Watch out, John Taylor… there’s a new pork roll in town

For a century, pork roll in New Jersey has gone by one name, despite competitors: John Taylor.

IMG_20141123_092808Our beloved “Taylor Ham,” or pork roll, we can argue about what it’s actually called, but let’s agree that our unofficial state Mystery Meat is delicious. The spice recipe is a well-guarded secret, and because it is a type of sausage, we know not to look too closely as to how it is made. So I’ve drastically cut down my consumption, as processed food products, especially those with nitrites, have become a health concern.

Well now there’s a grass-fed, pasture raised and antibiotic-free contender in the ring, from Vincenza meats. Available in New Jersey at Whole Foods, in the deli, I first learned of them in a Saturday Star-Ledger article, and immediately walked up Bloomfield Avenue to my local Whole Paycheck. I had to scour the store; it’s not packaged, it is a deli item. I ordered mine a little thin because I like mine crispy, but forgot this is “deli thin” so normal thicker slices might have been better to mimic the packaged pork roll slices.

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They cook up nicely in a little butter. They have enough fat to not need butter, but why not? I didn’t slice the edges to keep them flat, because I thought they’d fry more like salami, but they still puffed up like the classic. You can see the spices once they start cooking.I let the edges get crisp and then flipped them, and because I don’t have rolls, I simply fried up some tomatoes and eggs to go with.

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The taste? Like good pork roll. Nothing unique or different, which was the idea- to make it taste like classic Jersey pork roll. It has some tang to it, thanks to the fermentation, and the article states they put a little port wine in the mix, but it doesn’t taste fancified. So, if you’ve been looking for a pork roll made from humanely raised pigs, Vincenza pork roll will satisfy your conscience. At $14.99 a pound (versus $7.49 for John Taylor pork roll) it’s twice the price, for about the same taste. I haven’t been able to verify the ingredients, if he adds nitrates, whether from celery juice or not.

Next time I’ll do a side by side test with kaiser rolls and Land O’ Lakes American cheese.

Taylor Ham or Pork Roll?

If you don’t know what either of those are, you are missing out on the king of breakfast meats. Thinly sliced, spicy breakfast salami, it is the official breakfast meat of New Jersey:

Taylor Pork Roll

Some call it pork roll, others Taylor Ham, though it only vaguely resembles ham. It’s not rubbery like Spam, or grainy like scrapple. It has a spice all its own, and when sliced thin and fried to crisp edges, it is the perfect accompaniment to a fried egg and slice of American cheese (Land O’ Lakes preferred) on a kaiser roll, bagel, English muffin, tortilla, or my favorite, challah French Toast:

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The Jersey Farmer at the Candlewyck Diner

P.S.: Challah is pronounced “Holla!”

You can get this at the Candlewyck Diner near Giants stadium in the Meadowlands, and I reviewed this great Jersey diner for Devil Gourmet, in my weekly column The Big Eat.

 

Christian’s Steak and Grill

I visited Christian’s Steak and Grill with two fellow carnivores- my cousin Pete the triathlete and firefighter, and my personal trainer and MMA fight buddy, Peter V. Dell’Orto. Me and the Petes demolished pounds of delicious steak and sides for a ridiculous low price. This is the DP’s Pub of steakhouses, minus the pub: BYOB.
Check it out at THE BIG EAT!

The Churrasco Chileno:
Churrasco Chileno Christian's

Pulling for Pudster’s and their grilled cheese cheeseburger!

While I was away on vacation, Devil Gourmet published my review of Pudster’s for The Big Eat.

The unfortunately named Pudster’s is a hot dog and burger hut, home of an excellent grilled cheese cheeseburger.

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Would you say I have a bevy of burgers?

Today at The Big Eat, I introduce you to my favorite local pub and burger joint, The Cloverleaf Tavern, where they offer a new burger every week. Some of them are a little odd, many are phenomenal, but none of them are boring.
The Cloverleaf’s classic comes perfectly cooked with a good sear on a chewy Italian roll with some of the best fries in the area- the “Trail cut” steak fry/fried potato hybrid, which gives you crisp and pillowy in every bite.
Check them out.

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The Big Eat – Senorita’s Mexican Grill

For this week’s The Big Eat, I drop by Senorita’s Mexican Grill for plates of pork chipotle, fresh guacamole, margaritas and burritos.

Senoritas Burrito

Bacon Pizza and a Big Burger: Fitzgerald’s 1928

Fitzgerald 1928Had an amazing bacon, caramelized onion, and boursin pizza at a local gastropub. And the above burger. I’ll tell you all about it in The Big Eat for Devil Gourmet.

Onward to bacon pizza and burgers…