Cat’s Externship: Real, Meaty Experience.

Externship: Real, Life Experience.

As graduates of two of the nation’s most renowned culinary institutes, Chris and James both know about the importance of getting an externship during school, and they also know just how pivotal said experience can be in making a future career move.

When Cat Gleason, a current student at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY (James’ alma matter) reached out to inquire about doing her externship at Porter Road Butcher, the two immediately jumped at the opportunity to become a certified and qualified location in the eyes of the CIA.

Cat Gleason | Porter Road ButcherWE have our own extern now!” James said. “How freaking cool is that?! Maybe now we’ll get one every year…”

Don’t get ahead of yourself, pal.

According to Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts’ (Chris’ alma matter) website, “The goal of an externship is to provide students with industry experience. [This] is your opportunity to see how a company achieves [both] profitability and high quality.”

In other words, an externship is a learning opportunity. It’s research. It’s a time to explore all of the possibilities and potentially rule some things out. And it’s also a cool way for the “host” of the extern to give back to their roots.

For Cat, she wanted to learn and research and explore the world of butchering. She’s here for the meat. And we’re psyched to have her.

Unlike an internship, a term that has achieved four-letter-word sentiments in today’s job-hungry crowd, externships in the culinary world often occur in lieu of regular classes during the school year (versus during the summertime or post-graduation) and also provide students with the opportunity to apply the skills that they’ve learned so far to a real world situation. No coffee runs or copy-making here.

Cat began culinary school in December of 2014 and at just 18 years old, decided to drive down to Nashville to expand upon her fundamental knowledge of butchering. “We took a class where we learned about the basics and I really enjoyed that,” she said. “Lots of it was watching the professor break down the primals but we didn’t get too hands on; I want to feel confident about butchering and doing it all myself.”

Throughout her 15-weeks in Nashville, Cat will be working at all of PRB’s locations, switching back and forth between the East Shop and West, as well as taking trips up to PRB Meat Co. in Kentucky where all of our animals are processed. “I’m really excited to go to the slaughterhouse,” she said. “I’m a little nervous to see the animals actually get killed, but I still want to.”

Although Cat claims that she’s not a person who generally likes to have much fun (???), she said she is interested in trying her hands (and feet) at power yoga during her time here, in addition to exploring Nashville’s restaurant scene—don’t try to invite her to a movie though; she doesn’t like them.

We’re excited to have her here on our team, we’re eager to teach her, and we’re thrilled to pass the butchering torch down to an aspiring culinarian.

Welcome, Cat!

Fresh, flavorful, fast: Watermelon & Surryano Salad

Whether you’re a fan of the European travel, a lover of cross-culture cookbooks, or just an avid consumer of all television programs a la Anthony Bourdain, you’re probably hip to the love affair that the Mediterranean Europe has with one particular culinary crew: dry-cured meats.

From prosciutto, to soppressata, to jamón serano and beyond, Spain, Italy and France are particularly in love with dry-cured meats. And for good reason! Commonly served as an accompaniment to or star-player in a variety of arenas, dry-cured meats can quickly jazz up a pasta dish, add more oomph to a salad, or easily pull together a cheese board into a complete meal.

“When I went to study abroad in Barcelona, I was shocked and also psyched to discover that an entire bone-in, dry-cured ham called jamón iberico was a fixture on the counter of my host mother’s kitchen,” Maddie said. “Wanting to start off my semester of eating and drinking abroad with something skinny—you know, to set a very hopeful tone for the following five months—one of the very first meals I had when I arrived in Barcelona was a cantaloupe and jamón salad. I was in love with the contrast between super-salty ham and cool-sweet melon.”

Similar dishes are likely to be found on the menu of a small Italian restaurant, or might be scribbled on the specials board at any of Nashville’s recent farm-to-table luncheries that seem to be popping up all over…but is it snotty to say that this classic cantaloupe and prosciutto combo is just a little bit tired and outdated? That it feels kind of been-there-done-that? Is it mean to say that we adore the idea, but we just want to make it better?

