RealMenJulienne's Profile

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What's the best plain oil for popping corn?

Bar none, the best popcorn oil is ghee. It's butter with the solids strained out so it reaches a higher smoke point. It has a nutty, kind of parmesan-like flavor that gets deep into every kernel because you're cooking with it, not adding it at the end.

May 13, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking

Where can I find deli meat end/end cut in chicago?

Try Kurowski Sausage Shop on Milwaukee Ave. They sell little trays of assorted end cuts for super cheap.

Apr 30, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Chicago Area

How and how often do you sharpen your knives?

I give my knives a few strokes on the stone every couple weeks.

Apr 28, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Cookware

Sardines in cans

I've just started trying out different types of sardines. It's pretty amazing how much variation there is from brand to brand. I haven’t tried any of the "premium" European brands yet, but so far my favorite are the Season brand sardines in olive oil from Costco. These come skinless and boneless and have a nice meaty texture. they taste like a stronger, saltier version of tuna in oil.

Role of Bones in Chicken Preparation

I love reading Serious Eats, but sometimes their writers think themselves in circles. I don’t believe a chicken bone has much insulating effect when frying. The more important variable in frying (and in any high heat cooking) is the overall shape of the meat, as the heat cooks from the outside-in. A deboned thigh will be flatter and thinner, so will cook through faster. A bone-in thigh is more ovoid, has less heat exposure, so will cook through more slowly. If you tied up a deboned thigh back to its original shape so no hot oil got in, I think it would cook pretty much the same as a bone-in.

Role of Bones in Chicken Preparation

The bone, in and of itself, should make no difference.

But, marinades work based on surface area, and the deboned thigh will have more surface area opened up to react with the marinade. This means the deboned thigh will seemingly absorb more flavor than the bone-in.

Same with frying, the deboned thigh will have more surface exposed to the breading and oil, so more crispy shell.

best homemade chilli oil recipes??

Here’s mine:

3 parts red pepper flakes
1 part fried shallots
1 part sesame seed
5 parts vegetable oil
Pinch of salt
Sesame oil

Combine the red pepper, shallots, sesame seed and salt in a jar and place it in the sink. Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan until it’s shimmering, or about 350 degrees. VERY CAREFULLY pour the hot oil into the jar. It will sizzle violently and send up a plume of chili-flavored steam so keep your face away. Let the jar cool down in the sink, then add a dash of sesame oil and stir it up. DON’T add the sesame oil when hot as that will destroy the aroma. This recipe has a nice, mellow heat with good sesame flavor.

Apr 02, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking

Hot dogs without Hot Dougs

Hot Doug's served great food but I never considered it to be a "real" Chicago dog stand. It was a very heavily marketed gimmick kind of place as opposed to a neighborhood stand that had stood the test of time. Now if you want a Hot Doug's-style creative gourmet sausage sandwich, go to Franks N' Dawgs in Lincoln Park, it is pretty much the same thing.

For a classic Chicago Dog, if you are in River North then Portillo's is a no-brainer. They may be a chain but I've seldom had a better Chicago dog from any other stand. If you want to leave downtown to find a more neighborhood kind of place, my local favorite is Jeff's Red Hots on Cicero.

If you have a meal to spare, I would swing out to North Ave on the West Side or to 18th st in Pilsen for some delicious Mexican fare. It's lesser-known but I think Chicago's Mexican food is good enough to be fairly compared to LA's. Just look for a crowded taqeria and it's hard to go too far wrong.

Mar 30, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Chicago Area

Best Instant Ramen? (please do not mock me, pretty please)

I will always have a nostalgic love for Tung-I beef flavor from Taiwan, but to the OP I have to say, have you tried making your own instant noodles from fresh ingredients? Please understand, normally I HATE these kinds of replies, but in this case the from scratch version is really just as convenient as the instant packs. Just steep some thin won ton noodles in boiling water, with some Asian soup base or miso paste stirred in. Then whatever add-ins you would put in instant ramen: I like scallions, thai basil, cilantro and napa cabbage. No more than 30 seconds of cooking and you're done.

I'm pretty sure this comes out cheaper per serving than many varieties of instant noodles, too.

Can handmade pasta be sauce-proof?

Wait a minute... what now? I thought that finishing pasta in sauce was the "authentic way" and just pouring sauce over cooked pasta was the incorrect American way. Are you telling me it's backwards now?

Mar 20, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking

Ceviche'd my porkchops overmarinating- help fix!

It might be fun to try and salvage those chops. Ever had tonkatsu at a Japanese restaurant? Sometimes they serve it with lemon wedges to cut the grease. Same with fish and chips, grilled mackerel, etc. Tart and greasy are a natural combo. Pound out the chops to tenderize, bread with panko and fry. They've got the lemon built in after all.

Mar 19, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking

Bought too much deli roast beef. How should I use it up tonight?

Roll the slices around blanched asparagus and dip em in the brown mustard jar.

Mar 18, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking

favorite bottled salad dressings?!?

Growing up, there was only one kind of salad dressing in our house: Wish Bone Italian dressing.

I kknow how to make a vinaigrette now but I keep a bottle of Wish Bone around, for when i want to feel like a kid again.

Tilapia (farm raised)

On tilapia threads there's always a lot of talk about how farmed fish are fed garbage and antibiotics. But never any conclusive scientific findings about how that affects the humans who eat it.

In principle, I have no problem eating an animal that consumes our waste products and fecal material. An efficient garbage-to-protein converter like tilapia is invaluable on this planet which is getting increasing crowded with selfishly reproducing people.

I am asking honestly here, with an open mind. Does anyone have a link to solid research results from testing imported tilapia fillets? Do these products actually contain compounds which are harmful to people? or is it just the thought of eating a scavenger species that is grossing people out?

