Archive for the ‘Sausage’ Category
Main Street of America, the Mother Road, Will Rogers Highway, all names for US Route 66, established in 1926, and destined to become one of the most famous roads in America.
It ran from downtown Chicago to the Pacific Ocean, at Santa Monica (Los Angeles), California. Towns and cities grew up along side it, merchants prospered as America’s love of the automobile grew. It was a major route for families escaping the dust bowl in the 30s.
A TV show, which began in 1960, romanticized the road.
Lou Mitchells, open early, and serving breakfast and lunch menus seven days, there are certain things patrons of Lou’s have come to expect: being greeted at the door with a hot donut hole, being expediently served by a professional and happy staff, complimentary Milk Duds on the table, an orange slice and a single prune as an “amuse,” and an offer of free ice cream upon the completion of your meal.
Not to overlook the obvious, expect quality ingredients, meticulous preparation, and large servings of the menu items.I went with fried eggs and ham, 3 (4?) eggs served in a skillet along with home-cut hash browns, four strips of perfect bacon, and two thick pieces of toast. Like many Chicago diners, Lou’s has a giant dish of butter on the table, so feel free to overindulge. I did.
Whether you’re beginning or ending traversing the Mother Road for a vacation, or just passing thru Chicago on business or pleasure, be sure to include Lou Mitchell’s on your “must” list. Especially for those who pine for a time when things were “better” in America, Lou Mitchell’s will transport you there.
Estimates vary between 1500 -2000.
In Chicago, a “hot dog stand” can take many forms, from street cart to brick and mortar carryout only, to full service restaurants, with most having remarkably similar menus, hot dogs, burgers, sausage, Italian beef sandwiches, and gyros, and a majority of those items coming from just a few local suppliers: hot dogs and beef from Vienna Beef, gyros from Kronos. Buns from Turano or S Rosens.
OK, so all these places have virtually the same menu and many use the same suppliers – what sets one apart from another? Well, geography is obvious, but also (to me) cleanliness, method and care of preparation, and attention paid to other contributing factors, like condiment suppliers.
Like I was at one the other day who offered “char-broiled” burgers. Nothing could be farther/further/more distant from the truth. The burger seemed like had been simmered in grease. Truly awful. Two bites.
But today I’m writing about one of the more distinctive ones, PJ Moon Doggies in Glenview, IL. In addition to the aforementioned menu items, Moon Doggies also has ribs and chicken. Decor is 50s diner with a fully-loaded replica Wurlitzer jukebox. Counter service and daily specials.
I had their burger and fries and it was excellent. This one was actually char-broiled, was a very flavorful meat patty, great bun and fabulous pickle (an important thing for me). Hot, crispy fries. Here’s their full menu.
I find myself in that part of the city about twice a year for one thing or another. I’d stop again, for sure. You should think about it too.
PJs Moon Doggies Review
One of the thing that delights me about living in a larger city is having a wide variety of ethnic grocers, and Chicago has some great ones. We have Asian grocers, Indian, Eastern European, Greek, Polish, Italian, and I love them all.
Chicago is big on Polish restaurants and markets as the population of Poles here is nearly 200,000, and Polish is the 3rd most spoken language in the city.
There’s a particular stretch of one road, both in and out of the city, that has attracted a proliferation of Polish-centric businesses, and that’s Milwaukee Avenue. Chicago often claims to be the largest Polish city outside of Poland, with the number of persons of Polish descent topping a million.
Along the ‘suburban’ stretch, mostly in Niles, IL, there are a multitude of markets and restaurants; one restaurant I have enjoyed in the past up that way is the White Eagle. You can order meals family style, copious quantities, inexpensive and fun.
But this day, I was in search of sausage, and my first of several stops was at Schmeissers Sausage at 7649 N. Milwaukee Ave. They take great pride in the number of products they make in house, and the quality and care with which they are made is readily apparent. There is also a small selection of grocery items, including other products made on site, like noodles and spaetzel.
Schmeissers Sausage has a freezer full of heat and eat meals made on site, and they average about $5 a pound, which is very fair, in my opinion. I’m impressed they’d go to the effort for a seemingly small scale.
I picked up the sauerbraten (“sour roast”) along with a package of dried spaetzle (egg noodles). Sauerbraten is really a national dish of Germany (which abuts Poland, or course), and is beef that is marinaded in a mixture of vinegar or wine, water, herbs, spices, and seasonings for a number of days prior to roasting. The recipes for the marinade and even the type of meat used can vary by region.
The roast is usually served with boiled potatoes, cabbage, or noodles. The package is hard frozen and calls for 9 minutes or so in the microwave, but I generally pop these kind of things in the oven and do them low and slow. Which is what I did here. Noodles are boiled in salted water for about 20 minutes, depending on your preference of ‘doneness.’
The result of the marinade is a very flavorful and juicy roast, the process might have originally been developed to use less expensive (tougher) pieces of meat. Many cultures have similar preparations, albeit with different flavors.
