Banner Butter is simply Better Butter

It always happens this way with really good things, doesn’t it?

There’s that little nugget of amazing. And it’s out there, quietly being awesome. And there are a few folks in the know who appreciate it and love it. But then one day something happens and it somehow gets even better. And then other people start to notice it—because again, it is amazing, but it is also quiet. And then before you know it, it gains some small success. And then eventually it becomes something that’s actually successful and well known by lots of people. And then it isn’t really little anymore. It’s just really good.

That’s the beauty with really good things: people find out about them and then people want to support them. That’s particularly the case when that good thing is great butter.

Banner Butter | Porter Road ButcherHusband and wife Elizabeth and Andrew McBath discovered their love for creating compound butters (if you don’t know, compound butters contain other ingredients mixed in to make them a little jazzy and a lot delicious) in their kitchen at home, and eventually made the move to monetize their hobby in 2014, creating Banner Butter.

The McBaths had begun their “little side project” (they both still have full-time jobs) a year earlier as a way to enhance butter with spices, herbs, and seasoning, thus making cooking a little bit easier and making simple foods more delicious. Eventually however, they noticed a trend among their customers who desired good, locally churned butter. And that’s when an idea struck: they decided to take their little nugget and turn up the volume on the goodness.

Andrew and Elizabeth took a trip to France to study the art of butter making (and let’s be real, they probably studied the arts of wine-drinking and cheese-eating as well, because why not?) in the South region of the country, where cultured butter is king. They returned home with their newfound knowledge of and appreciation for cultured butter and that’s where the nugget of goodness gained speed.

Instead of buying already-made butter from the store and then adding ingredients to make it compound like they’d been doing previously, the McBaths sought out responsible, humane, and local dairy farms from which they could source pasteurized cream and churn the butter themselves. Just like us at PRB, they’re passionate about the foundational aspects of their product, which means knowing that their animals live good, happy, healthy lives. Their website states:

“Banner Butter strives to create butters that taste great by doing it the right way. Doing it right means starting with cream from humanely treated, hormone-free cows that graze in green pastures. It also means patiently culturing and churning cream into butter without adding flavoring or speeding the process at the expense of taste.”

See, here’s the thing: most butter that is sold in our grocery stores and supermarkets is “sweet cream butter,” which means that once pasteurized, the cream is almost immediately churned into butter—it’s churned when the cream is still sweet. Sadly, this also means that the butter has very little flavor in this infant stage. Even sadder, this often leads Big Man Butter to add “natural flavoring” to make it taste more like…well, butter. Gross.

The cultured or European method on the other hand, is one in which the pasteurized cream has time to ripen for many hours before it is churned. This ripening process brings boatloads of that delicious, nutty and buttery flavor that we so love…without any additives or flavorings.

And that is how Banner Butter does butter.

Photo from Banner Butter's Instagram: @bannerbutteratl

Photo from Banner Butter’s Instagram: @bannerbutteratl

So between their happy dairy cows, the super-fresh cream they provide, the short distance that said cream travels, the small batches in which the butter is churned, and the care and attention that are put into each and every package, Banner Butter’s product second to none.

Banner Butter has gained success in the greater Atlanta area, where they’ve found their way onto the shelves of a variety of small local groceries as well as seven Whole Foods Markets, and now we are proud to announce that Porter Road Butcher is their very second out-of-state outpost for resale—South Carolina got the jump on us. Groan.

In addition to traditional varieties like unsalted and lightly salted butters, the McBaths have continued to play with flavors and offer compound butters as well.

They offer a Roasted Garlic, Parsley and Basil, which sold out of our West Nashville store within the first day it was available; they have a Cardamom, Cinnamon and Ginger, which we can’t wait to employ this weekend on French toast or waffles; the Balsamic, Caramelized Onion, and Fig would be a great way to finish a nicely grilled steak; and their Sea Salt seems like a no-brainer for melting on corn on the cob or tossing with steamed or grilled veggies.

Banner Butter also makes a rotating seasonal compound, sourcing locally grown seasonal produce, creating a butter that celebrates the season.

