Gateway to the North is one of our most popular blends. The maple-garlic flavor is sweet, savory, and made with real Wisconsin maple sugar. Choosing the right maple sugar wasn’t easy. At one point we were choosing from eight different samples.
We selected the best one, and then began working on a few recipe variations. We played with different amounts of pure maple sugar, granulated brown sugar, coarse Kosher salt, Tellicherry pepper, garlic, onion, and green onion flakes. This stage of blend development takes the longest. We created several versions, and cooked different foods with all the blend variations.
Pretty soon we had a terrific final formula, although we still didn’t have a proper name. Our working name for the blend was Vermont Maple Seasoning.
Our owner, Patty Erd, felt the name should reflect its Wisconsin origin. I inquired to our supplier about the origin of the maple sugar. It is produced in Marinette County, near the village of Crivitz. As it turns out, I know that area pretty well. Crivitz is right near the location of my previously mentioned fishing excursions.
Up near my cabin, there used to be a wooden replica of the St. Louis arch and a sign that read, “Oconto and Marinette Counties – The Gateway to the North.”
Our blend finally had an official name.
Gateway makes great breakfast sausage, I also like using it in my BBQ sauce and Sloppy Joes. My coworkers want me to mention how good it is on sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and popcorn. As good as Gateway is, I doubt anything could make Brussels sprouts taste good. Perhaps if each one was wrapped in a pound of bacon, or swimming in a pool of cheese sauce?..maybe.
Anyways, my favorite use for Gateway is a stuffed pork roast. I mix the gateway with soy sauce to marinate the meat, giving even more sweet and savory flavors.
I butterfly cut the roast and then rub half the spice on top and half on the bottom. I use a splash of soy sauce to help the spice soak into the meat and then put it aside while I make the stuffing. When the stuffing is done I spread it out evenly on the roast then roll it up, tie it and bake it in the oven. It is delicious!
Mike Kutka is manager at our Milwaukee Public Market location. When he’s not developing winning blend formulas, like for Vulcan’s, you can find Mike fishing or stirring up something amazing in his slow cooker.