Soul Cocina

Eco Chef Roger Feely

Hot or Sweet?

After reading Skillet Doux's seventh chapter of The Great Chicago Beef Off I figured it was time to update my Johnnie's post with a soundtrack.
Even when it is 5 degrees F outside Chicagoans will line up outside the door of Johnny's for an Italian Beef, an Italian Sausage, a Hot Dog, or a Combo (the sandwich for the undecisive Chicagoan that includes both Italian Beef and Italian Sausage. It's the answer to the "Beef or Sausage" question, just like "Christmas" is the answer to the "red or green" question in New Mexico.) Johnny's Beef sandwiches come come with another question, "wet or dry?". Dry is not really dry at all, it is still quite a wet sandwich, it just isn't dipped in beef jus before being wrapped in paper like the wet Beef.
I usually get it wet. In fact, after reading some of the Skillet Doux Beef Off posts, I have been having visions of wet beef sandwiches.
Tune: Wet Vision by U Roy from the b side of the Hat trick 7", also on Trojan Box Set: Tighten Up

The last question about the beef is "hot or sweet?", meaning hot peppers, which is giardinare (vegetables, usually celery, carrots, and cauliflower marinated in oil with hot peppers to take on a hot spicy flavor), or sweet peppers, which is stewed green bell peppers.

Sweet Tune: Sweet Safronia (1938) by Slim and Slam, the duo who sang nonsensical songs that made a lot of sense. Hip cat, Slim Gaillard and bass virtuoso Slam Stewart had a knack for humorously covering a lot of racey topics in their songs. Their style of entertainment reminds me of Dave Chappelle. They celebrated and challenged stereotypes in thier songs (check out Matzoh Balls, African jive, and Chinatown, my Chinatown) and had clever commentary on pop culture and race in America all while grooving to the rhythm. Sweet Safronia is just a fun toon with a great band.

Sweet Tune: Sweet Dreams by De La Soul from the orange 12" vinyl More Supa Sweet Stakes, Baby
Buy De La Soul records and cd's here.

Sweet Tune: Sweet Home Chicago by Robert Johnson
Why does he call Chicago "the land of california"?

Sweet Tune: Sweetest Rocker in Town by The Wailers, aka The Wailing Rudeboys from the 7 Inch Auction Album

Sweet Tune: Sweet by Vybz Kartel on the Egyptian riddim

Hot Tune: Red Hott by Lil' Pocket Knife from Pants Control

Hot Tune: Hot Stuff (Nice and Tuff) by I Roy on the Mafia record label.
Also on Don't Check Me With No Lightweight Stuff LP

I usually go for hot. This is how I make my beef, above.
-note: this is not a traditional beef sandwich, I have added a little bit of the Spaghetti Bowl's famous red sauce and some mozzarella cheese to this sandwich. Also a beef sandwich usually has more beef (I just fineshed a whole pizza before making myself this sandwich) and gets less hot pepper (giardinare), this is a customized beef.
Another reason people line up in the cold Johnny's parking lot is for the charcoal broiled Italian Sausage.Then after a hot or sweet, dry or wet, beef or sausage, Chicagoans cool off (no matter what the weather) with an Italian ice. Johnny's serves a great Lemon Ice.Gina's is an old school Italian ice joint next to the origional Buona Beef.
-notice the barber shop and the Old Style sign next to Ginas, classic Chicago symbols.

Durring prohibition Chicagoans usually looked to the local bootlegger or moonshiner to cool off. This photograph is on the wall at one of the Portillo's restaurants.This Chicago hot dog has been "dragged through the garden". A real Chicago hot dog has a dill pickle spear, mustard, onion, florescent green cucumber relish, tomato slices, hot, cruinchy, little sport peppers, and celery salt. I wonder if they were popular in Al Capones day? Did the moonshiners like their hot dogs, beefs, and pizzas the same way Chicagoans enjoy them today? There may not be many speakeasies left in Chicago, but there are plenty of bars, and Chicagoans love to drink. One origional Chicago speakeasy that is rumored to have once been owned by Chicago Gangsters is still around today. The Green Mill is home to Saturday night Jazz with the Sabortooth Jazz Ensamble until 4AM.The beverage of choice for the members of Hummingbiird, Chicago's most cutting edge musical quartet, formerly known as Jesse Garon and the Pedal Steel Transmission, is beerSome people in Chicago like to drink this stuff. Anybody know what this is?
You can find anything in Chicago. In our last post about Chicago we discussed fried doughs and Chicago bakeries. We arrived in Chitown just in time to get all the St Joseph Day and Fat Tuesday treats!Paczki is another fried dough that is used to celebrate the last day before lent (Fat Tuesday) in Poland and in Chicagoland's Polish community.
Here is a Zeppole from Giardino's on Harlem Ave in ChicagoThey also produce some impressive looking marzipan.They make the best cannolis. Some chocolate coated and even some w/ pistachios.Here is one of our (Pastry Chef Sara Ko and mine) versions of cannoli, filled with homemade ricotta, and coco nibs, on chocolate mousse, w/ pistachio semifreddo and candied orange zest. The dark chocolate sauce spells TDP for Citizen Cakes infamous Tooth Decay Posse.

