Better Ingredients, Better Brunch

You’re cruising the city on a sunny Sunday morning, making your way from midtown, heading towards downtown, zipping through Germantown, and landing over on the east side, but meanwhile, all along the way you notice something: endless lines of people. It’s not something you’d have witnessed just four years ago—except maybe at the Pancake Pantry, of course—this devotion to brunch.

smokey bacon from PRB

Initially designed as an alternative to the traditionally heavy after-church Sunday supper, the marriage of breakfast and lunch, dubbed “brunch,” was intended to be a meal made of lighter fare that would help churchgoers bridge the gap between fasting before worship, and feasting later that evening. Today however, brunch has become such a religious weekly event for some, it has replaced worship altogether.

Going out for brunch is the food-trend that’s become the latest and greatest foodie fad. But it begs the question, why?

Regardless of our level of kitchen prowess, from Nashville to New York, Los Angeles to Austin, everyone has latched on to the meal that’s trending. While roasting in the blazing sun, being pummeled by freezing rain, or blown around by whipping winds, people both young and old will wait hours just to get their hands on a $14 Benedict made with 10¢ eggs or a side of limp, skinny, hormone-infused bacon with a $5 price tag.

Sometimes going out for brunch can be fun (since the two-hour wait is often made palatable with a two-for-one Bloody Mary or an endless carafe of mimosas) but it also inevitably includes anxiously standing around in a crowd of people, being in the way of all of the pissed off servers, hovering over people who are already so smugly eating, and of course, paying an arm and a leg for something you could have made yourself in half the time that it took to “experience” brunch.

Why do we put ourselves through this mid-morning madness? Wouldn’t it be easier, and more relaxing, and more enjoyable, and definitely more economical to have brunch at home?

Bing! *Lightbulb*

Even if poaching an egg isn’t your strong suit and making your own hollandaise sauce seems as farfetched as winning an Olympic gold medal in curling, any old soul can still whip up something delicious and impressive. Hell, people fork over $14 for an egg scramble made with sprinkle of cheese, a few strips of deli turkey, and half an avocado. Any Joe Shmoe can do that.

Brunch should be neither difficult, nor pricey; overall it’s supposed to be fun. As British author Guy Beringer stated back in the late 1800’s, “It’s talk-compelling. It puts you in good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and the cobwebs of the week.” No jam-packed restaurant booming with loud music, overflowing with troves of college students, and topped off with a two-and-a-half hour wait could possibly cultivate such sentiments.

Brunch at home, on the other hand? That is where it’s at. A simple breakfast casserole is easy to throw together the night before you’re planning to entertain, perfect when serving a larger crowd, and if it’s made with PRB meat and pantry items from our market it will be hella delicious. Bonus: shopping is a snap.

As far as accompaniments go, simply cut up some fruit for something sweet, satisfy your sweet tooth with a few of Nora’s famous whole-wheat cinnamon rolls, and crisp up a quarter pound of bacon to use as a garnish for Bloody Mary’s—you’ll automatically have the baddest and raddest Bloody Mary Bar of all time.

Your friends will be thrilled to leave the crowded bar behind, your grandmother will be delighted to actually hear conversations clearly, and every last person will be happily heading back to the buffet for seconds on this scrumptious and impressive brunch-time delight. Any cobwebs that lingered from the week will be blown away like a passing cloud.

Come to think of it, this casserole is so easy and incredibly delish, you may as well just go ahead and make two… After all, Sunday comes back around ever week.

breakfast will be served in 30 minutes - PRBPRB Brunch Casserole

Serves: 6-8
Active Time: 30
Total Time: 60-75 minutes

1 dozen Willow Farms eggs
¾ lb. PRB breakfast sausage
1/3 lb. PRB bacon
2 ½ cup Hatcher’s Dairy whole milk
1 ½ stale demi-baguettes from Bella Nashville; cut into 1” cubes
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded Kenny’s Farmhouse cheddar cheese
¼ cup fresh parsley, minced; for garnish

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Line two large cookie sheets with aluminum foil and lay the bacon in a single layer so the slices are almost touching. Note: if you have them, lay bacon on wire roasting racks (sometimes called drying racks in baking) on top of the aluminum foil. Bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness, until crispy. Remove from oven and cool on a paper towel. Once completely cool, crumble or cut into 1/2” pieces.
  2. In a medium-sized skillet over medium heat, break up the sausage and brown it until there’s no more pink and sausage is crumbly. Remove from heat and drain; then cool on a paper towel to soak up excess grease.
  3. In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add milk, mustard and salt, and whisk together. Finally, add cheese, cubed bread, crumbled sausage and bacon. Using a large spoon, combine.
  4. Pour into an ungreased 10×15” baking dish and refrigerate overnight.
  5. In the morning when you’re hungry and are about to dive into your first Bloody Mary, preheat oven to 350° F. Bake casserole, uncovered, for 30-45 minutes until casserole is set and the top is golden brown.

