Dish of the Week: The Chicago-Style Hot Dog

Categories: How To, Recipes

chicagodog.jpg
Photo by Jeremy Keith
Warning: no ketchup allowed.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, we're sharing one of the best ways to pump up your last days of summer hot dogs: The Chicago-Style Dog.

In Chicago, this iconic all-beef frankfurter gets steamed then dressed-to-the-nines. Served on a poppy seed bun, the dog is topped with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, sweet pickle relish, "sports peppers" (pickled peppers), tomato slices/wedges, and pickle spears. Of course, we can't forget the celery salt. Though we can forget the ketchup -- it's pretty much an unacceptable hot dog topping in Chicago.

But before Chicago started "dragging" its dogs "through the garden," the city revolutionized hot dog processing by perfecting dis-assembly lines in the mid-19th century. Soon after, these cheap meats were popularized among the Chicago working class, which eventually paved the way to the all-mighty Chicago dog.

Some believe it was Jewish immigrants who influenced the all-beef wiener and poppy seed bun, while Italians and Greeks may have contributed the tomato, onions, pickled peppers, and relish. And because many early immigrants worked their own celery farms, celery salt was added to the mix.

The Chicago-style dog became an icon during the Great Depression, where Fluky's hot dog stand on the historic Maxwell Street began offering the "Depression Sandwich" for a nickel. The fully loaded number was a hit and soon the idea spread with hot dog stands popping up all over the city. Today, there are over 1,800 hot dog vendors in Chicago, many of which will NOT serve you ketchup.

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Dish of the Week: Summer Risotto

Categories: How To, Recipes

risotto_dishofweek.jpg
Photo by Luca Nebuloni
There's nothing like a plate of creamy, velvety risotto.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, it's all about risotto.

Risotto is a classic Italian rice dish that is slow-cooked in broth until creamy and decadent. It is typically made using Arborio, Carnaroli, Vialone Nano or other short grain varieties of rice that are high in starch and conducive to absorption, ensuring a velvetty consistency throughout.

Though the slow-cooking method may seem intimidating, with a few simple steps, is easy to perfect. And once you have it down, the flavor possibilities are endless.

First, soffrito -- the flavor base typically consisting of minced onion and other aromatics and spices -- is sauteed in a healthy amount of fat (butter and/or olive oil) until softened and fragrant. Next, the rice is mixed in so that each grain is coated in tostatura (fat). Just when the rice is lightly toasted, the pan is deglazed with a splash of wine to scrape up any caramelized bits.

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Dish of the Week: Fish en Papillote

Categories: How To, Recipes

fish_en_papillote.jpg
Photo by stu_spivack
Sealing the package traps in the moisture to steam the food inside.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, we're sharing a recipe for fish en papillote .

French for "in parchment," en papillote is a method of cooking food inside a folded pouch or parcel, typically made of parchment paper, but sometimes with aluminum foil or paper bags. The food is placed inside, often with a bit of wine, water, or stock, and the parchment is overlapped and folded until it is sealed tightly. As the parcel bakes, the trapped moisture heats and forms steam inside the packet, evenly cooking the food without losing any flavor.

While en papillote is a French term that dates back to the 17th century, the method of steaming food inside pouches has been used around the world for much longer. Banana and cassava leaves are used in Malaysia and Indonesia, cornhusks and plantains in Latin America, and water lotus leaves in China. In Italy, parchment is also used, but it is referred to as al cartoccio.

The method is typically used to cook fish, vegetables, and thin cuts of poultry. Herbs and spices are added so that when the pouch is opened at the table, the experience is fully aromatic.


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Dish of the Week: Mofongo

Categories: How To, Recipes

Mofongo.jpg
Photo by Salina Canizales
Smash down the mofongo to create a bowl shape for chicken, beef, pork, or seafood stew.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, we're covering a Puerto Rican classic: Mofongo.

Mofongo is a popular Caribbean dish made of unripened, fried (or boiled), and mashed plantains that are often mixed with broth, garlic, and chicharrones (deep-fried pork belly cracklins) and formed into balls. The dish can also be stuffed or smothered with chicken, steak, shrimp, lobster, and crab in a tomato gravy, at which point it's known as mofongo relleno.

The dish is actually an ancestor of fufu, a West African dish made with starchy root vegetables that was brought over to the island along with slaves during the Spanish conquest in the 1500s. Soon, fufu morphed with native cooking techniques -- including the use of plantains, sofrito (sautéed onions, peppers, herbs and garlic), and the mortar and pestle -- andmofongo was born. Chicharrones are a (much welcome) more modern day addition.


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Dish of the Week: Scallion Pancakes

Categories: How To, Recipes

scallion_pancake.jpg
Photo by manda_wong
Serve these savory pancakes with ginger dipping sauce.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, we're sharing a recipe for scallion pancakes.

Scallion pancakes are a popular Chinese dish also known as cong you bing. Unlike actual pancakes made from batter, these savory pancakes are made with unleavened, laminated dough.

