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Posts Tagged ‘steak’

Why this photo?  Because happy vegetables make delicious salsa.

And also because the neighbors didn’t seem alarmed enough yet.

Anybody plant one little tomatillo plant and end up with bushels of fruit?  No?  How about you CSA subscribers?  Did you open your box this week only to be buried under 3 feet of little green paper lanterns?  No?

Okay, fine.  Well, any misfits out there like salsa verde?  Is that a good enough reason for you to read this, then?

Is it?!

IS IT?!

I have a compulsive need for approval.  I’m working on it. In the meantime you’ll just have to placate me.  I mean, if that’s okay with you.

A few weeks ago, The Boy and I attended the Chicago Beer Society’s annual picnic so he could show his support for his newest beer-related membership, eat and drink to excess, and have an excuse to make multiple kinds of potato salad (Kalamata Olive, and Hot Pepper Ranch).  What with a chili cookoff, a rib cookoff, an “other meats” cookoff (not as suspicious as it sounds, promise.  Okay, slightly suspicious.  Shut up, that pate was amaaaaaazing.  But it wasn’t, interestingly enough, “cooked off.”  Ooh, totally suspicious now.), a salsa competition, and 16 self-serve kegs of local craft brew, I don’t think I need to tell you how completely awesomesauce it was.

What I do need to tell you is that 16 self-serve kegs of local craft brew is a GREAT way to sell t-shirts that say “Chicago Beer Society” to people who aren’t even members of the Chicago Beer Society.  I won’t tell you whom.

I don’t want to name names.

Wouldn’t want to embarrass anyone.

Anyhoo, as I stood in the salsa line and surveyed my options, a revelation came over me.  Actually, what the hell, let’s call it an epiphany.  A life-changing, zesty, sweat-inducing epiphany.  I scanned crocks and bowls of various shapes and sizes, some containing chunky concoctions, some smooth, some with mango, some with cilantro, some that looked suspiciously like Pace Picante–

–friends, clearly the word of the day is “suspicious;” just puttin’ that out there.  Didn’t think we could ignore the truth any longer–

–and some that were so hot they were practically melting the Tupperware they came in.  But I wasn’t having any of it, folks.  ‘Cause most of them were red!  (Commie connotations aside.)

Now don’t get me wrong.  I like me a red salsa.  But oh.  Oh.  OH.  That green stuff is where my heart is.

That green stuff is where my heart is.  I must say that at least 80 times a day.

Enough time passed, and eventually 2 or 3 green salsas made it to the table.  And they were decent.  Good, even.  Not suspicious at all.  But I longed for the day when I could make my own salsa verde.  When some beautiful tomatillos would show up on MY doorstep, and then I could make my OWN salsa, and take pictures of MY salsa, and give you a recipe for said SALSA, and then I’d show EVERYBODY!

That’s right, I’ll show EVERYBODY.

All of them.  Whoever they are.

But there weren’t any decent tomatillos to be found.  None in a convenient two-block radius, at least.  Hey, I never said I was willing to go the extra mile for this salsa.  Just the extra two blocks.  So I commenced waiting…

Waiting…

Lurking…

More suspicious Lurking…

Waiting…

Until finally I was able to nab some fresh, locally grown, organic tomatillos.  Pretty convenient, actually–showed up in a kit with my CSA delivery, complete with a recipe that I didn’t end up using, since I already had one that was, oddly, pretty close to that one.

Anyhow.  Tomatillos.  Nom nom nom.  Actually, more like nom, ow, nom, eww, nom, spit.  ‘Cause tomatillos are hard little buggers that take a little softening up to bring out their delicious side.  A little cajoling.  A little persuading.  A little…something special.

Alright, so you dump in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes, ‘kay?  Goooosh!

Let’s talk salsa.

We had this on steak last night.

Steak Before <cue sad trumpet noise that signals disappointment>:

Steak After <cue triumphant trumpeting>:

Whoah, yeah!  That steak is one prime suspect!  The crime?  Severe deliciousness!

It’s also great with chips, on burritos or enchiladas verdes (ooh, idea!  idea!), stirred into guacamole, or, oh hellz bellz, on eggs in the morning.  If I know The Boy, and I think I do, he’s going to come home from work (aka, that place that takes him away from me and causes me to cry and then actually get some work done and then cry some more) and stir this green heaven into vegetable juice for a spicy Bloody Mary.  He’s a genius, that there The Boy.

