Friday, September 28, 2012

Pork Neckbone Gravy

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

Cold weather is coming and with it so does good smells throughout the house on Sundays. Pork Neckbones were on sale at $.89/lb last week at a place I stopped into on Central street. Originally just looking for some veggies I couldn't pass on the chance to make up some neckbone gravy the next morning which is the perfect time to let it simmer away with football season back in full swing.

Ingredients (Makes Large Pot Full)

- 3 lbs Pork neckbones
- 1 six lb can of peeled tomatoes (Smashed by hands in a bowl, save juice)
- 2 Cans of Tomato Sauce
- 3 Cans Diced Tomatoes (drained)
- 1 Can of Tomato Paste
- 1/2 can diced anchovies
- Red Wine
- Chicken Stock
- Peeled Garlic
- Flour
- Granulated Garlic and Onion
- Olive Oil
- Fresh finely minced Herbs


1) Start off by taking a plate and spreading some flour out on it. Add some granulated garlic and onion powder to the flour and coat each pork neckbone with the dust. Proceed to oil and heat up your pot.

2) When hot add the neckbones a few at a time allowing each one to brown nicely. Once browned remove them from the pot and place aside. Finish each batch until all neckbones are browned.

Browned Pork Neckbones

3) Smash down on 5-6 garlic cloves with the side of your knife and throw those in the pot for 2-3 minutes and remove. Follow that by adding half a can of chicken stock and a cup of red wine into the pot and let it simmer away (make sure pan is hot when poured in).

4)  Once some of the liquid has evaporated and you've scraped the black bits at the bottom of the pan than you can add the can of tomato paste into the pot. Let that cook as you move it around for a few minutes.

5) Follow that by adding the big old can of hand smashed tomaotes and all other canned tomato products being used. Follow that by adding the browned pork neckbones into the pot and then add your chopped herbs in and mix them thru. 

6) Let simmer for two hours with top of the pan on and then two hours with it off. Be sure to stir now and then. After four hours of simmering remove the pork neckbones from the pot and set aside.

7) Once the neckbones have cooled down remove the meat from the bones and discard the bones. Place the meat in a bowl and chop it down if you want or just let it sit. Make sure to double check the sauce seeing that there are no tiny pieces of bones that fell off .

8) When ready add the pork meat back into the pot and stir. Proceed to serve in your favorite Italian dishes which call for red sauce.

I grew up being taught that there's no such thing as too big a batch of pasta sauce so I was thinking what I could use it with besides pasta since that would be an easy meal for the upcoming week. So I picked up some Yukon gold potatoes, onions and peppers and rode over to Joseph's on Irving Park and got a pound each of their mild and hot Italian sausage. Italian Soulfood for Sunday night dinner was in the works.

Prepping up before eating up

Note: It's best to bake the chunks of potatoes on a well oiled pan in the oven. Cook the sausage in a skillet and follow that with the onions and peppers. Proceed to mix it all up together when ready.

Italian Sausage with Potatoes, Peppers & Onions

Served smothered w/ Neckbone Gravy and Garlic Bread. Roasted banana peppers on top optional.

See ya next time @chibbqking

Monday, September 24, 2012

Roadfood in Sheboygan

Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties

-German Taverns, Butchers & Bakeries in The Brat Capitol of the World

Somehow this terrific little town always gets overlooked when talking about fun spots to visit in Wisconsin. Its the damn name I tell ya, they must’ve been pissed at their parents as a kid. Well anyway it's that time of the year for Oktoberfests and Sheboygan's gotta good one. So I thought now would be the time to share here.
Locals favorite

We stopped in at Al & Al's last year when riding the lake up north towards where WI meets MI. My friend wanted to say hello to Paul, the owner over at Al & Al's which he had met on the BBQ circuit. We stopped in around lunchtime and sat at the bar to say hi. His wife was working two large parties, one was the local alderman trying to convince her wife to run for city mayor. The current one has been in the news of late. But as we could see, she's busy enough running the restaurant. The other large group was a woman's golf outing. We sat at the bar but there's a full dinner menu here and a couple large dining rooms. We eventually got a hold of Paul and he remembered Phil immediately and was happy to see us. We were just stopping in to say hello but that turned into a few beers and a sandwich, or two.

