Monday, August 23, 2010

The Publican

How could anyone be a vegetarian? - Elisabeth Jansen, while partaking in the deliciousness that is the Publican's Pork Belly

Go to the Publican. Trust me. The first time Karl and I went was for our 1 year wedding anniversary and it was very good. We enjoyed our taste of ham and the country ribs but something about this last visit was even more amazing. Maybe it was because we shared the moment with our friends Brian "B-Thomp" Thompson and Elisabeth "Liz" Jansen or maybe it was because something has changed for the better at The Publican.
We started with The Taste of Hams. 3 types of prosciutto spread evenly on a large platter. Shame on you if you think all prosciutto tastes the same because this my good friends was outstanding. One was extra salty, the other a little more mild and the last almost sweet.
We devoured our Spicy Pork Rinds just in time for the amazing Potted Rillettes. A three meat combo, cooked down to meaty tenderness so good we all contemplated licking the tiny mold clean.
Then came the Feijoada, which is a Portuguese dish made up of chorizo, Kale, beans, and pork belly, the lamb sausage with fingerling potatoes and a tzatziki sauce and the Rib Eye which was SO TENDER! I mean, we cut the meat with a spoon and a butter knife, THAT'S how tender it was.
We also shared a delectable piece of the pork belly. This pork belly was insane! It was tender, juicy and covered in a maple glaze. Brian put it best, that pork belly was having sex with his taste buds.
We shared a dessert that consisted of peaches in a light but sweet sauce, sweet corn brulee, and a brown sugar crumble. It was excellent. Just sweet enough, but nothing overpowering.

Honestly, I think this is one of the better restaurants in Chicago. Easily on my top ten and I recommend this is all the omnivores out there. You walk in an you might feel a somewhat pretentious vibe, but it's not like that at all. It has a tavern feel and although you might have to sit at a communal table you don't feel as if your privacy is being invaded.

Right now Pork is rage with restaurants like Mado, The Purple Pig and Longman and Eagle, but I like this fad. I was never a huge pork person and maybe that's because all that was given to us was bacon (which I LOVE! Never doubt that) or an over cooked pork loin or a funky smelling pork chop. But with quality meats and quality cooking I think pork just might be my new favorite meat.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Lady of the Night Lasagna Rolls

Violet Baudelaire: Dinner is served. Puttanesca.
Count Olaf: What did you call me?
Klaus Baudelaire: It's pasta... Pasta Puttanesca.

Pasta Puttanesca. According to my endless internet searching Spaghetti alla puttanesca literally translates to "whore's spaghetti." Yeah, a little harsh but the theory is that these working girl's rarely have time to shop and the only things they have in the cupboards are basic Italian staples: Spaghetti, olives, tomatoes, anchovies, capers, chili peppers & garlic. Mix those all together and what do you have? Puttanesca

Now I never realized I loved the combination of said ingredients until I went to the new-ish Logan Square spot Revolution Brewing. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this place! I always seem to get the Puttanesca Pizza. A nice crispy crust covered in mozzarella, onions, anchovies, olives, capers and tomato sauce. It is heaven. After a recent trip there, I realized I could make this combo into a nice lasagna. So, I did.

As some of you might remember I have a CSA that I share with my friend Maureen. We got a nice bushel of basil, kale, garlic, cucumbers and some other things. But to our surprise and, perhaps, dismay, we received an eggplant. We both aren't huge fans of eggplant, but we decided to cut it in half and see what would come out of it. So, when I decided to create these Puttanesca Lasagna Rolls I decided to add some Eggplant and Spinach. Just to thicken it up.

First, I boiled some lasagna noodles.
Second I started chopping. I had some help from my lovely assistant and partner in crime, Karl. He chopped the basil and mozzarella. I chopped the onion, garlic, Olives, spinach and Eggplant.

I sauteed the onions, garlic and eggplant first then added all the other veggies.
Then, I added the can of diced tomatoes, capers and anchovy paste (you need more than you think in order to get a good flavor). While all that is cooking, Karl whipped up the ricotta mixture. Just a little fresh basil, some oregano, red pepper and nutmeg.
Then it came time to roll.
We laid the cooked noodle out, spread some ricotta on it, added a little sauce and started rolling.

We then place each roll in a baking dish, covered it in the remaining sauce, topped it with fresh mozarella and baked at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.
And it was AMAZING!!!