A Sandwich Fit For a King

Picture this: it’s a Thursday afternoon and you’re driving home from work. Fortunately, traffic isn’t too brutal since you skipped lunch and decided to dip out a little early—you overachiever, you—and now you find yourself dying of hunger.

While dreaming about your 4:00 snack, trying to figure out what it will look like, you scan through the radio stations and land on 105.9 The Rock. “A Little Less Conversation” by the king of rock and roll himself Elvis Presley, begins streaming into your ears. You turn up the volume, tip-tapping your fingers to the beat on the steering wheel, and suddenly, in line with the music, you think to yourself, You know what would satisfy me?

Elvis Sandwich from PRBIt hits you: An Elvis Sandwich.

But there’s an issue: you’re not trying to buy an entire pound of bacon for just one single sandwich. That would be ludicrous. Because then you’d either have to really amp up your bacon intake during the ensuing week, which would subsequently amp up your cholesterol levels as well, or you’d have to freeze the bacon, which really isn’t too great of an idea.

You think to yourself: you’ve got a loaf of bread at home; you might have enough Jif to scrape out the bottom of the jar; and you’re pretty certain you have a banana sitting in your fruit bowl that’s just about to pass its prime. But you’ve gotta have those two slices of bacon. And when it comes to making the King’s sandwich, one really shouldn’t cut corners.

That’s where we come in.

You see, the beauty of a butcher shop is that your product is both selected and sliced to sell. There are no prepackaged pounds of this, or shrink-wrapped pounds of that, but rather everything is cut exactly how you want it, exactly when you want it.

So just two or three slices of our delicious smoked bacon will absolutely do the trick and send you straight into a foodgasm. You’re welcome. Try it on a loaf of your favorite Bobby John Henry’s variety, schmear a glob of Big Spoon Roasters’ deliciously luscious peanut butter on both slices, and then fry it all up in that sinful rendered bacon fat: your Elvis Sandwich just became the King, my friend.

PRB Elvis SammyThe Elvis Sandwich

Serves: 1
Active time: 10 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes

2 slices PRB bacon
2 slices of bread (we like Bobby John Henry’s)
3 tablespoon Big Spoon Roasters peanut butter
1 banana, sliced

  1. Over medium heat, fry bacon in a nonstick skillet until crispy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, spread 1.5 tablespoon Big Spoon Roasters peanut butter on each slice of bread.
  3. Slice banana into coins and spread evenly on one piece of bread. Lay bacon on top. Cover with other piece of peanut buttered bread.
  4. Fry in rendered bacon grease over medium heat until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes per side.
  5. Cut into 2 triangles, and enjoy!

Braised Lamb Neck Ragu with Parmesan Polenta

Isn’t it funny how every holiday has somehow ended up with a trademark meat? These meats have turned into the culinary mascots of each respective holiday, stamping themselves onto your brain and your memory, and even making their way into the doodles that mark calendar each and every year. Think about it: Thanksgiving has obviously laid claim to turkey; St. Paddy’s day is the day of corned beef and bratwurst; Fourth of July is notorious for grilling hamburgers and hot dogs; Christmas has somehow turned into a catch-all for meats, welcoming the likes of hams, turkeys, and beef tenderloins among others; and Valentine’s day welcomes chocolate. Okay, so not a meat.

While there is a lot of overlap in the meat-allegiances that certain people pledge on each different holiday–some people do hot chicken on Fourth of July; a few odd birds eat ham on Thanksgiving; and of course there’s the sausage vs. bacon battle that every family faces on Christmas morning–by and large Easter Sunday is a holiday that is associated and celebrated with just one telltale meat: lamb.

Many home cooks may stick to more familiar cuts of the lamb, like the shank, the leg, the chops, a shoulder, or even a rack of ribs, while the lamb neck remains a generally unchartered territory—but it is one that’s well worth exploring: super tender and incredibly flavorful.