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Nice early afternoon at Al & Al's

Their schnitzel was amazing and one of the best sandwiches I had that summer. Perfectly fried tender pieces placed inside one of Sheboygan's famous hard rolls and topped with crisped up extra buttered diced onions and some brown mustard. So good we ordered another for the road. We also enjoyed Spaten's Optimator, seen in pic above, it's a great tasting beer that's very similar to root beer except with the alcohol. Al & Al's hosts an Oktoberfest every year (Oct. 5th and 6th 2012) in which the entire area around the restaurant shuts down and the streets are crowded and flooded with beer booths and food from Al & Al's. Paul puts the whole thing on with his wife and locals help for 1,000's of visitors. One of Wisconsin's best fests or so I was told. I'm going to try and go.

Schnitzel sandwich

We managed to wander around and take in the town while sneaking in a few more food stops before we made our way to Green Bay. Some great brat burgers in the land of bratwurst can be seen HERE.

Any of the old time readers that used to play with Garton Toys? Old factory turned lofts...

I'll bet this place is rocking on St. Patty's Day

The famous City Bakery

Also of note Sheboygan has an abundance of great bakeries. I look forward to trying the lesser known ones on my return trip. This time around I finally got to stop in at City and it was awesome. Living up to the hype, their baked sweets were as good as any I have had. Along with Bleodow's in Winona, MN this is my favorite bakery to date. The hard rolls I brought back were outstanding and their signature peanut crumble I thought was great. Everything was actually really good and I got alot spending around $12, which can be hard to do shopping for one, prices are great.

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Cinnamon raisin concoction (I think) and a cranberry fritter

Aside from brat's and bakeries Sheboygan is also known for their steak sandwiches. They serve them at all the local fast food spots and taverns just like they do brats. Although they're a little different and are a signature of Miesfeld's, the great butcher shop in town. More similar to a hamburger than steak patty theres something about these "restaurant steaks" as they're called. They make really good tavern food and so some locals will say, "Gosse's got the best." It's a tavern located in whats also a historical landmark. The building was built in 1927 to accommodate railroad workers offering them a nice place to sleep, clean and eat while waiting to move onto Chicago via the Northwestern Railroad.

Gosse's Wisconsin Tavern located in a historical building along the railroad tracks

I only had time for a quick brew as I waited for my sandwich and although daytime hasn't prevented bars in Wisconsin from being packed, it was quiet on my visit. Gosse's started out as a drive thru in a tiny building popular for their broaster chicken, brats and steak sandwiches. The place was lost in the "Great flood of Sheboygan" in 1998. After taking a little time off the husband and wife team couldn't live without being in the restaurant biz and opened the tavern in the old hotel in town. Nice place inside and I could see this being my usual Friday night dinner and drinks stop if I lived in Sheboygan. The cheesesteak sandwich is a restaurant steak with some WI cheddar served on a hard roll with lots of butter.

Cheesesteak sandwich from Gosse's

Looks pretty plain and usual from the outside but those restaurant steaks are great as are the local cheddar and hard rolls. Like everything else they go heavy on the butter but they use raw onions which worked well with pickles, mustard and patty. Next time I'll give some other stuff a try including another local specialty, torte's, Gosse's are homemade by the owners mom and they offer up to 20 flavors, I forgot to try one this time around.

The insides

Of course no trip to Sheboygan is complete without a stop at Miesfeld's. You're going to want to bring a cooler and when you do remember you're going to want a big one, not a small. There's so much selection at this wonderland of wurst.

Legendary meat mega mall

What to write about Miesfeld's? A place with so much good going on. Famous for their grand champion brats but they offer a whole lot more including their famous restaurant steaks and brat patties too. They supply many restaurants around the area as well as houses. I'd be here every week if it was near me. I still need to do a head to head taste off until I decide who's brats are best but I love theirs here. Also I'm not sure I personally will ever find a hot dog I like better than Vienna Beef natural casing ala the greats (Demon Dogs, Gene & Jude's, 35th Street, Jimmy's etc) but Miesfeld's as noted makes great wieners too, just don't take a twitpic of theirs and then send it out for all to see.
Homemade Brats

Restaurant Steaks and Spencer Steaks (with suet)

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So much more in-store...

Grilled brats from my backyard I brought back

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More of my bounty brought back home: Restaurant Steak & minimalist dog, 'sconnie style

Al & Al's Stenhaus
1502 South 12th Street
Sheboygan, WI 53081
(920) 452-5530

City Bakery
1102 Michigan Avenue
Sheboygan, WI 53081
(920) 457-4493

Gosse's at the Northwestern House
1909 Union Ave
Sheboygan, WI 53081
(920) 457-8696

Miesfeld's Meat Market
4811 Venture Drive
Sheboygan, WI 53083
(920) 565-6328

Friday, September 21, 2012

La Favorita #2

 -Eating like a Mayan King in the Windy City

I'm not going to lie, I dont want to share the info I'm about to on a family I believe offers some of the city's Top Taco's. Garcia family matriarch Froylan Garcia immigrated to Chicago from San Luis Potosi Mexico. He did what most folks do coming to America looking for jobs and found work in factories and other odd jobs. As the years went on he started investing in real estate around the Pilsen area and now owns a liquor store on Halsted and a corner grocery store called La Favorita #2 in Pilsen. His family is also behind one of my new favorite casual spots for eat and drink called Del Toro which is also on Halsted in Pilsen.

