Monday, April 28, 2008

Johnnies Beef, Elmwood Park, Illinois

A Beef Sandwich to Die For........
Johnnie's Beef
7500 W. North Ave., Elmwood Park

Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-12am, Sun 12pm-12am

Tel: (708) 452-6000

Chicago is one of the few cities in the country where there are many places to eat great Italian beef and Johnnie's Beef ranks among the best of them. The small beef stand is a perfectly preserved piece of the traditionally Italian neighborhood that surrounds it.

The structure itself resembles an old drive-in eatery, with baby blue walls and yellow neon signs. It is only big enough to hold about ten standing customers at its bar, and seems to have a line that stretches down the block at any time of day. The employees work together as a well oiled machine, though, which minimizes the wait. One worker assembles hot dogs, one spears sausages from the grill, one slaps together the beefs and yet another fills cups with Italian ices (make sure you say you don't want a lid on your ice...that way you get a nice heaping cup of it). Be sure to have your order straight by the time you get to the head of the line; the man who rings you up gets quite upset at indecision or stuttering.

The menu is small, but everything is exceptional. The Italian beef and sausage sandwiches are notably famous, as well as the Italian ices and hot dogs. Every Friday Johnnie's serves up amazing fried egg sandwiches.

Many Chicagoans consider Johnnie's to be the best Italian Beef joint in the world, which accounts for the long line you will usually encounter on your visit. And I will be their this weekend to enjoy one on my visit to Chicago, My home town !!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Making a Chicago Hot Dog

Make Your Own Chicago Style Hot Dog

It's easy and fun to make your own Chicago Dog. Our guide will tell you everything you need to know to create the perfect Chicago Dog in the privacy of your own home. We will tell you where to shop, what to buy and how to properly assemble your Dog in true Chicago style. You can even print a shopping list and a step-by-step guide to adding toppings. Let's get started.

Shopping for Ingredients
In order to create your "masterpiece", it is important to start with the proper ingredients. Although you can substitute any of the ingredients mentioned here, we suggest that for your first attempt, you try the ingredients we recommend. We have carefully selected each topping to work harmoniously together to create Hot Dog Synergy. Do you remember learning about synergy in grade school? If you can't remember, synergy is two or more entities working together to produce an effect that is greater than the sum of the parts.

The Hot Dog
A Chicago Style Hot Dog is a traditionally all beef and contains no fillers. Don't even think of using a Hot Dog made from turkey, chicken or pork. Some all beef Hot Dogs are "Kosher". If you prefer a Kosher Dog, look for the Kosher symbol (K) or (U) on the packaging. When buying your Hot Dogs, stay away from the 97% fat free choices as they are more difficult to cook and lack flavor. We recommend either "Best's Kosher" or "Vienna Beef". Both of these brands are excellent and are available at most grocery stores. For a real treat, try the "jumbo" sized Dogs.
Classic Chicago Dogs are famous for their sweet bright green relish. Finding the perfect relish has been a struggle, but luckily we found Rolf's "Deli Style" Sweet Pickle Relish and Sweet Super Green Pickle Relish from the Puckered Pickle Company. Rolf's is available at Jewel stores in the Chicago area and at Woodman's in Madison. Any sweet relish will work well on your Chicago Dog, but Rolf's and the Puckered Pickle Company's relish are a treat and worth every cent.

Another classic topping of a Chicago Dog is yellow mustard. When we think of Hot Dogs, we instantly picture yellow Mustard slathered on the Dog.

According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, Mustard is the Hot Dog condiment of choice. Any classic yellow Mustard is acceptable. Do not use Dijon Mustard on your Chicago Dogs! We recommend either Plochman's or French's.

The Pickle
There is nothing like the perfect pickle to compliment your Dog. As far as we are concerned, the pickle you place on your Hot Dog can make or break the experience. A classic Chicago Dog will either have a pickle slice or spear. The pickle you choose should compliment, but not overpower any of the other toppings. A common mistake is to place a sour and/or spicy pickle on your Hot Dog. The pickle should have a nice crunch and the seasoning should be mild. Sometimes cucumber slices are substituted for the pickle.

We highly recommend Crunchy Deli Pickle Spears from the Puckered Pickle Co. These great tasting crunchy pickles are perfect for your Chicago Dog! Click Here to check availability in your area. Another good choice is the Claussen Kosher Dill. These pickles are available in both slices and halves. If you buy the halves, make a spear by slicing down the middle of the pickle (or slice into thirds). Claussen pickles are located in the refrigerated deli meat section of any grocery store.