Check out their website for more information and check out the freezer sections at both Porter Road Butcher stores to get your hands on butter that just tastes better: Banner Butter.

Way South of Manhattan

Way South of Manhattan | Porter Road ButcherWhether by birth or by geographic location, as southerners there are two things that one must learn to, if not inherently love: bourbon and bacon fat. And if you know anything about Porter Road Butcher, you know that we inherently love both.

So why not mix them together?

Our “Way South of Manhattan” veers off the straight and narrow by employing white whiskey instead of the traditional brown variety, but we add a touch of that brown color back in by infusing bacon fat into this sinfully southern spirit. Strawberries make our cocktail both refreshing and seasonal, and the addition of vermouth and Campari turn it into what one would classify as a “real cocktail.”

Way South of Manhattan

5 fresh strawberries
1 oz. bacon-infused white whiskey (recipe below)
1 oz. sweet vermouth
Ice
Splash Campari

  1. Slice tops off 4 strawberries; reserve 1 strawberry with top in-tact.
  2. Muddle strawberry in a cocktail shaker or pint glass until macerated.
  3. Add a handful of ice to shaker, followed by bacon-infused whiskey, and vermouth.
  4. Shake vigorously; 20 seconds.
  5. Strain liquid and pour over fresh ice.
  6. Add a splash of Campari (about 1 tsp)
  7. Garnish with side strawberry
  8. Serve in a stemless wine glass

Bacon-Infused White Whiskey

1 bottle Nelson’s Greenbrier White Whiskey
1 half-pint (1 cup) Porter Road Butcher bacon fat
1 empty quart container; glass or plastic will work

  1. Place half-pint of bacon fat in the microwave for 20-30 seconds to melt.
  2. Pour white whiskey into empty quart container.
  3. Add bacon fat to whiskey. Secure the lid, then turn over 3-4 times to mix.
  4. Let mixture sit on the counter for 24 hours, turning or shaking whenever you remember to. Note: if the mixture is shaken too much, the bacon fat may begin to emulsify and become suspended throughout the whiskey.
  5. After 24 hours, put mixture into the freezer to allow the bacon fat and whiskey to separate. If the bacon fat rises to the top, you can then just use a spoon and skim it off the top. If the bacon fat became too emulsified, follow step 6.
  6. Cover a medium-sized bowl with 4 layers of cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band. Pour bacon fat-whiskey mixture onto the cheesecloth, allowing the liquid to strain through. Once emptied, carefully remove the rubber band and squeeze mixture to strain as much liquid out as possible.
  7. Set aside and reserve bacon-infused white whiskey for cocktail use!
Ingredients: Porter Road Butcher bacon fat, Nelson's Greenbrier White Whiskey, Campari, sweet vermouth, and strawberries

Gather the ingredients: Porter Road Butcher bacon fat, Nelson’s Greenbrier White Whiskey, Campari, sweet vermouth, and local strawberries

Step 2: melt the bacon fat so it's liquified, but not hot.

Next, melt the bacon in the microwave fat so it’s liquified, but not hot. 30 seconds should do the trick.

Pour both the white whiskey and the bacon fat into a large container to infuse.

Pour both the white whiskey and the bacon fat into a large container to infuse.

If the mixture is agitated too much (whoops!) the bacon fat might start to emulsify. This will make it more challenging to separate, but by no means impossible.

If the mixture is agitated too much (whoops!) the bacon fat might start to emulsify. This will make it more challenging to separate, but by no means impossible.

If the bacon fat becomes too emulsified and you are unable to skim it off the top, use cheesecloth to strain and separate.

If the bacon fat becomes too emulsified and you are unable to skim it off the top, use cheesecloth to strain and separate.

Porter Road Butcher Bacon-infused Greenbrier White Whiskey vs. Nelson's Greenbrier White Whiskey

Porter Road Butcher Bacon-infused Greenbrier White Whiskey vs. Nelson’s Greenbrier White Whiskey

Now craft yourself a cocktail and enjoy.

Now craft yourself a cocktail, sit down, and enjoy. Cheers!

Treat Yoself – Go out to mEAT in Nashville

If there’s one thing that we love, it’s when you, our customers, friends, and family stop by the butcher shop. We really, really do.