Lamb Neck RaguAlthough it may seem a little daunting, this recipe for braised lamb neck is actually very simple and easy to execute, but it ends up tasting like something super fancy-pants. With the absence of heavy cream or starchy potatoes and the addition of a handful of fresh herbs, the dish isn’t very heavy overall and is perfectly enjoyable in [what will hopefully become] warmer spring temperatures. The cheesy polenta provides a wonderful, fluffy bed with which to soak up any run-away juices, but serving it over pasta would be a nice option as well. It’s a lovely, festive, and delicious dish to serve your family for Easter supper. Plus, you’ve got that trademark meat to make the holiday complete.

Braised Lamb Neck Ragu

Serves: 6-8
Active time: 45 minutes
Total time: 3 hours and 45 minutes

1 lamb neck from Porter Road Butcher
Salt & Pepper
Bacon fat or Grapeseed oil
1 onion, chopped medium
1 bulb fennel, chopped medium
5 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1/2 cup red wine
2 14.5 oz cans organic roasted tomatoes
1 quart Porter Road Butcher stock (lamb, beef or chicken; not pork)
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs: parsley, rosemary, or oregano

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Season lamb neck liberally with freshly ground salt and pepper on all sides, covering the entire neck. On the stovetop, heat a heavy-bottomed pot (like a Le Creuset) over medium heat.
  3. Add enough bacon grease or grapeseed oil to come to just 1/2 centimeter up the side of the heavy pot. Open windows and doors. Add lamb neck and sear heavily on all sides, about 10 minutes, getting a nice crust around the entire neck. It may get a little smokey–but that ain’t a ba-a-a-a-ad thing 😉  Remove neck and set aside.
  4. Add onion and fennel to the pot, tossing to coat in remaining oil and seasoning. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened. Add garlic and cook another minute, until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add red wine to deglaze the bottom of the pot, stirring with a wooden spoon.
  5. Add neck back to the pot along with both cans of roasted tomatoes and quart of PRB stock. There should be enough liquid to almost completely submerge the neck, but if some of it is still sticking out, that’s okay.
  6. Put a top on the pot and put it in the oven, on a middle rack, for 3 hours. Begin to enjoy the heavenly aromas. If part of the neck isn’t completely submerged, check it after 1.5 hours, turning the neck over so that it will cook evenly.
  7. After three hours, check the meat to see if it is fork tender. If it is not, return it to the oven for another 30 minutes. When tender, remove pot from the oven. With two forks, begin to pull the meat off the bones, shredding it apart. Note: this should be easy. If it isn’t, the meat is likely not done and needs another 30 minutes or so. Remove bone from pot and discard, or set aside and marvel at the neck vertebrae
  8. With a wooden spoon, stir the ragu mixture, breaking up the larger pieces of meat into smaller ones, so it thickens into a meaty, tomatoey, stew-like consistency. If there is too much liquid, allow it to simmer over medium heat until some of the liquid cooks out.
  9. Just before serving, add fresh herbs and stir. Allow to simmer for five minutes.
  10. Serve over Padano Polenta and garnish with a sprinkle of fresh herbs.

Grana Padano Polenta

1/2 onion, small dice
2 tablespoon bacon grease or grapeseed oil
1 quart PRB pork stock
2 cup polenta or cornmeal
4-6 ounces Grana Padano cheese from The Bloomy Rind

  1. Heat a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add bacon grease and allow to melt.
  2. Add onion and sweat in bacon grease for 3-4 minutes, until softened.
  3. Add 1 quart pork stock and bring to a boil.
  4. Whisk in 2 cups polenta or cornmeal; stir well.
  5. Turn down the heat to a simmer and allow polenta to cook for another 20-25 minutes, until no liquid remains.
  6. Finish with finely shredded Grana Padano cheese; stir to combine.

 

Serve your Braised Lamb Neck Ragu and Grana Padano Polenta alongside your favorite green salad, or with a side of roasted vegetables. We roasted brussels sprouts, fennel, and onion under the broiler with just some grapeseed oil, salt and pepper – Yum!

Photos by Kren Teren

Photos by Kren Teren

Maddie From The Block

Don’t be fooled by the blog that I got; I’m still, I’m still Maddie from the BLOCK.

  Butchernoun/bú-chər/
    – One who cuts and sells meat in a shop
    A shop that sells meat

Trimming Pork at Porter Road ButcherOne of the oldest trades in the world—second to prostitution!—butchers have been systematically processing animals and cutting and selling meat since ancient times. Although in the United States actual butcher shops seem to be somewhat antiquated due to the popularity of meat-filled supermarkets, the skill of butchering animals is anything but lost.  And it’s still exactly that: something that takes immense skill.

