#PigOutOKC is brought to you by the Oklahoma Pork Council. Twice a month we’ll be delving into restaurants and recipes that bring home the bacon (among other delicious cuts of pork). Experiencing your own pork-fueled adventure? Use the hashtag #PigOutOKC to let the rest of us in on the fun.
A recent brunch at Mary Eddy’s Kitchen x Lounge yielded one of my all-time favorite things when I’m eating with my friends: intense self-recrimination.
“How have we never been here before?” Julie asked Kevin. But she was really asking herself, which was good for Kevin, because he definitely didn’t have an answer.
In my quest for porcine greatness for the #PigOutOKC posts, I was intensely pleased to find that Mary Eddy’s executive chef Jason Campbell has a deep and abiding love for all things pork. It’s not the only thing on the menu, by far, but it’s well represented in many forms.
“Why pork?” I had asked him a few days prior.
“The pig has a lot to offer,” he said. “It’s not as big as a cow, which means it’s easier to process and less expensive. But the main reason are the cuts. Every cut of pork can be transformed into hundreds of dishes.”
Even the skin of the pig is a delicacy (fresh pork rinds, anyone?). It’s an incredibly versatile animal and versatility is key to running a successful restaurant.
Campbell’s been in the business long enough that he’s seen trends come and go and come again. He’s watched beef short rib go from a chef’s secret to one of the most expensive cuts of beef available. Ditto for oxtail and chicken wings.
But part of pork’s value is its size. Buying a whole pig means you do the cutting yourself. Every hand that touches a cut of meat drives the price up further.
So Mary Eddy’s staff makes its own bacon. They make pork rillettes. Pork salume. Pork jerky. Pork terrine. They even use rendered lard to flavor bread before it’s grilled.
The biggest, piggest bang for your buck is the Toolbox ($20), Mary Eddy’s version of a charcuterie board. It’s on the dinner menu, but they have all the makings of it ready to go all the time, so don’t be afraid to make it part of a wildly unbalanced breakfast.
It’s not all pork, mind you, but there’s plenty there. The salmon rillette, beef-cetta (a pancetta-style cut made with brisket) and duck breast ham are all amazing, especially when paired with an aged Beemster gouda and housemade pickled cucumbers and green beans.
But I’d be lying if I said I had eyes for anything as much as I did the pork terrine.
A terrine can be made of any meat or vegetable. It gets its name from the clay container in which it is layered. It congeals into a solid loaf of goodness — at Mary Eddy’s it’s pork with pistachios — that can be sliced.
It’s like a soft, savory sausage and I definitely want to make sandwiches with it and put them in a backpack and go on a hike, except without the hike part.
I guess what I’m saying is, please buy me a Toolbox for Christmas.
Also on the dinner menu, and pretty well situated as the last meal of the day, is the pork shoulder ($26). Campbell uses the coppa — a sometimes called the pork collar — to make this outrageously tender dish.
The coppa is cooked sous vide for 14 hours, yielding meat that is supple and without being mushy. It’s then coated in mustard before being seared, giving it that lovely crunch and pop of texture that blends so well with caramelized cabbage and fall apples.
Even though it’s a very autumnal dish right now, the pork shoulder is adaptable as the produce around it changes.
I forced a number of friends to accompany me to Mary Eddy’s and I was grateful for their help in ordering some truly weird stuff. The aforementioned Julie got French toast bread pudding ($12), which is a dish I’d never have ordered on my own, but now I’m kind of obsessed.
The bread pudding was formed into sliced and then fried, French toast-style, and paired with whipped ricotta, honey, lemon and spiced hazelnuts. It puffed up and each bite was layered and fluffy and firm. It was like eating a really delicious mattress, and I mean that in the best way.
The biscuits and gravy ($12) were ridiculous. Super fluffy biscuits. An intensely rich gravy of cream and chicken-jalapeno sausage. The weirdest thing was a relish of charred peppers that added a lot of flavor and texture to the dish.
The peppers weren’t smoky or spicy, really, but they helped cut through the richness of the gravy and gave it more body.
Kandyce ordered the OKC hot fried chicken sandwich ($14) and I think it’s vital that all Nashville hot lovers give this a try. Campbell has created something that is at once completely different than the hot chicken we’ve seen before and yet incredibly familiar and comforting. The fried spices pack a punch, but it’s quickly quelled by the addition of ranch and housemade pickles. Breakfast, lunch or dinner, I’m on board with this sandwich.
Finally, we all shared a croque madame ($14), because sharing is caring. Served on English muffin bread with housemade Canadian bacon and a Swiss cheese mornay sauce (a bechamel sauce with cheese added is a mornay sauce), the eggs were done perfectly. The yolk was runny like lava and the whites were set. The mornay sauce is incredibly rich, which made the addition of tomatoes and mizuna a nice contrast.
My unabashed love of croque madames notwithstanding, this is one of the best I’ve had. 10/10 would inhale again.
Speaking of things I can’t not order, the side of grits was creamy and toothsome and just lovely. I was pleased they only use butter and chives in their grits. Not that cheese is unwelcome, but too much can overwhelm the simple, sweetness of the corn.
So Julie left feeling stupid because she hadn’t been to Mary Eddy’s (or wandered around the rest of 21c to see all the gorgeous art), but she’s relatively new to OKC. What’s your excuse?
The Oklahoma Pork Council represents the interests all of pork producers throughout the state, promoting pork and pork products, funding research and educating consumers and producers about the pork industry. Learn more about the OPC, find recipes and more at OKPork.org.