Posts Tagged ‘@ViennaBeef’
In a nostalgic mood a couple years ago, the Chicago Cubs commissioned world famous Vienna Beef to bring back the Wrigley Field smokie sausage, using the original 1893 family recipe.
These puppies are pure beef with a secret combination of spices, and hickory smoked (Ingredient and nutrition panel below). They are substantial, and in the groceries, they are packed four to a 12 ounce package.
The smokies join the exciting menu of both traditional and local favorites at Chicago’s Wrigley Field.
I like my sausages (that don’t have natural casings), with a little bit of char, either on the grill or in a cast iron skillet. Adds a little more “bite” to the tactile experience. Most smoked sausages (Vienna’s included) are so flavorful, I don’t dare dilute the taste with tons of condiments, so I go with yellow mustard, and occasionally, kraut. And that’s how I adorned the Wrigley Field Smokies.
The sausage has a nice texture, it’s a very fine grind, and is mild but flavorful at the same time. It will remind you of the taste of old-fashioned franks. In other words, a bit stronger in flavor than most mass-market hot dogs, really delicious. The sausages could probably use a more substantial bun than the usual hot dog bun, which is what I tried to get away with. They deserve quality Chicago rolls, like Rosen or Turano.
Check out Vienna Beef online to find a store near you or order direct. BTW? They make the best deli counter corned beef and pastrami anywhere.
Wrigley Field Smokies Review
July 23 each year is designated as “National Hot Dog Day,” (July is National Hot Dog Month!) and why not? Each summer, during the “hot dog season” Americans consume 7 billion (yes, with a “B”) hot dogs between Memorial and Labor Day.
Meatheads, a fast growing burger chain in the Chicago area, serves their hot dogs “New England Style” which means the bun is more like a piece of toast in the shape of a bun, but not as crunchy, of course.
While many places had special hot dog deals for the “holiday,” I chose Meatheads because they serve the top quality dogs from Chicago’s Vienna Beef company.
I had mine with mustard and kraut, and a side of Meathead’s most excellent fries.
National Hot Dog Day
If you’re even an occasional reader of this site, you know two things for sure – I have a diminishing interest in purchasing most ‘deli meats’ because of real or perceived notion they aren’t ‘real.’ By that I am generally referring to two things – ‘roasts’ that are formed from meat and other ingredients into a shape that is easy for uniform slicing and appearance, and also the growing trend to enhance weight and flavor with injections of brine solutions, which I personally feel just ruins the texture of real meat muscle.
The second thing you would be aware of as a regular visitor here is that I am fond of the products made by Chicago’s premier hot dog manufacturer, Vienna Beef. They make great hot dogs, sausages, and a compliment of condiments. So I thought I would try out their deli corned beef and pastrami.
In the deli counter, the roasts appeared to be whole muscle briskets. The price currently exceeds $14 per pound. Examining the ingredients, there does not appear to be any fillers or brine, and it looks like a whole roast, when sliced, as the slices are not uniform in appearance, as far as both shape and fat content. I inquired of Vienna about the composition and ingredients of these two deli products, but they did not reply.
I’m gonna guess, and hope, that they are whole muscle cuts. My only reservation is the price, but all meats are stupid priced these days. If you’re making an overstuffed sandwich, with 8 ounces of meat, it breaks down like this: a pound each of pastrami and corned beef, roughly $31. One half pound of cheese, $6.00. Rye bread. $3. Sauerkraut $0.00, as I make it myself. So $40 / 4 sandwiches? $10 a pop. Wow.
Course go to any large city deli, and the same serving will cost between $17 – $27. Wow even more. BTW? You see the ‘iridescent’ quality in the top slice of meat below? Over the past 20 years, I must have asked dozens of people what causes that, and never received a satisfactory answer. Do you know?
Look for Vienna Beef products in your favorite grocery deli counter; we have some great corned beef whole brisket or slices from Omaha, and pastrami from the Bay Area’s favorite meat company, Saag, in our little store; for something a little different, try Montreal Smoked Meat. Appreciate your reading and business.
Vienna Beef Corned Beef and Pastrami
I’ve written a ton about Chicago’s iconic specialty, the Italian Beef sandwich. I’ve looked at different brands to prepare at home, as well as a number of restaurant offerings. Check all those posts out here. Today we tried Vienna Beef’s home version of the preparation, beef and gravy frozen in a tub. Spoiler. Any of these brands will disappoint you if you don’t COMPLETELY thaw prior to heating, and when heating GENTLE rules. Boil any frozen Italian Beef and you’ll hate it, I promise. Packaging says you can thaw in the microwave, but I personally would not. I thaw in frig and the in pan. 24 hours +. The beef in the au jus appears to be whole muscle meat, not pressed, chopped and formed. I did inquire of Vienna as to the composition of the beef, but they did not reply.
