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up all over…but is it snotty to say that this classic cantaloupe and prosciutto combo is just a little bit tired and outdated?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

Bringing in More of the Good Stuff: Double N Urban Homestead

Tucked away in the East Nashville neighborhood of Inglewood, nestled behind what is likely either yours or your best friend’s backyard, and just a hop, skip, and jump away from hustle and bustle of Gallatin Avenue sits a small oasis known as Double N Urban Homestead.

Never did you think that the produce from your local CSA was quite so local as to have been grown in the backyard garden of your East Nashville neighbors, now did you? Because those CSA-farming type folks live in the country!

Never did you think that neither you nor the dingy soil in your 1-acre suburban backyard was good enough to support the likes of lettuce, cabbage, kale, radishes, carrots, beats, peas, beans, tomatoes, squash, eggplant, melons, herbs, and pretty flowers…all at the same time. That’s just too much!

Sure, your green thumb aspirations might have gone as far as creating an herb garden or planting a tomato vine to crawl up your fence—we all become giddy over the prospect of eating something that we produced with our own two hands and patch of Earth—but a garden quite so large and extensive likely never crossed your mind as even a possibility.

Thank goodness for Double N.

We Love Taters. And Double N. - Porter Road ButcherTheir Urban Homestead sits on just an acre of land and roughly half is covered with produce galore. Nick and Nicole spent much of the winter getting things in order for the spring season and most importantly devoted much time to building what is now their lovely and petite greenhouse, which sits on the western side of the property. “We used the greenhouse to start about 1,500 plants, so we’re really excited to have that available,” said Nicole. “Previously we were starting our plants in the guest bedroom of our house and that got a little tricky…”

Nick and Nicole purchase all of their seeds from a local organic farmer and then do all the rest of the grunt work themselves. Although a few Peter Rabbits recently came by and devoured a handful of their cabbage plants, most of their plants are protected both by fences and by the homestead’s suburban surroundings, including watchful neighbors, plenty of car traffic, and a few tiny [but fierce] guard dogs.

Double N is also home base to Nicole’s apothecary project, including teas and tinctures, which help naturally cure whatever it is that ails you. Ranging from splitting headaches to obnoxious and over-active children, Nicole’s got a wide line of products that are said to naturally heal and help—but they’re not medicine. We’re not allowed to say that they’re medicine 🙂

On Thursdays from 4-7 Nick and Nicole crack open a beer (we love their style), gather their loot from the week, and then distribute it into pails for their weekly CSA pickup. But the good news is, now they’ve realized they have such a bountiful harvest…that they want to share it with us! Well really, they want to share it with YOU. Even better.

Beginning next week, Double N Urban Homestead will be selling their produce and apothecary goodies at PRB East! Which means you can get everything you need for a local and healthy meal in one fell swoop. You’re welcome.

Next Tuesday, May 26th (the day after Memorial Day) will be their first day of selling, and subsequently they’ll follow the schedule of the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month. They’ll be out there just in time for you after-work folks, from 4 pm – 7 pm.

We’re thrilled to welcome them to our East Nashville store and are even more excited to have the opportunity to sell super-local and organic produce!

Nick & Nicole from Double N Urban Homestead | Porter Road Butcher

Double N Urban Farm - Porter Road Butcher

Butcher’s Cut Friday

Butcher's Cut Friday - Presented by Porter Road Butcher, Hosted by the Crow's NestThere’s something to be said about going out for a good dinner.

Because a lot can be said about your meal based on the restaurant in which you ate it.

For example, when sinking your teeth into the $9 Meat Lovers Pork Chop dinner from the Waffle House, one’s expectations remain fairly modest; but if you were to instead order the 8 oz. Waygu Strip steak at a fancy, local, premium steakhouse—costing you a pretty $65—you’d likely go to dinner sockless, thus eradicating the hassle of having them knocked off. You know that at an upscale restaurant, you’ll get great food.

But really, location shouldn’t have to be the determining factor.

Cause here’s the thing: excellent food and casual dining can go hand-in-hand. They’re not mutually exclusive. I mean, I’m sorry but when exactly did flip-flops become inversely related to good food? How is it that a silk tie and matching pocket square somehow evoke deliciousness from the chef and line cooks who don’t even have the ability to see said decorative male accessories? Are they really related?

I’m willing to wager that at least 80% of Americans would stand behind the notion that great food would be even greater if their toes weren’t crammed into a pair of stilettos or if the circulation in their necks wasn’t cut off by the tie tethered around their necks.

Shouldn’t going out to eat be both scrumptious and relaxing? Shouldn’t we be able to find excellent quality food in an atmosphere that isn’t as stuffy as your right nostril during this time of year? Shouldn’t we celebrate the end of the workweek in a comfortable environment with a pint of good beer and a piece of good meat, and leave the preparation to someone else?

