The Freeland Family: A Recipe for Success
by Denise Gierula
Name the vendor who has caused the biggest buzz at our market and it would have to be “the sausage lady” from Freeland Market. Bring up our farmers market in conversation and the varied flavors of Freeland sausage are guaranteed to be a hot topic. When we posted a Facebook question asking what everyone would be buying at market, most of the replies were simply one word: sausage! Waiting in line at Freeland’s stand – and there is always a line – you will hear friends, neighbors and strangers chatting about sausage flavors they have tried and debating which to buy next. Hearing so much discussion about Freeland Market prompted Mark Klinger of Klinger’s on Carsonia to add Freeland Market’s sausage to his weekend menu because we, in the Antietam Valley, obviously cannot get enough of them. But Freeland Market is not just about sausages: they also sell bacon, scrapple and charcuterie items such as pâtés, terrines and other specialty items.
Freeland Market took their name from the previous name for Collegeville, the area where they live. They are a family-owned business and believe that family-owned makes a difference. “Josh Davis is my son; he is the chef of the operation. Jeremy Mankes is my son-in-law and Josh’s right hand man. Ben Moscia is my husband, the construction master, and I take care of keeping our customers and vendors happy,” says our very own Elise LeBoutillier. And happy customers we are! Elise, once a merchandise manager in the garden industry, has given up plants for sausage, salumi and charcuterie. Josh also worked in the garden industry, but found food to be more to his liking and trained at the Culinary Institute of America. Ben, a stonemason who traded in his trowel for a knife, is Italian and made sausage when he was growing up. And so, it seemed only natural when he and Josh started making sausage and smoking bacon at home as Josh studied Charcuterie at the CIA.
Fast-forward to the Pottstown Farmers Market where for the past four years, Freeland has conducted their business and created their product. Elise was gracious enough to allow us into their industrial kitchen to interview the crew and take photos. Chris, Elise’s stepson, labored over grinding meat, Elise weighed and labeled packages and Jeremy made stuffing a hank of sausage look effortless. While I marveled at how fast Josh could wield a knife and debone meat, I thought I would play a little game with him called Rapid Fire Questions. I began:
AVFAM: Buffet or sit down dinner?
Josh: Sit down. Do you want food poisoning?
AVFAM: Waffles or pancakes?
AVFAM: Ketchup or Mayo?
Josh: Sriracha, or what we call Big Boy Ketchup
AVFAM: Five year plan?
Josh: Food trucks
AVFAM: Name a chef whose style you admire?
Josh: Jacques Pépin because is he classic French
AVFAM: Which culinary trend do you wish would go away?
Josh: Molecular Gastronomy
AVFAM: Cake or Pie?
Sausages until recently were considered humble fare but have now attained a higher status as their production fits the currently fashionable culinary notion of “nose-to-tail” butchery. Josh finds it easy to be creative with sausage and loves to find inspiration at the market he attends for unusual and different produce. Some recent examples of his culinary genius were duck pate with ground cherries and bee pollen, which was a big hit; duck sausage with winter squash and chestnuts and chicken sausage with sunflowers, marigold flowers, dill seed and parsley made especially for the Sunflower Cafe. Sign up for Freeland Market’s weekly email blasts to find out what ingenuity Josh is cooking up!
My family and I are happily eating our way through a different sausage flavor each week and I asked Elise about their best seller. She replied, “Our best seller changes quite often and is different with each market. South Philly is the biggest seller now, along with Hawaiian Chicken, and Lamb with Meyer Lemon.” Exactly how much sausage do Josh and the family produce? Both Jeremy and Josh agreed during their busy summer market season, they make 1,200 pounds per week. Therefore, sausage fans, in just one year Freeland makes enough sausage to reach from the Freeland Market kitchen in Pottstown to the Antietam Valley Farmers Market in Carsonia Park!
Need your Freeland fix and can’t wait until Saturday? You can find their products in restaurants throughout Montgomery and Chester Counties; at thirteen different outdoor markets and indoor at the Pottstown Farmers Markets where they also feature fresh cuts of meats, steaks, chops, poultry and up to 16 varieties of hand crafted sausage each week.
I asked Elise what she thought of our market and she replied, “We love Antietam. Antietam is more a local neighborhood market; I see people walking down the block to come to it. Every market is different and we are very thankful for all of them.”
FREELAND CHORIZO TACOS
Josh loves to cook and fashions a gourmet dinner almost every night. (Sorry ladies, he is already taken by Jennifer Golden who owns and operates Ciao Bella Cakes in Hatboro.) I asked Josh for a simple recipe that could be made quickly on a weeknight by someone not trained by the CIA.
1 pound of Freeland Market Smoked Chorizo
1/2 cup chopped yellow onions
1 clove chopped garlic
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
8 soft corn tortillas
Optional additional fillings/accompaniments: Pico de Gallo, Guacamole, Grated peppered Monterey Jack or Mexican Queso Fresco
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Slice each sausage, lengthwise and pan fry until brown. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro.
Over a hot grill or in a clean skillet over high heat, heat the tortillas until warmed through and pliable. Divide the sausage among the warm tortillas, serve with desired accompaniments and enjoy.