Better ingredients better brunch with PRB

 

Kale-ing It

Team PRBIt was a warm spring evening filled with food, drinks, foodies, and a bunch of kale—okay, not just like, one bunch, like a whole lot of bunches of kale.

Four of Nashville’s most decorated chefs competed in the Scene’s seventh annual Iron Fork Competition last night, and PRB’s owners Chris Carter and James Peisker were the first ever chef team.

“I know what he’s good at, and he knows what I’m good at…” James said on the morning of the competition, “We’re very familiar with each other in the kitchen and we trust each other. I’m feeling pretty confident.”

Over two dozen local Nashville restaurants showed up to the event, offering hungry ticket-holders the opportunity to sample a variety of small bites, sip on an assortment of crafty cocktails, and all the while manage to keep one eye on the big screen as the culinary action heated up.

Although the trademark “allez cuisine!” from Iron Chef America’s Mark Dacascos was missing when the competition commenced, the excitement and energy in the room felt similarly as spirited, and our friend Jesse Goldstein helped keep the spirits high as he emceed the event and had a nerve-calming bourbon moment with team PRB.

Final touches on the Iron Fork challengeWith four chefs competing in Nashville’s version of this culinary faceoff—instead of the traditional one-on-one battle that takes place on the Food Network’s famed show—each chef (or chef team in our case) blindly chose a number, which would dictate the order in which they were to present their dish. Against Chris and James were Lockeland Table’s Hal Holden-Bache, The 404’s Matt Bolus, and Kristen Gregory of Firefly Grille.

Freshly clad in brand new denim-and-brown PRB embroidered aprons, the butcher boys wound up with lucky #1, meaning they would begin cooking first, they served their creation to the judges before they were totally kaled out, and then they just got to sit back, have a drink, and watch as the rest of their competitors continued to sweat. It was pretty toasty in there.

As soon as the secret ingredient was announced, Chris and James began formulating a plan and then quickly grabbed the pantry items they would need to really kale it in the competition—so many kaler punning opportunities immediately arose.

And they were off!

Before anyone could weave through the crowd to find their cooking station, Chris and James had already finished expertly slicing and dicing, while neighboring chef Hal Holden-Bache looked on with eyes that had doubled in size. Bet you didn’t think them butchers would have such quick and precise knife work on a little ole shallot, didja, Hal?

TChris Chamberlain gives it a tastehe pine nuts were toasting, shallots sautéing, Chris was pulsing kale in the Vitamix, James was whisking butter over the stovetop, and then it suddenly came together: Creamy Kale Risotto with Butter-Poached Shrimp, and a Fresh Kale Salad.

I mean, come on.

In keeping the most common criticisms from Iron Chef in mind, the butcher boys made an effort to truly “celebrate kale,” using it as the flavor foundation for their dish. The earthy flavor and green color were pronounced and vibrant in the risotto, while the raw kale salad on top provided a textural contrast and expressed the beauty of the ingredient’s pure form. Plus, three Gulf shrimp added a pop with both their contrasting pink color and their sweet, buttery flavor.

The odds were all in their favor: Chris and James went first; the dish was plated beautifully; the green and pink color scheme was eye-catching; Vivek (on the panel of judges) went back for seconds of dish #1 (our risotto) after tasting dish #2; and the creamy kale risotto wasn’t just a celebration of kale, it was like the Kale Jubilee.

We had it in the bag.

Or so we thought.

In the end, it was Hal Holden-Bache of Lockeland Table who took home the coveted Golden Fork. His New Zealand rack of lamb served atop a potato kale hash and topped with a fresh kale salad somehow managed to surpass team PRB’s magnificent kale risotto by just two measly points, as we later came to find.

While their hearts fell heavy in their chests, disappointed at yet another second place finish, Chris and James shook hands with the victor and then simply took to the bourbon bottle in to continue the festivities of the evening. On the bright side, Chris made away with half a case of wine and a pint of Four Roses when the night concluded, so not all was lost.

Who really wants a silly ol trophy anyway?

 

We want to give a huge “thank you” to the Nashville Scene for putting on such a fun and delicious event, and for including the chefs of Porter Road Butcher in the competition! Additionally, big thanks to our amazing sous-chefs from the Art Institute for keeping us cool in the heat of the kitchen. We had a great time and hope to be invited back in the future!PRB Iron Fork Crew

Where the Locals Meat

Shop local at Porter Road Butcher Surely you’ve heard the adage, You are what you eat, but did you ever think that the saying might go deeper than that—deeper than just what you eat? Because really, being healthful and mindful about what you put into your body begins before you start tossing things into your cart at the grocery store; it begins by knowing what you eat…eats, and where it’s coming from.

And in reality is that specific information the kind that you can readily find in a grocery store anyway? Not usually. Labels can be so confusing and misleading that it’s a challenge for customers to know exactly what they are consuming and exactly where it’s coming from.

That’s the benefit for those large, commercial grocery stores: they don’t worry about proving that kind of information.

Since large grocery chains focus more on selling a large volume of their products than focusing on catering to each individual consumer and enhancing their experience, they can take shortcuts when it comes to sourcing.

