Friday, January 31, 2014

5 More Super Sunday Recipes

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

We cant let Super Sunday pass without another one of our classic recipe posts. I didn't get to cook as much during the season this past year as I had others but I still have five worthy recipes for your party. A couple are original and the others are tried and tested. As far as the game goes, I said Broncos would win it all before the season started and I'm sticking with that. Should they take the confetti shower on Sunday I will have gone 2-2 in predicting football champions this year as I had Florida State winning the BCS. I just hope it's a game for the ages because that's what it looks like it's going to be, on paper anyway. Lets hope the weather holds up and both teams are able to play at their top level. Should be a dandy.

Chicago Style Deviled Eggs

I came up with these one day out of the blue and they turned out alot better than I expected. If you like Deviled Eggs and Chicago style hot dogs, no chance you dislike these. I just mixed mustard into the yolk and sprinkled celery salt into that. The weiners were diced then sauteed and every other standard Chicago stye hot dog topping is in there as you can see from the picture.

a chibbqking original recipe

Sausage Stuffed Peppadew Peppers

These always go quick at any party they're served at. You can get everything you need to make them at most any Mariano's location. Loose Italian Sausage, chopped garlic and shredded Parmesan joins chopped cremini mushrooms in the skillet. That mixture is stuffed into a peppadew pepper (available at the deli counter) and they bake for 20 minutes. I loosely follow this recipe HERE.  

Note: Loose sausage doesn't get that fine so you may need to whip out the kitchen scissors and throw your cooked crumbled sausage in a cup to break it down even further.

Always a hit

Fried Giardineria and Banana Peppers

Why don't we see either of these on more bars and restaurant menus? It's such an easy and cheap finger food to make that places could make a killing selling snack plates of it for $4/$5 an order. I love them both but actually prefer the fried banana pepper rings (the bottled variety). Someone needs to add those to a burger. The fried Giardiniera I've been making this season is always a welcome addition to the days platter. Every neighborhood bar with a deep fryer in back should offer this on the house opposed to popcorn.

Deep Fried Bottled Delights...2014's next food trend?

Mussels with Pancetta

Nothing gets the house smelling quite as fragrant as steamed mussels in white wine. One of the simple joys of the kitchen that many might find intimidating at first but once you make your own batch it's hard to pay $15 for 1/4 the amount at some trendy restaurant. I've found adding a cup of shrimp stock (I keep some frozen ones in the fridge) just boosts the broth to another level. Stuff like diced pancetta, leeks and garlic go great with the white wine shower.

Sweet Smells in the Air

Toasted Garlic Beef Sandwich at Home

Here's a step by step guide to making a toasted beef sandwich, an idea I got from someone who was explaining a sandwich they loved at a place now gone. Here's how I remade his description of it. First up you have to head over to Pop's Italian Beef and buy an order of their catered beef (minimum two pounds). You can use some random brand from the grocery store but Pop's is one the cities best Italian beef slangers so I'm willing to take the ride. It's nice to make these one night and a beef with hot the next. They give you everything you need. I turned the French rolls supplied into garlic bread. After that I layered the beef from the bag onto the bread. I then and added a row of sport peppers and topped that with cheese. Put it in the oven and bake until the cheese melts. Serve with a cup of the gravy (au jus) on the side.

Damn...I'll take another one of them

Chicken Gyros

Last but not least is a pretty good chicken gyro, or shawarma if you want to call these that. Either way, they're an easy to make eat for a large party, and they taste great.

Ingredients (Double, Triple Etc for larger groups)

1 lb Chicken (Thighs or a mixture of them and breasts)
4 Cloves of Garlic, chopped
3 TBSP Lemon Juice
2 TBSP Olive Oil
2 TBSP Red Vinegar
2 TBSP Dried Oregano (Greek Preferred)
1 TBSP Salt

Directions: Combine everything but the chicken into a bowl and stir together. Add chicken into a ziplock bag and pour the marinade into it. Let sit in fridge for as long as you can (up to 12 hours). When ready, grill the chicken meat and simply cut each piece as if you were slicing it off of a spit. Serve with warm pita bread, sliced red onion, tomatoes and a tzatziki sauce of your choice, I like one made with dill.

