Category Archives: Illinois

Chicken Vesuvio – Illinois

We’ve lived in the Chicago area for almost 20 years and have come across some delicious versions of Chicken Vesuvio. Harry Caray’s makes a mean version that they assert dates back to the 1920s, as does the venerable Gene & Georgetti. Although some people argue

Chicken Vesuvio

that Chicken Vesuvio has its roots in New York, New Jersey or even southern Italy, we are swayed by the claim that this dish was invented at Vesuvio Restaurant which was located on Wacker Drive in the 1930s. That, and the fact that we never heard of this dish until we moved here.

The components of Chicken Vesuvio are pretty straightforward. Bone-in chicken pieces are pan seared. Potatoes are added, usually with a generous amount of garlic. Oregano (or some other herb, sometimes rosemary) is sprinkled throughout the dish, and a white wine sauce melds all the flavors together. Sometimes additional vegetables are added, like mushroom (like we did) or artichokes. The dish is finished in the oven and peas are added at the last moment. Where ever it came from, no one can argue that this dish is delicious at every bite.

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Chicken Vesuvio

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

    • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
    • 3 potatoes, quartered and then sliced 1/4 inch thick
    • 5-6 garlic cloves, minced
    • Salt
    • Pepper
    • 3 pounds chicken pieces, bone in
    • 8-10 baby portabella mushrooms, quartered
    • 3/4 cup white wine
    • 3/4 cup chicken stock
    • 2-3 teaspoons oregano
    • 1 cup frozen peas

Instructions

In a large, oven proof pan, heat ¼ cup of the cup of olive oil over medium heat. Add potatoes and garlic and cook until browned. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Add ¼ cup olive oil to pan. Working in batches if necessary, add chicken pieces. Cook skin side down until browned. Turn skin side up, then add mushrooms. Cook 3-4 minutes or until mushrooms are browned. Return potatoes to the pan. Add stock, wine and oregano. Cook until liquid is reduced by half.

Place pan in oven to finish, about 40 minutes. Add the frozen peas during the last five minutes of baking.

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Sweet and Salty in the Windy City: Chicago Mix Popcorn – Illinois

If you’ve ever visited Chicago and caught a whiff of a delicious aroma that lured you, trance-like and salivating, to stand in line for 20 minutes, you might have been ensnared by Garrett’s Popcorn.

Chicago Mix Popcorn

Enticing customers with that heavenly smell since 1949, Garrett’s Popcorn is truly a Chicago institution. Their famous Chicago Mix is an addictive combination of cheese and caramel popcorn that will convert even the most popcorn ambivalent among us. When we first moved to Chicago, we wondered what all the fuss what about, until we tasted it. The caramel, so rich and buttery, marries well with the salty, tangy cheese. You can order Garrett’s Popcorn online or you can save some nickels and make it yourself with this recipe.

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Chicago Mix Popcorn

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  •  1 cup popcorn kernels
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 paper bag

For Cheese Popcorn:

  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 3/4 cup cheddar cheese powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (omit if cheese  powder has added salt)
  • 2 teaspoons ground mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

For Caramel Popcorn:

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda

Instructions

Pop popcorn in vegetable oil. Let cool, then remove all unpopped kernels. Divide into two equal parts.

For Cheese Popcorn: Combine spices in a small bowl. Melt butter and pour over half the batch of popcorn. Place popcorn and spices into the paper bag and shake vigorously until popcorn is completely coated.  Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 250 degrees for 15 minutes or until popcorn is crisp.

For Caramel Popcorn: Place half of the popcorn on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Combine salt, brown sugar, butter and corn syrup into a medium saucepan. Cook on medium heat until boiling. Continue cooking without stirring until temperature reaches 235 degrees with a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and carefully add baking powder. Be careful as the mixture may foam or spit. Working quickly, pour the caramel over the popcorn. Using a rubber spatula, stir the popcorn until it is completely coated. Place baking sheet into oven heated to 250 degrees. Stir every 10-15 minutes to evenly coat the popcorn. Bake for one hour or until popcorn is crisp.

After both popcorns cool, combine both for Chicago Mix.

Deep Dish Pizza is Numero Uno – Illinois

No other place in the country embraces deep dish pizza like Chicago. This delicious amalgam of buttery crust, gooey mozzarella cheese

Deep Dish Pizza - Illinois

and tangy tomato sauce — a definite knife and fork affair — has been around since at least the 1940s but who first created the dish is bitterly disputed in pizza-centric circles. Pizzeria Uno claims that proprietors Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo came up with the recipe but no documentation exists to support this claim, according to the Chicago Tribune. Two employees of Pizzeria Uno, Rudy Malnati, Sr., and Alice Mae Redmond may have been the true inventors. Continue reading Deep Dish Pizza is Numero Uno – Illinois