The pork industry is promoting its product across a range of markets and the effort is paying off as the nation's big restaurant chains turn to new pork-inspired menu items and delivering flavor full-force, from Andouille sausage breakfast sandwiches to Thai pulled pork tacos.
Stephen Gerike, director of foodservice marketing for the Pork Checkoff says that pork is a menu must-have at several restaurants around the country, because "its flavor and versatility make it a top performer across dayparts, from breakfast to dinner."
Check out where pork is earning a place on the menu:
• Subway, which is promoting the new Flatizza flatbread-pizza nationwide at more than 25,500 restaurants. Menu options include the Pepperoni Flatizza and the Spicy Italian Flatizza loaded with pepperoni and Genoa salami.
• Dunkin’ Donuts, added the new Eggs Benedict Breakfast Sandwich, featuring Black Forest ham, egg and creamy Hollandaise sauce on an English muffin.
• Firehouse Subs, where pork enhances the new Hearty & Flavorful menu of sandwiches and salads with less than 500 calories. The Hook & Ladder Light includes Virginia honey ham, smoked turkey breast, Monterey Jack, lettuce, tomato, onion, deli mustard, and light mayo served on a light wheat roll. Virginia honey ham also turns up in the Firehouse Salad, with romaine, tomato, bell pepper, cucumber, mozzarella, pepperoncini, Kalamata olives and light Italian dressing.
• T.G.I. Friday’s, whose new low-calorie food items include Thai Pork Tacos. Three soft corn tortillas are filled with Thai-marinated pulled pork, Sriracha aioli, ginger-lime slaw and hoisin sauce.
Bacon and sausage are turning up in both traditional and unexpected places, including:
• Taco Bell, which launched a breakfast menu in late March at its nearly 5,700 restaurants. Many of the items feature pork with a Taco Bell twist, making them portable for consumers’ on-the-go lifestyle. Options include the AM Crunchwrap with a choice of sausage or bacon, eggs, cheese, and a hash brown; the Waffle Taco - a waffle wrapped around a sausage patty or bacon, with scrambled eggs, cheese and a side of syrup; Bacon and Sausage Breakfast Burritos; and Grilled Breakfast Tacos with bacon or sausage.
• Denny’s, whose monthly specials for March included many pork options, including the Loaded Breakfast Sandwich Plate with two strips of bacon, shaved ham, American cheese and an egg cooked to order on a toasted English muffin. The Sausage Supreme Skillet featured hash browns loaded with crumbled sausage, diced bacon, hearty breakfast sausage, fire-roasted bell peppers and onions, sautéed mushrooms, smoky cheese blend, Pepper Jack queso and two eggs.
• Papa John’s, which rolled out Bacon Cheddarsticks, which are covered with a special garlic sauce and topped with hickory-smoked bacon, Cheddar and mozzarella cheeses.
• Au Bon Pain, which has added several new items featuring applewood-smoked bacon, including the Oven Hot Country Grilled Cheese, Tomato & Bacon and the Bacon and Cheddar Scone.
• Pizza Ranch, which has brought back its popular Brushfire Pizza, topped with large slices of Andouille sausage, Cajun seasoning and a splash of Tabasco sauce.
• Bruegger’s Bagels, which recently unveiled The Big Easy, a breakfast sandwich made with eggs, Andouille sausage, Sriracha mustard and green peppers.
Gerike noted that the buzz around pork is strong in foodservice, and there's good news about the longevity of pork's popularity, adding: "We're onto something big with pork's potential throughout foodservice."