At the corner of 19th and May street in Pilsen

Well the reason I said I didn't want to share is because this is a Saturday and Sunday only operation as far as the tacos go. It also happens to be a "make your own tacos" type of place as you pay for the meat by the pound and buy whichever are your preferred tortillas. Complimentary bags of chopped onions with cilantro and lime as well as salsa verde sits on top of the meat counter.

The butcher shop in back of the store

The star of the show here are their cachete aka beef cheek barbacoa tacos. Again you have to make these on your own, they just supply you with everything you need. At $5.99/lb you can easily get six tacos assuming you use two tortillas to hold each together. A package of tortillas will set you back about .40 cents. So its a great deal.

One of my favorite weekend breakfasts in the city

Why do I eat this for breakfast you ask? Well as I said before the barbacoa is only available on weekends and its usually ready around 7a maybe 8a and gone by 11a at the latest. But rarely will it make it past that. Rosa Garcia has been making her specialty for the last thirty-six years and 600 pounds of it goes quick as her legend has grown. Very little is done as far as seasoning goes. The cheeks are just salted and then placed in a big old simmering pot with garlic and they cook until fall apart tender. The recipe comes from Rosa's husbands father who hails from San Luis Potosi.

Top Taco: Beef Cheek Barbacoa

Oh man that picture is already getting me excited to head over before kickoff this NFL Sunday which has become a tradition of mine the last couple years. If you do go and dont get there on time for the barbacoa, the carnitas are excellent as well. It's never an awful thing when I go and theres no beef left but still some pig. Make sure to ask for some of the ribs. So good.

Carnitas Tacos

It doesn't end there though. If you do go to the grocery store make sure to pick up some of their homemade Mexican chorizo which seems to have alot less grease than most of the brands you find at places like Tony's. It's also got some heavy doses of garlic up in it. I'm actually going to use some of it this week to mix in with skirt steak and make tacos out of. Also as mentioned the family owns Del Toro which I profiled HERE. I think their puerco adobada tacos aka pork marinated in adobo chile paste are just great. They might not be made with the ever trendy pork belly ala Big Star but these are just as good in their own right. Big ups to the Garcia family for putting out some of the city's top tacos.

Puerco Adobada Taco from Del Toro

La Favorita #2
1925 South May Street
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 666-8222

Del Toro
2133 South Halsted Street
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 733-7144

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Zizi's Cafe

-Grubbing in Chicago
New to the 'Scene'

As I was cruising down Sheffield last week I noticed a new place had opened up shop about a block north of Diversey. Zizi's Mediterranean Cafe is what its called and they're a Turkish place. What caught my eye aside from the fact this place is new was the banner bragging about their bread being the best. So the next day I decided to head on over and see what was up.

Newly opened spot in LP/Lakeview

The first visit was good enough to where I've been back within a week since. I thought the house baked breads which I saw them baking when waiting were fantastic. I'll admit to not being an expert in Middle Eastern food but this place pleased me and it started with their bread. Both my orders were to go but they have a nice little setup for dining in and bonus points for those who like BYOB's. So far I've only done the shawarma or doner as it's called in Turkey. Very good and better than others I have had. I think I like the chicken a little more do to the fact that theres layers of peppers within the meat which is shaved off for sandwiches and plates.

Chicken Doner Sandwich

The chicken sandwich is a pretty good deal at $5.95. It includes fries but those are the biggest turnoff thus far about the place, the fries are served soggy, turn that oil up! But damn that bread! I really liked this sandwich which came with the meat of choice and also onions, carrots, lettuce, red cabbage and yogurt sauce. I'll get this again. I also really liked the "Zizi's favorite" wrap which came in their warm freshly baked bread along with choice of lamb or chicken with onions, tomatoes and arugula. Another high point is the niceness of the people who own this place. It's a welcome addition to the neighborhood as far as I'm concerned. Check them out.