Nothing special here. Purchase your standard white onion and chop it. If you don't like the bite of your typical onion, try a vidalia. Vidalia onions have a smooth sweet flavor.

For true authenticity, buy a red ripe tomato and cut it into wedges. We prefer a nice quality Beefsteak tomato. Do not chop your tomato or even think about cutting your tomato into slices!

Sport Peppers
An essential topping for any Chicago Dog is the Sport pepper. These peppers are green, about 1-1/2 inches long and usually have a medium-hot taste. When Sport peppers adorn your Dog, they should be whole and never sliced. Don't make the mistake of using peppers that are too hot. Remember, a Chicago Dog is blending of all the toppings. No single ingredient should overpower the others. Our search for Sport peppers has been a little frustrating, but we found them (in Madison) in the ethnic food section at the Copp's on Junction Rd, at Woodman's and Gino's Italian Deli.

Celery Salt
This blend of ground celery seed and fine-grained salt is often described as the defining ingredient of a Chicago Dog. Celery salt is usually available at any grocery store.

Poppyseed Bun
Genuine Chicago Style Hot Dogs are traditionally served on a steamed poppyseed bun. Unfortunately, we have been unable to find a good source for pre-packaged poppyseed buns in Madison. However, you can usually special order poppyseed Hot Dog buns at grocery stores that have their own bakery. Your local Pick'n Save is one example. We are still searching for packaged buns and will let you know when we find them. In the Chicago area, poppyseed buns are available at most grocery stores including Jewel. If you can find "Mary Ann" buns, you are in for a real treat. Turano Bakery also has great buns

Monday, April 14, 2008

Gene and Judes..Hate to Repeat, But "THE BEST"

The greatest hot dog stand in the world serves neither hamburgers, nor polish sausage, nor grilled chicken sandwiches. There is no grill, no char-broiler, no spinning mound of gyros. At the greatest hot dog stand they only need buckets of simmering water for dogs, steamers for steaming buns and Supreme tamales and ever bubbling vats of oil for the fresh cut fries.

You can see the greatest hot dog from far up the street. Beecause the greatest hot dog stand is all glass and harsh flouresant lights and stands as a beacon for all who are hungry. If you see a line, you know it will move fast.

The greatest hot dog stand follows few of the rules laid out by the experts. Their buns are poppy-seedless. They offer few condiments beyond mustard (no ketchup on site). They do not dust their dog with celary salt. Yes, it is a Vienna sausage, but a skinnyish one at that. You really need to eat more than one at the greatest hot dog stand in the world, and many of the customers do (Sample customer, "I'll take seven hot dogs and an [extra] order of fries).

The cooks at the greatest hot dog stand in the world occupy their time in between orders by thrusting fresh idaho potatos through a machine that converts them into perfect sized french fries. These amazing sticks of pure pototo get tossed on top of each offering so that if you want to eat them inside your hot dog bun, well you can and maybe should.

The greatest hot dog stand in the world is a throwback to a world when people ate hot dogs. A throwback to a time when a great stand could keep their buns steamed just right, and their red hots, hot but not limp. So a Gene and Jude hot dog snaps right back at you. Interactive eating. With a side of hot fries, you will know you are at the greatest hot dog stand in the world.

Gene and Judes
2720 River Road
River Grove, IL 60171-1325

On the corner of River Road and Grand

Monday, April 7, 2008

Parky's Hot Dogs, Forest Park, IL.

Parky's Hot Dogs
329 Harlem Ave
Forest Park, IL 60130-1607
Phone: (708) 366-3090

Cross Street: Washington Boulevard Directions: El: Green Line to Harlem/Lake; bus: 357 to Washington
Specialties: French Fries, Hot Dog
Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-9pm, Sun 11am-7pm

In Short
This compact orange-and-white A-frame has just a couple of stools at the window for seating, plus outdoor picnic tables during warm weather. Folks don't mind waiting for David Berg hot dogs--shorter and plumper than Vienna Beef, and steamed, not grilled. The basic dog gets mustard, chopped onion, pickle relish, tomato and peppers. Also available are chili cheese dogs, Polish sausages, grilled burgers, chicken sandwiches and Italian beef; all served with long, thin fries.