Here at Porter Road Butcher however, this is not the case. The meat that we cut and the market items that we sell are sourced either locally or regionally. This not only ensures that we have a relationship with each farmer or craftsman, but it also provides us with a keen knowledge that the quality of what we sell is the utmost. Supporting local businesses does aid the local economy and can reduce your carbon footprint, but more importantly shopping locally provides you with a connection to the product, and therefore a connection to the source of what you’re putting into your body.

When we make a personal connection to the source of our products and form a relationship with that person, he or she A) feels accountability for what it is that they’re selling and for their own reputation, and B) they feel pride for their work, knowing that it is being sold at a kickass place like PRB, which drives them to continue working harder. Put A and B together, and you’ve got a better and healthier outcome for you, the consumer.

Take David Byler for example: bearing in mind that David’s pigs are raised humanely, that they are given free range on his land, and that they eat hormone- and antibiotic-free feed, our Amish pig farmer is proud to sell us his pigs and stamp his name on our product—metaphorically, of course. Furthermore, because of our strong relationship with him and our respect for what he does with his piggies, we have found both the best product around and the peace of mind that our hog had a healthy life.

Porter Road Butcher's James Peisker is very knowledgeable about the benefits of shopping localYou see, in many other cases they don’t receive that same quality of life.

The pound of bacon that you buy in the shrink-wrapped, air-vacuumed, Styrofoam trey at the grocery store likely has adrenaline pulsing through each smoky strip due to the fear and anger that hog felt as it was confined to a 2×5” pen, allowing it enough space only to flop on it’s side or stand in a pile of its own shit.

Pigs are smart. They know those conditions aren’t right.

Or perhaps, along with those aforementioned “natural” yet grossly unwanted hormones, the breakfast sausage you’re planning to throw in the skillet carries traces of the antibiotics that your pig was fed in order to keep it big and strong and “healthy”—while in reality it dined on the likes of chicken shit, drugs, feathers, and Lord only knows what the f#ck else.

And hell, the eggs that you’re planning to give a good scramble and serve alongside said bacon and sausage probably come from that “free range” chicken coup where about a thousand chickens are stuffed into a big ole box chock-full of their feathery family members, and built with one sole doggy-door that leads to outside! These lucky birds are afforded the opportunity to venture outside to that gorgeous gravel lot and explore—if they so choose to venture away from their food and their family and the only living space they’ve ever known. How magnificent!? Their heart is pulsing with anxiety, adrenaline is rushing through their body, their stomachs are grumbling as they attempt to digest chemicals and drugs alike, and you, my friend, are so lucky as to be receiving all of those delicious flavors as you embark upon your Monday!

Aren’t you so glad you chose to pay the $2 extra at the grocery for those free-range eggs? And the all-natural bacon? And the sausage with the green label on it—because that color denotes health!?

The big grocery chains can pull a fast one on you. They can lie through their teeth and do so with a smile on their face. They don’t care about you or me because they don’t have a relationship with you or me; they don’t feel accountability to you or me; they don’t have to look you or me in the eye the next time you come into the store and kindly inquire as to what you thought of your previous purchase.

They already got what they wanted from you: your money.

But riddle me this: have you been into Porter Road Butcher more than once? You’ve absolutely hit the aisles of a large, chain grocery store a number of times, but if you shop at a small local business, you’ll notice one big difference: they know you; remember you. Not just one cashier; not just the lady behind the deli counter; everyone.

“Heeey! Terry!” they’ll crow as the door cheerily bing-bongs while you swing it open.

It feels good. And it makes you want to keep coming back.

After that initial trip when James or Chris or Tim or Alex get to know you; after one of us Porter Road butchers figure out what it is you want and get the best possible product to suit your needs, we’ll remember it next time. “How’d that tri-tip turn out last week?” or “Did you enjoy the breakfast sausage?” or even “What’d you think of our beef stock?

We care and want to know.

“There’s a sense of community here,” said James as he talked about shopping local. “When people come into our shop, we get to know them and we can make an effort to get the products they want. Then meanwhile, as they’re waiting for their order, they talk with the other customers, or they talk with us, and they get to know us; they begin a conversation; and they get to the core of what we’re really trying to do.

Community Dance Break at Porter Road ButcherAnd what’s that, you ask?

          Our goal at Porter Road Butcher is to make every one             of our guests healthier and happier with fresh local                 products.

Healthier? Check! With hormone-free, antibiotic-free, well fed, humanely raised, and all-natural meat, plus the freshest foods from Tennessee and other surrounding southern spots

Happier? Check! With friendly people, better-for-you food, meat that lacks additives that could turn you mad, support for other small businesses, a sense of community, and maybe even a good laugh—not to brag or anything, but we’re known to be kinda funny.

 

You may hear that shopping local tends to take up more of your time, and you might notice that the price tag runs a little higher. But is there a price you can put on your health? If you take that extra time now and pay a little bit more to buy better quality food, you’ll find yourself with a big payoff as you reap a lot more time in the future.