Putting Porter Road To The Test

Sean Martin - a Porter Road Butcher RegularA lifelong fan of excellent food and a self-proclaimed “food snob,” Sean Martin has been a fan of Porter Road Butcher since the get-go but he only became a “regular” when we opened our West Nashville doors almost a year ago. “I occasionally made it over to the East side,” he said, “but when they opened up on the west side of town I was able to get into the habit of going in at least once a week.” Sean was there the day our doors opened.

Growing up in southern California with parents who were restaurateurs, Sean’s first fine dining experience came at the age of 10 when he went to Wolfgang Puck’s LA flagship, Spago. From there it didn’t take him long to discover the difference between just food and great food. He soon began comparing the two.

As a young kid Sean enjoyed setting up blind taste comparisons, where he challenged himself to taste the difference in different food items. He experimented with a variety of bites, ranging all the way from different types of salt, to local versus imported tomatoes, even to a variety of bottled water brands.

After his inaugural visit to Porter Road Butcher East, during which he merely picked up a steak and a bone for his dog (an unexpected bonus), Sean said he was hooked: “The guys there were awesome—so friendly—and my steak was noticeably better than any I’d ever had before.”

That’s how his old hobby crept back into play.

Sean has been comparing our Porter Road products to meat from both upscale grocery stores and regular ol’ supermarkets for over half a year now, and his findings make excellent evidence to prove that our products really are superior. It’s not just because of the high price tag 😉

Italian Sausage - Supermarket vs. Porter Road Butcher His research ain’t no joke.

Not only does Sean take photographs to compare the color, texture, and overall appearance of the meat during each culinary experiment, but he also takes detailed notes about the entire experience from start to finish.

In the past year or so that he’s been conducting these carnivorous comparisons, Sean has used the following products: beef (ground beef, sirloin, filet, and NY strip), chicken (cut, whole, brined, and un-brined), pork (chops and bacon), eggs, and sausages (kielbasa, bratwurst, and Italian).

Here’s how it works.

The first step is coming into the shop and taking a look at what we’ve got in the case. Once he picks a Porter Road product that looks especially enticing, then it’s off to the other two stores to find what would be considered an equivalent. For upscale groceries, Sean shops at Whole Foods and Fresh Market, while the likes of Kroger, Costco, and Harris Teeter lay claim to the supermarket category. This way, by using three sources for meat, he is able to evaluate the entire spectrum of meat quality. Once he hits the kitchen, salt and pepper are generally the only seasonings that touch the meat, thus allowing the flavor of the meat to truly tell the tale.

“One of my favorite experiments was probably the whole chicken,” he said, after thinking it over for a moment. To Sean, the difference between Porter Road and Harris Teeter poultry was tenfold. In the eye of an average American who is used to this phenomenon of more, the Harris Teeter chicken likely looked better: it was bigger, plumper, fatter. The PRB chicken was comparable in size of circumference, but looked a little lackluster in muscle volume.

But remember, friends: bigger isn’t necessarily better when it comes to food.

Even though the supermarket chicken is larger and looks like a better “bang for your buck,” in reality that added weight and heft comes from unhealthy and unwanted additives: hormones, steroids, salt, and water. But although he is neither a scientist nor a professionally trained chef, Sean was easily able to see and taste a huge difference.

Upon cutting off the breasts, the PRB chicken look denser and more solid, and additionally our Jolly Barnyard bird held together better when it was both cut into or bitten. The supermarket bird, on the other hand, had a flakier and looser texture, which made it break apart easily.

The most prominent difference though, was the flavor. “The Porter Road chicken had a noticeably stronger and more pronounced chicken flavor; it was super juicy, and the juice literally tasted like chicken stock,” said Sean. “The other chicken had a much weaker flavor and tasted pretty watery.”

Porter Road's chicken is on the right; it's a little smaller and tighter - not swimming in sodium solution.

Porter Road’s chicken is on the right; it’s a little smaller and tighter – not swimming in sodium solution.

