Bricelyn couple puts twist on meat and greet

Published 2:00 pm Sunday, February 26, 2023

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Farmers offer parties to let customers try various items without doing cooking

By Kelly Wassenberg/for the Tribune

BRICELYN — From the farm down the road to the kitchen table in front of you — the farm-to-table movement has encouraged consumers to buy locally grown produce and locally raised livestock. Two Bricelyn farmers are taking that concept quite literally.

Brandon Goette had realized his wife, Erika, attended various social events that also served as direct sales events, but the target audience was always female. Why didn’t they make such events for men or better yet couples, and how they showcase their products and how easy they are to cook, especially lamb? The answer was simple — meat and greet parties.

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“It’s mostly a way for people to try lamb in a non-scary environment,” said Erika Goette, noting customers can try the items without having to cook it themselves and the price point isn’t as intimidating because if they don’t like it, there are still other things to eat.

The couple finds some have already had a negative experience with the protein, which Erika Goette attributes to how the meat was prepared or where it was raised.

“I know a lot of cruises use Australian or New Zealand lamb, which has a whole different flavor profile than American lamb,” she said, explaining that the diet of the animals has a direct effect on the taste of meat.

“A lot of the lamb in Australia and New Zealand is grass-fed, grass-finished. Our lambs are finished on a green-based ration,” she said.

By adding protein into their diet, the lambs at Goette farms end up with intramuscular marbling that enhances the flavor of the meat, she said.

The parties offer three different courses, much like a standard fine dining experience, except there is no salad followed by a main dish paired with a couple sides before indulging in dessert. There’s meat, meat and more meat.

Appetizers include items such as meat and cheese board, lamb belly burnt ends, ground beef/ground pork meatball, and a tomato basil ground lamb slider, among others. Appetizers are followed by the weeknight protein course. During this course attendees have the option to try items such as New York strip steak and leg of lamb which is prepared in a Brazilian grill style. They shave the meat off the bone allowing diners to try it plain or on a tortilla shell. The night rounds out with the white table cloth high-end date night course. Rack of lamb, lamb chops and ribeye are just a few of the items on the menu for this segment of the meal.

“You’re basically getting bite-sized samples of everything, so you’re not sitting down and eating an entire steak throughout the night,” Erika Goette said, noting that the average guest will consume between eight to 10 ounces of protein.

Menu items are served up buffet style so guests can walk through and decide what to take and how much.

“There’s always plenty,” Brandon Goette said. “In fact, I don’t think we’ve ever walked away from a party where we don’t leave a bunch of leftovers. We’ve kind of got it down to where we make sure we have enough for everyone to take as much as they want and then we always try to have extras that are cooked up that we leave with the host.”

The Goettes began offering the meat parties as an option prior to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and restarted once guidelines allowed them to do so and according to Erika Goette, they are being received well.

She said they are more popular from mid-November through March, particularly with businesses that want to provide a holiday party for their staff or for people who want to get together with friends and chase away the winter doldrums.

After they’ve described the menu items and how the night is going to flow, they tend to blend into the background while making themselves available for questions.

“We’ll change the tone of our party depending on what the group wants. If they want a super informative lecture, we’re totally happy to do that,” Erika Goette said. “But we’ve found a lot of people just want an informal get together with good food.”

Brandon Goette plays the role of chef for the evening at the events and uses a seasoning of his own creation.

“A lot of people have had a bad lamb experience, so they don’t want to try it again,” he said. He’s seen attitudes shift pretty quickly, though. Guests have come up to him at events and flatly stated they don’t like lamb, but by the end of the party they sing a different tune.

“By the end of the party they say, ‘It turns out I love lamb, I just didn’t like how it was prepared,” he said.

The couple even created their own simple seasoning to accentuate the flavors of the meat, and not mask it.

“I just let the meat speak for itself,” Brandon Goette said.

The response, they say, has been nothing but positive.

“People are absolutely loving it,” Erika Goette said. “They’re loving the opportunity to try different meats and get to have that connection with the producer — being able to ask the questions to know the hows and whys are you doing what you’re doing.”