And not even a bit suspicious.

The Suspicious Salsa Verde to End All Suspicious Salsa Verdes (It’s the word of the day, guys, I kinda hafta take this all the way)

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Suspicious Ingredients:

10 to 12 tomatillos, suspicious, of varying sizes, peeled
2 teeny suspicious-looking onions, peeled
1 small bunch cilantro leaves (suspicious)
3 cloves garlic (I suspect them…of making this salsa awesome! Oh ho ho!)
1/2 jalapeno, with seeds (this makes a solid medium heat salsa; use more or less, or leave out the seeds, depending on your preferences); the jalapeno isn’t suspicious.  It’s just flat out diabolical.
1/2 T. lime juice (not so suspicious)
salt to taste (I used about 1 tsp.) (suspicions abound!)
freshly ground black pepper (I used about 1/4 tsp.) (SUSPICIOUS!)
Suspicious Directions:

Gather your ingredients. Hey, everybody know what time it is?

Tool Time!

Wait, wait, wait…that’s not right.

Tomatillo Time!

Yes, I do realize there are only 10 tomatillos on my clock.  Tomatillo time knows no numeric restrictions.  It knows no rules.  It only knows what the heart wants.  And the heart wants what the heart wants.  And the heart wants salsa verde.

“Hey, guys!  Can we join?!”

“Group huddle!”

“Should we let the outsiders join our tomatillo party?”

“They’re clearly not tomatillos.”

“Come on, Frank, don’t be such a jerk.  They probably have booze.”

“We don’t need their booze.  And we don’t need them!  WE DON’T NEED ANYBODY!”

“Frank…”

“<sigh>…Okay, fine.”

Bring a pot of water to boil.  Tong the tomatillos (yes, I did just use tong as a verb), into the water and let ’em cook until they’re just a bit softened–it took about 6 minutes for me.  Tong them (there I go again!) into a bowl and allow to cool slightly.

Throw all the ingredients except the salt and pepper into a food processor and give it a good whir.  Now, some people like to leave their salsa verde chunky–I prefer mine to be a bit runnier than that, with a coarse, jelly-like texture.

Process your salsa accordingly.  Now throw in a bit of salt and pepper to taste and pulse the processor two or three times to incorporate it really well.

You can enjoy this right away, or let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight before using.  Personally, I’m a fan of letting all those flavors sit and meld together.  But if you can’t wait, don’t beat yourself up about it.  I’ve been there, my misfits.  Oh, have I ever been there.

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Halle-friggin’-lujah, misfits, I just moved back to Chicago!!

A few circumstances have resulted in my move, but we won’t get into that. What you should get into, and I mean like really into, like disgusting what am I into up to my mid-calves, into, like so into that I can’t remember a time or life when I wasn’t all up in it, but not in a sexual way, okay sometimes in a sexual way, is Chicago food.

This city is home to some pretty amazing comestibles–dishes which frequently go unrecognized outside of the City of Broad Shoulders. Fear not–I shan’t leave you in the dark for long.  What follows is this Chicago native’s overly-patriotic and completely biased look at what makes our food great, and a few recommendations on where to find it.

Fuckin’ Chicago Pizza!

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It’s thick.  It’s cheesy.  It takes 45 minutes to make.  Oh, yeah–it’s a Chicago Pizza.  Best executed by places like Lou Malnati’s and Gino’s East (don’t talk to us about Uno’s or Giordano’s…please), the Chicago pizza is a key slice (sorry–couldn’t resist) of the city’s identity–almost as integral as the Cubs’ never winning the World Series, or saying “da” instead of “the,” or the thick, bushy Chicago “‘stache” worn almost religiously by all males over thirty-five in certain neighborhoods, or calling carbonated soda, “pop.”  Therefore, please understand when we get a little teary-eyed about it.  Listen, New York–it’s not that I can’t respect that cracker-thin thingy you make, or your fierce defensiveness about its “superiority”…it’s just not even the same food, and thus the “Chicago vs. New York” pizza debate is nonsensical.

But, that being said…Chicago.

Try this beauty the traditional way, with crumbled Italian sausage, green peppers, mushrooms, and onions, and don’t forget a nice tall, yeasty beer to wash it all down.

Fuckin’ Chicago Hot Dogs!

