26 August, 2009

Taylor Pork Roll

I was in the ShopRite supermarket in Manchester CT over the weekend, and look what I found! Taylor Pork Rolls! This is a rare treat up here in Northern Connecticut, though ShopRite (headquartered in Elizabeth NJ) would certainly be the place to look for one.

You see, pork roll is a New Jersey specialty, and one that's not found so much of a following outside the NJ/NYC/Philly area. That's a shame, because it's pretty damned awesome. Especially the John Taylor brand. Taylor invented the pork roll in the 1880's. He was a Trenton NJ wholesale grocer who got into the pork and beef packing business and founded Taylor Provision Co. Several other companies make pork roll nowadays but my favorite is the original Taylor Pork Roll - still made after 120-some-odd years by Taylor Provision in Trenton.

It's hard to describe pork roll. It's a kind of chopped and cured pork product, stuffed into cylindrical cotton bags for easy slicing; beyond that it gets difficult. Although the texture somewhat resembles SPAM, pork roll is firmer and less fatty. Pork roll's lactic acid cure makes it taste something like an unseasoned Genoa salami (but much less intense because salami's long curing time makes it much firmer than pork roll.)

The best way to cook it is just to slice it, (as thick or thin as you like it) right through the cotton casing, then peel the cotton off and fry it up. In Joisey they cut little 3/4-inch slits in from the edges to keep the slices from curling into little "cups" as it fries. I just stuck the slices under a bacon press to keep them flat and it seemed to work okay.

Serve your fried pork roll slices alongside eggs, toast, and home fried potatoes. The stuff is great - miles better than fried SPAM, which is not only greasier, but saltier and not as good-tasting.

For a classic "Jersey Breakfast," put slices of pork roll on a hard roll with egg and cheese. Delicious and satisfying.


I'd love to give Taylor Provisions a link here, but as far as I can tell, they don't have a website. The best I can do is send you over to Jersey Pork Roll, where you can check out Taylor Pork Roll and other NJ edibles. It's always best to see if you can find it locally first, though.



Christina said...

I live in CT and have seen this in the past here in Grand Union, which of course is now closed up. I'll check the local Shop Rite.

Anonymous said...

My husband is in the military and we grew up in jersey so now being stationed in the south porkroll is one of the things we miss!!

Cynthia Bertolet said...

I am 44 years old and my greatest childhood memory is going to the Jersey shore every summer for two weeks and indulging in Taylor Pork Roll, Birch Beer ,Tastykakes and Fralingers salt water taffy!!!!!! I miss Cape May!!!!!