Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cajun Pasta Dinner

--Tailgatin' and how to make mofos start playa hatin' (Recipes)

A recent trip to New Orleans has had Cajun cooking on my mind. I whipped up a fantastic dinner this past week that helped feed the itch which I'm not sure will ever leave. You best believe theres a legendary post on NOLA eats coming but in the meantime let me share with you what I made. I got both a recipe I found while down there and one I came up with in impromptu fashion that turned into a keeper for the recipe book.

Oysters, Eggplant and Tasso Gratin

I found this recipe printed in the newest edition of Southern Foodway's which I picked up at a restaurant in New Orleans. Susan Spicer, the chef credited for this wonderful dish, calls it a "new trinity". FYI the Trinity is the trio of chopped bell peppers, onions and celery added into a dish. Check out the recipe HERE and a step by step picture guide down below. This dish was rich and full of flavor, great start to an epic made at home meal.

Making the roux

Eggplant and tasso being sauteed

The gratin before the top layer of bread crumbs are added

Gratin out of the oven

Oysters, Eggplant and Tasso Gratin w/ French bread for an appetizer

chibbqking Blackened Shrimp Pasta w/ Trinity and Tasso

I was in the mood for a Cajun inspired pasta and ended up creating something from within. Lets take a look at how I did it. I used this guys recipe as a base and changed a few things too.

Ingredients (Serves four as main dish)

2 Pounds Shell on Shrimp, 21 - 30, Peeled and Cleaned
1.5 cups worth of Trinity (chopped onions, celery, peppers) with Tasso
1/4 Cup Blackening seasoning
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, as needed
2 Tablespoons Butter, as needed
8 Cloves Garlic, grated or pressed
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, as needed
1 Pound Penne Pasta

Trinity with tasso ready to go

1) Start out by removing the shells of the shrimps and de-veining them after. Once done set shrimp in bowl and add healthy amount of blackening seasoning and set aside. Take your shrimp shells and make a stock out of that.

2) Get water ready to boil for the pasta. While waiting grate the garlic, and place it in a small pan with 1/4 cup olive oil. Cook on low heat until the garlic is soft, and fragrant. This will infuse the oil with the garlic flavor. Cook about 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and leave it alone.

3) While waiting for water to boil, saute the trinty/tasso mixture in a pan with butter and oil until translucent, add some Creole seasoning on top if you got it. Before removing the mixture from the pan add about 1/4 cup of the shrimp stock and cook that thru for 3 mins. Dont clean the pan.

Trinity and Tasso cooking away

4) Once water is boiling add 1 tablespoon of oil with 2 tablespoons Kosher Salt, and add the pasta. Once that's boiling stir to make sure it doesn't stick and then blacken the shrimp in the same pan used to make the trinity. About 2 mins per side in half batches and then set that aside.

My stove as I prep the Cajun pasta

5) When shrimp is done leave your pan as is and get it nice and hot and then follow that by emptying the rest of the shrimp stock into the pan and scraping the bits off of the bottom. Once its all removed strain the liquid through a fine sieve to remove the big black chunks so that its just a dark liquid base like that seen below.

Blackened Shrimp Stock

Blackened Shrimp

6) When the pasta is done, drain it and place it in the bowl. Add the garlic infused oil and mix it up well. Dump the last batch of shrimp into the bowl along with the trinity and tasso and mix well.

chibbqking blackened shrimp with trinity and tasso pasta

7) Serve on plates and drizzle a little of the blackened shrimp stock on top. Enjoy!

Up Close view of the goodness

Note: Tubed pasta works great with this dish b/c the trinity gets stuck up in each piece.

See ya next time @chibbqking.

