On the third installment of EastWich, we’re going to tackle a part of Pennsylvania cuisine that is unfortunately only available in the eastern half of the state. It’s called a pork roll, but you can’t just order any old pork roll. You have to go with the Taylor Pork Roll. There’s nothing like it: it’s salty, and has a ham quality, but it’s cut thicker than a slice of ham. It’s served grilled (if you do it the right way), normally as a sandwich accompanied with yellow mustard. However, as Uncle Bill’s Pancake House showed me, you can dress it up breakfast-style as well.
A Taylor Pork Roll reminds me of childhood: any time I visited my grandparents on the eastern side of PA, I’d always arrive roughly around lunch time… just in time for a pork roll sandwich. It may not be on some official “comfort food” list, but a pork roll sandwich is an ultimate comfort food for me. The only problem is that the salty goodness isn’t carried over on the western side of PA! I’ll never understand why; Pittsburghers love their processed meats. Whatever the reason may be, it certainly adds a little extra satisfaction to eating a Taylor, because of the effort expended in actually tracking one down.
Anyway, enough about me. Let’s get to the sandwich. I decided to put on the ritz and get every possible augmentation offered to me: “a Taylor pork roll, topped with an egg and covered in provolone cheese, served on a toasted bagel.” Yes, ladies and gents, you are right: it IS the ULTIMATE breakfast sandwich.
As you can see from the picture, it’s a towering ‘wich, so the toasted bagel is a good call, not only for flavor but for practicality as well: you don’t want this thing falling apart mid-bite! It also happens to add a little crunch to the rest of the experience. And then we have the filler: the way I taste it, there are three parts that meld into one single existence. You get the melty, flowing provolone over top of every single bite, adding a little extra heat (temperature wise) and a lot of fun texture while not necessarily detracting from the pork roll’s flavors. The egg adds another layer of texture to the sandwich: you get the… well, eggy consistency covered with the provolone to create a near-omelet taste that rests on top of the pork roll, almost the way lettuce-tomato-onion provide a whole different side of things to an Italian. (Believe me, if I had the chance to call egg and provolone “veggies” on a sandwich, I’d do it every time.)
Of course, it’s called a Taylor Pork Roll Sandwich for a reason. A huge part of the pork roll flavor is the salty aspect; it’s not overpowering, but there’s a serious amount of NaCl flavor to this meat, so be warned. However, that’s also the best part of the flavor: you get the grilled taste around the edges, but the middle is pure salty goodness. Honestly, it’s something that must be experienced by any professed aficionado of lunch meats. This one’ll blow your socks off.