palatinate strategy to food and hospitality: easy but beneficiant, made with love, and served with nice warmth. A delicious end to a captivating trip.
Metzgerei Hardt, Kalmitweg 9, 67117 Limburgerhof
Metzgerei Hardt’s website (German only)
Metzgerei Hardt is a member of Culinary Heritage Pfalz, a network that works to promote and preserve regional merchandise in the Palatinate (Pfalz) area. It’s part of a wider Culinary Heritage community, which I wrote in a bit more detail about following a Culinary Heritage Pfalz event I attended final yr
Buying online at Metzgerei Hardt
The Metzgerei Hardt net store (in German solely, but nicely illustrated with product photographs) presents lots of their do-it-yourself products in addition to basic regional condiments, seasonal specials and superb personalised hampers. Delivery is obtainable all through Germany; e mail them immediately to ask about international delivery.
Palatinate meat dictionary
For the uninitiated (and even the initiated), the Palatinate dialect could be troublesome to understand. You’ll find a way to get away with talking excessive German (under in brackets), but right here’s a handful of helpful phrases do you have to fancy ordering meat in the native tongue.
Fläsch (Fleisch) – meat
Grieweworschd (Blutwurst) – blood sausage
Kouscher (Rindswurst) – beef sausage
Lewwerworschd (Leberwurst) – liver sausage
Lewwerknödel (Leberknödel) – liver dumplings
Pedder (Pate) – pâté
Saumache (Saumagen) – stuffed pig’s abdomen
Servela (Brühwürstchen) – sausages produced utilizing heat
Weck (Brötchen) – bread roll
Worschd (Wurst) – sausage.