Made in Idaho: Three Sisters Meats

From Spain to America, this chorizo has history behind it
Posted at 11:08 AM, Dec 15, 2023

BOISE, ID — On the Basque Block of Downtown Boise, specifically in the Basque Market, one of the things they sell comes from a gentleman who really puts a lot of his family history into everything that he sells. We're talking about Three Sisters Meats.

"My way of telling kind of like our story, and by our, I mean our family's story, both here in the United States and in Spain," said Three Sisters Meats Owner, Jaime Fernandez.

The Three Sisters Artisanal Meats owner certainly means what he says when talking about his dry cured chorizo small business.

"Really honoring my mom's side of the family. They're responsible for a lot of the recipe and how we use it. The other meaning for 'Three Sisters' is for my dad. When he came to the United States in 1969, he came as a rancher/cowboy/sheepherder type which, really interestingly here in Boise, the Basque community, they came and did the same thing," said Fernandez.

But what about the name Three Sisters Meats?

"My mom is one of three sisters, so that's where that part came from, and my father, when he came to California, the first ranch he worked on was called the Three Sisters Ranch in the Three Sisters Hills," said Fernandez.

Growing up, he'd often make smoked chorizo with his family, a tradition that came from necessity.

"For my parents, it was survival. They were growing up in Northern Spain and they were growing up under Franco and his fascist regime and it was not uncommon for the state police to come by and take your food. My dad has stories about that," said Fernandez.

A former history teacher and football coach, Fernandez decided in 2016 he wanted to teach history in a different way.

"I'm gonna bring this piece of history to life. I'm gonna do it in the way I know how to do it, and the storytelling is through the food," said Fernandez.

He got a job at a meat packing plant where he learned to incorporate the old school ways of his family with modern safety standards.

"Learning how to properly do everything up to USDA standard, not, you know, with your folks, in your garage type of thing," laughed Fernandez.

Once up to snuff, he started making his own family-style chorizo in his off time.

"I'd put in my day of work on a Friday, and then I'd make Chorizo links, I would package them up, seal it, put a label on it, toss it in a cooler, get in the car, and I'd drive around the Bay Area to all my customers that I had," said Fernandez.

Though his customer base was growing, when Covid hit, it presented him and his family a chance to do something they had wanted to do for awhile.

"We moved to Boise in June of 2020. My wife is a native, she is from here, so that was our good window to coming home essentially," said Fernandez.

And that decision was perfect for his family and his business, as you can now find Three Sisters Meats in several local stores including on the Basque Block and over a dozen Albertsons locations.

"Though we don't make the product here physically, everything about the product, and everything about the company, and everything about what we do, is 100% made in Idaho," said Fernandez.

If you'd like to learn more about Three Sisters Artisinal Meats, including how it's made and where you can find it, visit their website here.