Serve yourself a taste of sweet and savory summer | Porter Road ButcherWe don’t think so. That’s why we’re giving it a makeover, complete with lots of local, some southern spice, and plenty of pizzazz:

Watermelon & Surryano Salad

Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 as main; 6-8 as side

½ seedless, baby watermelon (we like Delvin Farms watermelons)
16 thin slices Surryano ham*
4 cups fresh arugula
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
fresh garden herbs, to taste (we like tarragon)
salt
pepper
1-2 Tbs. KYBB Woodford sorghum vinaigrette 
1 pinch PRB hot chicken seasoning**

Method:

  1. Cut watermelon in half. Save half for making delicious cocktails or other eating, or gift it to your next-door neighbor. They’ll love you for it. Cut off the entire rind removing everything green and white, so that only pink flesh is exposed. With the cut-side down, cut watermelon in half again, and then slicing width-wise, thinly slice each piece into triangles. Transfer to serving platter, shingling then on top of one another down the plate.
  2. Drape half of the Surryano (about eight pieces) across the watermelon shingles, from left to right.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together arugula, red onion, garden herbs, salt, pepper, and Woodford sorghum vinaigrette. Pile salad on top of watermelon and Surryano so the salad adds plenty of height to the dish. Drape the remaining Surryano across the salad. You could also mix it into the salad, if you prefer. Note: if you won’t be serving the salad immediately, wait until you are ready to serve before you dress the salad to prevent it from wilting.
  4. Sprinkle a generous pinch of PRB’s hot chicken seasoning across the top of the salad.
  5. Serve immediately.

* Virginia-bred Surryano ham, an incredibly marbled piece of meat that is created from heritage-breed Berkshire hogs, has a deep and rich flavor that nicely matches up to the hams of yesteryear from old Europe. If you’ve yet to try it, now’s the time.

**If you don’t have Hot Chicken Seasoning and don’t want to buy a whole jar, try substituting for your favorite spicy blend, or even use a pinch of plain cayenne. Any kind of spicy zing will be a nice addition.

Watermelon & Surryano Salad | Porter Road Butcher

A #SouthernSummer Memory: Falling in Love with Blueberry Pie

ForkInPieThey say scent is the strongest sense tied to memory; for me, it’s the combination of all five senses that really locks the good ones in. I have a strong memory of the first time I ever fell in love with blueberry pie, and it doesn’t all solely lie in that intoxicating smell.

As a child I didn’t care for fruit-based desserts like blueberry pie, and subsequently I turned my nose up at any sweet treat containing fruit, from apple turnovers to jelly donuts. Chocolate was my thing.

Since fruit was often a side item served to me during lunch or dinner, I felt I wasn’t getting my money’s worth if I ate fruit—something that had been deemed healthy—as my dessert—an important “fourth meal” for which I saved the baddest and richest of processed foods, like mint chocolate chip ice cream and brownies from a box. But regardless of my reasoning, even an orange-zested chocolate cake couldn’t hold my attention; I simply wasn’t interested.

I was about 15 years old when my taste buds underwent a holistic metamorphosis. I began to enjoy the majority of the foods that I put into my mouth—even those that I had previously despised. As a result I became more adventurous in the culinary realm, I became more pleasant to have at the dinner table, and I became a much easier dinner guest for whomever had previously been burdened with my presence.

Fruity desserts suddenly hit the scene; they went from “not” all the way to “hot.”

Aside from its sheer deliciousness however, the reason I fell in love with blueberry pie was due to how and where I ate it: smack dab in the middle of the afternoon—not as a post-dinner reward, as I was normally accustomed—and in the most #SouthernSummer-y setting I could dream: sitting on the front porch of my best friend’s Monteagle Tennessee mountain house, and surrounded by soaring trees, sweetly chirping birds, thick wet heat, and streaming streaks of sunlight.