Then again, when you walk into either PRB shop it might not necessarily look that way: sure, customers are able to peek in at the guys in the cutting room and watch while their nimble fingers work away on hunks of meat both large and small, bits of silver skin peppering the floor, but most likely you’ve got no clue as to what’s going on and therefore can’t really appreciate it. Am I right?

I mean, an average Joe or Jane could likely differentiate between the pig and the cow and maybe even decipher the ribs and from the loin if you so much as slid by with a C in Anatomy 101, but actually experiencing what these guys do first-hand really lends to a deeper understanding of the craft.

And that, my meat-loving friends, exactly what I wanted when I started my stage at PRB West last Monday, March 10th.

  Stagenoun/’stahj/
    – An apprentice at a butcher shop
    – One who learns the skill of butchering by interning at a butcher shop or shadowing a butcher, often times for no or little pay.

Butchery and Sawing of Cows at Porter Road ButcherAs the social media coordinator, AKA the person who is promoting, pushing, photographing, Tweeting, and overall socially-loving on Porter Road’s products, I felt it was important for me to get to know more about…well…everything. So I geared up for a weeklong stage to really get into the meat of what goes on behind the scenes at PRB.

I arrived at the shop at 10:00 on my first day totally looking the part: baseball cap in hand, Shoes-For-Crews on my feet, and a plaid button-down hanging on my torso. I was ready to get down, and dirty, and meaty. And I was also really nervous. I was planning to spend every single day of this week, from ten in the morning to five in the evening, in a seriously chilly room, filled with large slabs of meat, surrounded by a group of knife-wielding men—and occasionally Nora, if she happened to pop her head in to say hello.

Sure, I’m conversational, but would I have enough to talk about with this group of dudes? Yes, I have years of at-home kitchen experience under my belt, but would they criticize my novice meat-trimming skills? Duh, I use a sharp knife probably every single day, but would I somehow end up chopping my finger off, rendering myself unable to return to the butcher block for the rest of the week, embarrassing myself wholeheartedly, and subsequently wasting both my stage and the blog post that was supposed to follow? God bless.

What began as me very timidly attacking a cow leg? arm? or maybe shoulder? soon turned into me semi-skillfully approaching the round and separating it into top round, bottom round, eye of round, knuckle, heel, tri-tip, and sirloin, identifying the spider steak, removing all of the silver skin, and finally slicing the remaining pristine hunks o’ beef into small chunks that would be tossed into the grinder to make fresh ground beef.

It took me the entire day. I stood still in one spot—my industry-approved, non-slip shoes a total waste—using the same butcher block from ten in the morning until five in the evening. Seven hours I trimmed beef. As I walked out the doors on Monday night at 5:17, my neck and shoulders ached, my lower back was stiff, and I needed a drink.

How do these guys do it every day?

Day two proved more exciting, as I had companions in the cutting room, enjoyed the questionable rap music that streamed from James’ iPhone, received helpful advice from a few guys who were watching me with a wary eye, and I was able to try my hand at cutting pig in addition to my former friend, beef.

Stage, Maddie Teren, trimming Pork at Porter Road ButcherNot only did I learn that slicing in an arc—which the yoga teacher in me translated into “half moon cuts”—would remove the silver skins more effectively than the sawing motions I had previously employed, but I also learned how to identify and pull at the seams of the meat in order to section out the various parts; I deciphered the difference between the good, savable fat and the bad, trashable fat; I figured out how truly difficult and tiring it is to saw apart the shank from the round; and most importantly, I learned that someone (who shall remain nameless) has a really small willy.

Isn’t it fascinating what you can learn while you’re cutting meat?

For five out of the six days that I staged, I spent varying amounts of time in the cutting room trimming down hunks of cow and pig, and taking my sweet time so as to avoid wasting any good meat. I was both shocked and elated that, even at my glacial pace, the guys assured me that my work was, “really a huge help.” I was having fun. I felt like I belonged. And I felt like a butcher.