 Party Platter (Grilled Pork Kebabs to the right of the chicken meat)

Check out our previous Super Bowl Recipe Posts

Super Recipes for Super Bowl XLIV 
Super Recipes for Super Bowl XLV

Also see all tags with 'super bowl recipes'

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

La Bomba

-The Sammy's of Chi

For whatever reason it had been at least 2-3 years since I had eaten a jibarito. There was a time in my early 20's when I was eating them at least twice a month, but I just stopped having them one day. I'm not really sure why but most likely because as much as I enjoy them when indulging in one, they always get me after. Whether it's with heartburn or sleep needed I cant seem to function well after eating one. Well anyway I had read a thing on La Bomba from my boss at Serious Eats which came with high praise for their jibarito as well as other goods. Located on Armitage in the Logan Square meets Humboldt Park area, I had passed by this place countless times and was always intrigued. So all I needed to hear was something good from a trusted source and I was there.

Mom and Pop Puerto Rican Shop

La Bomba started off as a food cart in the actual Humboldt Park, they still have one when it's warmer out. Situated amongst other vendors, mostly Puerto Rican, you wouldn't notice anything that stands out about it compared to the other spots but I was always intrigued by their storefronts awning. Probably due to the pictures of the food on the window. I rode over one day a couple months ago to try the jibarito Nick mentions and I also picked up a roasted pork sandwich for her. The lechon sandwich was very satisfying. I cant remember the exact prices but both sandwiches with an order of rice and peas were less than $7 apiece. The pork was pulled fresh from a nice sized hunk that was sitting in the display case for people to order from. This resulted in a juicy sandwich with nice kicks of garlic in every bite.

Roasted Pork Sandwich

I was there for the Jibarito. For those unfamiliar this is a Puerto Rican sandwich that most people say traces back to Chicago though some say they were eating them on the island at the same time they started appearing around restaurants in Humboldt Park. Smashed plantains replace the bread and the meat of choice is usually steak though chicken, pork and other options are usually offered. Toppings are lettuce, tomato, onions, mayo and cheese. As Nick pointed out in his "10 Best Jibaritos in Chicago" list, this is a textbook example of one. The plantains were smashed thin and cooked properly, same goes for the steak which had actual char after being cooked to order. It didn't look like it was half steamed like many other spots. Then last but not least, it all stayed together while eating. There was no sliding of the steak and because there was very little resistance it was actually a very easy eat. Their rice and peas are as good as anyone else in town and everything they had in the grab and go case looked tempting. It wont be 2-3 years between my next one because I'll be back to La Bomba sooner than later.

Jibarito Sandwich

La Bomba
3221 W Armitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 394-0106

La Bomba on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 27, 2014

Azzurra EnoTavola

-Grubbing in Chicago  
New to the 'Scene'

One of my favorite recent restaurant openings has flown under the radar since they touched down. Azzurra opened up on Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park late last year and quickly shot onto my radar with this review by Mike Sula from the Reader HERE. It's closeness in proximity to my GF's place was enough to make me stop in some day soon but his review got me in quickly. Azzurra comes to us from the same guy behind Anteprima in Andersonville. As Mike points out, Azzurra has alot of the looks and feel of Anteprima.

A Peek Inside

Its a pretty small space inside but that hasn't resulted in any waits on either of my three visits. Service is laid back, they give enough attention to make sure you don't feel you're being overlooked while at the same time you don't feel like someone is bothering you every five minutes with check ups. I don't need to be checked on like a kid below the age 16 flying alone. If you choose to sit at the bar, they got some good cocktails, that's also where the days cicchetti sits. A good way to start your meal here is with a few selections from it. Just make sure to save an early bite or two for my favorite amuse bouche in the city. The cheese straws they give you once you sit down at the table are as addictive as a sunset in Puglia.

