Sous Vide Brussel Sprouts: Smoked Pork Tail

December 30 2010 - 3:31 PM

Sorry veggies! The smoked pork tail was there and I couldn't help it. I was just going to do sliced brussels in butter and truffle salt but I bailed on the collards for the moment and well…

This dish so far was one of my favorites. It uses the assets of the sous vide and is really easy. The sliced brussels would be a hassle to do straight under the broiler. They'd be a hassle to boil first and you'd lose some of that flavor. The sous vide keeps that taste, lets you basically confit them in butter, or in this case butter and smoked porkiness and then get color and carmelization off of that fat very quickly. It's snack-food worthy. If I had a pub this would be on the menu.


Sous Vide Pork Tenderloin: Pasilla, Chipotle & Poblano Pesto

December 30 2010 - 12:40 PM


While I'm not crazy about pork in general, I do think it really shines in mexican pepper sauces, mole, adobo, etc. The smoky richness permeates the meat. Kind of like BBQ. In any case this was an attempt to infuse the meat with a subtle pepper flavor using sous vide and serve it with a poblano pesto to supply the heat. It's missing the pine nut element but it could easily be added as well as a sprinkling of fine ground cotija cheese. Enjoy!


Sous Vide Rapini (Broccoli Rabe): Garlic, Pepper

December 30 2010 - 12:37 PM


Here I tried to play up herb-burn. When you sous vide something for hours and it's touching fresh herbs it imparts such a strong flavor of that herb it becomes bitter. Rapini is a fairly sharp vege to begin with and serves as a great side to very rich pungent dishes, big Italian sauciness or spicy Chinese. So here the goal was to compete with that sharpness but tilt it towards a peppery garlic. It's certainly a distinct recipe. If you're not into sharp/bitter vege, skip it but if you like that, try it! It's really simple.



Bell's 10,000 is Out

December 30 2010 - 10:45 AM

Thanks to fellow Chicago Foodies writer Mark Sheppard I last year was introduced to Bell’s 9000 at Sheffield’s bar in a rather small snifter, a dark, rich complex mass of many different types of malts and hops. I savored every sip of this wonderfully-rich beer with a strong nose and notes of molasses, malt, and coffee. Only available at the end of the year, and rarely found on tap, I appreciated being shown such a rare treasure.

Kalamazoo, Michigan-based Bell’s has been around since 1985 and is better known for its widely available Oberon and Best Brown Ale, both of which are decent beers. Described by the brewery, rather humbly, as “cleaning out the brewing supplies closet”, this 9.4 percent alcohol beer is a mixture of “100 different malts, grains, and other fermentables, and followed them up with a blend of  60 different hop varietals”.

I feel a bit strange writing a review for something I haven’t tried, but my enthusiasm for last year’s Bell’s 9000 (they come out with a different number every year) makes me feel pretty confident. According to the Reader, kegs were spotted at Hopleaf, Twisted Spoke, and bottles at Lush.

–Brian Ziegler


2009 Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso

December 28 2010 - 10:27 AM

From a purely intellectual standpoint, I find the sheer variety of Italian wines to be more interesting than French wines.   Don’t get me wrong:  I love French wines as evidence of my previous posts on Chicago Foodies,  and if you were to ask me today what my favorite region is, I would reply with Alsace, a French region.  The quality and complexity of Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagne is, arguably, considered by many to be the best in the world, but the astronomical prices of many French regions scare off a good portion of would-be wine connoisseurs, whereas the large number of varieties and affordable prices make Italian wines attractive to many.    There are over 1000 varieties in Italy and there are somewhere over 400 designated wine regions if both denominazione di origine controlllata (DOC)  and  denominazione di origine controllata e garantita  (DOCG) classifications are included.


News & Features

Losing Anonymity: Is It Safe to Review Restaurants?

December 27 2010 - 10:42 AM

On Yahoo! this evening, I stumbled across an article about a long time L.A. Times reporter who, though she had a reservation under another name, was outed at Beverly Hills’ Red Medicine after waiting for a table for forty-five minutes. Her photograph was taken, and she was asked to leave. Her photograph was posted on Eater, seemingly the TMZ of food blogs.

Of course this blog is about Chicago food and beverages, and while we like to think we’re nicer and more polite here, who is to say that someone like Phil Vettel from the Tribune could not be outed. Let’s not include Pat Bruno of the Sun-Times, who tried to remain anonymous using the unlikely pseudonym Pasquale Bruno…oops.