End result. This was great. As good as I have had in any local German restaurant. I’d buy it again and try some of their other heat and eats. Later in the week I’ll write about some of the other stops this trip.
Schmeissers Sausage Review
I’ve previously opined about the original Sal’s Pizza location, an unassuming walk-in/delivery (only) storefront on the backside of a strip mall in Algonquin, IL.
If you read that piece, you’ll remember I found no fault with their pizza, in fact, for my personal tastes, I found it to be superb.
This review is about Sal’s Pizza newer location in Huntley, IL, which has a full menu, seating, full-service bar as well as video gaming area.
I had been in this joint under its previous ownership, and I really can’t even remember the name or how I felt about the product. But it’s of no consequence now that Sal’s has landed here. It’s the same great menu as Sal’s in Algonquin, with pizza, sandwiches, dinner entrees, including pasta and chicken.
I gotta say again, I love Sal’s Pizza. I’ve tried so many different places in the NW burbs, and disappointment after disappointment, I’m back to Sal’s. And while carryout and delivery is fine, it’s nice to take a little drive to Huntley and have a relaxing dine-in experience with the same great product.
Sal’s thin crust is flaky around the rim, and chewy as you work your way in, just the way it should be. Sauce is flavorful, on the thicker side, yet not overpowering. I love their sausage, don’t know where they get it, but it’s large ‘hand-pulled’ chunks of flavorful, seasoned pork, not those pre-cooked nuggets so many chains used.
Finally, their cheese blend is applied in very liberal quantities, has great flavor, melt-quality, and pull. You’re going to experience that ultimate pizza cheese experience where you lift a slice and see those delicious stretches of cheese. To me, that’s living. Especially when you do that and the toppings don’t end up falling into the pan. It’s very important that each slice of pizza remains intact until it gets to your mouth, I say.
Pies are cut into square slices, common in Chicago and the Upper Midwest, and sometimes referred to as a “tavern cut.” Again, that’s one of my ideals for pizza perfection.
At the table, we also had the fried chicken and an order of onion rings. No complaints there. The coating on the chicken is crispy and flavorful. The rings are thin cut with a little cornmeal in the batter.
Service was attentive. Didn’t catch the waitresses name, she had a bit of (my thought) accent from somewhere in the British isles. In any case, she was attentive without being overbearing.
Good show, Sal’s. Of course, we’ll be back. Sal’s also offers great value catering for your family, company, or school event.
A new franchised location of Marco’s Pizza opened down the block from me this week; Marco’s, out of Ohio, is the 12th largest pizza chain in the US, and will hit 1000 stores this year. It was started by an Italian immigrant, Pat Giammarco, in 1978.
The advertising claims “Authentic Italian Pizza” and I don’t know about that, but for my palate, Marco’s is a better product than
the “big 3.”
They offer a thin, “classic” and thick crust option, I went for the middle, which has a puffy chewy exterior. The usual variety of toppings are available as is online ordering in delivery in many locations. One difference with their online payment system from other chains is there is no option to add a tip to your order, so you’ll have to have some cash available for the driver.
Several years ago, Marco’s hooked up with Family Video, one of few remaining national video rental chains (750) stores, to put pizzas in about half the stores. The stand alone pizza shops also offer videos, one free rental with an order of over $15. You can pass on this option, of course.
In addition to pizza, satisfy your cravings with other menu items including salads, subs and wings. Mandatory delivery charge is $2.50.
I ordered a 14″ sausage pie, I did like the sausage, tho it isn’t very spicy, it appears to be sizable hand pulled chunks, which is always my preference.
Topping wise, they seem a little light on quantity, same with cheese. You’ll compare both to a Domino’s pie.
Marco’s is big on local flyers for marketing, with any number of special deal coupons on each flyer.
Find your nearest Marcos here. Will I order again? Sure, with the right coupon. I wish these guys a lot of luck, like most Chicago neighborhoods mine is glutted with pizza places, both national and local. The location these guys chose has been home to several operators in the past few years.
Marcos Pizza Review
It’s seasoned with hot peppers and pimento. Chorizo found in Mexico and Mexican-American dishes in the US, tends to be ground meat and fattier. It generally doesn’t have the ‘heat’ that the Spanish variety does, as it uses a different kind of peppers.
In an effort to expand their market, traditional US sausage manufacturers like Johnsonville and Hillshire Farms, are adding different spice combinations to traditional smoked sausage (bun size), and giving them different varietal names, like Cajun Andouille, “New Orleans Style,” Polska Kielbasa, “Italian,” “Texas Hot Links” and so on. To me, there isn’t a whole helluva lot of difference in how they taste, and certainly they are all the same in the grind and texture of the non-natural casing.
“Parkview” is Aldi’s in-house brand of some of their sausage products, and I’ve written about quite a few of them before.
This week I noticed a new one “Chorizo Smoked Sausage,” and I picked it up to try. Like many of Aldi’s smoked sausage products, there are manufactured by Salm Partners in Denmark, WI.