Fun fact! Since the water content of PRB chicken is far smaller than that of the supermarket chicken—ours has zero added water—the meat is able to better soak in the flavor of a brine, sauce, marinade, seasonings, or whatever you so choose. And, as previously stated, this lack of water lends the chicken to a more concentrated, delicious chicken flavor. Sean was able to notice the flavor difference using just a simple brine on both birds.

Now…steak? When it comes to beef, he says the filet test holds a soft spot in his heart.

“With the filet you could tell the difference from a combination of the texture and the flavor” said Sean. “When you get a filet at a nice steakhouse like Fleming’s or Ruth Chris, you get that tenderness and buttery-ness and obviously that familiar steak flavor. But when you get a PRB filet, you’re met with a superior butter-like texture, and then surprised by a deep, delicious, robust, kind of sweet flavor of the meat—it’s almost akin to baked butter. I kind of can’t describe it; it’s just so big and distinct.”

Indescribably good? We’ll put that in our pipe and smoke it.

Comparing Steaks  with PRB

Check out the deep purple hue to our steak on the far right

In the realm of sausage experiments, Italian exhibited the largest difference. The texture proved superior, the color more vibrant and appetizing, the flavor more pronounced and fresh, and overall the sausage excellently complimented each dish he tried without overpowering or overwhelming. The grocery store brand however, didn’t perform so well.

When it came to pork chops, he was delighted with the fat cap that his butcher suggested he leave on—something that people often times shy away from due to fear of the word “fat”—and additionally surprised by its sweet and almost spreadable nature. “In the past I might cut off the fat because of that tough, grisly texture that no one likes,” he said, “but the fat on my PRB chop was delicious: sweet and almost syrupy.”

On the bacon spectrum, Kroger’s high-end Wright® Brand bacon, running at around $10 per pound, tasted mostly like salt and had little of that savory-sweet pork flavor. Additionally, it fell apart more easily and somewhat disintegrated in the mouth. Our David Byler bacon on the other hand has a subtle sweetness to it and a whole lot of delicious smoke. With a soft chew and a bold flavor, it’s easy to realize that this is what bacon should really taste like.

In every experiment that Sean has conducted so far, our meat proved supreme. Not to brag or anything buuuut…. Just sayin’.

Of course, with so many experiments under his belt and so many different meats under his critical lens, it would take far too long to go into each test in detail, but that doesn’t mean you wont be able to notice the differences on your own.

Maybe you don’t have enough time, money, or friends to cook three times the amount of meat each time you fire up the grill or cast iron skillet, but the difference in our products can be distinguished while standing solo. And aside from the taste, we here at the shop can tell you all about what makes our products so delicious and distinct.

Plus, doesn’t it feel good to eat good meat? 1) It tastes better, 2) You can rest easy knowing the animal lived a happier life, and 3) You aren’t pumping additives and drugs into your system. Not to mention you get to hang out with us for a minute or two. THAT sure doesn’t suck.

If Sean’s findings didn’t convince you or you’re still a little skeptical, then we challenge you to try it yourself! Come on in, pick up some meat, and go home and cook it. We’re sure you’ll notice a difference in both what you taste and how you feel.

How ya like that for a sales pitch?

America. In a Burger.

Tis The Burger Season

The Fourth of July. It is most assuredly our Nation’s favorite day to fire up the grill and celebrate freedom in the company of friends, family, and most importantly delicious food. While most holidays are companions to specific meals or dishes that make the festivities complete, the summertime food on 4th of July holds extra nostalgia due to the true patriotism and Americanism that it so clearly exudes.

At it’s core, 4th of July is a day to celebrate our country, our culture, our freedom…and, at least in our eyes at PRB, our food! No other large-scale holiday exists in which Americans are the only ones who indulge. And after donning your red, white, and blue, stuffing your face with some of East Nashville’s spiciest chicken, and watching colorful showers of fire explode into the night sky, what could be the only thing missing from your Independence Day? Hot dogs, cupcakes, watermelon, and of course our country’s favorite mealtime sweetheart, the hamburger. How much more American can you get?

