Pork Roll Breakfast Sandwiches
It's kind of surprising how long I lived next door to New Jersey without ever knowing about one of the state's best inventions—Taylor pork roll. I also will never forget the first time I was introduced to this seasoned processed pork product that hails from Trenton while at a camping trip with a group of NJ-native friends who brought the stuff along to make some of the tastiest breakfast sandwiches I'd ever had. I was instantly smitten, but have left pork roll consumption to my times in New Jersey, which translates to rarely ever eating it. I noticed recently though that my local grocery carries it, and while preparing a Meatwave made of up of all Mid-Atlantic specialities, it seemed fitting to pick up a couple packages and start off the event with these pork roll sandwiches.
I was kind of surprised to actually find this stuff here—I didn't realize pork roll made it as far south as North Carolina. This pork product dates back to 1856, when NJ state senator John Taylor from Hamilton Square started selling his pork creation under the name Taylor's Prepared Ham. The ham designation had to later be dropped because the pork roll didn't meet new definition standards of what ham should be. You can buy pork roll both sliced and unsliced, but here in North Carolina, I've only seen these small packages that come with eight pieces per.
Of course, when I put the packages on the counter to take a photo, this dummy immediately got in the way. I think this was George Michael's way to remind me he hasn't been featured in a post for awhile, so he made the cut this time!
The usual pork roll sandwich is comprised of the tried and true breakfast trio of egg, meat, and cheese. I saw no reason to deviate from that for my first ever pork roll post, and started this recipe off by placing a cast iron skillet over the hot coals and quickly cooking four eggs.
Once the eggs were done, I removed the skillet and placed the slices of pork roll on the grill. I made an error here and forget to put a few cuts into the meat to prevent it from curling up, but still managed fine. I cooked the pork until both sides had developed grill marks, just about two minutes on each side.
I then assembled the sandwiches on Kaiser rolls with an egg, a couple slices of pork roll, and a slice of American cheese on each.
I placed all the sandwiches on the cool side of a two-zone fire, covered, and let the sandwiches toast until the cheese had melted and the rolls were warmed throughout—about three minutes.
And there you have it, the quintessential New Jersey pork roll sandwich. For all intents and purposes, this isn't much different than your run of the mill breakfast sandwich, the pork roll brings something a little different to the party. Where you would usually have salty bacon, sweet ham, or spiced sausage, the pork roll delivers its own unique slightly sweet and spiced flavor that would taste distinctly like home for most anyone from New Jersey. For those not familiar with the stuff, it's totally worth picking up a package if you can and trying it out— it's a quick and easy recipe to put together and gives you a great taste of a regional speciality that could turn you into pork roll fanatic like so many Taylor ham true believers.
Pork Roll Breakfast Sandwiches
- Yield 4 servings
- Cook 10 Minutes
- Total 10 Minutes
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
- 8 slices of Taylor Pork Roll
- 4 slices American Cheese
- 4 Kaiser rolls, halved
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange coals on one side of charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil grilling grate. Place a medium cast iron skillet on hot side of grill, add in oil, and allow to preheat. Working in batches if necessary, crack eggs into skillet. Poke egg yolks with a fork to break them and let eggs cook until browned on first side. Flip eggs and continue to cook until desired doneness. Transfer eggs to a plate and season with salt and pepper.
- Place slices of pork roll on hot side of grill and cook until first side develops grill marks, about 2 minutes. Flip pork roll slices and continue to cook until second side develops grill marks, about 2 minutes more. Transfer pork to plate with eggs.
- Place an egg, 2 slices of pork roll, and a slice of cheese on the bottom half of each rolls. Place remaining half of each roll on top and transfer sandwiches to cool side of grill. Cover and cook until cheese has completely melted, about 3 minutes. Transfer sandwiches to platter and serve immediately.
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Dustin Not sure if you were aware of this either, but where you live in Jersey very much defines what you call this meat product... even though the package literally (for the most part) calls it both.