As I referenced above, most of these types of smoked sausage are indistinguishable from each other, with the exception of a slight variation in taste. With the “Chorizo,” Parkview is heavy on the peppers, and this one is hot. Hotter than similar products.
Great on the grill or in a fry pan. I liked ’em.
Parkview Chorizo Smoked Sausage Review
Parkview is Aldi’s house brand for many of their meat products. Their ” Parkview Hot Italian Sausage,” is a smoked sausage, whereas most companies (and grocers) sell their Italian sausage as “fresh” (uncooked). Smoked sausages like hot dogs, are fully cooked, so they only require a quick heat and eat, if that’s your preference. This product is made for Aldi by Salm Partners in Denmark, WI. They specialize in ‘cooked in the package’ meat products.
This is a “skinless” product meaning it’s not in a natural casing. The casing is made from collagen and is very thin, so that tactile experience that usually comes with biting into a sausage is not there. It’s also truly “hot,” meaning it’s a lot spicier than most of the big name offerings.
Parkview Hot Italian Sausage Review
LEMS Backwoods Seasoning Jerky Mix Review
I like jerky. And as I have the diabetes, if I can find one without added sugar, it’s a great low-carb snack. Friends of mine had been bragging about this fancy brand out of the Napa area, Krave, and I finally got around to trying it and wasn’t impressed. I won’t finish the package even. I wrote about it the other day.
So I decided to make a batch on my own, and had this package of seasoning sitting around, from LEM Products, a company I do business with when I make sausage. They have everything you’d need for making sausage or other processed meats at home, like stuffers, casings, seasonings.
The mix (Salt, Worcestershire Powder (Dextrose, Caramel Color [Sulfites 140ppm], Monosodium Glutamate, Garlic Salt, Carboxymethyl Cellulose, Chili Pepper, Spices, Mustard, Malic Acid, Natural Flavorings [Spice Extractives], Onion, Less Than 2% Silicone Dioxide Added To Prevent Caking), Paprika, Granulated Garlic, Monosodium Glutamate, Red Pepper, Dextrose, Spices And With Less Than 2% Tricalcium Phosphate Added To Prevent Caking) goes in a non-reactive bowl with 2 pints of water, and you slice your choice of protein (I used bottom round beef) as large/small, thick/thin as you like and marinade it for at least eight hours. I went 18 hours and added a half teaspoon of liquid smoke to the brew, too, as I’m making my jerky in the oven, not a smoker.
Place the protein on a wire rack, on top of a sheet pan to catch drippings, turn on your oven to its lowest setting, and place your pan in the oven with the door cracked open.
I also put in some mesquite chips, not sure if that will add anything other than to smoke up the house. (In the ramekins at the left of pic, smoking supplies are available at your nearest Gander Mountain).
Keep checking hourly it til it reaches the consistency and dryness that suits you. It’ll take hours. At two hours, the pieces are fairly dry, and I flipped them. Three hours, pretty good, a little crispy, still a little chewy (btw, the oven is at 175) . I finally pulled mine at four hours (pictured). I’m very happy with the results. Chewy, but not hard. I guess I will store in baggies to retard the potential for mold.
If you were going to make a goodly amount for your own use or gifts, I would suggest five pounds of meat, and a good knife will cut the beef thin enough for most people – if you want ultra thin, use a slicer!
LEMS Backwoods Seasoning Jerky Mix Review
Many originally settled in an area of the West Loop, and took up jobs operating food carts, until they saved or pooled their dough to open small cafes in the area now known as “Greektown.”
Around about 1971, the “Greek Islands” opened their Greektown location, and many credit the restaurant with introducing Saganaki (which at the time, my toddler called “cheese on fire”) and gyros to American diners.
The immense popularity of the Greek Islands (they import many of their ingredients from Greece) led them to open a second location, in the Western Suburb of Lombard, IL.
We hit it up the other night, were very well fed, very well taken care of by the waitstaff, and it was a great value – four dinners with many appetizers and drinks for less than two C notes.
The restaurant has a lengthy appetizers menu, so I went all tapas for my dinner, and ordered a number of small plates (NOT TO SHARE, JUST FOR ME! LOL).
They were all great. House made hummus, saganaki, the Greek pork sausage Loukaniko (which is made with a hint of citrus peel) and a plate of feta and olives. Accompanied by house baked fresh bread and/or pita. Swell. Other entrees at the table included the whole sea bass imported from Greece (server filets at the table), and the Mahi Mahi kabob. Both were superb. Sides that come with the entrees could be improved a bit. The menu also gives you the option of “building your own combo” with two or more mains, which is nice.
Hillshire comes out with a version of “lunchables” for adult palates, and they are high quality and valued priced. I found them at Target at 2 / $5. The one(s) I picked up included dry salami, smoked gouda, and toast rounds. I was happy with all of it.
The “real” lunchables, the meat and cheese is such crap. Ick.
So I recommend these, and they are packed with protein, if you’re concerned about your daily intake.
These are packed for Hillshire by Sugar Creek Packing, in Washington Court House, Ohio.
Hillshire Small Plates Snack Review