Zizi's favorite wrap with lamb doner

Zizi's Cafe
2825 North Sheffield Ave
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 697-9228

Zizi's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 17, 2012

Take Me Out

-KingT's Wing Fling

With football season now in full swing and wings being one of those things people enjoy eating most while watching, today's post takes us to a great place for some take out lollipop style wings with some Asian influence to them. So we head over to 18th street in Pilsen today to check out 'Take Me Out'. One of my favorite places to eat in the city.

Locals favorite on 18th street

Take Me Out as the name suggests is a little wing stop with a few other options on the menu. You dont have to take them to go though as they do have four or five tables for you to enjoy their specialty wings and shrimp while dining in. Started by the daughter of the man who owns Great Seas, she decided to bring her dads hugely popular Asian style lollipop wings aka 'Hotties' to the southside. The menu is small with the wings and shrimp being your options and the choice of white rice or fried is the other. Don't sleep on the shrimp as I tried them recently and found them to be very enjoyable to the point where it'll be tough not to get them next time.

Shrimp Hotties

But as good as the shrimp is, the wings are even better. Just like her dads these hotties here are a mix of both sweet and spicy with perfectly fried crunch to them each and every time. AKA lollipops because of their unique appearance. Only drumettes are used and they cut the bottom so that they're shaped like a lollipop when fried. Different levels of heat are offered. I believe these Korean style of wings to be the best non-Buffalo variety in the city. One of my favorite stops and I encourage anyone who hasn't been to do so soon. You wont be disappointed.

Lil Hotties from Take Me Out Wings

Take Me Out
1502 W 18th St.
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 929-2509

Take Me Out on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 14, 2012


-The other Chicago (& Midwest) style pizza: Tavern Style

Today we feature an old school pizza place that was shut down suddenly only to pop back up into the picture a year or so later. I first read about Romano's in Des Plaines over at LTHforum. As is the case with many places profiled there, the pictures posted by those who were reviewing the place is what got me to stop in. So we did a couple years ago before the old location shut down.

RIP (The Old Des Plaines location)

Here is a quote from one of my earlier visits "Its amazing how many people come in and out for pickups of the pizza that they know on a name to name basis. Its a real neighborhood type joint over there. As far as atmosphere, its the best of the tavern styles I've come across. Some real characters at that bar. It turns out they are all from my neighborhood, oh rather I'm from there's" It's too bad the old location is gone because the place was a time warp and I enjoyed their pizza which as seen below is a typical Midwest tavern style thin pie, cut a little bit different.

Large Sausage Pizza from the old Romano's Location

The old Romano's had been around for over 60 years before closing its doors. It was a bummer to hear about it when they did so. Places like the old location are the spots I seek out when on the road. I prefer the places with rich history where little has changed as opposed to new on the scene type spots that bring alot of hype with them. So I was happy to hear Romano's would be re-opening in Rosemont as I enjoyed their pie almost as much as the atmosphere inside at the old location. I was excited to see of their signature style remained the same.

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Things just aint the same for gangsters...

Well as you can see from the first photo from where they used to be housed and then where they're at now the atmosphere from an old school Midwest pizza parlor is gone. They still got Italian murals on the walls, red and white squared table cloths and all the old photos of celebs from another era. But its located in a strip mall. Don't let that keep you way though.

A peak inside

The pizza which is still sliced the same way looks a little different as far as the then and now pictures go but tasted similar to what I remember it being. Except I recall the crust being better back then. Still a very respectable tavern style thin pie with good sausage. A nice option to have if in Rosemont and they do deliver. They also serve gelato and have a deli station with different cold pastas and tuna salads on sale to take to go as well as single slices and pasta dishes too. I hope they have a long life at this new location.

Thin crust sausage pie from the new Romano's

Romano's in Rosemont
9785 West Higgins Road
Rosemont, IL 60018
(847) 292-0100

Romano's on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 10, 2012

Green Bay Burger Stops

-Got beef?
The Burgers of Wisconsin

Today we travel with the Bears head north up the lake into Green Bay. I took my 2nd visit to titletown last year but this time was my first time actually enjoying it. Certain outcomes from events on my previous visit made it suck. Puck the Fack, when it comes to Wisco, professional football is about the only thing I don't like. But I still got a lil' love for Green Bay, well their burgers anyway. Taking in a game at Lambeau is a must do sporting experience. First stop of the day was in downtown Green Bay at an old time place called Al's Hamburger Shop.

Green Bay, WI

*Note: Al's is back open after the fire that closed it down for a while

Proving how fast these type of roadfood spots that I like to take in are dissaperaing, Al's had a fire last year. I'm not sure of it's fate these days. I was told about Al's on my first trip to Green Bay when a local told me it's the best 'locals type' spot they got. I never made it there but always remembered it due to the simple name and then I became even more intrigued when I saw how little there was on it on the 'net. A few reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor praise the place for its old time "nothings changed" feel while others trash it for being a "dirty smoky grease pit". Sounds like my type of place and upon entry I knew it was.