The product is available in different weights, with just meat and gravy in a tub in your grocer’s freezer section, or as “sandwich kits” which include authentic Chicago rolls and the pickled vegetable relish known as giardiniera. Several manufacturers of Italian beef in this style, also sell a “French dip” style. Same stuff, I imagine, without Italian seasonings.
Nestle a hot Italian sausage within your beef, and you have a “Combo.” I prefer Klement’s from Milwaukee. I have no ‘beef’ with Vienna’s Italian Beef product. I love all their products. They tie at #1 on my preference list with one other brand. Vienna’s beef is mild but very flavorful. Some other brands are spicier, like Mike Ditka’s (which I believe is also made at the Vienna factory, but with a different recipe).
Have some Italian Beef shipped to your house, just heat, eat, and enjoy. You’ll be happier if your store leftovers – separate (beef and gravy). We can also hook you up with some great Klement’s Italian sausage.
Vienna Beef Italian Beef Kit
Mike Ditka, ex professional football player, ex NFL coach, has been on a licensing spree lately; in addition to his restaurants, Ditka is now rivaling Donald Trump (including questionable hair) for an expanding product line: wine, steaks, cigars, and now Chicago style foods.
I don’t know shit about football; the closest I ever came to the sport was working a grade school carnival with Mike Singletary and Walter Payton, also former Chicago Bears; our kids all attended the same school. Oh, and I went to the annual NFL game in London one year, for work purposes.
In any case, Ditka’s “Chicago foods” are a recent addition to his line up. Ditka has two different sausage varieties, a hot beef polish, and a tomato/cheese chicken. It’s not likely I’d ever try the poultry one, just not my thing, but I did try the polish when it was launched, and liked it. It’s a big one, too, a third pound,and requires a substantial bun for cradling.
Ditka has now joined the several Italian Beef kits sold in Chicago grocers; after all, it is the official sandwich of Chicagoans. All come with beef and seasonings frozen in a block or tub of au jus, and merely require gentle heating before strategically placing the meat in your choice of roll and dressing it as you are so inclined.
Here’s the important part. I’ve often heard from people how they are disappointed in the frozen Italian beef, and almost universally, upon questioning, I have found out that often the source of their disappointment is that they did not follow the instructions on the package. For this product to turn out like anything resembling the restaurant version, two things must occur: 1) you have to thoroughly and completely THAW the product before heating, in the frig or on the counter top, and 2) GENTLE heating is all that required. Bring it to a boil and you’ll hate the result. So, repeat after me: THAW. GENTLE. Ok, we’re good to go.
Ditka’s ingredients are pretty straight forward, the beef portion contains seasonings, oregano and flavorings. The gravy ingredient list is a little lengthier, and does contain a number of different salts as well as MSG, if you’re a pussy about that kind of stuff. In the pic below of the unprepared product, you’ll note the red color, I’m not sure where that comes from.
The package is 2.25 pounds for five servings, and costs around $9, which is right around the same price point as its competitors.
Heated it for awhile, and ready to consume, I chose a short French roll, for its durability, as an Italian beef can get messy. There’s three ways to order Italian beef in Chicago, dry, wet, or dipped. Dry means they tong the beef out of the au jus and let most of it run off the meat before placing it in the bun. Wet means no dripping, and perhaps a little gravy ladled on the sandwich. Dipped? Beef in the roll, no drip, and dipping the entire sandwich in the au jus. Soggy and delicious. It’s an acquired taste.
You should also specify whether or not you want giardiniera on it, a pickled relish of diced garden vegetables (celery, cauliflower, carrots, jalapenos, oregano, and garlic) preferred by locals. Top or not with peppers, sweet or hot. Feeling bold? Ask for a “beef combo” and that will get you the delicious beef sandwich with a full Italian sausage nestled in the beef!
So back at home, I loaded my bun with a little too much meat, and plated it along side some home made potato chips (I was kitchen-motivated today).
Of the half dozen frozen Italian beef products I am aware of, I’ve got to say, this is my favorite. The gravy is very flavorful, and the beef is a quality cut. Good job, coach.
Mike Ditkas Italian Beef Review
Out beyond the hoity-toity Chicago suburb where we raised our family, there’s the outpost of the town of Wauconda, IL, a nice little lake, some shops, quiet neighborhoods. We used to go there pretty often for an ‘all you can eat’ Friday nite fish fry, quite common in Northern Illinois, Southern Wisconsin.
But today it was just a quick pass through and a stop at a local weenie emporium called Scooters, which has been around since ’86. Scooters is one of the 1000+ places in Chicagoland that serves hot dogs, beef, and sausages from my favorite (and Chicago’s) supplier, Vienna Beef.
I went with a Maxwell Street (a Vienna brand) polish with kraut and mustard, and added a side of Greek fries; which have Greek seasonings, oil and vinegar, and as you can see, a healthy dose of Feta. They’re great, my new favorite thing I shouldn’t eat.
If you ever get to Wauconda, stop by Scooters for your Vienna fix, then hang around til Friday nite for one of the local fish frys.
Scooter’s menu is online.