Chicken Confit, AKA Chicken ConFAT

Confitnoun – /kon-FEE/ – a method of food preservation in which meat is slowly cooked at a low temperature in it’s own fat.

Once exclusively a mysterious noun that has in recent years morphed into a popular verb, confit’ing is an effective preservation technique—derived by our refrigerator-less French ancestors—that relies on fat to protect the delicious prize inside. A liquid viscous enough to solidify at room temperature and provide a protective seal to block oxygen, fat prevents bacteria from proliferating in the meat and also renders what could otherwise be a regular ol’ chicken thigh ultra-tender and delicious.

To some, the term confit can illicit confusion. From its definition, this cooking method seems quite similar to the all-time-favorite cooking technique of deep-frying, in which meats are similarly cooked in liquid fat, but confit’ing employs one very important difference: temperature. Deep-fried chicken is cooked at scorching temperatures (like, in the mid-300’s to mid-400’s) for a short period of time, whereas confit employs low heat (we’re talkin’ 170° F) and lengthy time periods (we confit our chicken for 12 hours).

Think of it this way: confit is to deep-frying, as smoking is to grilling. The latter is fast and hot, while the former is slow and lowww.

Chicken from Porter Road Butcher

Before the days of refrigeration, meats that had been confit’ed we preserved by being packed into containers and covered in—what else?—more fat. Said fat would eventually solidify as its temperature lowered, thus shielding the meat from oxygen and subsequently, preventing contamination. Stored in a cool and dark room (or basement), this fat-sealed meat would keep for a number of weeks and best of all, continue to tenderize.

Today, confit meat can be stored in the refrigerator (whether submerged in its fat or not) and can last up to a number of months.

As a means of further aiding in bacterial prevention, generally meats that are confit’ed are cured prior to their long, luxurious bath in a warm vat of fat. Traditionally, “cure” is made of roughly equal parts salt and sugar, a mixture that is rubbed on the outside of the meat before it sits for a period of time (2-3 days). So not only does this salt-n-sugar scrub additionally protect the meat from a bacterial infection, but it also aids your taste buds by bringing a flavor dance party to your tongue. Can we go ahead and give a big high-five for confit?

Clearly, aside from the shelf-life benefits, there are taste-bud bonuses that come along with confit’ing foods, as well. While the meat sits in said bath of fat, the connective tissues and muscle fibers have the opportunity to slowly break down (kind of like braising), which leads to incredibly tender, melt-in-your-mouth meat, that is juicy, moist, and has a lovely coating of fatty flavor. Plus, because of the low, low temperature at which the meat is cooked, there isn’t enough heat available to produce steam, which means the meat retains much of its moisture and flavors, making it the utmost delicious. Huzzah!

So what gives? What are you supposed to do with the chicken [or goose or duck] once it’s done marinating in this warm fat-bath?

You eat it. Duh…

Confit Chicken Salad Sandwich from Porter Road ButcherThere are lots of options for utilizing and enjoying confit chicken (we’re going to stick with chicken in this scenario since we sell chicken at PRB regularly and do not regularly sell duck or goose), and as a basic rule of thumb, you can treat it the same way you would roast chicken: it can do almost anything.

Confit chicken is tender, juicy, flavorful, and in some cases (like here at PRB) tastes kind of like bacon, since our preferred submerging-fat-of-choice tends to be of the bacon variety. Because, bacon-flavored chicken. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

Give your confit chicken a quick zip in a hot pan or simply bring it to room temp and there’s no limit to what you can do: mix it with olive oil, tomatoes, and plenty of fresh herbs to bring your summer pasta salad to life; layer it into your white lasagna to ensure everything stays moist and full of flavor; use it alongside kielbasa and pork shoulder in an almost-classic cassoulet; whip up you’re your best-yet chicken salad by mixing it with walnuts, celery, dried cranberries, and plenty of mayo; or toss it with some peas, carrots, and gravy and turn it into a comforting chicken pot pie.

Both Porter Road Butcher locations have plenty of chicken confit ready for the taking and ready for the making. All you have to do is figure out down which culinary road you’d like to travel! (And pssst – we’re happy to give suggestions!)

