Pork Crawl 2017 took a group of trade editors on a culinary journey across New York City on Wednesday, November 8. Our chef host, Matt Abdoo of NYC’s Pig Bleecker and Pig Beach, was joined by Chef Adam Sappington of The Country Cat in Portland, OR, and Chef José Mendín of Pubbelly Noodle Bar in Miami, FL. The crawl explored nine stops from Manhattan’s West Village to Gowanus in Brooklyn. The crawl theme, Pork Loin End-to-End, highlighted how consistent pork quality, pork chop nomenclature and proper endpoint cooking temperature can improve the opportunity for profit and satisfy operators and customers alike.
As Gerike explained, the pork eating experience is impacted by three factors: consistent pork loin chop names (similar to beef), a recommended end-point cooking temperature of 145°F (followed by a three-minute rest), and quality standards based on color and marbling. “When these three pieces work together, operators will have a real opportunity to deliver delicious, consistent eating experiences – ultimately driving repeat business and increasing the bottom line.”
Moving through the demo, Gerike butchered bone-in and boneless loins and called out specific nomenclature per cut. “The name changes let foodservice and retail operators differentiate pork chops on the menu or in the meat case in a way consumers already recognize. Instead of just a pork chop, they can now offer a porterhouse chop, ribeye chop, New York chop, and so on. The nomenclature offers a variety of cuts and perceived value.” The demo ended with a tasting of the recommended pork quality grading classification of prime, choice and select, for guests compare the differences.
Stop 1: Pig Bleecker
Host Chef Matt Abdoo’s West Village smoke-centric eatery served a Smoked and Grilled Pork Blade Chop. The succulent thick-cut bone-in country blade chop was brined overnight, rubbed with his all-purpose barbecue seasoning, smoked over cherry wood, then grilled and glazed with a spicy, sweet, tart peach habanero jam. Abdoo’s signature greens and beans with pickled turnips and crispy firecracker onions accompanied the dish. The dish’s richness went well with a glass of crisp Wölffer No. 139 Dry Rosé Cider.
Mario Carbone’s eponymous establishment is an elegant homage to mid-century Italian-American restaurants. Chef de Cuisine Will Cox started the tasting with a beautiful amuse bouche of thin-sliced soppressata, house-made mozzarella and garlic bread. Next up was the Pork Chop and Peppers – double-cut bone-in ribeye chops cooked to a perfectly pink center and served with roasted- and wine-braised red and green peppers. The melt-in-your-mouth dish was paired with an acidic and refreshing Friulian white wine – 2013 Vignai da Duline Delle Venezie Bianco “Morus Alba.”
Inside this equestrian-themed restaurant, Executive Chef Brad Farmerie worked in tandem with Chef de Cuisine Nicole Gajadhar to serve up a Pork Porterhouse Chop, highlighting the flavor and texture differences between the loin and tenderloin muscles with two preparations, both encased in smoke-filled cloche. The loin portion was brined with sweet, salty spices and liquid smoke for two days, then seasoned with herbs de Provence, garlic and animal fat before being grilled to medium. The tenderloin was rubbed with a mix of Pierre Poivre and Kibbeh Spice Blends, pan-seared and finished in the oven. Both dishes were served with a French onion twice-baked potato topped with caramelized onions, Brie, aged Gruyere and poached lobster. The chop duo was complemented by a refreshing Harvest Spritz, made with end-of-season grapes, verjus, gin, honey-ginger syrup and a splash of Chardonnay.
This modern meatery truly brings the meat to the NoHo neighborhood. Executive Chef Josh Capon and Chef de Cuisine Lucas Billheimer greeted guests with bowls of pepperoni chips – thin slices of pepperoni fried to a crispy crunch – before wowing them with their Vinegar-Brined Pork Tenderloin. After brining, the boneless tenderloin was rubbed with spices and roasted, then served over an apple purée with crispy sage leaf and a braised cipollini onion. The dish was paired with a velvety, full-bodied Syrah blend – Marques De Griñon, ‘El Rincón’, Madrid Spain, 2007.
Stop 5: Edi & The Wolf
At this eccentric, convivial East Village restaurant, Chefs Eduard “Edi” Frauneder and Wolfgang “the Wolf” Ban transport guests to a “heuriger” (or neighborhood Austrian wine tavern). Chef Frauneder served a crisp Wiener Schnitzel with a light potato salad, cucumber salad and traditional lingonberry jam. The boneless loin cutlet was sliced, pounded, breaded and fried for one minute, resulting in incredibly tender, juicy pork with a light and crispy crunch. The authentic dish paired perfectly with the fruity and acidic notes of Edi & The Wolf’s signature Grüner Veltliner 2015.
The unmarked back door of a casual American brasserie leads to an elegant take on a traditional Japanese izakaya (or gastropub). Chefs Yael Peet and Elena Yamamoto served up crowd-pleasing crispy Tonkatsu two ways – in a happy hour-favorite sandwich and as stunning entrée. For both, the bone-in loin chop was brined in a 3% salt solution for two hours, pounded, breaded using a standard breading procedure with potato starch, eggs and panko, then fried for four minutes. The tonkatsu sandwich was made with crustless Wonder Bread slathered with Kewpie mayo and tonkatsu sauce. The entrée was presented sliced, drizzled with Kewpie mayo and tonkatsu sauce and served with house pickles, coleslaw and sticky rice. The Toki Hawkeye Highball, with Suntory Toki Japanese whisky, house sour apple batch and club soda, was a refreshing pairing.
The group was transported to the Dominican Republic by the charming, unpretentious atmosphere created by the Abreu family – which has owned and operated the restaurant for 30 years. They served Chuletas a la Parrilla with platanos maduros. The thin-cut bone-in loin chops, also known as chuletas, were marinated overnight with garlic, oregano, citrus and red wine then quickly grilled to order. The platanos maduros (fried sweet plantains) were pan-fried until brown and caramelized with salt and sugar. The dish was accompanied by chimichurri, mojo y moro del dia (rice and beans) and paired with tart jugó de chinola (passion fruit juice).
Stop 8: Nightingale Nine
At this unique intersection of Southeast Asian cuisine and the American South, Chef Rob Newton served Bun Cha Marinated Pork Sirloin Chops. The boneless sirloin chops were marinated in an aromatic Vietnamese sauce for two days, then seasoned to taste and grilled. Then the chops were sliced and served on pressed rice noodles with a grilled baby collard green and cucumber salad. Guests tasted the dish with NY Finger Lakes’ 2015 Dry Riesling and 2016 Ikehu Cabernet Franc, courtesy of partner Fox Run Vineyards.
Our final stop was this Brooklyn barbecue destination. Chef Abdoo and his brother-in-law Chef Jeff Michner served up Loin Back Ribs with Rob’s Righteous Red Sauce and house pickles. The loin back ribs were rubbed with all-purpose barbecue seasoning and brown sugar, then smoked, basted and slathered with Rob’s Righteous Red BBQ Sauce and served with house-cured pickles. The perfect pairing? A refreshing pint of Interboro Halftime Session IPA.
It’s safe to say the editors left New York City with full bellies and a better understanding of how the delicious, versatile pork loin can bring value to the menu and meat case! To learn more about the featured pork loin cuts, restaurants and chefs from Pork Crawl 2017, click here to view the official booklet.