Hungry for Chicago style pizza and over 1000 miles from the Spaghetti Bowl, we stopped in at Zachery's Chicago Style Pizza in Oakland last night. After waiting for a table for 30 minutes, we ordered the spinach and mushroom stuffed pizza with sausage on half. I never realy understood the philosophy behind the stuffed 'za. It is just a deep dish pie with a useless, non functional, gummy layer of dough between the cheese and filling with the sauce on top. I have tried and have baked a few stuffed pies where the cheese and filling is topped with a thin layer of dough and baked until golden then topped with a chunky sauce and finished in the oven untill the sauce boils (and continues to boil for almost ten minutes longer as it sits on the table) This kind of pizza is great. But filling the pie and covering it with raw dough, then topping with sauce seems pointless. The dough gets lost in the pie and it just seems like doughy cheese. I was excited to see pieces of sausage in the filling in ununiformly, odd shapes, like the pizzaiolo just picked the raw homemade sausage from a tub and added it to the filling to bake along with the pizza, Chitown style, not precooked sausage in casing. But where was the fennel seed? The sausage lacked the Chicago kick. Also the sauce was too chunky. Chicago style deep dish is topped with chunky sauce, but the sauce is cooked down a while before it is baked on the pie. It should be a homogeneous sauce with a few chunky pieces, not tomato water with half pieces of tomatoes. This sauce seemed like it went straight from the can to the pizza. Some Chitown pies have cornflour in the dough, some are buttery, they are all tastey (if they want to survive). Zachery's dough was none of these. It was kind of bland. It had a great texture, the right amount of salt, but it lacked pizazz. The thin crust pizzas are not chicago style. They are cut in triangles and it was not thin. They looked great and everyone in the joint wore a great pleasurable smile, but are not Chicago style. The stuffed pie was actually very good, but it wasn't comparable to Chicago style. In San Francisco, I prefer Little Star deep dish (who doesn't claim to be Chicago style, just good pie), Arinelle's NY style thin crust, Pauline's Pizza (they grow their own vegetables and make great salads and homemeade ice creams), or even Marcello's across from the Castro Theatre. When we went to Picco in Larkspur in Marin across the Golden Gate Bridge we sat at the counter right next to the wood burning pizza oven. The pizzaolo was not from Napoli, but a young Latino chef, but he had crazy pizza skills. We watched him stretch the pizza dough and place it in the oven while he tended the flames. Our pie only took a few minutes to bake a golden crust on the bottom, and then the pizzaiolo piked up the 'za with the peel and held it on an angle next to the open flames to blister and char the top in a few spots. Beautiful! it was a very stunning pie, asthetically and the flavor was great. They pull there own mozzarella daily, but you don't get much of it on the pizza. They go very light on the sauce and too. I also hear that the pies at Picco can be a little inconsistant. The crust was good but a little too chewy. It was by no means soggy, but it was a bit of a strain on the jaw to eat. It seems like the dough may have been worked too long in the mixing stage. Pizza dough, for me is best when crispy like a cracker, not chewy like good bread. Call me a whako, but I like to use all-purpose flour and knead the dough for only 2 minutes by hand. Many chefs use bread flour and knead the pizza dough in a machine for ten minutes. It's a different slice of pie like that. Good, but different. Anyhow, the real reason to visit Picco is for the soft serve ice cream. Scharffen Berger chocolate or vanilla made with organic dairy and served with extra virgen olive oil and sea salt or served with local, organic fruit compote. The salads were great too. Pizetta 211 bakes excellent pizza with the highest quality local, often organic ingredients, truely wonderful, and they have a fun web site. A16 serves pretty good pizza if you can put up with the crowd. Berkeley's Cheese Board Collective serves only one kind of pizza a day that is always scrumptous, especially if the little jazz trio is there to help the pizzas bake with the sound of heartfelt standards. But once again the best pizza is always homemade. Check out what Bay Area Bites has to say about Bay Area pizza.