As we enter...the small grill is to the right in full view from the window outside

A small counter with stools and a few tables for sitdown make Al's at maximum capacity when 30 people are inside. The wonderful young lady working the grill was also taking orders and I went with the classic cheeseburger and also an order of their famous corned beef hash. As we waited while the young grill lady cooked up our burgers and hash I couldn't help but get a total kick out of a plane made from a PBR can hanging from the ceiling (seen in pic above). It flew around in circles with its propeller rotating as the exhaust system blew air by it. Very funny and part of the old school charm of the place, you know nothings changed, except that one stool a little higher and different than the rest in the picture above.

Like it's always been. Those Rolaids came in handy...

The hash was the first order up, theres only so much room on the grill. This was indeed the real deal. I prefer mine to be ground down and crispy all around, much like I love my burgers. Al's had a deli slicer for their corned beef in back which was in use for the next days supply. It might look like it's from a can but this was an excellent homemade hash. You can see in the up close shot there were small shreds of real corned beef everywhere. This stuff was awesome.

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Corned Beef Hash breakfast from Al's

The burger was everything I was expecting. Ordered with grilled onions which are smashed into the fresh ball of beef and topped with brown mustard and pickles this was one of the best burgers I'd had in state. The bun was phenomenal. So light and fluffy. Al's cheeseburgers when I was lucky enough to visit are exactly how I love mine to be. The perfect example of an old school diner where the cheeseburgers are and always have been popular for breakfast. I hope they make it back.

Cheeseburger from Al's

So as it turns out I'm actually a big fan of a Green Bay landmark, just not Lambeau Field and the team that plays its home games there. Al's burgers and corned beef hash were both top notch and even better was two cheeseburgers and two orders of hash with eggs and toast was under $17. What a steal, almost as big as Aaron Rodgers at pick #24. Doh!.

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Since 1934 for a reason...

Next stop of the day is also a local institution in Green Bay. The Kroll's name has been associated with burgers in the area since 1936 when Harry Kroll opened his joint. If Kroll's sounds familiar that's because theres one in Chicago that opened up in the South Loop a while back and also another one on the West side of Green Bay right by Lambeau Field. The east side location is the original and aside from family name I believe is in no way associated with the others. Nowadays it's still the same tavern/take out that always will remain a real locals favorite, you know the drill by now, visited by generations of families etc...

Green Bay, WI

Kroll's uses the popular regional style of real charcoal grilling. They have a take out window as well as a tavern where you can enjoy their signature burgers with a drink and all sorts of other goodies like fried app's, fried chicken and perch, brats, hot dogs, steak sandwiches along with an assortment of others. They also offer their popular homemade soups and chili. As soon as you leave your car in the parking lot you are greeted by a pleasant aroma in the air from the chimney expelling the smoke.

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Kroll's is a very cool place to visit

The Real Charcoal Grill at Kroll's

The grill is located in the take out section and on full display for people taking orders to go. Even though there were quite a few younger ladies working as waitresses it was an old timer, I'm guessing family member working the grill. She was happy to show me everything once she realized I was taking pictures and explained they toast the semel hard rolls in the drawers to the left of the grill. All their burgers are made fresh on premises and char grilled over hot coals until done. Each "mouth watering" sandwich comes topped with real Wisconsin butter and is served on a toasted hard roll. Everything includes sharp American cheese, catsup, brown mustard, raw onions and pickles. I got mine with everything but ketchup.

Kroll's cheeseburger right out of the wrapper

They slice the burgers in half and give you extra napkins because butter and juices from the beef will slide down your arm as you eat one. You have to eat these burgers like you do when eating an Italian beef, standing up leaning over wherever they rest. I thought these were another classic example of why Wisconsin is indeed a big time burger state. Next time I would go double but at $3.05 this was everything I could want it to be. The toasted semel roll made it crunchy on the outside while on the inside awaited a warm mixture of beef, butter and cheese with the All American toppings putting it all together. In the end, Kroll's is another local landmark I cant wait to get back too. Next time I'm going to have to sit at the bar and have a few brews and burgers and get my own episode of 'This American Life'.

The insides

Al's Hamburger Shop
131 South Washington Street
Green Bay, WI 54301-4210
(920) 437-5114

Kroll's East
1658 Main Street
Green Bay, WI 54302-2629
(920) 468-4422


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