Back in the 50’s, The United States became widely recognized for the popularization of blue jeans, and today our country is associated worldwide with the widely worn denim pant. Quite similarly, hot dogs and hamburgers have made their mark around the world as America’s food: filling, unhealthy, fast, and easy. Come to think of it, they’re kind of like a reflection of our nation as a whole.

But the truth of the matter is that there is an art to making a real delicious and juicy burger that screams “This is America!” You see, the difference in a well made American hamburger from a haphazard cooked beef patty that you might find at the airport in Nova Scotia is this: quality care from start to finish.

A good “This Is America” burger can’t just be thrown onto the grill straight out of it’s styrofoam tray.

A good “This Is America” burger shouldn’t be something you bought on Red Tag Special.

A good “This is America” burger supports the local farmer, uses the beef from a happy cow, and sends direct benefits to our local economy.

A good “This is America” burger is pattied by hand and seasoned with fresh salt and pepper.

A good “This is America” burger is cooked on the grill, served hot and juicy, is accented with delicious extras and condiments, and is enjoyed by all [who eat meat].

A good “This Is America” burger comes from Porter Road Butcher. But fortunately it can be made from the comfort of your own home.

Porter Road Butcher Condiments! Ketchup and MustardHere’s how:

Porter Road Butcher’s America Burger

8 oz. ground beef from Porter Road Butcher
Freshly ground Salt and Pepper
Bobby John Henry burger bun
Kenny’s Farmhouse white cheddar cheese
PRB Ketchup
PRB Yellow Mustard
PRB Bacon

  1. Light your grill. Duh.
  2. Wash hands thoroughly. Nobody wants your nasty grill-hand germs on their America Burger.
  3. Working fairly quickly, begin to form 8 oz. of ground beef into a ball in between the palms of your hands. Once shaped into a ball, use your thumbs to begin flatten the ball into a disk, supporting it from underneath with your other fingers and turning the patty in your hands so that it flattens evenly. Using the “L” shape of your index and thumb fingers, press around the edges to seal off the outside of the burger and eliminate any cracks; then flatten once more. Your burger should have a crack-less “seal” on the outside from where your hands pressed and should be about 1/2 an inch thick. Note: do not overwork your burger. Once you form the patty, let it go–even if you think it’s not completely packed on the inside.
  4. Transfer burger to a clean plate or cutting board and season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides.
  5. Check to see if your grill is the right temperature by holding your hand about a foot above the grill; if you can keep your hand there for 2 seconds, the grill is ready. If it’s too hot either allow the coals to burn down a little bit or put the top back on the grill to smother it.
  6. Once your grill has reached the right temperature, place burger on grill directly over coals or flame. The juices from the burger may cause flame flare-ups, which is okay. Just make sure the burger isn’t constantly enveloped in flame–it will burn. For a medium-rare burger, cook for 4 minutes per side; for medium, cook for 5 minutes per side.
  7. While your burger is grilling, place bun sliced side down on grill over indirect heat to allow it to toast, just 1-2 minutes.
  8. After 4 or 5 minutes, depending on your preferences, carefully flip your burger.
  9. Cook second side for the same amount of time and then check for doneness by pressing the center of the burger with your index finger; it should have a little bit of spring when your finger is released. If it seems too soft and doesn’t spring, it’s likely not quite done; the firmer the burger becomes, the more well done it will be.
  10. Once desired temperature is reached, remove burger from grill and cover with a slice of Kenny’s Farmhouse white cheddar cheese. Once the cheese has melted, the juices in your burger will have had enough time to redistribute and that puppy is ready for a bun: a perfectly toasty Bobby John Henry bun, that is.
  11. Last step? Adding condiments. We would highly recommend our Porter Road Butcher brand classic ketchup and yellow mustard, butter lettuce from Green Door Gourmet, and perhaps a few slices of our delicious n’ smokey bacon…but that’s just us.

This Burger is America - Porter Road Butcher