Here's what to buy and grill this Father's Day from a Denver butcher

A year after closing his flagship restaurant, Old Major, Denver chef Justin Brunson is all in with another local food business, River Bear American Meats.

The chef-turned-butcher has a new line of charcuterie — from salami to bresaola and guanciale — for the more adventurous dads out there, as well as new all-beef hot dogs for those classic dads with good taste. We asked Brunson for some Father’s Day gift ideas from his lineup of local meats as well as a recipe to impress Dad with on Sunday. Here’s what he recommends:

1. River Bear Hot Dogs, uncured, all natural, 100% beef. Unlike most hot dogs out there, these only have five ingredients, Brunson explained: lean Angus beef, Wagyu beef fat from Pierce, spices, Colorado peach wood smoke and natural lamb casing. ($8.99 for six)

2. River Bear Calabrian Chile Vermouth Salami, antibiotic-free Berkshire pork mixed with Calabrian chiles and sweet Vermouth — “cured and dried to perfection in Denver.” ($13.99)

3. River Bear steaks, locally-grown at Pasture Perfect Premium Beef in Pierce. Antibiotic-free, humanely raised, black and red Angus beef. ($21.99-$46.99 per pound)

(All are available at the River Bear Butcher Shop inside Leevers Locavore, at Marczyk stores, Tony’s Markets and other specialty shops.)

MORE: Trailblazing Denver restaurant Old Major closes amid coronavirus

Recipe: Green Chili Dry Rubbed Chicken Wings

Green Chili Dry Rub
(From Justin Brunson of River Bear American Meats. Chef tip: This is also good on pork chops, French fries and popcorn.)


2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons Bragg nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons Flatiron Pepper Co. Hatch Valley Green seasoning blend or similar blend
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon onion powder
2 dozen chicken wings


Mix all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Store in airtight container.

To grill wings

Heat and place wings directly on a charcoal grill until crispy on the outside with an internal temp of 165 (approximately 10 minutes, depending on heat).

(Chef tip: The grill is typically hot enough when the charcoal turns gray. If it’s flaring, it’s too hot. Cook wings to 185° to make the wings extra crunchy.)

Once wings are cooked, season with as much of the leftover dry rub as desired. Garnish with chopped cilantro and green onion.

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