R&D Specialty Meats: An Artisanal Butcher With Affordable Prices
by Jessica Newens
Jul 30, 2012 | 4334 views | 1 1 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
R&D PARTNERS Jeff Hebert (left) and Ross Dupuis (right) show off their sausage at their newly opened shop on Main Street in Norwood. (Photo by Brett Schreckengost)
R&D PARTNERS Jeff Hebert (left) and Ross Dupuis (right) show off their sausage at their newly opened shop on Main Street in Norwood. (Photo by Brett Schreckengost)

NORWOOD – The little town of Norwood has joined the artisanal food movement with the new R&D Specialty Meats, a small main street storefront that serves up high quality pork, beef, chicken and lamb products, from Sheboygen bratwurst to smoked sausage-stuffed pork loin to thick-slab bacon. You’ll also find traditional spiedies – marinated cubes of chicken, pork or lamb, ready to skewer and throw on the grill. And there’s a freezer full of Norwood-raised grass-fed-and-finished beef.

“We’re trying to source all of our meats as close to the source as humanly possible,” says Jeff “Domer” Hebert, who runs the butcher side of the business, spending his days (and often nights) cutting and grinding meat, stuffing sausages, and conceptualizing the next spice mix and marinade. He is the “D” in R&D, while the “R” is Ross Dupuis, who raises many of the pigs and cows that R&D processes, while locating regional sources for meat that isn’t available right here. Dupuis also oversees R&D’s marketing, and makes regional meat deliveries ($25 minimum).

“We’re sourcing better meats than you can get at the grocery story,” says Hebert. “None of our meat has antibiotics, hormones or extra water added. And we’re not adding extra fat to any of our sausages. That’s why when you put it on the grill you don’t have to stand there with a fire extinguisher.” You will find no MSG, nitrates or nitrites in their meats, either.

R&D Specialty Meats has been a dream of Hebert’s and Dupuis’ for a number of years. The two first met in 1992, while attending Louisiana State University, and later reconnected in Telluride. They both eventually migrated to Norwood – Dupuis to begin farming (he currently raises chickens, ducks, quail, pheasants, peacocks, goats, pigs and cows on a 20-acre ranch) and Hebert because he likes the solitude and quietness of being in the country. Hunting enthusiasts, Hebert and Dupuis would process their deer and elk together, which ultimately led to making sausage. Year after year they would say to each other, “Man, we could actually sell this stuff,” explains Hebert. But “talking only goes so far; it got really old. I was without a job and I didn’t want to go to Telluride every day.”

Hebert, who holds a culinary degree from the Culinary Institute of America in New York, had been doing construction after burning out on working in restaurant kitchens and bartending. This spring, when he and Dupuis decided to take the leap with their new business, they found space for their specialty meat shop in the front of the little blue house that formerly served as restaurant space for the Happy Belly Deli. That restaurant’s wholesale bakery remains in the back, but the front now contains a refrigerated display case and meat grinder for R&D. Now, in between stuffing sausages and helping customers, Hebert might pull bread out of the oven for Happy Belly’s Julie Thorneycroft, who in turn serves up R&D’s meats every Tuesday as a lunch special at her restaurant, two doors away. It’s a happy symbiotic relationship.

For the Fourth of July, Dupuis set up a grill on R&D’s front patio, where he cooked up fresh sausages and served them on Happy Belly buns. The two anticipate more impromptu barbecues during Norwood’s various summer events, such as the San Miguel Basin Rodeo and Pioneer Days.

R&D’s focus on natural sausages is no accident, given Dupuis’ penchant for raising pigs, including Duroc, Hampshire Cross, Red Wattle, and Berkshire – that last a chef favorite because of its intramuscular marbling. “Ross hopes to get into more of a cycle so we can ultimately be using strictly our own pigs,” says Hebert. “As soon as we have all our own pigs, we’ll have every part and piece in here.”

And while it is Dupuis’ Black Angus steer for sale in R&D’s freezer – “everything from stew meat to rib eyes,” including ground beef – Hebert says, “as much as I like to cut steaks, sausages sell well.” He observes that beef is perhaps a harder sell in Norwood’s ranching community, particularly grass-fed beef. “It doesn’t have as much marbleizing, but,” he opines, “it just tastes like beef is supposed to taste.”

Their chicken comes from Colorado-based Red Bird Farms. “It’s as close as you can get to organic, free-range and affordable,” says Hebert. And R&D is currently testing the market for their lamb products. A recent Greek-style lamb sausage sold so quickly Hebert is inspired to expand those offerings. “We’d like to talk to some local sheep farmers,” he says.

“All of our meat has to get processed by USDA inspectors,” so R&D uses “Homestead Meats in Delta, which has a USDA grader on staff,” explains Hebert. “Then we can further break it down, and do what we want” with the cuts.

R&D’s offerings change on a daily basis. It’s an intentional business model to keep customers interested in what the butcher has to offer. “I shop European… I’ve always gone to the store and seen what’s fresh,” says Hebert. What R&D prepares for its customers “depends on what I can get in and what I want to prepare… We’re feeling out the community and seeing what people are digging.”

If anything, R&D has been challenged by its success. “I’ve been here some nights until 3 a.m., trying to catch up,” says Hebert, noting the partners’ intention to keep their specialty shop small enough that they don’t sacrifice quality for quantity.

With that in mind, they do have ideas for expanding the business. “Ross would like to add cured meats” – like prosciutto and salami – “and we’d like to showcase local stuff.” A Norwood resident interested having them sell her sauerkraut recently approached them. And there are several regional purveyors of mustard. The two are even pondering the idea of ordering fresh fish and “doing Fish Fridays,” says Hebert.

In the meantime, R&D is keeping it simple, fresh and interesting, offering items ranging from $3.50 (marinated chicken) to $9 a pound (skirt steak and bacon). Link sausages are typically $8 a pound, and vary from simple bratwurst, Italian, and chorizo to more specialty styles, such as chicken with artichoke and sundried tomatoes – all in natural (pork or sheep) casings. They also sell bulk sausage, and whole and half chickens.

Located at 1570 Grand Ave., R&D Specialty Meats is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Call 970/327-0115 or email rndmeats@gmail.com for the day’s offerings or to place a special order.


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July 31, 2012
This is called "added value at point of origin" and has been discussed as an addition to the Norwood economy for at least a decade. The area abounds in natural meat on the hoof.

Way to go guys!!!

and this is from a vegetarian (who used to grow it and butcher it too).