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The Journal Gazette

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Thursday, November 09, 2017 1:00 am

Meat necklace? City butchers chew over edible neckwear

COREY MCMAKEN | The Journal Gazette

"I really don't think I can help you” and “Oh, my God.”

Those were a couple of the responses when The Journal Gazette reached out to local butcher shops for comments on creating a meat necklace.

Yes, you read that right: A meat necklace. 

Minneapolis Star Tribune writer Amelia Rayno recently proposed the neckware as a step up from the pretzel necklaces some people are now wearing to tailgate parties. Her meat necklace included brats, bacon and wienies hanging on a string around her neck. One of her tips: Wear a poncho so you don't get meat grease all over yourself. (Read Rayno's story and see a photo of her creation here: http://www.startribune.com/extreme-tailgating-how-to-make-a-delicious-meat-necklace/450765993)

Paul Jamison of Jamison Specialty Meats laughed when the latest tailgate invention was described to him.

“Hopefully it's cooked first,” he says. Although wearing a meat necklace wouldn't be his first idea for a tailgate, Jamison says if there's something you enjoy eating, “why not put it around your neck and snack on it?”

He has never heard of anyone in town wanting to make a meat necklace, but he would help them out if someone came into one of the three local Jamison stores to order items for a savory piece of jewelry.

Jamison thinks the key to a successful necklace would be lightweight meats such as bacon and cocktail wieners No ground meats though, because they would crumble when hanging on a string.

“You would want something ideally in a casing,” he says. “Or a firm enough texture that it would hold.”

Lee Albright of Albright's Meats and Deli says his venison, pepperoni or beef sausage sticks might be good for a meat necklace.

The trend is “not for me,” he says. But if you are going to try a meat necklace, Albright recommends using a meat that is smoked so you know it is properly cooked and will have less juice or grease to make a mess.

“I would not hang raw meat around my neck,” he says with a wink in his voice. “Even if it's smoked and cooked, you never know when a pack of dogs are going to come after ya.”

With a chuckle, Albright goes on to list vultures, owls and seagulls as potential tailgate visitors wanting to check out your meat necklace.

Your tasty neckwear is sure to get plenty of attention from humans, too. If you want to add a little flair, Jamison suggests taking a page from a kebob: Add some bling with vegetables between the chunks of beef or pork.

“You could dress it up a bit – get some colored peppers on there,” he says before breaking into laughter. “Wear it in style!”

Of course, wearing a meat necklace isn't without food-safety concerns.

Jamison points out that there is no temperature control if you're wearing it around your neck for a long period of time. And since it's out in the open, there is a lot of risk for cross-contamination.

“I could see people getting sick, especially if they don't cook it right,” he says.

cmcmaken@jg.net