Let us Eggsplain…

Porter Road Butcher’s local egg farm, Willow Farm, is slowing down production and will not be able to fulfill their weekly orders as they normally do. With the excessive heat, their birds are having trouble meeting production needs. Here’s why:

Willow Farm is a locally owned farm located in Summertown, Tennessee that provides Porter Road Butcher and many other Nashville businesses with local, delicious, farm-fresh eggs.

Owners Marsha and Jerry Hobgood have a passion for raising happy hens and delivering the most flavorful, fresh, high-quality eggs to the greater Nashville area. Their eggs are known for their richly colored, thick, syrupy yolks; firm yet fluffy whites; and beautifully thick brown shells.

Willow Farm’s hens are 100% free range, meaning they are given access to as much fresh air, sunshine, grass, bugs, and seeds as their little hearts desire. But sometimes all of that time in the sun can have a negative effect—particularly in the oppressive heat of the late summer. During these blistering August temps, the birds get overheated and begin molting, which is a period of approximately 21-28 days during which they naturally lose their feathers, and subsequently stop producing eggs for that time. On top of that, older birds simply can’t handle the same levels of production, and younger pullets (baby hens) are not quite ready.

Thus, the lack in availability.

Marsha assured PRB that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the health of the birds, but rather that Mother Nature simply has other plans for them. Willow Farms should be resuming their regular production within the next four weeks.

Willow Farm Eggs | Porter Road Butcher

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.

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.

At Nicoletto’s, these Bro’s Make Good Pasta

With a delightful Italian surname like Nicolleto, my brain immediately conjured up images of Nonna Nicoletto, clad in a flour-caked apron holding the hands of little Danny and Ryan as they first embarked on an afternoon of pasta-making—an afternoon that lit the spark for what is today their small business in handcrafting pasta.

Nicoletto's Rigatoni - for sale at Porter Road ButcherBut conjuring up an image like that one would be in vain. “We actually have no family recipe or family story or anything charming like that,” said Danny when I visited he and his brother’s small-batch pasta-rie on the East side of town. “Ryan and I have both worked in Italian restaurants and we’ve always wanted to do something Italian. Initially we wanted to start a restaurant, but when we began to realize how expensive that could be we turned on pasta.”

Nicoletto’s Pasta Co officially launched their business about a year ago, but prior to doing so Danny and Ryan had to put plenty of blood, sweat and tears into their business—and then cleaned all of that up before starting pasta production. After finding a space off Kirkland in their East Nashville neighborhood, the next and arguably most important step was finding real, Italian pasta machines to make their real, Italian pasta.

Although the Nicoletto bros had always planned on making small-batch pastas, a mere Kitchen Aid attachment most certainly wouldn’t do for a business. So they found second-hand Italian machinery that they rehabbed into the beautiful and fully functioning pasta-crankers that they work with today. Italian-in-origin as the machines were, they required specific knowledge in addition to metric tools—both of which Ryan had, thanks to his affinity for repairing Vespas—so once the space was prepared and their special pasta-drying room was constructed, all that was left to do was make pasta.

Danny and Ryan make their pastas from just two ingredients: water and flour or grain. Their pasta lacks any egg, salt, or other additives, but the flavor is incredibly rich due to the high quality, nutritious, and flavorful grains that they use to create their noodles.

The Nicoletto bros have three main lines of pasta—organic, heritage grain, and traditional—and they have a variety of sources for their different flours and grains. Just as Porter Road Butcher knows each exact farm that raise our cows, hogs, chickens and lambs, Danny and Ryan have created relationships with both the farms and mills where they receive each various line of starch for their flour. “With the heritage grain that we receive from Arizona for example, we’ve formed a great relationship; they like to tell us the story behind each grain before they ship it over. We get really excited to make pasta when we get something like that in.”

Unlike the pasta that you would find at a supermarket, which is made with white durum flour, the flours that the Nicoletto bro’s use are minimally-processed and rich in flavor and nutrients. Best of all, their pastas are made within 3 days of those grains being milled. Meaning it’s fresh. Real fresh. “We treat our product like a coffee aficionado would treat coffee. We’ve come to notice the nuances in the different grains and we can appreciate the rich aromas and smells that are so distinct in different batches,” said Danny.