The heat of the day didn’t hinder my desire for warm, fresh-from-the-oven pie since the scoop of vanilla ice cream offered that desired punch of cool, and the quickly growing puddle of violet cream that took over my plate only made me eat it faster.

It was at that moment that I fell in love with blueberry pie: in the middle of the South, where the blueberries were at their peak; in the middle of the day when I was worn out from playing and hungry for a snack; and in the middle of the summer, when a blueberry pie reigns supreme in the realm of desserts—fruity, or not.

It’s the epitome of summer. And fortunately, with the guidance of PRB’s own Chris and James it isn’t too difficult to make. Even for someone who’s never before done so. (That’s me!)Blueberry Pie made with Porter Road Butcher Lard

Southern Blueberry Pie with Whipped Cream

for the crust & lattice:
2 ¼ cups AP flour
½ cup Banner Butter unsalted
½ cup PRB lard*
1 tsp. salt
¼ cup whiskey** (can substitute for water)

for the filling:
3 pints blueberries (this may vary depending on the depth of your pie plate)
1 Tbs. lemon juice
¼ cup cornstarch
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. salt

for the wash:
1 egg
yolk, 1 Tbs. cream (or water)

1 tsp. sugar in the raw

for the whipped (Chantilly) cream:
1 cup Hatcher Dairy heavy cream
1 Tbs. powdered sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract

*We like to use lard in the crust because with the heat of the oven, moisture (aka water) from the lard evaporates and then leaves these air pockets in the dough, which makes your crust nice and flaky. Butter doesn’t have the same water content and therefore doesn’t provide the same result, but too much lard will leave you with a wet, soggy crust due to too much water. That’s why we like a mixture of both.

**We use whiskey instead of water because the alcohol will never allow the flour to develop gluten, so you’ll never be left with a tough dough. Plus, if you don’t use it all, you get to drink it, which makes pie-baking even more fun.

Instruction:

  1. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop lard into 1/2 cup (baseball-sized) ball. Put lard in freezer until frozen or as cold as possible.
  2. Measure out whiskey, and put in freezer until very cold, about 15 minutes. Transfer to fridge to keep cold until ready for use.
  3. Remove lard from freezer and using a cheese grater on the larger setting, grate lard into a large, chilled bowl. Return to freezer. Note: the fat must be kept cold. If it begins to soften, return grated lard to fridge until thoroughly chilled before moving to the next step.
  4. Remove butter from refrigerator and cut into small cubes. Remove lard from freezer and add to bowl with lard.
  5. Using a pastry cutter, combine lard, butter, salt, and flour until mixed. It is normal, and desirable, for larger pieces of lard to remain amidst the mixture. Mixture should resemble cornmeal.
  6. About two tablespoons at a time, slowly add chilled whiskey mixture into flour and fat mixture, using a rubber spoon or spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl and fold the liquid in. Once dough can be combined into a ball, quickly kneed it together with your hands, separate into two pieces, and then flatten into two patties. Be sure not to overwork the dough.
  7. Wrap dough patty in plastic wrap, and return to fridge for at least 30 minutes to re-chill before using. Note: it’s best to make the pate brisee the day before, allowing it to refrigerate overnight. This also makes the actual pie assembly a snap.
  8. Preheat oven to 400o
  9. Remove one dough patty from fridge. Flour a cleaned surface and, using a rolling pin, begin to roll out your dough until about 1/8or thinner. Sweep away excess flour, and then fit crust into a 9” glass pie plate, pressing it down to fit the plate. Trim dough to about ½” overhang around the entire circumference.
  10. Return piecrust to fridge until cold, 30 minutes.
  11. Meanwhile, mix together blueberries, lemon juice, cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside. Separately, in a small bowl, mix together egg yolk and cream. Set aside.
  12. Fill pie shell with pie filling, allowing berries to slightly mound at the center.
  13. Roll out remaining dough in the same manner as before, until about 1/8thick, or thinner. Using a pastry wheel, pizza wheel, or a regular knife, cut dough into strips ½ inch to ¾ inches wide.
  14. Now make your lattice. We find this method very easy. Remember – it’s best to work with very cold dough, so if your lattice dough is too soft, return it to the fridge before continuing.
  15. Once the lattice is complete, trim the lattice edges so they are even with the pie shell edges. Lastly, crimp the edges of your pie to seal the lattice and make your pie look very profesh and beautiful.
  16. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush egg wash over lattice and crust until glistening. Sprinkle with raw sugar.
  17. Place pie in the center of a parchment-paper lined baking sheet (this will make cleanup less of a headache if your pie bubbles over). Bake pie in the lower third of the oven for 20 minutes, or until crust begins to turn golden. Lower heat to 350 o F and, rotating halfway through, bake for another 40 – 50 minutes or until crust is a deep golden brown and the filling is thick and bubbling. Transfer pie to a wire rack to cool completely.
  18. Using an electric mixer or hand mixer, combine cream, vanilla, and sugar in a bowl and whip until stiff peaks form. Serve on top of pie. Can also substitute for vanilla ice cream.