Cicchetti Bar and Complimentary Cheese Straws

The assaggi e più part of the menu features the aforementioned cicchetti options as well as some hot ones. On one visit we decided to go with a sampler platter and were rewarded with a wonderful plate of fresh options. Whatever the caponata special is, that's a good way to start. Simple and fresh are the keys here. The cannellini beans with pickled vegetables, soppressata and red onion were also worthy of being ordered again. From the hot section I recommend the crispy polenta sticks served over a pepper puree, we ordered more as soon as they were gone.

Excellent Starters

Azzurra makes their pastas in house so of course an offering or two from that part of the menu would have to be tried. The orecchiette with Italian sausage, garlic, rapini and pecorino was very satisfying. The texture was perfect and the sausage had a nice taste to it, something the stuff I ate at Eataly did not. The star of the show though on my first visit was the Whitefish Picata off the specials menu. For whats it's worth I've found every offering I've tried off this part of the menu to be exceptional. That's where I would look first if dining here. The whitefish tasted like it had just been fished out of Lake Superior. The way they cooked it to get the skin crisp was exceptional, especially paired with the little fingerling potatoes underneath it. As I tweeted out after eating, it was the best piece of fish I had ate of late.

Orecchiette with Italian Sausage, Garlic, Rapini and Pecorino

Whitefish Picata

It's not just the simple rustic cuisine of Azzurra that I enjoy. I also sincerely appreciate the fact they're trying to get their neighbors inside. They want people from around the way to try their stuff and one way of doing so has been by handing out $15 brunch gift certificates with every $75 spent. No doubt I was going to be back for dinner after my first visit but who knows if I ever would of stopped in for brunch had I not been gifted the certificate. I'm not big on brunch but was intrigued by what type of dishes they'd have on their menu. The fact I had $15 to sample with got me in. Good thing because the eggs amatriciana just might become my go to eat on early Sunday afternoons from here on in. Eggs poached in a tomato sauce with loads of guanciale, diced red onion, and those same crispy polenta fries make for a great way to start  a weekend day. I inhaled this dish and had to talk myself out of ordering another plate.

Eggs Amatriciana

Another nod to the service here as we had a huge misunderstanding over a New Years Eve dinner reservation. A place that will go unnamed decided to call us the afternoon of NYE and make sure we knew that the menu that night was a special set menu. Really? Because their website made no mention of it and they realized we weren't the only ones expecting to be able to order what we wanted that night. No apologies, no nothing, just a "well you shouldn't come tonight" from them had me steaming. Luckily a walk over to Azzurra was within reach. Double lucky that they had a spot for us. I don't know why this place isn't packed every night, it's so much better then some of the other spots frequented by the neighborhood yuppies disguised as hipsters. Well maybe it's not a bad thing that they weren't flooding the place on NYE because we ended up having a wonderful meal.

Cannellini Beans and a Tuna Tartar to start

The only real miss I've had of everything I've ate at here is the Italian Wedding Soup. It was just too damn salty. There was a little too much salt in the taste of the tartare as well but it wasn't enough to make it inedible like the soup. It was a nice rendition of one of my favorite dishes, just not one of my favorite examples.  Two of my favorite plates so far were had on this trip so it all evened itself out. The grilled octopus with potatoes, red onion, chili, lemon and olive oil was fantastic. I imagine this to be my meal of choice when I'm off on the Amalfi Coast or somewhere not worrying about anything except when my next drink will be brought to the table. So simple, so good. Same goes for the tagliatelle topped with a prosciutto ragù and parmigiano cheese. Look I understand if you work near Eataly and go there for lunch due to its proximity to your office, but if you're leaving the northside to go there while driving by here, you're just a product of the machine. I've been to the fresh pasta bar there and there's nothing like Azzurra's prosciutto ragù on Eataly's menu.