Well at least until Chris came in, turned on the band saw, and sliced off a thick and perfect T-bone steak in the blink of an eye; or until Alex scooted me over a foot so he could swiftly chop off a couple of fresh, bone-in pork chops with a flourish; or until James waltzed in with a whole lamb slung over his shoulder and broke down the entire thing in roughly 5 minutes.

It was in those moments that I felt humble, curious, watchful, and overall in awe.

Pig Head from Porter Road ButcherThe opportunity to take a closer look behind the scenes made me feel like I was in a first-rate science class; I held a couple of lamb kidneys, I examined a pig head, I saw joint fluid ooze from a cow knee, and then I watched in wonder as each animal eventually turn into familiar cuts of meat. It was pretty damn cool.

You see, when you’re standing on the receiving end of the counter, separated from your butcher by a big ole refrigerated case that reaches the level of your chin, it really is hard to see back there! Much less understand what is going on. But if you can get a good view, and if you are able to ask some questions, and if you don’t really care how idiotic you might sound in asking them, you are afforded the chance to see and appreciate skill that each and every one of PRB’s team members has.

Although I’ve still got a thing or two to learn before I can really call myself a butcher (which, in all honesty, I doubt will ever happen—and at this point, I’m fine remaining at the status of a mere meat trimmer) I gained a greater sense of respect for, understanding of, and appreciation for the craft of butchering, but I also realized how much more there is to learn!

Thank God I’m just the girl behind the blog, the voice behind those Instagrams, and the eye behind the lense of the camera. I’ve got way too much catching up to do to really become a butcher—but I am still Maddie from the block. At this point, that title can never be revoked.Maddie From the Block - Staging at Porter Road Butcher

The Gambling Stick’s Barbeque Saturdays at PRB East

Ever heard of a “gambling stick?” Neither had we. It sounds like something we really want to get into, but should probably staunchly avoid—for the sanity and security of our wives and girlfriends and significant others.

But when our own Matt Russo told us that The Gambling Stick has absolutely nothing to do with casinos, and has everything to do with pork barbecue, we were like, “All in.”

Ribs n Greens from The Gambling StickRusso had more or less had it with the upscale restaurant scene when he left his job as Chef d’ Cuisine for Nashville’s historic Merchant’s Restaurant nearly two years ago: all the stuffiness, all the politics, and all the bologna that he’d come to accept as normal in a more high-brow environment had simply worn him out. But he wasn’t ready to give up the culinary world all together. He still loved the food; he loved to cook; and he had an idea.

Since then he’s been working on and developing his vision, and it’s finally about to come to fruition. We’re psyched.

As a chef with plenty of experience in the kitchen and ample experience on the butcher block (plus, a southern background and upbringing to boot) it only makes sense that Russo would be a bomb-diggity barbequer. And we’re confident that his soon-to-be BBQ joint called The Gambling Stick is going to be the best in town. Plus, they’re gonna be using PRB pig…hello?

So what is a Gambling Stick, you ask? Quite simply, it is a piece of wood that was used in butchering pigs way back in the day: for ease of both mechanics and cleaning, pigs were slaughtered while hanging upside down from a stick that was threaded through its feet. Mechanically it made sense as the pig was easy to rinse out and all of the Mmmm Fried Chickeninnards were visible and easily accessible, but physically this tool wasn’t always successful; it was a gamble as to whether said stick would be able to bare the weight of the pig or if it would break, leaving the animal to crash to the earth. Hence, The Gambling Stick.

We just think it’s a killer name that rolls off the tongue nicely: “Honey, I’m too tired to cook. Let’s grab dinner at The Gambling Stick” or “Man, I’m craving a beer and some brisket… Gambling Stick?”

It flows.

Regardless of the origin of the name, the origins of the establishment are a couple that we know quite well: Matt Russo and Porter Road Butcher. And those origins will actually be originating this coming Saturday, March 22nd at 11 in the morn’.