Blueberry Pie | Recipe from Porter Road Butcher

 

Wesley’s Nashville Burger Beat

It’s a well-known fact that it’s hard to beat our meat here at Porter Road Butcher, but we have to admit, you can find some pretty damn respectable—nay delicious—meat around town that’s well worth your precious dollars. Whether it’s a classic American cheeseburger, or a patty that boasts something crazy or irregular, PRB West’s Wesley Adams has an opinion on almost all of them.

Wesley Adams: The Real Burger King

Wesley Adams: The Real Burger King

First on Wesley’s list of priorities when he moved to Nashville in July of 2014 was finding a go-to burger joint—he focused on that endeavor before even finding a permanent place of residence. So as he stands here today, on the first anniversary of his move to Music City, he has sampled his fair share of what Nashville has to offer when it comes to this classic American favorite. And after twelve good months, he is ready to share his reviews.

In his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana Wesley’s allegiances are torn between Bistro To Go’s special smoked gouda pimiento cheeseburger—an explosion of southern flavor on a fat patty—and Strawn’s Eat Shop double bacon cheeseburger—a feast of two thin patties, plenty of mustard, crispy bacon, and an egg with a runny yolk, sandwiches between two halves of a toasted and fluffy bun.

So although Wesley has yet to find what he would snobbishly qualify as, “the perfect burger,” he has come across quite a few good ones that he claims, “are top contendors.”

Much to fellow PRB West manager, Alex Welsch’s delight, Wes claimed the burger that Alex prepared him for lunch one day, “the best burger he’s had in Nashville.”

Alex now holds himself in very high esteem.