Excellent Menu Mainstays

Another aspect I love about this place is the pricing. I've been pleasantly surprised with the bill total each time we've been in. It's as reasonably priced as any worthwhile sit-down place around town. Just take a look at this plate of porchetta below and know we paid something like $15 for it. One of the best dishes made with pig I can remember. I'd like to take this last sentence to welcome Azzurra to my regular dining rotation.


Azzurra EnoTavola
1467 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 278-5959

Azzurra EnoTavola on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mexican Soup Special

Carne En Su Jugo from Los Gallos

Hello to all my loyal readers. I've been out of the city on vaca. Apologies for the delay in posts, you'll be rewarded with another one of my classic regional eats reports very soon. In the meantime, with the cold front here, I wanted to share a Mexican soup special I did over at Serious Eats. Here are ten different varieties to help keep you warm this winter. Click HERE for story.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Indianapolis Tenderloin Trot

Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties

- The Tenderloins of Indy

I got a chance to try a few of the tenderloins mentioned when people ask where the best one in Indianapolis is at. I've said before that I found most of the tenderloins I've tried in Indiana to be inferior to those I've tried in Iowa but a couple of these stops have closed that gap. Then again I'm not a expert on these like I am other things so take my advice with a grain of salt. Something the sandwich on our 1st stop could of used.

Southside Indy

When we got to the famous Edwards Drive In, it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere rather than a metropolis. This must be the outskirts of town as there were quite a few silos across the street. Edward's and Mug N Bun are like Al's and Mr. Beef, they're the two most well know 'loins in the city. I don't know if the crazy bus was on a field trip but it seemed like every weirdo in the city was inside on my visit. The tenderloin was blah. A thin pre-pounded and most likely pre-breaded patty had both the looks and feel of the ones I saw displayed on Burger King billboards around town advertising their regional offering. The onion rings were the exact opposite, have an order of those and a root beer and save some room for something else.

Tenderloin and Onion Rings at Edwards Drive-In

After the trip to Edwards I was about to give up eating tenderloins while in Indiana but the friendly folks at the Friendly Tavern in Zionsville switched that. The tenderloin sandwich here was written up in the Super Sandwich article from which I tried quite a few spots.

About 10 minutes outside of Indianapolis

I went in with high hopes for this one. It was an unusually nice day weather wise that Saturday so it seemed like everyone from town was there. The bartender was quick to take my order and said I wouldn't be disappointed with their product. That I was not. Finally! A tenderloin that isn't beaten like a victim of LAPD. The locally sourced loin makes for a juicy interior while the thin fried coating stuck with it on each bite. It's of my belief all onions served on tenderloins should be red onions. They just work better.

The Friendly Tavern's Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

Next up is a stop I already wrote up in a dedicated Indy post but I'll throw them in this round-up for documentation purposes. I enjoyed everything I ate at the famous Steer-In including the tenderloin. So far the best tenderloins I've had were relatively small in size compared to most others you find.

A longtime Eastside Indianapolis favorite

Indiana House Tenderloin Sandwich

The next two I stopped into with the Grub Seeker when he joined me for a trip one day a couple months back. I actually placed my camera in a cup of water I had in the car so it went bye bye and didn't come back to life until a few days of sitting in rice later. So these are crappy pics taken with my antique iPhone. Both Plump's Last Shot and The Nickel Plate in Fishers are also mentioned when best tenderloin in town is discussed. Plump's is on the 50 something best sandwiches list and a place I had on my radar so we watched some football and had a sandwich there. I really liked the spicing in the coating but as Jim said, this would of been better on a plate with some onions and gravy smothered over it. The sandwich is just too damn big to get a bite of with a little bit of everything in it.

Tenderloin at Plump's Last Shot

Meanwhile after that it was off to the Nickel Plate where it was packed with Steelers fans of all ages and sizes. I guess there's a large contingency of fans down there because we were told it gets like that for every game. They've always been a respected fanbase. So what about Nickel Plates tenderloin? Eh. It was ok. The coating slipped off pretty easily making the thing even harder to eat. I just ended up cutting chunks off and popping them like potato chips between sips of beer. Full report on all non-tenderloin related munchies coming soon to S'C'&C.