Monday, September 26, 2011


-The other Chicago-style pizza: Tavern Style

When I first started exploring Chicago and it's food gems there was a place we would go to often, especially on Tuesday nights. I found Candlelite when searching online for good tavern thin style pizza joints. On top of the classic neon sign they still rock the rec's for the place were enthusiastic and many people love it and so did we. On top of that another common trait amongst great Midwest tavern thin pizza places is most have been around since the 50's, if not before that.

a popular locals pizza place and tavern on Western in Rogers Park

Candlelite opened up shop in 1950 and they've been a fixture in the neighborhood since then. The inside is nice and most likely been redone more recent than not, it's not quite as old school inside as the neon would suggest. They have a real nice bar, big flatscreen TV's as well as tables for people to sit at. Tuesday nights is 2 for 1 pizza. They specialize in Midwest thin and do good job at it. The biggest problem for me has been consistency and I have the pics to prove it. You'll see that the first picture of a pizza, while still "thin" is not quite tavern thin. That was the case a couple years back as the pies switched. Still good just not why it was a repeat pizza stop for me.

Sausage pie from Candlelite

One thing that has always remained the same and is a must get while there are the garlic fries. These are some of the best sets of fries with toppings in the city. They load up the fries with a really nice housemade garlic concoction that goes great before a pie or even as a snack if your just sitting at the bar, watching a game and want something to munch on with your beer. They do have other options on the menu but the garlic fries and pizza pies are all I ever order.

Garlic Fries from Candlelite

So after taking a little break from there I tried it again this past winter and it was much more like it was when I first started going as opposed to what made me take a break. The crust was much crunchier and thinner as well, the way I like it. An inch or two might not seem like a whole lot but when making a pizza tavern thin, its important the dough be made into as thin as possible to create an authentic tavern style pie, which in case people didn't know is true Chicago style. Check the tags below for more places in Chicago and the rest of the Midwest to try this popular regional style of pizza. See ya next time @chibbqking.

My most recent thin crust sausage from Candlelite

Rating Scale 5/5

crust: 4
sauce: 4
toppings: 4
Crispness: 4

Score: 16/20

7452 North Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60645
(773) 465-0087

Candlelite Chicago on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 23, 2011

Zel's Roast Beef

Regional Fast Food
-Roast Beef Sandwiches in NW Indiana

Zel's is a small mini chain serving fresh roast beef sandwiches in the NW Indiana area. Unfortunately there's not much on the internet about the popular chain so I don't know much as far as history. Readers, please feel free to chime in.

Zel's on US Highway 41

I've been to Zel's a few times thru the years and enjoyed my visits. Many people say it reminds them of what Arby's was before the compacted reconstituted meat took over. Their roast beefs are similar in ways to Chicago's Italian beefs but come served with pickles and pepperoncini peppers as opposed to giardineria. Cups of gravy are available. They also offer chili cheese fries and although I have never had one their chili cheeseburgers are popular too. A nice regional fast food option to have if your from the area.

Zel's chili cheese fries

Birthplace: 169th & Columbia in NW Indiana
Type: Private
Founded in: Unknown
How Many Today: Guesstimate of 6
Locations in: IN
Menu item that made them: Roast Beef Sandwich

Roast Beef Sandwich from Zel's

801 N. Main St.
Crown Point, IN
219 226-9850

6901 -Columbia Ave.
Hammond, IN
219 845-0433

Euclid at Columbus Drive
Indiana Harbor, IN

1441 E. 82nd Ave
Merrillville, IN

7889 W. Lincoln Highway
Schererville, IN
219 864-1011

210 US Highway 41
Schererville, IN

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sheboygan Brat Burgers

-Got beef?
The Burgers of Wisconsin

It's that time of the year, beer me up buddy. Oktoberfests are near and up the lake in Sheboygan, WI theres said to be a really good one. In fact Sheboygan has to be one of the best roadfood cities anywhere for a place of it's size (51,000 pop.) There are a quite a few "don't miss" type places in the pretty little town on the lake in between Milwaukee and Green Bay. I had two burger stops on the agenda on a recent visit in which we went wild, one of which I have been too before. I stopped in at the Charcoal Inn a few years back while on the Lake Michigan Circle Tour.

Sheboygan, WI

When traveling along the lake (Michigan) in Wisconsin one will encounter a type of cooking that certainly isn't unique to this region but is very popular up and down it and that's cooking with charcoal. It is somewhat unique in that so many restaurants do this and I'm not talking flame broiled using gas or electric either. They use real charcoal which is loaded into their indoor pits as needed by the grillmaster. The Charcoal Inn actually has two locations, a north and south, with the south being the original and right off the Circle Tour route. They serve both breakfast and lunch with their specialty being their charcoal grilled sandwiches.