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 11.30.59 AMAnd that’s why their pasta is so incredible. Like our meat, which our farmers take great care to raise naturally and humanely, and which our butchers take great care to break down into beautiful pieces of meat, the Nicoletto’s take the same care with their pasta. They researched trusted, reputable, and responsible mills to source their products out of the central U.S. (sorry- Tennessee doesn’t exactly boast the proper arid climate it requires to grow wheat!) and then use it almost the instant it arrives at their shop to keep their product equally as flavorful.

The brass die on their Italian pasta machines gives the pasta a delightful texture that allows any sauce to cling to the noodle with ease, and the hands that actually cut the pasta ensure a product that is anything but generic. Their manpower ensures both that each noodle is different—maybe slightly longer or shorter than the one before—and that extreme care is taken with every small batch.

And that’s why we like them so much. And it’s also why we’re planning to sell their pastas in our shops…starting NOW!

Nicoletto’s Pasta Co. does sell both fresh and dried pasta but due to space constraints, we will only be able to sell their dried kind. We’re planning to start out with a few bags of a variety of shapes and sizes and see how things go…but if all goes well, we might just ask them to keep bringing more!

In addition to retail sales at both Porter Road Butcher locations, Nicoletto’s is at the Nashville Farmer’s Market every Saturday from about 10 am to 2 pm, plus starting this summer they’ll be at 6 different farmers markets every WEEK! Leaving you with absolutely no excuse to give them a try.

We personally think they’re a perfect pair for our PRB heat-n-eat meals, and our no-funny-business-in-our-food ideals.

Danny & Ryan Nicoletto | Porter Road Butcher

Peaches Meat Porter Road Butcher

It was only a month and a half ago that Nashville endured what some folks dubbed the worst ice and snow storm we’ve seen in 20 years; it was only two weeks ago that every man and woman turned to their favorite social media forum to bemoan the 30-degree temperatures and bone-chilling wind; and it was just 10 minutes ago that we found ourselves complaining about the arrival of Nashville’s famous summer heat and humidity.

The Peach TruckAhh, Nashville. *Sigh* Thank you for ALL of that.

Yes, in Nashville’s standard spastic style, the weather has lurched from 0-80, but our stomachs are doing surprisingly well with catching up from the change in speed.

Although the official summer solstice hasn’t actually hit us, summer is showing its arrival in different ways: it’s apparent in the droves of people flocking to patios after work to soak up any remaining drizzles of sunlight and tufts of warm air; you can see it in the pops of cherry red and sea foam green as toenails peek out of open-toed shoes; and most importantly it’s showing up on our plates and in our glasses.

Because while the weather screams summer, our bellies are screaming for it too. We’re longing for outside grilling sessions filled with kielbasa, dogs, brats and burgers. We’re hungry for sweet and juicy ‘maters, fresh from the garden, in varying hues of red, yellow, green, orange, and purple. We’re dreaming of freshly brewed and ice-cold sweet tea, a can of cold beer in a cozy koozie, a potent margarita with salt on the rim. But most of all, we want peaches.

And we want them from The Peach Truck.

By jove, we’re gonna get them!

When peach season begins in Mid-May, The Peach Truck will be kickin it with PRB. *Yessss*

It’s a match made in local heaven. This year during peach season The Peach Truck will set up at both Porter Road Butcher shops, once per week, to sell their delicious peaches to the hungry, peach-loving and meat-loving masses.

PRB West: Tuesdays | 11:00am – 2:00pm

PRB East: Fridays | 3:00 – 7:00pm

We’re envisioning all sorts of peachy and meaty deliciousness, so feel free to stay tuned for that. Think like, James and the Giant Peach, plus Chris and the Giant Pork Chop, minus the scene where the peach gets impaled on the Empire State Building.

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Flipping Out: PRB Flip Burgers

Flip Burger LogoIf you know us Porter Road Butchers, you know we love supporting both our neighbors and our neighborhoods—on both sides of town. So you could imagine we were pretty excited when our West Nashville neighbor Richard Blais himself stopped by the shop earlier this year to talk about a partnership between Porter Road Butcher and Flip Burger Boutique.

