Tar Heel Fan

Transplanted Tar Heel living in Chicagoland! Love to read about cooking and to try and perfect my techniques through great sites like this one.

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  • Location: Park Ridge, Illinois

Ultra-Crispy Roast Potatoes

Perfectly delicious! I used bacon fat because that was what I had on hand, so I can only imagine how much the flavor would be pumped up with duck or chicken fat!

Since I was juicing some lemons anyway, I sprinkled some juice on top of some of the potatoes when they came out of the oven, and that added some brightness to the overall flavor profile, so I would recommend adding that in.

The Food Lab's Perfect Grilled Steaks

My name is Sharon, and I'm a salt-o-colic ... however, the bad memory of what happened the one time I salted steaks before they went on the grill linger.

Having said that, Kenji, you have never, ever steered me wrong, so I have been watching my rib-eyes do interesting things ever since I salted them. Fingers crossed they will turn out perfect when they get grilled tomorrow evening!

Oh -- as far as chimney starters, I have two, because the ones I found at the grocery store only hold 4 quarts. They weren't very expensive -- about $9 each, I think -- so I have been using both to get enough coals going.

Buttermilk Ranch Dipping Sauce

Does this need time in the fridge before serving? My (former!) go-to recipe, from Southern Living, calls for 4 hours!

The Food Lab: How to Make the Best Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

OK, I am all set to make this tonight, but I have a question about broiling in my ancient Roper gas stove. It works just fine, but best I can tell, you can't adjust it for distance from the broiling element -- the frame for the broiler pan is stationery and pretty close to the flames.

This stove has got to be at least 40 years old (I'm in a rental, so don't know for sure), but I'm hoping one of my fellow SE and Kenji fans knows the best way to work with a setup like this.


Fingerling Potato Salad With Aioli, Pesto, Fried Shallots, and Pecorino

Boy does this sound fabulous! Can't wait to try it with fresh basil from my garden!

Win a Copy of 'Fried & True'

Got to have some cayenne in the flour mix!

Ask the Food Lab: What's the Point of Bay Leaves?

I got a different story growing up -- mom didn't say they were poisonous, she said the sharp tip and the vein could puncture something on its way down! I still am cautious about using a bay leaf big enough to easily find (and fish out ) after cooking, and have always warned my husband in case I forget!

My neighbors brought back a ton of fresh leaves from Italy a few months ago, and I have been enjoying them in my cooking. Now that they are totally dried out, I will put what is left from what they gifted me in the freezer!

Cook the Book: The 'Roberta's' Cookbook

Hot and Sour soup from scratch, start to finish!

Foolproof Pan Pizza

I am in a quandary -- after 17 hours, my dough volume is nowhere near 4-6x the initial mix. I used my OXO digital scale to measure ingredients, so I =think= all those were correct. So, what should I do? Keep letting it rise? Make just one pie with the dough as is? Or throw it out and start over? My yeast was Fleischmann's "RapidRise Highly Active Yeast" with a freshness date of Jan. 2015, and the flour was King Arthur's bread flour.

Thanks for any advice out there! (The dough now fills maybe one-third of my largest glass Pyrex mixing bowl; I am not seeing a size marking on the bottom to confirm how many quarts it holds.)

One Armed Bandit

Here's something that doesn't require measuring, just combining if you go the easiest route, which is by using jarred pesto:

-- Boil your favorite pasta with a generous helping of salt
-- Drain in a colander in which you have rinsed a 16-oz bag of your favorite frozen mixed vegetable (the hot cooking water will cook the vegetables)
-- Return pasta and vegetables to cooking pt
-- Add in a good slug of extra virgin olive oil, grated parmesan cheese to taste, and chopped walnuts
-- Stir in a couple tablespoons of pesto (optional)

Still all ingredients together well; if necessary add a bit of pasta water to contents


(Obviously, if you want to use fresh vegetables of your choice and homemade pesto, you can)

The 10 Best Italian Beef Sandwiches in Chicago You've Probably Never Tried

@Flattopmaster, as you might surmise by my screen name here, I am not a native Chicagoan, so perhaps my enjoyment of some shredded mozz on an Italian beef could be construed as inauthentic ... but I like mine that way, and I'm sticking to it :)

@derricktung, I see the option to add cheese on lots of menus, which must be where I got the idea from. Not any of the classic places mentioned in this article, to be sure, but spots like Foto's in Mt. Prospect and Moondoggie's in Glenview, to think of two off the top of my head that were near where I used to work. And, of course, the aforementioned Portillo's.

Of course, I don't necessarily find ketchup on a hotdog to be heretical, either (and now I'm ducking and getting out of the way of any slings and arrows shot my way on that divisive subject!) ...

Healthy & Delicious: Homemade Peppermint Patties

After reading the comments, I went ahead and made a double batch. Yum! I put two "exemplars" in the freezer for QC purposes, so I wouldn't have to wait hours to see how they came out. In one word -- delicious!

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: 'Round Things Are Tasty' Tote Bag

Since I just made some from the SE recipe, it would be Peppermint Patties!