Wesley’s Nashville Burger Beat (in no particular order)
  1. Bacon Cheeseburger / MLRose / $10.95 – choice of cheese, natural uncured bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion & pickle | Everyone at Porter Road Butcher is well acquainted with Wesley’s obsession for cheeseburgers, and everyone subsequently knows to expect an invitation to ML Rose on Monday nights for their two-for-one burger special—a deal that is only made possible with the accompaniment of two craft beers. 😀  “I usually get the bacon cheeseburger and a couple of Yazoo Dos Perros. That burger is probably the closest one I can find in Nashville to my hometown favorite, Strawn’s.”
  1. The Local Burger / Fido / $13 – ground beef and lamb, Tennessee white cheddar, caramelized fennel + fig aioli, caramelized onion, pickle, lettuce, on a bun  |  “Half of me is tempted to eliminate this burger just based on the fact that it has lamb and beef in the patty, but it was one of the first burgers I tried when I moved to town and it’s still one of my favorites,” said Wesley. “It’s kind of on the fancy side of the spectrum, but the mixture of lamb with that fig aioli? Woo! It is damn good.”
  1. West Coast Burger / Burger Republic / $10.50 – twin thin pressed patties, mustard steamed with American cheese, BR sauce, lettuce, tomato, grilled onion | “In my book, there are two kinds of burgers: the grilled backyard BBQ style burger, and flat top diner style burger,” said Wesley. More often than not, he pledges allegiance to the latter variety. “When it’s grilled, the patties are usually thicker so I like a nice medium in the center. If I’m not grilling it myself, that doesn’t always happen. Even though flat top burgers generally come out more well done, they’re still really juicy—I actually like that kind of burger better.” Burger Republic uses two thin flat-top patties and accoutrements reminiscent of a Big Mac, but considering the black angus patty, the brioche bun, and the sizable sandwich that those two, plus all the remaining ingredients amass, Mickey D’s doesn’t hold a candle.
  1. Burger + Fries / Dino’s / $6 – the greasy, delicious classic | “This is my kind of place,” Wesley said when he first walked into Dino’s on a rainy night in March, “I could see myself becoming a regular here.” After a recent revamp of this East Nashville favorite spot, the bar still has that drab-ulous and somewhat smoky vibe that feels so good in the local watering hold, but with the added bonus of actually delicious diner-style food. Cheeseburger included. Although he doesn’t usually include French fries in the judging equation, Wesley made special note of the exceptionally crispy and perfectly salted fries that accompanied Dino’s “greasy, delicious classic” cheeseburger. They hit the nail on the head: ain’t no better way to put it.
  1. Brisket Burger / Martin’s Bar-B-Que / $8 – our custom blend of ground beef comes with grilled onions, American cheese, bbq sauce, and topped with our smoked beef brisket | Another burger that doesn’t quite follow the “less-is-more” idiom, the brisket burger from Martin’s BBQ falls along the lines of, “meat-is-more.” And in this case, meat really is…more. Which might be why Wesley likes it so much…he is a butcher, after all. But wait! You say. A burger topped with…more meat?? How could he? Isn’t that too much meat? Won’t that give him the meat sweats? No, incredulous burger-hater. It doesn’t. This burger is NOT blowing smoke. When cashing out at just $8 for such a mountain of meat, neither your belly nor your wallet will mind.
  1. Fat Mo’s Burger / Fat Mo’s / $3.49 – all hamburgers served with onion, lettuce, mustard, ketchup, mayo, pickles, and tomatoes | After a night out on the town, this burger does the trick when you wake up the next morning feeling sluggish. It’s hearty, greasy, and just the ticket for soaking up last night’s sins. The spicy-seasoned fries certainly don’t hurt, either.
  1. Alex Welsch’s Best Burger / Porter Road Butcher West or Alex’s House / $0 [it was for staff lunch] – PRB ground beef, caramelized onion, PRB classic yellow mustard, Kenny’s Farmhouse white cheddar, and a toasted Bobby John Henry burger bun. | All quality ingredients. ‘Nuff said.

Want to make a burger that will turn on Wesley’s tastebuds? Here’s how he throws down with some PRB patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun…or something along those lines.

the wesley adams burger

¼ lb. PRB ground beef
2 slices American cheese (we’re talkin’ the single-wrapped squares)
mayonnaise
yellow mustard
lettuce
pickles
burger bun
salt & pepper

  1. Heat cast-iron skillet to medium-high heat.
  2. Form beef into 1/4 inch to 1/3 inch thick burger patties and season both sides liberally with salt and pepper.
  3. Once cast-iron skillet is hot, add burgers to pan and cook until a nice crust has formed on the bottom, 3-4 minutes. Carefully flip burger and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until crust has formed. Remove burgers from pan and transfer to a cutting board. Place 2 slices of American cheese on top of each burger patty and then cover patties with a piece of aluminum foil to keep the burgers warm as they rest.
  4. Meanwhile, slice each burger bun in half, and toast in the cast iron skillet. Spread mayonnaise on the top half of the bun; spread mustard on the bottom half. Place burger patty on the bottom half, top with pickles and lettuce, and replace the top. Do not cut in half. Hold that burger in your hands and feel it while you eat it.
  5. Enjoy with a cold, dark lager or pale ale.

Burger_Blog