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Yes, it’s got lots of “stuff” on it.  No, they will not let you put ketchup on it.  But hell yes, it is deliciousness TO THE EXTREME, misfits!  Wanna build your own?

Start with a poppy-seed bun, and add an all-beef frank.  Top it with mustard, pickle relish, a Kosher Dill pickle spear, sport peppers, tomato wedges, chopped onions, celery salt, and a tiny dancer.

Just kidding about the tiny dancer, mostly, but totally serious about the other parts.

If you order it with fries at a traditional joint, they will, more often than not, pack your fries on top of the dog and then wrap it all up for you.  Don’t be alarmed–the fries like that level of intimacy with the dog.  You might even say they relish it.  And so will you.  Try one at my personal favorite,  Gene and Jude’s (their dogs come a little less topped, but are no less delicious for it..and the fries, OMFG the FRIES, MISFITS, the FRIES!).

Fuckin’ Italian Beef!

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This baby is da real deal…and it causes some measure of confusion in the Northeast.  “Italian Beef?  Is that sort of like a Cheesesteak?”

No, my sweet, misguided misfits, it most certainly is NOT a Cheesesteak–for it is quite uncool to put cheese on an Italian beef (though it can happen, and when it does, we sort of just look the other way, ’cause, y’know, we’re still friendly Midwesterners and all).

Beef sliced super-thin, piled on a hearty Italian roll, with tons of au jus ladled all over it (the bun is supposed to get soggy–don’t be alarmed), topped with sweet and/or hot peppers, and rolled up tight in paper, then foil.  If someone asks you, “wet, dry, or dipped,” you should answer wet, and not be worried that something freaky is about to happen to you.

Everyone’s first time is a little messy.

Locals will recommend Al’s, Mr. Beef, Portillo’s, or Johnnie’s, but I’m ’bout to get all specific on your ass–Al’s on Taylor.  ‘Nuff said.

Fuckin’ Chicago Steak!

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Did you really think I could discuss Chicago food without paying some sort of homage to our illustrious history in the slaughter and packing of meat?  The photo above was taken at a classic Chicago steakhouse, Gibson’s.  Before you order, your waiter will bring out a platter of the best selections of the night.  As you can see, at Gibson’s it is possible to get not only a fantastic steak, but also an ungodly large lobster which probably put up a formidable fight with the kitchen staff and took off a few digits before surrendering to its delicious future.

And no culinary joyride through Chicago is complete without violence.

Fuckin’ Paczki!

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Say “ponch-keee,” not “donut.”  It does sort of resemble a jelly donut, now, doesn’t it?  And I suppose the premise is similar–paczki are pieces of fried dough that are either injected with or sliced and filled with some sort of delicious creamy or fruity filling.  BUT THEY ARE NOT DONUTS DO NOT CALL THEM JELLY DONUTS.

The inclusion of paczki on this list is a nod to Chicago’s massive Polish population, a number which tops that of almost any other city, including all cities in Poland except for Warsaw!  Therefore, every Fat Tuesday (or Paczki day, as it’s often known here), you’ll see many a pedestrian burdened by a box or ten of these delicious little fiends.  For weeks and frequently even months beforehand, Polish bakeries (and in Chicago, just about any kind of bakery) will post their paczki list just so that your Bad Mama Genny (yes, it’s all for me, all if it) can place her pre-order and be assured that paczki pleasure will be hers.  The bakery that I typically order from offers over 50 varieties of paczki.

Now, you may be thinking, “gee, how is it possible to come up with 50 different things to stuff into a donut?”

You, my friend, need to expand your mind.  Think Triple Chocolate Godiva, Pineapple Cream, Strawberry Shortcake, Mint Chocolate Chip, and the like.  Of course, there are always the old-fashioned favorites, such as Apricot, Prune, Rose Jelly, etc., for the traditionalists, but I say, why choose?  Order a few dozen!  Make friends with your neighbors! Wear them as a bra!

Two years ago, I was in line for my paczki order when someone cut in front of the lady behind me.  She was pissed, but the people behind her were even more livid.  Long story short, they tied the guy’s hands, gagged him with a cannoli paczki, and ran him up the flagpole as a warning to other would-be line-cutters.  Actually, that never happened.  I just needed you to understand just how serious we are about paczki out here.

Well, that should get my misfits started on a proper nom-fest.  What Chicago foods MUST you have every time you visit?  Chi-town natives, where do you drag your out-of-town guests?



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