With many bloggers writing about restaurants, more television channels writing about food, and the diminished consumption of print media, people have more information around selecting top restaurants. We find we agree completely with some opinions, and oftentimes we find us drawn into overhyped restaurants with exorbitant prices and food that leaves us hungry. On the other hand, there are plenty of one-star Yelp reviews that show the power, or perhaps the abuse of power, of the average consumer.

In today’s world being a private person appears to be more difficult, but at the end of the day, does it really have to be so brutal?

–Brian Ziegler

Sous Vide Pork Chops: Pear, Anise, Cinnamon

December 27 2010 - 10:41 AM

This recipe nets you a nice pork chop with a more savory than sweet pear/anise gravy. The flavors should be imparted in the meat as well. Given your choice of cooking the temp/time range seems around 160º-165º for 7-9 hours. This will give you a completely cooked chop. I'm certain to have the "What temp is safe for pork?" conversation but not this moment. Suffice to say, it's 160º.

2 Pork Chops (about a pound)
1 anjou pear
3 pieces (whole or broken) star anise
1 stick of cinnamon
about 10 peppercorns
sea salt

Chill your pork chops. Set the water bath to 165º. Slice the pear lengthwise, removing the core. Layer across a strip of plastic wrap and add the star anise, and peppercorns evenly. Roll the wrap gently and place at the bottom of your plastic bag. Liberally salt the 2 chops. If desired, sear the chops over high heat and then chill. The searing will give you a more pronounced flavor after the sous vide. Add the chilled pork chops and seal. Cook for 7-8 hours.


Home Cooking

Rare Bird Preserves

December 16 2010 - 9:43 AM

I always find it a pleasure when local producers provide more options to food shops around town, especially when what is produced is an artisanal craft product.   It’s even better when you are devouring craft food well beyond its intended use.

Oak Park-based Rare Bird Preserves jumped out at me when the Chicago Reader wrote up an article about Elizabeth Madden and her maddening desire to make the freshest, purest preserves. I was able to produce a couple jars of  lavender peach about a year ago, and I was especially excited when the Whole Foods on Waveland and Halsted started carrying it a few months ago.


News & Features

Food Trucks: Who's Being Threatened Here?

December 15 2010 - 3:25 PM

I have to admit, I wouldn’t mind seeing food trucks in Chicago, but I don’t have a really strong position here.  It would be great to see a fantastic cult food truck in my neighborhood, but it will add more competition to the industry.  To be frank, most food trucks in places like New York sell basic sustenance food, and you have to follow Twitter and be knowledgeable about the “scene” to really know where to go.   Thinking of the food choices in the Loop, which, granted have improved in the past five years, it may be wise to give consumers options in light of some rather dull sandwich shops and national chains.

The angles being taken in the food truck debate smack of sour grapes from some unlikely sources.   The Sun-Times produced an article today involving, of all people, the owner of Keefer’s Restaurant weighing in. Um, yes, that’s right.  According to the article, “‘We spent almost $9 million on two restaurants. It’s unfair to people who invested so much to allow someone who has a minimal investment in a truck . . . to pull up 200 feet from our door,’ said Glenn Keefer, managing partner of Keefer’s Restaurant.”    Maybe the reporter was desperate to find a quick quote, but I couldn’t imagine a food truck competing against a $46 Porterhouse from Keefers.



2002 Domaine Ehrhart Herrenweg Riesling

December 08 2010 - 3:36 PM

The benefit of lower exchange rates in the early part of the millennium means much more affordable wines. Additionally, a buying public not wanting to buy older whites at the cusp of decline benefits the more value-savvy shopper. I picked up a bottle of the Domaine Ehrhart for $9.99 a few weeks ago at Howard’s Wine Cellar. With a light golden yellow color and a terroir nose of gravel and sand, the front palate absorbs a nice honey note, replaced by lemons, gooseberries, and a slight hint of pineapple at mid-palate with a strong acidic backbone and characteristic clove-like bitterness. Like many wines from Alsace, the taste of sweetness is very brief, and it contains little, if any, residual sugar. Alcohol level, at 12.5 percent, is common.

Founded in 1725, this fifty acre organic winery has vines with an average age of thirty-five years, which explains the depth of color and long finish.

There are a few bottles left, and if you beat me to it you may have the opportunity to buy up the remaining inventory at Howard’s.

— Brian Ziegler