Yes we should. And now we can.

Porter Road Butcher, presenting Butcher's Cut FridayThe Crow’s Nest, whose motto is, “sometimes a bar; always a restaurant,” is now including, “sometimes a steakhouse” in their repertoire. On Friday nights to be exact.

We at Porter Road Butcher are teaming up with our friends at the Crow’s Nest to bring the best of the butcher to our favorite bar/restaurant in Green Hills: we’re calling it Butcher’s Cut Fridays.

Starting this Friday, November 14th, the Crow’s Nest will be selling different cuts of Porter Road Butcher meat for guests to enjoy from the comfort of their restaurant. Now you don’t have to worry about overcooking your meat or (even worse) biting your tongue instead of criticizing your loved one’s ill preparation. Nor are high-heels and silk ties a prerequisite to this fantastic Friday night feast.

Join us this Friday for our first edition of Butcher’s Cut Friday where we’ll be offering 10 oz. boneless strip steaks, accompanied with a side salad and your choice of side item. It’s the perfect opportunity to relax, wind down, and eat some amazing food!

Butcher's Cut Friday at The Crow's Nest, presented by Porter Road Butcher

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

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. 

Not Yo Mama’s Meatloaf

Sure, sure, everyone got really excited over the past two weekends when the weather took a turn for the best and Nashvillians were able to entertain themselves with activities like biking, hiking, and drinking beer on sunny porches. But we butchers knew that this weather wasn’t necessarily sticking around for good—hey, the groundhog did see his shadow a while back, and most of us have this fancy thing called an iPhone that predicts the weather. So instead of sulking and whining about the return of the arctic chill, we decided to embrace the cold’s comeback with some cold-weather comfort food: Meatloaf. It warms you from the inside out, just like a glass of bourbon. Er…kind of.

To add some extra Porter Road flair to what would otherwise be a pretty traditional (albeit scrumptious) meatloaf, we used our devilishly delicious 50/50 (ground beef & bacon) in lieu of bacon strips and ground beef…and then in the end decided to fry up a few pieces of bacon to work into the loaf anyway. That way there will be little land mines of bacon that will annihilate your tastebuds with smokey, porky flavor. Like, why not? It’s bacon funfetti. Willow Farm eggs and Bobby John Henry breadcrumbs helped hold all that meaty PRB goodness together, and after just an hour in the oven it was time to feast.

Great Meatloaf Recipe from Porter Road ButcherNot Yo Mama’s Meatloaf

Serves: 6-8
Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 90 minutes

1 cup fine, fresh breadcrumbs
1/3 cup Hatcher’s whole milk
3 strips PRB bacon, diced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium celery rib, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Freshly ground salt and pepper
1/2 cup pitted prunes, chopped finely
1 3/4 lb. PRB 50/50 (ground beef & bacon)
1/2 lb. ground pork
2 large Willow Farm eggs
1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F with a rack in the middle.
  2. Soak breadcrumbs in milk in a large bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a heavy skillet over medium heat until golden and crispy. Remove from pan and set aside, leaving bacon dripping in the pan.
  4. Melt butter in pan with bacon drippings; cook onion, garlic, celery, and carrot, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Cover skillet and reduce heat to low; cook until carrot is tender, about 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in Worcestershire, cider vinegar, allspice, and season with freshly ground salt and pepper. Add to breadcrumbs mixture.
  5. Add prunes, bacon, 50/50, ground pork, eggs, and parsley to breadcrumb mixture and mix together with hands. Mix until everything is combined and evenly dispersed.
  6. Porter Road Butcher Meatloaf RecipePack mixture into two small loaves on a baking sheet lined with tin-foil.
  7. Bake for about 60-75 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meatloaf reads 155°F. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

While the jury’s still out as to whether or not a meatloaf “requires” a sauce to smother all over that beautifully browned meat-crust, the ever fancy Chris Carter was adamant: “No sauce? You can’t have meatloaf without a sauce.” This meatloaf is baconny. It is sweet. It is savory. It is texturally perfect. It has every necessary ingredient to make it an all-mighty meatloaf that can stand alone, without a sauce. BUT. If you, like Carter, feel that a sauce-less meatloaf would be sinful, then get saucy with it:

Meatloaf Sauce:

1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 1/2 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon white vinegar

  1. Whisk ingredients together until well combined.
  2. 5-10 minutes before meatloaf is done, spread 2/3 of sauce onto the outside of your loaf or loaves. Return loaves to the oven until sauce is bubbling and the meatloaf is done (thermometer reads 155° F when inserted into the center of the loaf).
  3. Serve remaining sauce with sliced meatloaf.

Note: Cooked meatloaf keeps, chilled, about 3 days.