Image Image
The view as you enter & The grill at Charcoal Inn

Sandwich options at the Inn include the usual WI tavern suspects like burgers, brats and steak. Another popular trait at these charcoal grilled sandwich spots and stops along the lake is the use of butter, LOTS of it. The brats at Charcoal Inn are served split on yet another food specialty along the lake which is the hard roll. I love these toasted rolls and find them to be the perfect compliment to the sandwiches holding them together not letting them fall apart while in your hands as you eat it. The reason for my stop was a brat and burger sandwich. Which is exactly what your thinking, a burger patty topped with a brat patty.

Brat and Burger with cheese from Charcoal Inn

Look like a gimmick? It isn't or at least I didn't think it was. Neither did my friend who I was riding with and named this sandwich/burger his favorite of the many we had and none of them were "nuttin special".


The hard rolls are toasted on the grill and the sandwich is then built with a hamburger patty topped with a slice of melted sharp cheddar followed by a brat patty which is topped with raw onions, pickles, brown mustard and PLENTY of butter (hold the catsup). Since this was the first real food stop after a few hours on the road I will say maybe that played a little part in it's goodness but I'd easily go back for another and then another if I lived anywhere near there. I especially liked the use of raw onions which is the standard topping for a brat as opposed to fried which are my preferred choice for a burger. The brat and burger sandwich, count me a fan man.

Pure Wisconsin

The next stop, also in Sheboygan, was on my list of places to get to in WI. Schulz's Restaurant is another popular place with the locals for real charcoal grilled sandwiches. It's one of them spots you gotta stop in at when you drive by. It's housed in a cool looking building and has that classic feel inside with a couple U shaped counters with stools for sitting and the charcoal grill on full display in the middle.

Sheboygan, WI

Mural on the side wall (Hey it's dude from Ron's Place)

Schulz's first opened up shop in 1953 and aside from the building which was built in 1967 it's stayed the same all the way. "Why spoil a good thing" is their motto. The original spot was a block away and when one of the sons bought the restaurant from his parents he built the current building where it stands in today.

Image Image
The view as you enter & The charcoal grill at Schulz's Restaurant

Now in it's third generation they still do everything the same. All the meats come from Miesfeld's Market which will get a full chibbqking report soon. The hard rolls come from Hi Lo bakery which is another must stop spot in Sheboygan. They do have regular hamburgers on the menu but hey, this is afterall Sheboygan so you know they got brats in burger form too. Brat patty's are just the ground meat from Meisfeld's grand champion bratwurst in patty form as opposed to encased sausage. I was told the double is their most popular sandwich so that's what we went with.

Double Brat Burger from Schulz's

Look's good huh? and you know it was. The patties were excellent, same great taste you get in the brats from Miesfeld's just in hamburger form. It came with the usual's on a brat of mustard (brown), raw onions and also pickles if you like them which I do so I got. The hard roll as can be seen in the pic was toasted to perfection and went great with the rest of the ingredients and you know they load them with plenty of real butter too. How can these bad boys not be good? So next time your in Sheboygan or cruising on by make sure you try a brat burger, another special regional eat found in Wisconsin. Many more to come.

The inside

Charcoal Inn South
1313 South 8th Street
Sheboygan, WI 53081-5325
(920) 458-6988

Schulz's Restaurant
1644 Calumet Drive
Sheboygan, WI 53081-2551
(920) 452-1880

Schulz's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tailgate Kebabs

--Tailgatin' and how to make mofos start playa hatin' (Recipes)

Fall is here and so is football which means plenty of grilling while tailgating. I think one of the best items to grill up at a tailgate are kebabs. The reason for this is you can do all the prep work for them the night before or morning of and then all you gotta do is throw them on the grill. More time for other fun stuff like beer. The other reason being how much they can vary. You can use beef, chicken, lamb and pork and whatever marinade or favorite spices you like as far as flavor. So today I have a few different options for people including recipes and some spots to go where you don't have to do any of the work at all, you just walk on in and buy them premade. So here are some ideas for grilling up during the football fun that has returned.