All-Belly Porchetta

@konar -- your post made me remember how delicious this was, so I am making it again this year! You definitely saved a boatload per pound by going to Peoria Packing; Devon Avenue Meats' price was $3.98/lb, but it certainly was convenient -- I just walked over to the store yesterday and picked up my order. :)

What size is your pork belly? Mine is right at 7 lbs, which will work out just fine for my purposes.

Happy Cooking!

The 10 Best Italian Beef Sandwiches in Chicago You've Probably Never Tried

@cpd007, thanks on all counts! If I ever get a fresh battery for my dead-as-dirt one, I will motor over to the places you suggested above!

And, I'm sure your rooting for my beloved Tar Heels was what put them over the top Saturday against one of our most historic rivals, Kentucky! :) It was a very good day to be a Carolina grad ...

The 10 Best Italian Beef Sandwiches in Chicago You've Probably Never Tried

Oh dear -- I really like Tony's on NW Highway in Edison Park, but I have to admit I have not been to the sacred hangouts mentioned by cpd007 upthread. Since I'm right down the road in Park Ridge, Tony's will remain my go-to for beef, as well as Italian specialties in one convenient spot.

Roast Turkey Soup

Delicious! I did add in barley just because I could for an extra bit of hearty oomph.

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: Cacao Drinking Chocolate Basket

where gymshoe sandwich?

@bleu, I am indeed a transplanted Tar Heel! While Chicago is a good place to live, North Carolina will always be home. I am even cooking a "Down-Home Dinner for Four" in two weeks that I donated to a silent auction so I can showcase Southern delicacies.

where gymshoe sandwich?

I think one reason you're having trouble finding this sandwich is your spelling -- it's actually "Jim Shoe," which of course is not really logical!

Here is a detailed article about the legendary sandwich, along with a slideshow of restaurants where you can find it on the south side of Chicago:

Taste Test: The Best Hot Giardiniera

Ah, giardiniera! One of the culinary delights I've discovered since moving here! My go-to right now is the Vienna brand, maybe because it doesn't have cauliflower in it -- just not a fan, though I guess you could pick them out.

Another Tony's, Tony's Deli in the Edison Park neighborhood on the far northwest side of Chicago, makes their own, in different heat levels, that I've been meaning to try. Since everything I've ever gotten at Tony's has been delicious, I think their giardiniera would be, as well.

When I go to Potbelly's, I always get the hot peppers on my tuna salad sub, and it is definitely hot, as advertised, but to my mind, a little one-note and harsh (since peppers make up most of the mix). I don't think I'd buy a jar of it to bring home.

"That Pickle Guy" has a good jarred olive muffalatta (their spelling) that you might like better than the giardiniera (you can find it at Costco or at farmer's markets around the area).

Finally, Centrella is a brand that lots of small grocery chains around here carry -- it's a kind of co-op so they can get good pricing like the big, national chains (Tony's Finer Food carries lots of their items, as does Happy Foods and Caputo's) -- so their giardiniera can probably be found in more places than Strack & Van Til, which doesn't have very many stores here.

All-Belly Porchetta

@konar, of course! Vince at Devon Avenue Meats in Park Ridge was happy to special-order pork belly for me. However, that was Christmas of 2011, so I don't know if $3.99/lb (I think) is still the price. Just give him a call a couple of days in advance of when you want to pick it up, since it's not something he ordinarily carries. The store is located inside of Morningfield's Market at 800 Devon. Website is

Ultra-Crispy New Potatoes With Garlic, Herbs, and Lemon

Made these last night and enjoyed them! I must say I kept rereading the recipe, looking for the part where you turn the oven temperature down, but no, you really do cook these at 500 degrees for the entire time.

Hearty Escarole, Barley, and Parmesan Soup

PS I don't know how many fans you have in the greater Park Ridge, Illinois, area, but I believe all of them decided to make this soup yesterday -- suspiciously, there was but one bunch of escarole left, and maybe three packs of fresh rosemary ... hmm ...

Hearty Escarole, Barley, and Parmesan Soup

@Kenji, when decision-time came, I went with the "traditional" variety so that, indeed, all ingredients would finish cooking at the same time. A soup recipe on the bag gave a 30-minute simmer time once the barley was added, so I went with that.

This was a very tasty dish -- as I've commented before, you haven't let me down yet with any of your recipes! It gets four stars and not five only because, well, not =everything= can be Porchetta ...

Thanks for another keeper!

I need a grown-up condiment to replace ketchup

Well, it's finally happened -- my palate seems to have outgrown the taste of ketchup on most foods typically associated with that condiment, especially fries.

While I used to consider French fries to be delivery vehicles for said ketchup, I now find the flavor profile to be way too sweet. I picked up a jar of something called "zesty remoulade sauce" the other day, but had one taste of it and found it to be gosh-darn awful. Gooey and sweet to the max. Nothing zesty about it.

Then I looked at the ingredient list, and high-fructose corn syrup was the first one listed. In remoulade sauce??

So, anyway, does anyone have suggestions for an alternative condiment? I do like fries plain, too, but sometimes you just feel like dipping!