Bacon Unwrapped

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Pork Shop

A friend and I recently made our first pilgrimage to mecca for Arizona pork lovers – The Pork Shop in Queen Creek, Arizona.

I moved to Phoenix over 10 years ago. So I’m ashamed to admit this is the first time I've ever been to The Pork Shop, even though I've eaten many of their products at the various restaurants they serve in the Phoenix area, including Matt's Big Breakfast. Granted, my interest in bacon didn’t really reach its current level of intensity until I started this blog a little over 2 years ago, but this trip was still long overdue. I guess late is better than never.

To say that The Pork Shop is located in the Phoenix metro area is a bit of a stretch. Looking at a map of greater Phoenix, the untrained eye would be led to believe that Queen Creek is a suburb of Phoenix since it is connected to other major suburbs such as Tempe, Mesa and Chandler. But The Pork Shop is actually east of Queen Creek (and in a different county), so for those of us who live in Central Phoenix (or CenPho as we lovingly call it) the drive takes over an hour assuming you don’t hit any traffic along the way. And of course we encountered a few unexpected road closures and detours that added to our travel time. But we persevered.

Despite the location, the trip to The Pork Shop is definitely worth the time and effort. My best advice would just be to call ahead if you are planning to order anything special that might not be readily stocked. In my excitement over going to The Pork Shop, I made the rookie mistake of assuming that a place called The Pork Shop would be able to fulfill all of my pork needs on demand. But even though The Pork Shop is pretty amazing, they are human and have a business to run, so I learned that lesson the hard way and will be returning in a couple weeks for my uncured pork belly. Learn from my mistakes.

For a little more background about the store, here's an excerpt from the store brochure:

The Pork Shop has been specializing in fresh pork products since it opened in 1979. At the time, Greg Combs, a third generation Arizona farmer, was looking for an alternative marketing source for his swine operation. Selling fresh pork directly to the consumer seemed like a good idea since no one else was doing it at the time, so Greg learned some butchering skills, developed some sausage recipes, and started retailing his own hogs right on the family homestead in Queen Creek where his grandfather had started farming in the 1940s. Before long, The Pork Shop began to add smoked products to its line, as well as a great variety of fresh home made sausages and lunch meats, until the business grew to the point that Greg now buys all natural midwestern corn fed pork and devotes his entire time to the development and production of the delicious pork products available at The Pork Shop.

The Pork Shop's modest building is located at an otherwise empty intersection surrounded by farm land. But despite the quiet, remote location, The Pork Shop’s cheerful signage is an indication of the variety of glorious pork products you will encounter inside.

More from the store brochure:

We sell just about anything that comes from a pig. We smoke our own hickory smoked, brown sugar cured hams and bacons, as well as a large selection of smoked sausages, lunch meats, old fashioned hot dogs, capicola, and snack sausages. The Pork Shop is famous for bratwurst, sweet and hot Italians, and Polish sausages, along with a great selection of breakfast sausage links, patties, and bulk sausages. Recently we have added a line of fresh gourmet sausages that include maple syrup, green chili, potato, beer brats, apple cinnamon, andouille, and jalapeno. We also have a special line of cheese sausages, Parmesan Italian, provolone, and cheddar brats.

The Pork Shop carries a complete line of fresh specialty pork cuts such as baby back ribs, Iowa cut chops, top rib chops, St. Louis cut spare ribs, boneless rolled loin roasts, as well as all the standard cuts such as center cut chops, pan fry chops, pork steaks, country ribs, loin end roasts, pork butts, and many others. We exclusively use select quality corn fed midwestern pork to bring you the freshest, tastiest, and best selection of pork in the Valley.

There are several bacon options – both pre-packaged and cut to order - including hickory smoked bacon, Kansas City bacon, pepper cured bacon, Canadian bacon, and bacon ends. I purchased the pre-packaged pepper cured bacon and the fresh sliced thick cut Kansas City bacon (which I mentioned in an entry on this website last week). But even though bacon was obviously at the top of my list of things to purchase at The Pork Shop, I have to admit that the best thing I left with is a pork product I had never encountered before – pork sticks. Pork sticks are basically skinny ready-to-eat snack sausages. The shape is similar to a Slim Jim (but that is where the similarities end). We tried two flavors – a spicy Arizona stick and a milder Apple Pecan stick. The pork sticks alone are worth the cost of the gas for driving to The Pork Shop.

I also picked up a pork loin roast that I prepared for dinner last week, along with some pepperoni that I’ve frozen to use for a pizza at some point in the near future. Bottomline...even though I wasn’t able to acquire all of the pork products I had hoped to get on my first trip to The Pork Shop, I definitely did not walk away empty handed.

According to a review Howard Seftel wrote for the Phoenix New Times several years ago, "The Pork Shop gets freshly slaughtered hogs from a Chandler supplier on Tuesday and Wednesday every week. By Thursday, the meat's in the display case. By Sunday, it's gone."

So if you live in central Arizona and you love pork, take a trip to The Pork Shop as soon as possible. Don’t wait until you’ve lived here for 10 years like I did. Take an ice chest and stock up while you’re there. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm; Sunday, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm

Location: 3359 E. Combs Road, Queen Creek, AZ 85242

Phone: 480-987-0101

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8 Comments:

  • hey, Bacon. Thanks for this post. We visited the Pork Shop today and because your review is so good, I linked it to my blog post for today. Hope you don't mind. It's too bad the PS doesn't have a website. You are soooo right about the sticks. Yum. I even had a green chilies burrito and we packed some pork chops in ice to have later marinated in one of the flavored EVOO's from the Queen Creek Olive Mill. Thanks again.

    By Blogger LaVon Baker, at 11:42 PM  

  • Thanks for the info. I've been looking for a source for pork belly. Problem solved. Did you pick up your pork belly? What did you do with it. BTW, I've lived in central Phoneix for 40 years and have never heard it referred to as CenPho.

    Ken

    By Blogger Ken, at 11:32 AM  

  • I picked up my pork belly, but I know they deliver. I've just never used the delivery service so you'll have to call and ask about it. I used mine in a cassoulet. As for CenPho...we made it up as a way to mock all the Scottsdale nicknames (NoSco, NoNoSco, etc). Now we're trying to get CenPho to catch on just for fun. :)

    By Blogger Heather, at 6:28 PM  

  • The pork shop is the BEST posk shop I have ever been too. Every time I am in the Phoenix area I make a run to the Pork Shop to stock up. I freeze my purchases and pack them in my luggage for the flight home. Sure the pork loin and ribs can't be beat, but be sure to try any of the sausage - especially the Western Sage breakfast sausage. It's wonderfully flavored with a bit of a spicy kick. I wish they had a web site ! : )

    By Blogger Car Gurl, at 6:05 PM  

  • FYI for anyone visiting this weekend 3/14/09, there will be a Girl Scout cookie booth sale going on, along with the $1 brawts

    By Blogger TheGirlYou'llNeverKnow, at 10:44 PM  

  • Please explain what Kansas City Bacon is exactly

    By Blogger Scott, at 12:28 AM  

  • Kansas City bacon is made from shoulder instead of belly. Very lean.

    By Blogger Heather, at 6:18 AM  

  • why thank you Heather!

    By Blogger Scott, at 11:13 AM  

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