Maybe you’ve been in this situation before. You walk into Hillcrest Artisan Meats. You peruse the meat case, mentally savoring every cut of beef, every scrap of cured pork, every house-made sausage. You ponder upon the possibilities, the dishes that could come to pass with a little preparation and elbow grease in your home kitchen. But then you realize you’re just too darn tired and lazy today to prepare an elaborate dinner. You want to give HAM’s products the proper amount of attention; they deserve to be treated with respect and love. You wonder, “Maybe I can just rent out owner, Brandon Brown, for the night…maybe he’ll come over and cook this fine slab of beef for me and my family.” As much as his wife, Tara Protiva-Brown, would likely love to get him out of the house, I doubt that’s going to happen. But don’t despair, there are new dinner options coming from everyone’s favorite butchery.
Last Friday, HAM debuted their new “take-out dinners.” Coincidentally, I happened to be shopping at HAM when they informed me of the new take home options. I was on my way home, I was hungry. Bring some home HAM and score brownie points with the wife for “taking care of dinner?” No brainer.
HAM will start offering these “take out” dinners on Fridays for the time being (until they become unbelievably popular and patrons begin to demand their appearance daily. They sold out on the first day, so it’s reasonable to assume this will eventually happen). They will be offered from 4:30 to 6:00 pm and will all be prepared to order by Brandon and the boys. They come in an aluminum container, so they can be reheated at home if need be. Prices will generally range between $10-13.
I was fortunate enough to sample their first stab at take out dinner. Not expectantly, it was wonderful. This involved a base of their beloved organic French green lentils. Perfectly prepared, the lentils are always tender, but just slightly toothsome, seasoned perfectly and adorned with carrot and onion. To this was added chunks of unctuous, soft smoked pork belly and slices of braised pork shoulder. But the centerpiece of the dish is their incomparable house-made Toulouse sausage seasoned with white wine and garlic. It’s cooked with precision— a taut, snappy casing with soft, crumbly insides. You will not find better sausages in this state. The dish is finished with a crown of creamed leeks—rich, slightly crunchy, utterly delightful.
If Little Rock food history has taught us anything it’s that anything slightly popular at HAM does not last long. I expect these dinners will be no different. Best get down there this Friday, claw and scratch your way to the front of the line, and sample them for yourself.