 

The Gambling Stick will offer a fixed menu plate, loaded with a heap of delicious food for just $14:

  • Pork Brisket (which they fondly refer to as Pigsket)
  • Spare Ribs
  • Greens with PRB Ham Hock
  • Baked Beans
  • Cornbread
  • Special house-made sauce, on the side

Smokin Pork Butts from The Gambling Stick with Porter Road Butcher meatSince Barbeque Saturdays will be going on each and every week, rain or shine, they are planning to offer different scratch-made sides and barbequed pig varieties as time goes on, generating even more excitement and buzz about The Gambling Stick. “We’re really excited to use Porter Road Butcher meat and also want to focus on using local and seasonal ingredients whenever possible,” Russo said. “We’re hoping we can work a deal out with PRB in the future so we can continue to use the best and freshest products.”

The Gambling Stick has future plans to feature a house-made porchetta (pork loin wrapped in bacon, seasoned with herbs, spit roasted, and then sliced in rounds), slow-roasted pulled pork, and smoked and sliced ham, among other piggy delicacies.

So although the weather may provide a bit of a gamble—particularly with this menopausal year we’ve been experiencing—we’re willing to wager that, no matter what the elements throw at us, people will be lining up to throw down their dollars and score big with The Gambling Stick BBQ; amazing food ain’t no gamble here.

The Gambling Stick

Check out The Gambling Stick on Facebook and Instagram @thegamblingstick

Chris’s Andouille Pasta

Everyone understands the value of an easy and delicious dinner. But between crazy busy schedules, hatred of the grocery store gauntlet, or or pure, unavoidable exhaustion following a busy day at work, we hard-working humans neither want to take the time to prepare an extensive meal, nor deprive ourselves with some lame, frozen, plastic-tray dinner. It’s a catch Porter Road Butcher Recipe for Andouille Pasta Sauce22. Often times “easy” means heating up leftovers for the third night in a row or sautéing a couple chicken tenders and throwing it on a bed of lettuce, but simple doesn’t have to be so cut-and-dry…and tasteless.

Chris’s Andouille Pasta is a delicious, easy, and hearty dish that, aside from our smokey andouille (which will require a trip to your favorite neighborhood butcher shop), calls for ingredients most people already have on-hand: things like onion, garlic, peppers, and pasta. But hey, stopping in to see the faces of us PRB folks is a lot more enjoyable than heading to your grocery superstore anyway, right? This dish requires about 15 minutes of prep time, 15 minutes of active cook time, and then another 15-20 of simmer-time, meaning you can go ahead, open up a bottle of wine and allow yourself to simmer while your pasta sauce does the same.

Make this dinner fancy enough for a Friday night dinner party with Lazzaroli’s handmade pappardelle pasta, or keep things effortless by using whatever pasta you’ve got in your pantry. Either way, you’re gonna be full and happy when it’s all said and done.

Chris’s Andouille Pasta

Serves: 4-6
Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 50-60 minutes

1 lb. PRB andouille sausage
1 medium onion, diced medium
1/2 red bell pepper, diced medium
1/2 green bell pepper, diced medium
3 stalks celery, diced medium
3-4 cloves garlic, sliced
14.5 oz. can roasted tomatoes
1 pint Hatcher’s cream
1 lb. pappardelle pasta (we like Lazzaroli’s in Germantown), or whatever shape you prefer
Grana Padano cheese from The Bloomy Rind, for garnish
2 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish.

  1. Slice andouille into 1/2 inch coins, add to heavy-bottomed skillet and sauté over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove from skillet and set aside, leaving drippings in pan.
  2. In same skillet, sauté onions in andouille drippings for 3 minutes over medium-high heat until almost translucent. Add peppers and celery and sauté for another 2-3 minutes, or until color of peppers has brightened.
  3. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.
  4. Add can of tomatoes, undrained and stir to incorporate, then add andouille back to the pan. Allow the mixture to cook for one minute, giving the flavors time to get to know one another and marry.
  5. Add cream, reduce heat to med-low, and allow to reduce until saucyyyyy. Note: this will look like a lot of cream, but never fear; your sauce did not just turn into a soup. It will reduce–just give ‘er time.
  6. While sauce reduces, cook pasta until al dente according to directions on the package. Also, begin to drink wine.
  7. Garnish pasta with freshly grated Grana Padano cheese and a sprinkle of fresh parsley.
Andouille Pasta Recipe from PRB - Photo by Hannah Messinger

Photos by Hannah Messinger

 

Cole & Abell

If you often purchase your meat at the hand of a beautiful Porter Road butcher instead of simply picking up a cling-wrapped Styrofoam tray from Kroger, you might feel as if you’ve more or less gotten to know the people who work for us. If you’ve checked out our website of late, you might have noticed the updated and expanded biographies of the outstanding folks who make up our one-of-a-kind PRB crew, and you might feel as if you could strike up a conversation with one—or all—of them while paying for that pound of andouille.