Because Porter Road Butcher now has the power and aid of Porter Road Butcher Meat Company to supplement our labor in the realm of wholesaling product, we can provide more delicious meat to more amazing restaurants at a more frequent and more regular rate. We know that saying goes “less is more” but when it comes to our meat being consumed around Nashville, we believe that more is more: The more local, pasture-raised, antibiotic- and hormone-free meat that we can provide to our city, the better. Are we right?

…that was a rhetorical question. (We are right.)

Image from tableog.com

Image from tableog.com

When Flip Burger Boutique first opened their doors back in January we were psyched to have a specialty burger already on their menu, the butcher’s cut (PRB beef, crumbled Emmi Roth buttermilk blue cheese, caramelized onions, soy truffle vinaigrette, frisee, pickled shallots, and red wine jam $11.75), a special item to this Nashville Flip location.

Today, however, with PRB MC taking off in the wholesaling sphere and with Flip Burger running right along our side, we’re excited and proud to announce that there are now more PRB burger options on Flip’s menu. Cue the happy dance.

In addition to the already well-loved butcher’s cut burger, Flip has added a brand spankin’ new PRB burger (8 oz. porter road locally sourced patty with cheddar, pecan smoked bacon, bibb lettuce, and ketchup $14), made just the way Chris and James like to prepare their own: no mayo, no mustard, no onion, no fuss.

The lamburger also received an upgrade, swapping out their previous patty for our locally sourced Tavalin Tails lamb (feta cheese, marinated vegetables, arugula, pickled red onion, tzatziki, garam masala spice $12.75).

And maybe best of all, Flip added a “PRB Upgrade” option which can be applied to any of their burgers at $3 for a patty and $6 for an 8oz. upgrade. Other upgrades include a gluten-free bun ($1) and a lettuce wrap to eliminate any real bun altogether.

So while a hamburger certainly isn’t your go-to choice for “healthy eating,” at the very least you can digest easy after eating America’s sandwich sweethert, knowing that your juicy and delicious burger came from a local, responsible, salt-of-the-earth farmer, and that your “lettuce bun” contains pretty much zero calories. And is green. So that feels good. It’s about as “healthy” as a burger can get.

Of course, Flip Burger may still be somewhat infamous for that Foi Gras Milkshake—and no offense, Flip Burger, we really do love you but the thought of it still makes our stomachs turn over—we’re confident (hoping?) that the presence of Porter Road Butcher meat on the menu will bring in some more mouths to the restaurant, and that our partnership will moreover bring more customers into the shop as well. Because that’s what neighbors to: Help and support one another.

It always feels good to be a friend to your neighbor, and we’re glad ours is so delicious!

Photo from FlipBurgerBoutique.com

Photo from FlipBurgerBoutique.com

Flip Burger Boutique Hours:
Monday – Thursday 11am – 10pm
Friday & Saturday 11am – 11pm
Sundays from 11am – 9pm.

4111 Charlotte Avenue | Nashville, TN 37209 | (615) 454-2917

Check out Flip Burger’s New PRB-Studded Menu

Marksbury Farm Market meats Porter Road Butcher

While many people marvel over the craft of butchering and appreciate the local lens on which we at Porter Road focus, often times folks don’t quite understand how things work; they can’t comprehend why we don’t have X today, or how we could’ve run out of Y and Z when it’s only Thursday afternoon.

Marksbury Processing - Aging BeefSomehow people seem to forget that bacon doesn’t grow on trees and they are often ignorant to the fact that chickens aren’t actually in season until the weather is warm. Due to the abundance of large-scale grocery stores that are riddled with chicken, pork, and beef galore, we’ve been brainwashed into thinking that these kinds of products are readily available seven days a week, 365 days a year.

The reality of the matter is that our hard-working, local farmers have neither the means nor the capacity to produce the mass amounts of product that our ever growing and popularizing (thanks for that, by the way 😉 ) butcher shop clientele desires—if the farmers want to keep doing things the way they’re doing ‘em. For the record, all of us want them to keep doing things they way they’re doing them (that’s humane handling, free range, no hormones or antibiotics, and excellent quality of life for all our animals: the right way).