Pork Tenderloin Sandwich from Nickel Plate Bar & Grill in Fishers

Edwards Drive In
2126 S Sherman D
Indianapolis, IN 46203
(317) 786-1638

The Friendly Tavern
290 S Main St
Zionsville, IN 46077
(317) 873-5772

The Steer-In
5130 East 10th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46219
(317) 356-0996

Plump's Last Shot
6416 Cornell Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46220
(317) 257-5867

Nickel Plate Bar & Grill
8654 E 116th St
Fishers, IN 46038
(317) 841-2888

Monday, January 13, 2014

Bop N Grill

-Grubbing in Chicago
A favorite of Loyola University Students

It took me about four years to get back to Bop N Grill. I stopped into the now only location in ROgers Park recently after having serious craves for some sort of beef and gravy dish. I enjoyed my initial visit some years back at their now gone Evanston location. But for whatever reason I never made it back there. A couple years ago they opened a 2nd location which is now their only one. Its become a popular stop for Loyola College kids as well as locals who live in the Rogers Park area.

Locals Favorite in Rogers Back 

Kalbi Beef

I tried the Kalbi beef on my trip a few years back and really enjoyed the lunch plate. The addition of the egg on top was a nice touch. Not much else I can say about that since it's been so long. Now the Loco Moco is another story, I tried that recently and it really hit the spot. Hand formed patties are placed on a bed of rice and covered with real deal gravy. The egg was cooked perfectly allowing the yolk to drip all over. I wanted something like this and I got exactly what I wanted. I'm glad I finally went back and plan on returning again much sooner than the last time around.

Loco Moco

Bop N Grill
6604 N Sheridan Rd
Chicago, IL 60626
(773) 654-3224

Friday, January 10, 2014

Jamaican Oxtail Stew

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

For those that dont live in the Midwest you might of seen we had a little cold front come our way. Chicago turned into Chiberia this past week and it was pretty damn brutal. So cold that the polar bears at Lincoln Park Zoo chose to stay inside this past Monday when the freeze came. I made sure I was ready and went shopping for a few things that could comfort me in this bitter cold blanket. While at the market Oxtail was on sale so I decided to get a three pound package of that and make some Jamaican Oxtail Stew. I searched for a recipe on my phone and found this one from the New York times easy enough to shop for and sure enough I was feeling alright on one of the coldest days in my memory. Please note if you plan on following the recipe you should give yourself a little longer than the 2.5 hours it calls for. More like four.

Step by Step in Pictures

Jamaican Oxtail Stew, served over Rice and Peas...Ja Mon

See ya next time @chibbqking

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The New Redhot Ranch Burger

-Got beef?
The Burgers of Chi

The guys behind both Wieners Circle and the Redhot Ranch empire which includes 35th Street Red Hots have a new menu item at their newest location. Redhot Ranch has opened a 3rd location at Ashland and Barry in Lakeview. They have the same top notch hot dogs with fresh cut fries on the menu as well as their super solid fried shrimp and a new featured burger at the Ashland location.

An expanding locals favorite

The guys said they couldn't do their famous char cheddar burgers ala Wieners Circle because the new place only had a flattop. So instead they're making In and Out style clones and one of them would make for my first meal out in 2014. 

Introducing the Redhot Ranch Burger

Fresh balls of beef are smashed down on the flattop and come in single and double ($5 tax incl.) form. Fresh cut fries come with them. The namesake burger is topped with Special Sauce, Lettuce, Tomato and Onion or you can get whatever you want on one amongst those and the hot dog topping options (chopped onion, mustard, relish, sport pickles). What they dont have are sliced pickles and that's what I felt was missing. With them they'd be near the top of their category as far as best in the city goes. That said, I've already been back for another and foresee many more in my future because it's a great bang to buck ratio and the hours are late.

Redhot Ranch Double Cheeseburger

Redhot Ranch
3055 N. Ashland Ave
Chicago, IL 60657

Redhot Ranch on Urbanspoon


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