Trying to duplicate take-out lo mein

Yes, I've found this as well. My carbon steel doesn't work well on my gas stove even with a wok ring. The burner heats in a circle so the wok bottom is cold, then there's a ring of heat, then it's cold again. The thin metal also doesn’t retain heat when you add food. At home I use a big aluminum skillet with a heavy bottom which holds heat better. The large flat skillet also gives me room for differential temperature cooking if I place it off center on the burner.

These days the wok gets used for deep frying and that's it.

Mar 11, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking

Steak in Chicago

If classic steakhouse atmosphere is important then there is only one choice: Gene and Georgetti's. The décor looks like it hasn’t changed since the 1950s. Lots of wood paneling and brass trim. It's not mobbed up, but it looks like it ought to be. G&Gs is the perfect place to enjoy a dirty martini before eating a giant plate of rare beef.

BTW I agree with you on Chicago Cut and David Burke's. The former was mediocre and the latter was downright terrible, with overcooked steaks and sides that tasted like they were straight out of the freezer box.

Mar 06, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Chicago Area

Chicago: you finally have your own Olive Garden!

Not right at that intersection, it's just the highway and then a bunch of residential blocks around it.

Mar 04, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Chains

Kimchi: Can I eat it like vegetables?

Kimchi stew has been keeping me alive this long winter. Kimchi, miso, tofu, pork, and random pantry odds and ends thrown in to top off the pot as needed. I haven't died yet so I am giving kimchi a medically qualified thumbs up.

Why does my baked potato taste sweet?

You're right, they were probably stored at low temperatures. This used to happen to me when I put potatoes in the fridge by accident.

Mar 02, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking

Cook's Illustrated Crispy Chicken Breasts

165F for safety, 180F for palatability. Especially if the thigh includes bone and skin

Feb 26, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking

How many at home dishes have you truly mastered?

Just One: gumbo. I can practically make it in my sleep and I can;t think of a way to improve it any further. Everything else I make has room for improvement.

Feb 26, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking

CCK knives are expensive now. Are they still worth it?

My trusty ol' vegetable cleaver is a Shi Ba Zi. I would say it is about 70% as good as a CCK. It takes a great edge but does not hold that edge for very long. I have to sharpen it up every couple of weeks. The CCK I have used seem to hold their edges for much longer.

Feb 26, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Cookware

Cook's Illustrated Crispy Chicken Breasts

I strongly feel that chicken white meat should not go above 150F. You are taking a calculated risk if you do this, but I think it's worth it for juicy white meat.

Dark meat on the other hand, especially drumsticks, needs to hit 180F to render fat and break down the tendons. I find thighs which have been cooked to 165 to be rubbery and fatty.

Bones for chicken stock

Yes chicken feet make the difference between a good stock and a great one. I cut them up across the knuckle so they release more gelatin into the liquid . This makes a stock that gels at room temp on a cool day.

Food storage Russian roulette: what's your riskiest food safety gamble that went okay?

I once helped a friend prep chicken tikka kebabs for a cookout. He bought the chicken at a local discount ethnic megamart. When we opened the wrapper, we were hit by a villanous, eye-watering stench of biblical proportions. This was a stink with the stopping power of a .357 magnum. The methane odor was so strong that the wives in the living room (at least 50 feet away) started trying to figure out who had farted.

My appeals to basic food safety went unheard because my friend was too cheap to throw away the meat. We cut up that disgusting chicken, rinsed it with white vinegar and marinated it in yogurt to created some of the most delicious kebabs I've ever had. Credit where credit is due, to my cheapskate friend. I was genuinely surprised when there were no casualties among the dinner guests.

Bones for chicken stock

I seldom have enough bones to make stock at any given time, which is why I stock up in the freezer until I have enough. It usually takes me a couple months to save up enough bones for a really good batch of stock.

I second the recommendation to check out Asian, Latin and other ethnic markets. The Polish market near me has a big grab bucket of free soup bones with every purchase.

What are you lusting after?

There is a crack perpendicular to the edge which extends inward 1/4". I tapped the folded-over metal back into place with a hammer and went over it with a sharpening stone. Now the crack appears as a hairline and there's a bit of roughness to that section of edge, but it still works. I'm gonna hang on to this old war horse a little longer.

Feb 20, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Cookware

Flavorless chicken breasts

Yes, correct. Marinades do not soak all the way through a cut of meat, at most they penetrate only slightly. I would split your marinade in halves. Marinate the raw chicken in half, then cook it. Slice it and just before serving drizzle or brush the other half of the marinade over the meat. This seasons the bland inside of the chicken breast. Of course you should make sure your marinade is not too salty or strong for this treatment.

Feb 19, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking

Soup Noodles-Chinese

Hi, the ones I buy are in your second picture, on the tray with a green wrapper. I have personally never noticed a soapy or alkaline taste when cooking them in broth. Maybe I'll try cooking separately to see if I notice a difference.

Feb 19, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking

Soup Noodles-Chinese

Madeliner, this is not "real" recipe. Rather it's a lazy man's soup noodle that I make when I come home from work. In a big noodle bowl, drop in a couple leaves finely chopped napa, a handful of mung bean sprouts, thin sliced raw beef (like hot pot beef), sliced herbs (scallions, cilantro, thai basil), and a spoonful of chili oil. Boil up a pan of water and season to taste with miso paste and Vietnamese beef base. Drop in a bundle of wonton noodles and cook no longer than 40 seconds, make sure to spread them out so they don't clump. Pour soup and noodles into your bowl, stir it up and let it sit for a bit to cook the meat and vegetables. If you are feeling really ambitious, stick a couple fried eggs in there too.