On the other hand however, there might be one face, one guy, one seemingly quiet John Deer-clad young lad whom you’ve seen prowling both the east and west shop, but whom you didn’t know much about. That’d be Cole.

Cole Abell definitely learned the Ropes from Porter Road ButcherOriginally from Lebanon, Connecticut, Cole Abell grew up on his family’s dairy farm and during his teenage years found work in the meat department of a grocery store. After graduating from high school last June, 18-year old Cole was uncertain about what would come next. He enjoyed his job at the grocery working with meat but both he and his mother knew that there was something else that he could and should be doing. So mom Kim set to the Internet, and after a little bit of research stumbled upon Porter Road Butcher all the way down in Nashville, Tennessee. “Wanna move to Tennessee?” she asked him.

Before he knew it, Cole had packed up his forest green Jeep Cherokee and was steering himself south, Nashville bound and eager to begin his six-month stage, or internship, at Porter Road Butcher.

Cole comes from a long lineage of farmers and cow lovers, so his interest in butchering is a no-brainer. His mother, father, and stepdad all spent their adolescence growing up on farms and his grandfather had one of the biggest dairy farms in Lebanon back in the day, laying claim to over 300 cows. With such a rich farming background Cole is familiar with caring for pigs and cows, but throughout his time in Nashville he’s been spending the past few months really getting into the meat of the animals (har har har).

His favorite thing to do in the shop is cut up chucks (that’s the front shoulder of a cow) but as owner Chris said, “he’s learned everything. I mean, everything.” Cole was educated on the arts of making sausages, smoking meats, grinding beef, plus other vital butchering skills, and he now knows how to break down whole pigs, cows, and chickens. But most important of all, Cole learned who Bob Dylan is, thanks to his pals at Porter Road. Isn’t it amazing what you can learn at a butcher shop?

Although he hails from the northeastern parts of the country, Cole is really a country boy at heart. While not helping his mom with their M&K Dairy Farm, he finds himself street racing with his friends, going muddin’ in those giant-tired trucks, and taking selfies with his closest friends; he almost exclusively wears John Deere apparel, covering his torso with brown and green sweatshirts, and keeps his noggin warm with a JD cap; and once upon a time, Cole had a pet pig named Charlotte who went everywhere with him, even accompanying him to McDonalds for a casual lunch outing.

Cole and his pal Russo, getting cherrywood ready for the smoker

Cole and his pal Russo, getting cherrywood ready for the smoker

Here in Nashville, he’s stayed true to his country ways: he enjoys filling his ears with some of Music City’s best tunes over at the Exit Inn, he spends his free time hunting and fishing with Matt Russo, and he cooks Hamburger Helper for himself for dinner—using PRB ground beef, of course…talk about an oxymoron—when Russo can’t help a brother out with some real life food.

Staring down his final month as our butcher shop intern, Cole says leaving Nashville will be bittersweet: “It’ll suck to say goodbye to all of my new friends here and it will be weird to return to Lebanon since Nashville is a much bigger city than where I’m from. But I am looking forward to hanging out with my old friends back home and seeing my brother and sister again.” Ain’t that sweet!

We’re going to miss Cole’ dry sense of humor, hard work ethic, and general friendly way of being, but we’re also happy that he’ll [hopefully] start eating real food again when he goes back home…instead of the Hamburger Helper and canned chili with which he chooses to nourish his body.

If you haven’t gotten to know Cole yet—don’t delay! His days in Nashville are numbered and you don’t wanna miss out on the opportunity to chat with this country Connecticut boy before he heads back to the homeland.

Banh Mi, Oh My!

