Make us your home page
Instagram

Try This: Taylor Pork Roll, the pride of Trenton, N.J. (but sometimes available in Florida)

Yes, I totally Instagrammed my special grocery store find.

BRITTANY VOLK | Times

Yes, I totally Instagrammed my special grocery store find.

There's a lot to love about New Jersey food — hoagies, diners and pizzas the size of cars — but here's one thing you might be unaware of: pork roll. If you're from the Garden State, you definitely know about Taylor Pork Roll, a delicious breakfast meat from Trenton, N.J.

Because Florida is home to lots of out-of-state transplants, many local grocery stores like to carry limited brands of beloved foods from around the country. My father's family lives in Jersey, and pork roll is always on the menu at our family gatherings. So I squealed with glee when I spotted a small red box among the breakfast meats at a St. Petersburg Publix recently. I quickly snapped a picture and sent it to my dad, who will take it from here:

"Pork roll is the nearly perfect processed food. The taste speaks for itself, but that's not the only reason pork roll has become a legendary New Jersey delicacy. Its flexibility is unsurpassed. How many other foods started out as a breakfast side dish and ended up as the main course in diners and cookouts at any time of the day or night? (Don't pretend you did bacon, because, oh no, you didn't.) It can be prepared fried or grilled, thick and juicy or thin and crispy, burnt or just hot, and it always comes through with the right amount of pork goodness. It stands alone or can be the centerpiece of a colossal sandwich with all the fixings. Finally, we love our Jersey pork roll because somehow we have kept it our own. It's as important as pizza pride in New Jersey, and while East Coast pizza has been imitated (often poorly) throughout the country, you can't get anything close to pork roll anywhere unless you have it shipped directly from Trenton, N.J. (sometimes in your relative's luggage — yes, it's been done)."

The best pork roll hails from Trenton, and most Jerseyans will tell you that Taylor Provisions is the only brand you need to know about. They're the originators, and the others are impostors.

But what is it, exactly? Taylor, and other companies, stay pretty tight-lipped about it. Is it ham? Sure. Is it pork? Sort of. It's basically a cured, smoked and precooked meat product that could belong in the bologna, or even Spam, family tree.

Pork roll is also known as Taylor ham in Northern Jersey (and, yes, the state fights about it). Here are some fun facts: It was first made in 1856, but years later the creator, John Taylor, a state senator and grocery mogul, had to stop calling it "Taylor's Prepared Ham" because it didn't live up to the "ham standards" that new laws established in the early 20th century.

So now this delicious meat product that originally came in a tubelike casing is forever known as pork roll. Taylor even tried to trademark "pork roll" to protect his tasty invention, but ultimately couldn't. Which is good for us, so now we can happily buy our I Heart Pork Roll shirts at the Pork Festival in Trenton, N.J., in May.

Pork roll is best when lovingly served between two loaves of bread (kaiser roll, croissant, bagel or English muffin) with a fried egg and cheese. When cooking it, either pan-fried or on a grill, score the edges of the slices in 3 or 4 places. This way, it won't curl up, and it'll be shaped like an odd Pac-Man. It will look a lot like Canadian bacon when you're cooking it, but please don't make that comparison (at least to anyone from New Jersey) when eating it.

You can buy a 6-ounce box of eight slices of pork roll at some Publix grocery stores in Tampa Bay for around $4. Or you can buy it online at jerseyporkroll.com.

Contact Brittany Volk at [email protected] or (727) 893-8455. Follow @bevolk.

Try This: Taylor Pork Roll, the pride of Trenton, N.J. (but sometimes available in Florida) 03/07/16 [Last modified: Monday, March 7, 2016 5:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Gourmet food fight between top chefs raises $200,000

    News

    ST. PETERSBURG — The chefs came armed with their secret ingredients — pork rinds, truffle butter, pork bellies.

    (From left to right) Chefs Ryan Mitchell, Michael Buttacavoli, Ted Dorsey and Matthew Brennan compete during Tampa Bay Food Fight at The Coliseum in St. Petersburg on Tuesday. The event features chefs from the Tampa Bay area and benefitted Metropolitan Ministries. EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times
  2. Channing Tatum drops out of Weinstein Co. movie about sex abuse

    Movies

    LOS ANGELES — Channing Tatum is no longer developing a film with the Weinstein Co. that dealt with a boy dealing with the aftermath of sexual abuse.

    Channing Tatum at the premiere of "Comrade Detective" in Los Angeles. Tatum is no longer developing a film with the Weinstein Company about a boy dealing with the aftermath of sexual abuse. (Associated Press)
  3. Plan your weekend: Clearwater Jazz Holiday, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, MarineQuest, Florida Orchestra pops in the park, rodeo

    Events

    Plan your weekend

    Concerts

    Music weekend: Clearwater Jazz Holiday, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw and Bruno Mars all in one weekend? We have a playlist of a weekend coming up. Thursday brings Bruno's sold-out 24K Magic World Tour to Amalie Arena. The next day brings the country power …

    Bill Clark and Danelle Dasouqi admire the chalk art on the side walk during the final day of the three day Chalk Art Festival in Clearwater Beach. JIM REED/STAFF
  4. Ticket window: Harry Potter movie concert, Andrea Bocelli, Ed Sheeran, Iliza Shlesinger, Alan Parsons Project on sale this week

    Music & Concerts

    Tickets for the following events go on sale this week:

    British singer Ed Sheeran performs during the Italian State RAI TV program "Che Tempo che Fa", in Milan, Italy on March 12, 2017, 
AP Photo/Antonio Calanni
  5. 13 things to do in Tampa Bay on Oct. 19

    Events

    Bruno Mars: Get your Uptown Funk on at the Grammy-winning pop star's 24K Magic World Tour. 8 p.m., Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $41.25-$131.25. (813) 301-2500.

    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 25:  Bruno Mars performs onstage at 2017 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater on June 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET)