• Favorite foods: Pizza, pizza, pizza. Fried chicken, burgers, steak, pasta, peanut butter anything. Ice cream, frozen custard, chocolate chip and molasses/ginger cookies, most anything with cinnamon (no tree nuts).

13 Fantastic Fried Chicken Sandwiches in Chicago

@chi_type - You know, not everything in life is politics. A good fried chicken sandwich is a good sandwich. I don't agree with Chick-Fil-A's founder in terms of gay marriage (the more marriages, the better!) but I'm not about to condemn a pretty decent organization over one issue. A company that closes on the second busiest takeout day of the week in order to give their employees a guaranteed day off (for worship, presumably, but you aren't required to), that gives a lot to various unobjectionable charities (about $22 million/year), has a scholarship fund for their workers, pays better than minimum wage, etc. seems OK to me.

13 Fantastic Fried Chicken Sandwiches in Chicago

I must be the only person in America that absolutely hates pickles on chicken sandwiches. Well, I dislike pickles in general, but I really don't like them on a chicken sandwich.

Like it Or Not, Twin Anchors' Baked Ribs Are Here to Stay

Sadly, I do fall in the "not like" camp for Twin Anchors - it's a neat little bar, but the ribs are really not that good. A much better rendition of the Chicago-style baked ribs were offered by a place called Freddy's Ribhouse over by Sheffield and North Avenue - they were darned tasty (better sauce, ribs were well-seasoned with a rub) and came with these ridiculously good deep-fried potato chunks sprinkled with the rub. Freddy's closed up year ago, but it was the best of the old-style baked rib outlets.

Like it Or Not, Twin Anchors' Baked Ribs Are Here to Stay

@cpd007 - Russell's was my gateway drug to barbecue. Growing up, barbecue was always something grilled poorly with some Open Pit burned on the outside. I couldn't stand the stuff.

When I was in my teens, I happened along a Portillo's that for some reason was trying out a BBQ concept (Barney's?) that featured a sliced pork sandwich and this odd sauce. It was like nothing I'd ever had before - the pork was juicy and the sauce! It was the strangest combination of flavors I'd ever seen in a sauce - ketchup, raisins, allspice/cinnamon - and yet it was delicious! I ate two sandwiches and drowned everything in the sauce.

I later figured out that they were just using Russell's recipes - the sauce and pork were identical. Once the Barney's concept shutdown, I found Russell's and continued my love for this (admittedly odd) style of barbecue.

I'm a committed barbecuer these days - make my own sauce, have my own smoker, create my own rubs. My middle son's favorite food is barbecue - and no matter what he orders, anywhere, he always asks for barbecue sauce on the side. I've come to accept that Russell's ain't "real Q" - but every once in a while, I get a hankering for that sweet/tart allspice sauce over that sliced pork...

Pizza Poll: How Do You Like Your Sausage?

@cpd007 - chunks of sausage all the way! "Pebbles", "slices", "dissolves" - what kind of sausage hell do these people find themselves in? :)

More seriously, for a thin-crust pizza, the sausage chunks - fatty, peppery, fennel-rich - enriching the sauce with all its porky goodness - how does it get better than that? I will grant that Coalfire pizza does little flecks of raw sausage but that's only because that oven is so hot the pie is done before a thick chunk of sausage could cook through.

For deep-dish, the Gino's style "disk o' sausage" or Malnati/Pizano's method of tearing off hunks and pressing them edge to edge are both great. As is Pequod's great hunks of sausage (similar to the Rocky Rococo nod up top).

It's hard to imagine a Chicago pizza without sausage...

Staff Picks: What's the Best Burger in Chicago?

A list that contains neither David Burke's Primehouse nor Sepia is an incomplete list.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken at Claire's Korner in Evanston

When the kids were young, I used to take the whole family to a different Caribbean island each February (Chicago winters are brutal - need to break them up). We went every direction - USVIs, BVIs, St Lucia, Barbados, Roatan - and the one thing in common was me, sitting on a beach, drinking a Ting.

It was my one-week-a-year treat. Tiny little ice cold bottles of grapefruity goodness!

Smiling With Hope Bakery: How Pizza-Making Transformed This High School Special Needs Program

@AdamKuban and @Smiling Hope - What an inspiring story! As the father of a son with special needs, I appreciate everything that dedicated teachers such as Walter do day in and and day out to make the lives of our children better and brighter.

Keep up the good work!

Dinner Tonight: Open-Faced Egg Salad Sandwich With Bacon

Sorry - celery doesn't belong in egg salad. Especially enough celery that it looks like a pepper and egg sandwich!

Hard-boiled eggs, mayo, mustard, salt and pepper. Chives if you want to be fancy.

Making me hungry... ;)

Lunch in the Loop: Harold's Chicken Shack

@cpd007 and @DennisLee - Rip's Tavern is on my bucket list. Apparently, fried chicken is bar food in all of LaSalle County and they are very competitive about it. Even in Ladd, there's a bar across the street (Lanuti's) that has its loyalists - it also serves fried turtle.

Excellent pictures and stories about both places can be found here.

Oh, and I also have a convertible... ;)

Open Thread: What's the Best Frozen Pizza?

@EdwardO - Home Run Inn frozen pizza is really only good if you get the sausage. It's so loaded with sausage that it completely changes the pizza - I'm not a fan of the other flavors, but any of the ones with sausage are damn tasty.

Looking for a Horseshoe Sandwich in Chicago? Visit 6 Degrees in Bucktown

How is the cheese sauce itself? Does it have a true cheese flavor (like it was actually made with cheese) or is it more processed (like cheez-from-a-pump)?

Looking for a Horseshoe Sandwich in Chicago? Visit 6 Degrees in Bucktown

Tabasco "sweetness"? I've never heard anyone describe Tabasco as sweet - the major flavor notes are vinegar and heat with a slight bitter undertone. Frank's Red Hot, maybe, or Sriracha, definitely, if you're looking for a bit of sweet in the heat.

(My favorite hot sauce, Bat's Brew, is damned tasty but hard to find.)

The Food Lab: These Are My Knives

Nice Rifleman's Creed reference.

My preferred knife is my Shun Santoku. Even though I have a full set of perfectly fine Wusthof knives, I find myself reaching for the Shun over and over. That D-shaped handle just fits my hand perfectly - the knife becomes an extension of my hand in a way a traditional handle just never does.

I picked up a separate Shun 8" Chef's knife as a Christmas present to myself, but my kitchen is being remodeled and I have yet to use it... :(

Supermarket Sweets: We Try the New Butterfinger Cups

@cycorider - Not a blind taste test, per se, but they compared the three and then created their own, made-from-scratch version.

The Food Lab Lite: The Best Spanish-Style Garlic Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo)

@SouthernChef - If you'd read the link to Kenji's The Best Wonton Soup article, you'd know that the baking soda technique came from a reader and that Kenji was stumped by the science but it worked. He's looking into the why...

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

Serendipitous falafel-waffle moment - Cooking Channel's "You're Doing It Wrong" had a segment on making falafel-waffles at Taim. Maybe you just need to start with fresh falafel "dough".

The Simple Burger From Chicago Deep Dish Pizza Joint Emmett's in NYC

Watch out, Robyn - Emmett might set up a new account just to tell you how bad your review is. Don't take any guff from someone called 'burgerlover83' or 'aliceann'. :D

Vegan: Crispy Smoked Mushroom "Bacon"

@Kenji - Apparently, my sense of humor didn't shine through here. I don't really believe bacon is a gift from the devil.

I do get mad at people who can eat mushrooms without breaking out in hives, though. :D

Vegan: Crispy Smoked Mushroom "Bacon"

No - just no.

This has nothing to do with the fact that I am allergic to mushrooms and the "solution" to every recipe problem these days is "add more mushrooms" and more to do with the fact that this is affront to the term "bacon".

Something has to die to make bacon - that's the deal we've made with the devil for the black magic that is bacon. The only thing that dies with mushroom bacon is a little piece of your soul...

Emmett's Does Not Serve the Chicago Deep Dish You're Looking For

It's too bad the crust is so bad - as a Chicago deep dish dough recipe is one of the simplest to make. Baker's percentages:

- 100.0 AP Flour
- 50.0 water (lukewarm)
- 16.2 corn oil (the source of the "cornmeal" flavor)
- 5.4 olive oil
- 1.0 ADY (yeast)
- 2.0 salt

Add the water, yeast (a little sugar if you're iffy on its age), oil and 1/4 of the flour. Mix to a batter and let sit for a few minutes. Add the remaining flour and salt, mix/knead just until it makes a smooth ball (1-2 minutes, max - this is a short dough and we're not trying to develop much gluten).

Cover and let double (1-2 hours). The dough is now ready to use but a 24 hour cold ferment wouldn't hurt.

Start with 300 grams of flour for a 12" pie. Oil a 2" deep pan, the dough is just pressed out (it's got the consistency of play-doh) and up the sides. Whole milk mozzarella on the bottom (I prefer sliced), a layer of good Italian sausage, then (hand-)crushed tomatoes seasoned with salt, pepper (black or red), olive oil and basil/oregano. A sprinkle of romano maybe.

Pop it into a pre-heated 450 degree oven on a baking stone/steel and bake for 35-40 minutes. Pull out, let rest for 5 minutes, slice and enjoy.

Eat This Now: Piemontese Boneless Ribeye at Eataly's La Carne

I was part of a semi-heated discussion about the ethics of raising (and eating) double-muscled cattle like Piedmontese and Belgian Blues as they have difficulty delivering their oversized calves (Belgians, especially, nearly always need Caesarians).

The double-muscle allele is a low-occurrence natural trait (no GMO) but has been bred-true in a few breeds so it always happens as opposed to being an occasional surprise.

Good to know that at least they are delicious...

A Sandwich a Day: Italian Beef at Roots Handmade Pizza

Way too dry. Italian beef should only come "wet".

How to Find and Order Great Pizza in New York

@Chuckswagon - Take a look at any of the Chicago pizza articles that has more than 3-4 comments and you'll usually see a long discourse by my man @cpd007 on the various Chicago styles. When he manages to pull me into the conversation (not hard), you'll usually end up with a history and tour of Chicago pizza styles. And cpd007's beloved garlic sausage! :D

How to Find and Order Great Pizza in New York

Last time in NYC, I met Adam over at Joe's on 14th. The plain slice was great but I liked the Sicilian even better.

In terms of Artichoke (just down the block), I don't understand why anyone would get anything other than the Sicilians - and especially the Vodka Sicilian. That pie is crazy good - it speaks to something primal in my reptilian pizza brain. A trip to NYC is a failure if I don't get there once or twice.

New Yorkers are lucky in having a great slice culture - something sorely missing in Chicago (we have terrific whole pie places of all styles, but good slices are few and far between). The only thing I would change is banishing that awful sliced sausage - as Kenji said, place it down raw and in chunks or don't do it at all.

(Don't get me started on NYC dumpling spots - we have nothing like that in Chicago. I'd kill for a Vanessa's in town...)

Broken Leg in Flagstaff = More Pizza!

So, I took my son in a Boy Scout trip down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. This would be my one opportunity to check out Caleb's Pizzicletta. I took my son and in-laws there the night before the trip. The pizza was delicious, the space was small but charming and Caleb was a gracious host (I let him know I was a Slicer). Great start to a trip.

4 days of rapids later, I suffered a severe break to my right tibial plateau and had to be air-lifted out to Flagstaff. Worst pain I can even imagine. Had two surgeries a week apart (an external stabilization followed by a knee reconstruction). (My son finished the trip with his Scout buddies and got home safe and sound).

I'm in a rehab center/nursing home until I get well enough to fly back to Chicago. A combination of pain meds and hospital food has seriously suppressed my appetite. Caleb's pizza isn't really deliverable, but I found salvation in the place right across the street from Pizzicletta - a place called Fratelli's.

Completely different style from Caleb's - this is 'American' or 'New York' style pizza. But it is excellent too! They take their pizza seriously - Stanislaus tomatoes, whole milk mozzarella, what seems like house made Italian sausage. Very tasty crust with good bones.

I have ordered pizza from Fratelli's twice now - its delicious (they've won Best of Flagstaff for 10 odd years). While I can't wait to get back to Chicago, Flagstaff is lucky to have two such great pizzerias.

I highly recommend Pizzicletta (get there early!) and Fratelli's.

Lime Meltways

Meltaways were one of the first cookies I made when I began my professional baking career. They're incredibly easy and their delicate, crumbly texture makes them terribly addictive. In this version, I made them with lime zest. But if you'd prefer another flavor—like lemon, vanilla bean or even black pepper—go for it. More

The Best Chicken Tikka Masala

The secret to our Chicken Tikka Masala is a salty yogurt-based marinade followed by intense charring on a hot grill. We purposely undercook our chicken so it can simmer in a creamy spiced tomato and cream sauce before serving. When done right, the sauce should be a multifaceted affair; a balanced blend of intense spice flavors with a gingery kick rounded off by the richness of cream and butter, with a splash of freshness and acid from tomatoes and citrus. As you bite into a chunk of chicken, the smokey char should work its way though to the forefront, to be slowly replaced by a new layer of spicing, this time intensified by its time on the grill. The chicken chunks should be juicy, moist, and tender. More

Philadelphia Butter Cake

Philadelphia Butter Cake is almost indescribably rich: if you can imagine Gooey Butter cake but minus the cream cheese, and with a base that is somewhat like a crushed, compressed danish, you're getting the right idea. More

My Pie Monday: Potatoes, Deep Dish, Eggs, and More!

Today we've got a gorgeous potato and thyme pie from Scott D, a Pequod's-style deep dish pizza from FredipusRex, and a seriously delicious-looking pie from Pizzacommander's pizza party (why didn't we get an invite?)...But that's not all—Norma's working her milk kefir starter, Professorplum shares a nice Margherita, Patrick B made a ham, egg, and cheese pie, and there are more tasty pizzas from FoolishPoolish, Bartonkt, dmcavanagh, Tdpl, TScarborough, ESNY1077 , thearrogantchef, and first time MPM'r Soles. More

The Pizza Lab: No-Roll, No-Stretch Sicilian-Style Square Pizza at Home

The ideal square pie needs a soft, moderately chewy, and pliant crust, with an almost fried crispness to the bottom. The layer of cheese should be thicker than on a traditional pizza, and as for the sauce, I like it with a hint of roasted garlic, a touch of herbs, and lightly cooked with a distinct sweetness and overt tomato flavor. I know—I'm a demanding guy, but I'm also willing to work for my pies. 23 takeout containers worth of leftovers,** 8 pounds of mozzarella, 16 pounds of flour, and more tomatoes than you can shake a stick at later, I finally achieved the pie of my dreams. Let me walk you through it. More