And like, duhhh.

Because really, this is what it communicates to us when you walk into Porter Road Butcher time and time again: it means you want to buy our product (hooray!); it means you might already be a fan of what we have to offer (score!); and it also means that all of the hard work that our crew has been putting in each and every day is going to pay off (fist bump!) when that meat rolls out the door.

However, by buying meat from Porter Road Butcher it also inadvertently leaves you with the task of thinking, planning, and ultimately cooking.

And don’t get us wrong—we love cooking—the Porter Road Butcher team is a group of food-obsessed culinarians, after all. Cooking is something that we actually like to do for fun.

That being said, we also love going out to eat, thus leaving the thinking, planning, and ultimately cooking to someone else. We love sitting down at a table that isn’t our own, ordering a cocktail for someone else to craft, carefully selecting an item from the menu, and then widening our eyes in excitement once it makes its way onto the table and finally into our mouth. And all the while, smirking at ourselves for never lifting a finger.

But you want to know what we love even more than going out to eat? We love—and we’re talking luuuuhve—going to a restaurant and being met with the opportunity to eat Porter Road Butcher meat…that someone else has prepared. That’s what we like to call a win-win situation.

With Porter Road Butcher Meat Company taking over most of our pre-existing wholesale accounts in addition to starting up some new accounts of their own, Porter Road Butcher products are becoming more readily available at some of your favorite restaurants all across town. And if you ask us, that doesn’t suck.

So you want to know where you can go in order to have such an experience? Of course you do. Let us show you the way…

Porter Road Butcher mEAT Map

Here’s Where We At:
51st Kitchen  [Sylvan Heights]
Bagel Face  [East Nashville]
The Band Box, First Tennessee Park  [Germantown]
Beer Pale  [Sylvan Park]
The Crow’s Nest  [Green Hills]
Flip Burger  [Sylvan Park]
Gambling Stick  [East Nashville]
Germantown Café  [Germantown]
Grilled Cheeserie  [Food Truck]
Hoss’s Loaded Burgers  [Food Truck]
Hurry Back  [West End]
Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint*  [Germantown]
Kate’s Kitchen  [Franklin]
Moto  [The Gulch]
Otaku South  [The Gulch]
The Post  [East Nashville]
The Riverside Grillshack*  [East Nashville]
Stone Fox  [Sylvan Heights]
The Sutler*  [8th Ave]

*indicates restaurants that offer PRB meats on an occasional and/or irregular basis

Smoking with the Master – Tips and Tricks of the Trade

“Matthew was born with BBQ sauce running through his veins,” said Matt Russo’s father in a comment on The Gambling Stick’s Facebook page, “He’s been in love with barbecue for as long as I can remember.”

The smoky love child of Matt Russo and Marshall Hamilton, The Gambling Stick is Nashville’s newest mobile BBQ joint that sits just outside of the east Porter Road Butcher shop. Russo, an employee of PRB for just shy of 3 years now, actually got his first real job working in a barbecue joint in his hometown of Louisville, KY when he was just 16 years old. He’s had smoke in his eyes ever since.

Not only did Russo get handed the position of “smokemaster” almost immediately due to his substantial smoking prowess—which came mainly a result of his love for sunny afternoons and sharing great food with great friends—but working at PRB he was afforded the opportunity to learn how to fully break down animals and quickly discovered the vast difference that high-quality meats make when it comes to cooking.

With his knowledge of whole animal butchery coupled with his classical training at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY and even further aided by his southern roots and love of smoke, what Russo has done with The Gambling Stick is unparalleled by any other BBQ joint in town. Or in the region.

Loaded Smoker at The Gambling Stick | Porter Road Butcher

Both originality and tradition clearly play into the menu, and likely their most popular item is one that exudes both: the “pigsket.” The pigsket (or, pig brisket) from the Gambling Stick is sweet and smoky, full of flavor, not the least bit dry, and has clearly been on the smoker for just the right amount of time: a typically tougher cut of meat, Russo turns it into something incredibly juicy and tender. Of course, beef brisket is a fantastic staple on their menu as well.