P&S Meats (Chicago, IL)

In Chicago's Edison Park Neighborhood

I spied this awesome little meat market one day while cruising north down Milwaukee. It's tucked away and not too recognizable from the outside but the little part it gets on the strip mall sign seen up above got my attention so I pulled over and went in to take a peak. Nice find, so glad I stopped. It's got some meats for your grill and other Mediterranean products as well as some outstanding souvlaki sold by the piece. Marinated and ready to grill they cost a $1.25 a stick and come in beef, pork or chicken. These were great grilled in my yard, in fact some of my favorite I've ever had if not just that. Great stop before the weekend. Pile up on souvlaki and gather some of your favorite sides to go with them at P&S Meat's in Edison Park.

Beef, pork and chicken grilled for Sunday gameday

The Villager Foods (Oak Park, IL) Closed


It's too bad the Villager had to close down. I hate to see the small longtime mom and pop shops have to say goodbye and succumb to the big guys. Especially when those big guys tend to suck. The Villager was in Oak Park and I stopped there before it closed and bought some great pre marinated beef kebabs that were ready to throw on the grill. These were the real deal and I looked forward to going back for some more but this isn't the first time I've gone to a spot, documented it and saved it for a post only to have it close. Support local even if they only have a few finds. I would of loved these moist full of flavor kebabs in my backyard.

The Villager's beef kebabs

Whole Foods (All Over)

Yes it's become a giant but at least Whole Foods has stuck with its roots and added in some great things such as their meat departments. The one by me in Lincoln Park is quite the spot, the bar there is even respectable. They offer some goof ready to grill item for your tailgate/grill out and it's a nice choice as long as your not cooking for 30. The beef kebabs have always been good and when I want something similar and not too far away, I'll just scoot over to Kingsbury street and buy one or two of theirs.

Grilled teriyaki beef kebabs from Whole Foods

Beef Skewers ala Tailgate

Here is a nice little parking lot recipe for you to indulge in before watching your favorite football team go to battle. It's called the tailgate because aside from the kebabs which just need to be grilled, everything else is pretty much ready to go and made at home. You'll need your favorite recipe for fried rice which just needs to be reheated . The star side dish here are my tortilla-less Tex-Mex fajita shrimps which you will need a little fry pan for. These also make a great taco filling or use the mixture on tortilla chips for nachos.

Tortilla-less Tex-Mex fajita shrimps (Serves four)

1 lb fresh gulf shrimp
1 green bell pepper (chopped)
1 onion (chopped)
1 Jalapeno (Chopped)
4 slices of bacon (chopped)
Tex-Mex seasoning

1) Season or marinade the shrimp with some Tex-Mex flavor and set aside. Take bacon slices and chop into little pieces and throw into skillet. Let them cook until crispy and then remove them and place on a napkin and set aside. Save at least tablespoon of the grease in pan.

2) Throw peppers and onions into skillet and cook them until browned. Remove when ready and then add in shrimp and cook three minutes until done. Throw peppers/onions back in and mix it all together.

3) Enjoy!

chibbqking tailgate dinner with tortilla-less shrimp fajitas (R)

Black Earth Meats (Black Earth, WI)

a top notch quality local organic meat butcher in Wisconsin

I stopped into Black Earth Meats a few weeks back and loved what I saw. It's a short ride from Madison and they do retail as well as supply some of the great restaurants from around the area. I'm going to do more on this great place which needs to be copy catted by others wherever you are. The USA needs more spots like Black Earth Meats. I picked up a sirloin roast as well as some halal lamb kebab meat and brought it back home with me in a cooler to Chicago.

Locally raised lamb, all meats are from Midwest

I ended up using the meat guessed it! Kebabs. I went to the trusted Barbecue Bible cookbook by Steven Raichlen which was one of my first grilling books. I Still use it to this day and haven't even gotten thru more than half of the 500+ recipes that come from all over the world. Perfect for tailgating which Mr. Raichlen knows a thing or two about himself. The kebab section as you can imagine has quite a few recipes coming from different countries. I chose to do the

The Real Turkish Shish Kebab recipe from Steven Raichlen

I served these (recipe found HERE) with marinated peppers and onions, made on separate sticks, as well as cous cous and cucumber yogurt salad. Picked some pitas from the grocery store

