Whole Hog Demo – April 19th


Our next Whole Hog Demo is scheduled for Sunday April, 19th

What: Whole Hog Demo with Chris & James

Where: Porter Road Butcher West | 4816 Charlotte Ave

When: Sunday, April 19th from 12:00 – 3:00 PM

Why: to learn how to break down a whole hog (and essentially, any 4-legged animal); to be schooled on the process of making sausage; to have a true Sunday Funday!

What else: Attendees walk away with 2 pork chops, 1 lb. sausage, 1 lb. bacon, 1 super sweet PRB T-Shirt, and a lot of knowledge.

Cost: $200 per person

To reserve your spot, stop by either Porter Road Butcher shop to pay your $200 ticket fee, or call us and give us your credit card info over the phone.

Grilling With the Butcher Boys

On Thursday August 21st, the Wilson County Exhibition Center was filled with excited and anxious teenagers; the hot-humid summer air was filled with smoke; and Chris, James, and Maddie’s bellies were filled with a variety of grilled meats. It was one hell of a day that we spent at the 4-H Festival Meat Cookery Contest at the Wilson County Fairgrounds. Porter Road Butcher at the Wilson County 4H Meat Cookery

The 4-H Youth Development Organization, commonly known as the 4-H Club, is an organization that works to build confidence and leadership skills in our youth, leading to success in their future careers. Through the support of adult volunteers and mentors, 4H-ers are inspired to work collaboratively with one another, spearhead and complete large projects, and moreover learn how to achieve their goals with confidence. Which was exactly what we saw at their Meat Cookery on Thursday.

As soon as we began to see kids pulling up and unloading their cars, we were both surprised and impressed: we saw miniature Webber grills, we saw Lysol wipes, we saw protective gloves, and we even saw a handful of toques, and one impressive Lodge cast-iron grill. We began to feel a little small about the setup we ourselves had thrown together. These kids were on top of it.

Once everyone donned their aprons and the smoke started rolling, we decided to make the rounds to get to know these budding chefs. Chris and James asked a number of questions regarding the kids’ preparation methods and recipes and were overall impressed by their confidence, maturity, and insistence on ending everything they said with “sir” or “ma’am.” Before we knew it we were seated at our respective judging tables: James was Junior-High Chicken, Chris got Senior-High Beef, and Maddie landed Senior-High Lamb.

Each team of four had the task of preparing four different meats on the grill (beef, chicken, lamb, and pig) each of which was judged on the creativity of the recipe, the appearance of Beef Explanations by James Peiskerthe meat, the tenderness, juiciness, and of course how the dish performed overall. Maddie sampled eleven lamb chops; James chowed down on 13 grilled chickens; and Chris took home the gold medal with 15 varieties of grilled beef, totaling nearly 32 oz. of steak. Shoo. The three of us were met with intense marinades, lots of creativity, and a lot of apparent care and consideration for what they were doing, but what we realized noticed was a vast misunderstanding of grilling and the delicious benefits that a hot grill can have. So once we had cast our votes and taken a short siesta to allow the meat to digest, Chris and James gave a grilling demonstration to shed a little light on how simple and delicious grilling should be.

Grilling Tips from Porter Road Butcher:

1) Charcoal or Die

You know that delicious, smoky flavor that envelops the outside of a well-prepared steak? That’s from charcoal—not briquettes or lighter fluid—charcoal. You’ve never heard anyone rave about that “delicious aroma of lighter fluid” that enhanced their steak so beautifully, have you? Use charcoal. Real charcoal. And taste the difference.

2) Turn down for what?

The whole point of using a grill is getting that direct heat contact with the meat—so turn up the heat and use your grill nice and hot. This adds a crust to the outside of your meat, which provides nice texture, but still leaves the inside tender and juicy. On the other hand, going “slow and low” doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when it comes to grilling; there’s no need to put the lid on your grill and essentially bake the meat. Instead, use the open-air to help build the flames and get that nice char on the outside. It’s instant flavor.

Turn down for what? asks Chris Carter of PRB3) Salt-N-Pepa

Salt and Pepper. The two of them’s all you need for real, good flavor. When grilling a steak, don’t you want to taste it? Yes. So why use all sorts of elaborate and complicated marinades to mask that delicious flavor? Keep it simple: liberal amounts of kosher salt and coarse ground pepper will add texture and crust to your meat, and they’ll beautifully enhance the flavor that you’re supposed to be enjoying: the meat.

4) Ruling? Overturned.

Don’t. Overturn. Your meat. Just let it relish in the heat, do it’s own thang, and get all amazing and delicious. There’s no need to go and give it a work out so it gets all buff and tough before you eat it. Chris recommends turning your meat no more than 4 times—which gives you the allowance to check each side once before making a final commitment. Like your mom used to say about your boo-boos, “Just quit pickin at it!”

5) Give it a rest

Sure, the tendency is to want to dive right in once your steak is hot off the grill and lookin oh so fine…but you’ve gotta give it a rest. When the meat makes contact with the heat of the fire the juices run away from the heat, making their way to the center and increasing the moisture that sits in the middle of the meat. By allowing it to rest for a 5-10 minutes after taking it off the grill, the moisture has a chance to work its way back to the edges, redistributing evenly. This means that when you begin to slice your steak, the juices wont run all over your cutting board, but will rather stay distributed evenly throughout the meat and eventually make their way into your mouth instead of down your chin. Aw yeah.

Thanks to the 4-H Club for hosting such an impressive and well run event, and an even bigger thank you for asking us to be a part of it! IMG_1080

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

Stocking Up

Stock may be a culinary friend you only tend to make nice with while the weather is cold, but we here at Porter Road Butcher know the value that this delicious and healthful cooking staple contains all year round.