The term laminated means that the dough is folded over itself and separated by thin layers of fat (typically butter) so that as it cooks, a flaky, tender pastry is formed. Similar to the process of making croissants or puff pastries that are brushed with butter and layered, this flatbread gets rolled into a flat disk, then brushed with sesame oil and scallions. But instead of layering the dough, the disk is rolled up tightly like a jelly roll, then spiraled into a cinnamon-bun-like shape. Finally, the bun is flattened out so that the fat and scallions are evenly spread throughout the dough.

One other important element is that, like dumpling wrappers, this dough is made using boiling water, creating an almost paste-like dough that has a tender tug to it when cooked. It also happens to be easier to roll out than your typical, springy pizza dough.

When fried, the hot water and lamination treatments result is a crisp, flaky, and slightly chewy pancakes.

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Summer Dessert Recipe: Mandarin Orange & Pineapple Cake

Categories: Recipes, Sweets

mandarin-orange-cake-slice.jpg
Photo by Molly Dunn
The juicy pineapple chunks in the whipped topping make this a refreshingly sweet cake.
When someone thinks of a "summer dessert," most likely cake does not come to their mind. Usually, sweet treats in the scorching hot summer months include ice cream, Popsicles, sno cones and the occasional milkshake. Cakes are covered in frosting, be it chocolate, strawberry, vanilla or cream cheese, and that's not exactly the best solution for a sweet tooth in search of something refreshing. Usually the glass of milk accompanying each bite does that trick.

But, what if the cake had oranges and pineapple? And the heavy frosting was replaced with a light and airy whipped topping?

That's what we call a summer dessert.

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Dish of the Week: Homemade Pierogi

Categories: How To, Recipes

pierogi_homemade.jpg
Photo by Rebecca Siegel
Pierogi can come in all shapes and sizes, but most popular is the half-moon shape.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, we're covering the famed Polish pierogi.

Pierogi are a type of dumpling popularized in Eastern Europe. While the origin of the dish is undocumented and many ethnic groups lay claim to its creation, pierogi are widely recognized as being Polish. Similar to jiaozi (the Chinese pot sticker), some say the dumplings were imported to Poland from the Far East as far back as the 13th century.

Made with unleavened dough that gets stuffed with both sweet and savory fillings, the crescent-shaped dumplings are first boiled before being baked or fried, usually in butter. Though a mixture of potatoes and cheese is probably the most popular filling (commonly known as the Polish or ruskie pierogi), ground meat, sauerkraut, cheese, and a variety of fruits and vegetables can be found stuffed inside pierogi as well. Savory versions are often fried with butter and onions and served with sour cream, while sweet versions are often sprinkled with sugar.


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Dish of the Week: Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Categories: How To, Recipes

spaghetti_carbonara.jpg
Photo by Tavallai
This Italian classic is simple but oh so decadent.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, we're looking at a classic Italian pasta dish: Spaghetti alla Carbonara.

Made with pork, eggs, and grated cheese, the simple dish is believed to have originated in Rome after the World War II, when U.S. troops brought supplies of bacon and eggs to Italy (according to the Oxford Companion to Food). Though the exact origin of the dish is unclear, its name is derived from the word carbonoro, meaning charcoal burner, leading some to believe dish was conceived to provide Italian charcoal workers with a hearty meal.

To make it, pork (likely guanciale, pancetta, or bacon) is cooked in fat, then tossed, off the heat, with hot pasta, raw eggs, and grated cheese (Pecorino-Romano and/or Parmigiano-Reggiano). The result is a creamy, decadent sauce that coats each and every strand of pasta. Some less traditional recipes call for cream, but when made right, it is certainly not needed. Though it's commonly made with spaghetti, other pastas like linguini, fettuccine, and bucatini can also be used.


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Recipe of the Week: Alabama White Sauce

alabama_white_sauce.jpg
Photo by Dan
Horseradish and cider vinegar give this creamy 'cue sauce kick.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

With summer in full swing, we're taking a look at a good ol'-fashioned Southern barbecue stable: Alabama white sauce.

Unlike most tomato- or mustard-based 'cue sauces, this sauce is actually the color white. That's because it's made with thick and creamy mayonnaise. It all started with Alabama native Bob Gibson -- a.k.a. "Big Bob" -- in 1925. He created the sweet and tangy sauce and used it to baste chicken and pork at his restaurant, Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Alabama. Since then, the fad has spread like wildfire. It's now as popular in Alabama as the Crimson Tide.


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Dish of the Week: Turkish Shish Kebab

lambkebab.jpg
Photo by Valters Krontals
These kebabs are just in time for grilling season.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, we're sharing a recipe for a Turkish classic: shish kebab.

The word kebab literally means "roast meat." Though there are several variations throughout the Middle East and South Asia - including the doner kebap sandwich that we've becoming familiar with recently thanks to VERTS -- the terms shish kebab refers to meat roasted on a skewer (or a shish in Turkish).

Meat skewers were referenced in Homer's Odyssey, but the practice may have been born even earlier; Excavations have unearthed Greek stones set for barbecue skewers that date as far as 17th century BC. Today, you'll find iterations of shish kebabs all over the world, with marinated and grilled lamb being one of the most famous.

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