Turkish lamb kebab dinner

P & S Meats
7544 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60631
(773) 775-1503

Black Earth Meats
1345 Mills Street
Black Earth, WI 53515
(608) 767-3940

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nick's Tavern

-Got beef?
The Burgers of Chi (land)

The 2011 BMW PGA Championship is this weekend at Cog Hill in Lemont. Although were not headed onto the green's we will head over that way to a famous tavern in the area that's said to have one of Chicagoland's best burgers. Nick's Tavern opened up where they are in their current location in 1945. I would say that aside from the TV's and some other essential technology that comes with time nothing has changed inside. Let's take a peek.

Longtime locals favorite in Lemont, IL

As we enter

They've definitely upkept the place as it's got the old school charm that comes with taverns that have been around this long, yet none of the longtime dust and all that other stuff. One of the cooler things they have is an old Bevador cooler that still works with plenty of cold beer bottles kept inside. Each of my my visits to Nick's were pleasant times made possible by the friendly people both behind the bar and those sitting at it. They're just like your favorite low key hangout. Popular on MNF and packed for important Chicago sporting events. The menu, although small wont let you leave hungry. Beef is what the menu is here as in they serve burgers, Italian beef, all beef hot dogs and chili. Nachos and bags of chips are your side choices. My last visit this past winter was a nice one with their massive chili cheese dog warming me up.

Chili Cheese Dog from Nick's Tavern

The star of the show over there aside from the beer is their popular Nickburger. It's a giant preformed patty that can comes topped with the usual suspects including some really nice grilled onions. I can see why this is a popular snack seeing as they're served in a bar. Lots of people myself included would and do love the Nickburger after you've had a few. I liked it but thought the patty itself would and could have been better if hand patted the way the best taverns do theirs. Since the menu is so small and the Italian beef is already ready to go, I don't think it would be too much work but I as long as the locals love it you don't change it. Great spot to grab a bite and some cool air for those in or near Lemont and all you golfers that get to Cog Hill. Fun place, the type of spot I would want near where I live.

The Nickburger

Nick's Tavern
221 Main Street
Lemont, IL 60439
(630) 257-6564

Nick's Tavern on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Wings Around the World

-KingT's Wing Fling

Hello loyal readers, welcome back! Sorry for the delay but you needn't worry, I was out of town eating at more great spots to share with y'all here. In the meantime, football season is here baby! I've been waiting to post about today's place up until the season began so with that we head to the southside, South shore neighborhood to sample some of the city's best wings. Make that some of the countries best. Wings Around the World puts BW-3's in it's place, in the garbage bin.

Located on 75th street in Chicago's Grand Crossing neighborhood

WATW is a small tiny little storefront that puts out some huge flavor. There are no tables so I usually enjoy my wings on the hood of my car. NO! it is not unsafe to do so. The neighborhood is fine and never has there been a problem. The owner is also a great guy who puts out some mean wings. In fact there are near or over 40 different selections for you to choose all categorized by country of flavor. From China to Jamaica and all stops in between they got you covered.

The menu along the wall

I'll be the first to admit I am nowhere near having gone thru all the flavors but the ones I have tried I quite enjoyed. My first visit ever was without a camera but we all really enjoyed the lemon pepper from the American section. Unique flavor profile made these wings ones that you remember and I still do. My favorites are from the US portion and of course the Jamaican. They make quite a few variations of jerk sauce and do a nice job at that. The wings are nice sized and cooked to perfection. Sauces are all homemade.

Jerked wings

If you find yourself in need of some chicken wing trays this football season I'm going to suggest, fuck that, tell you that WATW is the best spot for you, even if your on the northside. You see, wings are all they do so they do them well. It's that old restaurant saying "you pick one thing, and you do it well" and then your spot should do the same. They don't mess around here and the people of the neighborhood support them because they do it right. If good old Buffalo style is your preferred choice well your fine on that since they do some of the best Buffalo wings anywhere near Chicago and if they were located in Buffalo, there too. Check them out will ya.

Buffalo Wings fresh from the fryer

Wings Around the World
510 East 75th Street
Chicago, IL 60619
(773) 483-9120

Wings Around the World on Urbanspoon


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