Stocking Up at Porter Road ButcherSure, stock is usually employed in heartier dishes that require braising, are chosen as the foundation of a soup, or are selected to saucify your favorite glaze, but stocks don’t have to be limited to cold-weather cooking.

Most simply, stock is nutritious flavored water that adds both richness and minerals to whatever you’re cooking; why wouldn’t you use it? Your health and flavor points are skyrocketing.

The beauty of a properly prepared stock—and let’s be honest, we Porter Road butchers obviously prepare our stocks properly—is that it contains tons of nutrients and minerals served in a form where they can be easily absorbed. It’s one of your most healing diet staples.

After steadily boiling on the stove for a long period of time, the minerals from the bones, cartilage, marrow, and vegetables are released into the broth in the form of electrolytes (essentially salts) that you wouldn’t otherwise take in if served in a different form. Furthermore, adding wine, vinegar, or other acidic ingredients (like the red wine and tomato paste we add to beef and lamb stocks) help to draw out essential nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Talk about a nutrient-fest!

The other main health benefit—and admittedly, one of the main reasons the stock-piling trend has become so popular recently—is the natural gelatin that comes from stock and aids in digestion.

It is fairly common knowledge that raw foods are digested more easily than cooked food, but the reasoning behind this stems from food’s attraction to or repulsion of liquid. A fresh, raw salad will make its way through your system much more efficiently than a plate of spaghetti and meatballs would, because raw foods are hydrophilic, meaning they attract liquid, which assists in digestion. Cooked foods, like that hot plate of saucy and meaty pasta, are hydrophobic, which means they repel liquids and are more difficult to digest; they sit in your stomach for longer periods of time.

Chicken Stock in the Making at Porter Road ButcherHowever, gelatin that comes from bone broth is a protein supplement with the unusual characteristic of being hydrophilic (water-attracting)—even after being heated for an extensive period of time. This means that the naturally produced gelatin in stocks helps you digest food more quickly. Plus, since gelatin is only a protein sparer, it allows the body to more completely utilize the other “normal” proteins that you ingest, like chicken or pork.

In a nutshell, gelatin-rich broths can be an excellent aid to the health of those who cannot afford or simply do not incorporate much meat in their general diet.

Final interesting fact about stocks: recent studies have proved that the digestive system is often times the root of humans’ general illnesses, but the hydrophilic (again, liquid-attracting) characteristic of gelatinous stock lends it to being an excellent cleanser for your intestines, helping prevent digestive problems and diseases. Just sayin’.

So, want to know if the stock you’re buying is the good, nutritional, healthy stuff? Here are some general rules to follow:

  1. Unless Porter Road Butcher made it, or you made it, or maybe your Grandma Jane made it, most likely it isn’t good.
  2. Stick it in the fridge. If it gelatinizes and turns into what looks like a Jell-O, it’s good.
  3. Read the ingredients label for the stock that you’ve bought from the grocery. If it includes more ingredients than the basics (that’s bones, water, vegetables, wine, tomato paste, herbs, and seasonings), you likely don’t want it.

We make chicken, pork, lamb, and beef stocks at both shops as often as we can and we incorporate plenty of love into the mix too—you won’t find that listed in any of the ingredients of your favorite store-bought bone broths.

While our fresh PRB stocks should be used up within about a week, you could also throw it into the freezer to extend the shelf life and help preserve all of the beneficial nutrients.

But WAIT! There’s MORE! We also now carry pantry-ready, shelf-stable All-Natural PRB Beef Stock in our west side marketplace.

There’s no excuse to shirk the stock!

Even though the temperatures have warmed and it may not seem like very stock-suitable season, the nutritional benefits that we gain from consuming them makes stocks too valuable to limit to just half the year. Try substituting stock for water while steaming vegetables; employ it as a creaming agent in making risotto; use up your plethora of summer squashes with some stock-braised ratatouille; or really go balls to the walls and just drink it as is.

We’ve got it ready for you.

Maddie From The Block

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

    – 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.

    – 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

Butcher Demo with James Peisker

Sure, you’ve come in to visit the shop; you’ve perused the meat that resides in the case; you’ve tried to peak at the studs hacking away in the back; and you’ve probably drooled down your chin as one of our guys to cut you an extra thick filet off that big ole tenderloin.

Porter Road Butcher's James Peisker stops to explain during his Butcher DemoBut did you ever find yourself wondering about the mechanics of what it is these guys really do? Ever wonder exactly where on the pig the loin really resides? Ever thought to yourself, “Man, this PRB sausage is delicious…I wonder what they actually put into it to make my Wednesday morning breakfast so mouthwatering and titillating?”

Now all your questions can be answered.

On Sunday March 9th, PRB’s very own James Peisker is holding an exclusive Butchering Demo for a group of just 10 lucky pig-lovers.

The Butcher Demo, which will be held at our Charlotte Avenue shop, begins at 12 pm and will end at approximately 3:00–leaving you plenty of time to go home and get your grill on afterwards. James, who has been working in the food industry since his early adolescence and butchering since the age of 18, will start off by sharing a little about his experience with the restaurant biz, and then move on to processing a pig right before your eyes: butchering the animal, breaking it down into various parts and cuts, making fresh and delicious sausage, explaining the process of makin’ bacon, and then sending you home with goodies to cook! And a T-Shirt. Don’t forget the t-shirt.

If you’re the type that likes pigging out on a Sunday afternoon, Sunday March 9th is gonna be just the ticket. And then some. This demo puts “pigging out” into a whole new arena.

Tickets are $200 a person. Guests may sign up for the event at either our west or east shops, but the ticket amount must be paid in full in order to hold a spot.

With only 10 spots available, tickets will go fast; so sign up today!

Half a pig is ready to be processed at Porter Road Butcher

This big piggy is gonna go wee wee wee all the way to your home.