The window of opportunity for us to give our customers exactly what they want, exactly when they want it, is a very small one and it can slam shut with just the wrong gust of wind.

Fortunately, our window of meat-portunity just got a whole lot bigger.

This past Tuesday a few of us meat-lovers woke up at the crack of dawn to road-trip three hours north, destined for Marksbury Farm Market, and by the end of the day we’d formed a partnership that greatly widened the PRB meat window.

What a Pig Pen! Porter Road ButcherMarksbury Farm Market is a small-scale, locally owned processing facility, butcher shop, and farm market located in Lancaster, Kentucky. Marksbury partners with local farmers, all of whom who share a commitment to sustainable, humane, and all-natural production of animals as a means of providing high quality, healthy and fresh meat to the local and regional community. Their motto is: Buy Local. Eat Well.

We couldn’t agree more.

While the idea for Marksbury began a’ brewing a long while back, the processing facility, butcher shop, and farm market were constructed just four short years ago. Since then, the owners of Marksbury have been creating and strengthening relationships with their assortment of Kentucky farmers, forming what is likely the largest sustainable, humane, and all-natural processing facility in our region.

Ya see why we like ‘em?

During our tour of the facility, in which we were able to see the processing rooms for the pork, beef, lamb, and chickens, we PRB folks found that the processor goes through about 30-35 cows, 40 lamb, and 30-40 hogs in one day (those are separate days, per animal) and roughly 15 chickens a minute on chicken day. Not only are these numbers impressive for a more small-scale processor, but the facility workers also make every effort to keep the animals calm and comfortable in every step of their journey. For example, pigs are brought to their pens and cows to the neighboring pastures a day or two before they are to be processed, which gives them time to acclimate to the environment and become less fearful of their new surroundings.

Chris Carter of Porter Road Butcher, Checking out Clark Family FarmSimilarly, the farmers with whom Marksbury does business care about every step of each animal’s life from the beginning to the end. That’s why they pay so much attention towards the grass they grow, the feed they feed them, the habitats in which they live, and finally, choosing a processor that makes what would normally be a horrible day…something a little more palatable.

We only had enough time to visit one out of Marksbury’s eleven farms, but Clark Family Farm both looked and felt like something out of Old MacDonald’s storybook: and on that farm he had some baby chicks, fully grown chickens, egg-laying hens, white bleating goats, and free-grazing cows. Ee-i-ee-i-oh.

Todd Clark showed us the beautiful new hen house that sat in an open field of bright-green grass; he led us through the tall pastures of carefully selected Alfalfa, Bluegrass, Orchard, and Rye to get a closer look at his growing grass-fed cattle; and he showed us to the field where the goats roamed freely yet ran in the opposite direction the closer we crept.

Most of all we were thrilled to see that Clark Family Farm, very like the local Tennessee farms from which we already receive product, aligned with our core values: grass-fed, humanely raised animals, with an excellent quality of life from beginning to end, which will lead to happier and healthier customers.

Clark Family Farm ChicksNow, we know what you may be thinking: Marksbury Farm Market doesn’t fit into our two-hours-away general rule of thumb for sourcing our farmers. But au contraire! Marksbury perfectly aligns with our intent to source excellent regional products from people who hold themselves to the highest of standards and put utmost care into their work.

Not only does Marksbury get meat from the best farmers in Kentucky, but they also process their animals using the most humane means they can. You can’t get much better than that.

Except it does.

Working with a larger operation like Marksbury affords us the opportunity to receive more of what we want, at the times we want it most. Fourth of July? Bring on the ribs. Christmas season? Tenderloins, please. And as we pack up from our farm adventure and point Chris’s truck heading south? Might as well load up our coolers with six cases of free-range, all-natural, Todd Clark chickens to bring down to the shops.

Cluck yeah!

So there you have it. It’s official.

We’ve gotta add a new “Regional” category to our sources chalkboards so we can proudly proclaim Marksbury Farm Market as the newest addition to our repertoire of farming partners. We just hope y’all are as incredibly excited as we are.

Bring on the meat.