Friday, June 29, 2012

Going Whole Hog for Porter Road Butcher at Weekly Open Thread

Posted By on Fri, Jun 29, 2012 at 5:47 AM

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In this week's cover story in the Nashville Scene, our colleague Steve Cavendish (editor of The City Paper and an avid follower of the local food scene), profiles the talented chefs who own Porter Road Butcher.

As obsessed as we are with restaurants, it's still rare for chefs to pop up on the cover of the Scene. In the story, Cavendish zeros in on what makes Porter Road Butcher so amazing — it gives us the chance to enjoy the way meat used to be produced 100 years ago:

The butchers at Porter Road cut meat out of whole animals, breaking them down into something you and I might recognize as a chop or a steak. With the rest, they make sausage and bacon and jerky. They find increasingly inventive uses for leftover parts, making sure no piece of the beast goes to waste — and they do it really well. Were this 1912, not 2012, that would be the rule, not the exception.

But the fact that the folks at Porter Road Butcher routinely sell out of everything in their cases probably says more about us than it does them. No matter how good Porter Road's product is — and let's be clear, some of it is toe-tingling, light-up-your-tastebuds fantastic — the larger fact is we're simply not accustomed to what quality meat actually is.

It's true transparency. Chef-owners James Peisker and Chris Carter know the exact path of their meat from farm to table. And the chefs themselves break down the meat, cut it, age it, grind it, cook with it and make everything from soup to steak, ham to hot dogs, bacon to brisket — and how 'bout that breakfast sandwich they whip up for neighboring coffeehouse Barista Parlor, fresh sausage and egg perched on a perfect house-made biscuit.

Cavendish got to enjoy an early morning visit to a farm, an "ass-numbing" experience perched on a metal table, the third man in a truck with two seats. He was more than repaid for his troubles with a fascinating look at the chefs' money-where-their-mouth-is approach to a progressive food philosophy.

And did I mention these guys are classically trained chefs (they worked under Tyler Brown at the Capitol Grille) who can wield a sauce pan as skillfully as a band-saw? They still even maintain a catering business in all their "spare" time. Forget culinary stars, these guys are like superheroes.

And how are you, heroes of Bites Nation? Anything you'd like to report? Gush over? Ridicule? Open Thread is all ears.

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