Another Barbecue classic-turned-original, Russo and Hamilton have been playing around in the world of ribs, giving hungry meat-lovers entire 12- to 14-inch “whole slab ribs” (for which they are still trying to come up with a suitable name) instead of the traditional rib cuts like St. Louis style, spare ribs, or rib tips. James said, “After eating a whole rib, I was almost full. Those things are serious.”

Following years and years of experimenting, playing, and learning on the smoker and in the kitchen, Russo can pretty much do it with his eyes closed and his hands tied behind his back. It just ain’t no thang. Which is why he’s giving us (and you) tips and tricks of the trade:

Matt Russo of The Gambling Stick | Porter Road Butcher

Smoking Tips from the “Smokemaster,” Matt Russo

Pigsket Sandwich from The Gambling Stick | Porter Road Butcher1. Use Good Meat
And like, duh. Of course that’s going to taste better. But there’s actually a good reason as to why you should use high-quality meat when you’re planning to smoke it. As a muscle works, aka as an animal roams around, it develops connective tissue and flavor. So, if an animal uses their muscles a lot, meaning they are roaming out on the field with their piggy and beefy friends, they will develop more connective tissue and more flavor than those who lived their entire lives in a small crate where they couldn’t move. In the smoking technique, you generally go for a long time and at a low temperature, aka “slow and low,” so that it will break down those well-worked muscled filled with connective tissues and then turn those tissues into gelatin. That gelatin is the meaty tacky goodness that makes your lips stick together and makes you feel happy when you eat BBQ. So, by using a pasture raised animal, the meat will initially be tougher, but with the slow and low smoking process, it will become more tender and gelatinous and amazing.

2. NOT too HOT
As do most cooking processes, smoking meat elicits moisture. So when the temperature is high, more moisture will be drawn out from the meat, causing somewhat of a steaming effect and thus leaching moisture from the meat. Leaving you with dry meat. Nooo, gracias.

3. Pick Fruity Wood
“Fruity woods, like cherry, impart a sweeter smoke, whereas woody woods, like hickory or oak, impart less flavor and can sometimes leave you with an acrid or bitter flavor,” explains Russo. “When using good, sweet cherry wood you can smoke something for 16-18 hours and it will come off tasting sweet and smoky and delicious, but if you did the same with hickory the meat could become inedible.” Talk abut a waste of time.

4. You don’t need a smoker to be a smoker
Most people don’t have badass smokers like The Gambling Stick’s, but even without such a piece of equipment, you can still get great smoking results.
Gas grill – put wood into a small, shallow cast-iron pan on top of the grill’s heat source (on medium-low heat). Set your meat on the grill and then simply close the top and let ‘er go.
Charcoal grill – build a fire made of wood—not charcoal—on one side of the grill base and place your meat on the grill as far away from the heat as possible, so as to avoid direct heat, aka grilling. Close the top and smoke on.
Note: don’t wet the wood; instead keep it dry. That way you’ll get a better smoke on your meat instead of smouldering it.

Pigsket

5. Be on top of it but also be flexible
“It’s important to keep an eye on the temperature and try to keep it consistent,” advises Russo. A good range is 225o to 275o but that range can vary depending on what you’re smoking and how you want it to turn out. “With chicken I like to smoke it a little higher at first to get the skin nice and crispy, and then turn it down to finish it,” he says. But remember – recipes and rules are always subject to change when it comes to cooking. “You’ve got to keep an eye on things so that you can change strategies if you need to: turn up the heat, turn it down, or even taking the meat off the smoker way before or way after you’d initially planned. Just like grilling, after a while you’ll begin to get the hang of it.”

6. Don’t limit yourself
Smoking is not just for meats. Fish, like trout and salmon, are both excellent on the smoker. Smoking things like vegetables, particularly in a vegetarian setting, can add a sort of meaty characteristic to a dish that would be otherwise without. And even using smoked goods in baking—smoked lard, smoked salt, smoked fruits—can add in a little umami to what would otherwise be a traditional sweet!

The Gambling Stick is open Thursdays – Sundays from 11am until they run out. They are located at Porter Road Butcher East, 501 Gallatin Ave, and are available for catering events as well. Follow them on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.