In Vietnam where it originates, the term banh mi is simply used to describe bread, or more specifically a light and fluffy, single-serving, French-style baguette. In Western cultures however, the meaning of the term has been expanded; we think of banh mi as a meat-filled sandwich on this same style of banh mi, or bread. The term is even loosely used in reference to the toppings on this now westernized sandwich, such as a “banh mi style slaw,” even though the word really has nothing to do with pickled vegetables whatsoever.

While the meat that frequently fills this yummy sandwich ranges from pork to chicken to tofu, even all the way to headcheese, the toppings generally remain traditionally Vietnamese, including pickled vegetables, fresh cucumber, chili sauce, and of course plenty of fresh cilantro.

Meat, bread, and a few veggies. Seems like a pretty simple sandwich, right?

Maybe. Potentially. It could be. If we rolled that way.

IThe Banh Mi Sandwich is a Labor of Love for David SellersBut the Banh Mi Sammy at Porter Road Butcher is nothing close to simple. From start to finish, this sandwich takes 48 hours to prepare. Sure, assembling the sandwich takes only 3 minutes to do once the components have been prepared, but our lunch chef David really has to plan in advance if he wants to put this bad boy on the menu.

The process begins by showing a little lovin’ to a big ole pasture-raised pork butt, as David rubs a cure of pink salt and sugar all over that voluptuous hunk of meat. He then allows it to cure for 24 hours before popping the butt into a screaming hot oven for roughly twenty minutes, just searing the outside. When the twenty minutes are up, the sugars from the cure are beautifully browned and caramelized and that butt looks like it’s ready to be pulled and devoured.

Au contraire. Still more or less raw on the inside, this piece of pork is heading to the oven—this time on an extremely low temperature—to hibernate and slow-cook for a solid 12 hours, generally overnight while the butchers are resting their weary heads.

David first wraps the seared pork butt about a gazillion times in oven-safe cling film, and then finally swaddles it with a layer of aluminum foil, making sure there are no holes or escape routes for any of the deliciousness to leak out. This heavy insulation keeps all of the juices and fat locked in, which keeps the meat juicy and tender. When the twelve hours are up, he pulls the butt out of the oven and allows it to cool before pulling the pork by hand.

While the pork is busy cooling, David is busy preparing the slaw. Very busy. Instead of using a mandolin or shredder or something equally as efficient to trim his veggies down into matchsticks, David hand-cuts the cabbage, carrots, radish and jalapeno that make up his slaw. “I’m not very trusting with a mandolin, and I find I get a more consistent cut when I just do it myself,” he explains. Rice vinegar, fresh ginger, and a few other Asian-style ingredients give this slaw a Vietnamese flare, and after pickling for at least a day or two, add a delightful crunch and tang to the banh mi.

Porter Road Butcher's Banh Mi Sandwich takes over 48 hours to prepare!Finally, the last time-consuming component to this complicated creation is the pâté spread. Pasture raised pork liver, Belle Meade Bourbon, Hatcher’s cream, Willow Farm eggs, fresh thyme, and two hours under the press make this pâté so incredibly outstanding, but when we thin it down and turn it into a luxurious spread—which we dubbed Pâté Mayonnaise, a nod to our favorite yellow-haired hunny from Nickelodeon’s cartoon show, Doug—it turns into a perfect, rich and creamy accent.

Plus, how fortunate are we than Bobby John Henry has perfected the art of baking that banh mi style roll? Even in the final step of wrapping your sandwich in an insulating layer of tin foil, David takes care in maintaining the bread’s original form: no smashing. “I learned from a Vietnamese woman that keeping the bread fluffy is what can ‘make or break’ your banh mi” said David. “She told me mine was the best in Nashville, so that was an incredible compliment.”

While the active time on this sandwich doesn’t amount to anything to terribly daunting, the planning ahead, the eternal waiting, and the preparation that go into making the seemingly simple banh mi are what make this sandwich a true labor of love. No shortcuts are taken, no corners are cut, and only the best products are used.

It’s just a shame it will most likely disappear into your belly in roughly two minutes. Bon appétit!

Banh Mi Sammy $12 – Pasture raised pork butt slow roasted with a brown sugar glaze, house made Thai slaw, pork pâté spread, Asian chili sauce, and fresh cilantro on a BJH bun