Ode to Chicago / Entertainment / The Foreigner

Ode to Chicago. One of my favorite places to eat is The Windy City, Chicago. Favorite of favorites is The Chicago Chop House, probably the best steakhouse on the planet (and yes, I´ve eaten at Peter Luger in Brooklyn). ´m not a big fan of the famous Chicago pizzas (sorry), but I´m a huge fan of among others Rick Bayless´s restaurants Topolobampo and Frontera Grill, the excellent Asian restaurant Japonais, and many more. The grill people from Weber even have a restaurant there. On a good day they serve up some pretty good burgers and ribs. Today´s recipe did not originate in Chicago. It´s a redone-and-redone-again recipe I´ve used for many years. The name of the dish though, has Chicago roots. Now pay attention:

chicago, windy, city, chop, house, peter, luger, brooklyn, rick, bayless, topolobampo, frontera, grill, japonais, frank, zappa



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Ode to Chicago

Published on Saturday, 6th March, 2010 at 08:32 under the entertainment category, by Craig Whitson.

One of my favorite places to eat is The Windy City, Chicago. Favorite of favorites is The Chicago Chop House, probably the best steakhouse on the planet (and yes, I´ve eaten at Peter Luger in Brooklyn).

Mussels
Mussels
Photo: FotoosVanRobin/Flickr


´m not a big fan of the famous Chicago pizzas (sorry), but I´m a huge fan of among others Rick Bayless´s restaurants Topolobampo and Frontera Grill, the excellent Asian restaurant Japonais, and many more. The grill people from Weber even have a restaurant there. On a good day they serve up some pretty good burgers and ribs.

Today´s recipe did not originate in Chicago. It´s a redone-and-redone-again recipe I´ve used for many years. The name of the dish though, has Chicago roots. Now pay attention:

For those of you old enough to remember Frank Zappa, or have at least heard of Mr. Zappa, will know that he had a rather – uh – unique sense of humor. Zappa died of cancer at the far too early age of 53, but those 50 plus years turned out an unfathomable amount of great music.

Most of the people my age were fans of the early Zappa years. I was also a fan in the late 60´s, but I really got involved in his music in the mid 70´s. In 1981 Zappa released a record (yeah, that´s what we used to call them) called “Tinseltown Rebellion”.

The title of today´s dish comes from this record, so if any of you are remotely interested in the origin of the famous voodoo butter from Chicago, please do give it a listen.

Mussels, pasta, meat, fish, whatever the heck you want

 The Voodoo Butter recipe is great with the pasta, steaks, grilled fish and more, but my favorite is a couple of heaping tablespoons of the butter and 1 pound of fresh mussels. Melt the butter in a pan over high heat. Throw in the mussels, put on the lid and shake well ‘til the shells have opened. The butter melts and is blended with the juice from the mussels. The resulting sauce is beyond great.

Voodoo Butter is a member of the compound butter family. This expression comes from the French term beurre composé. A compound butter is simply dairy butter with some good stuff thrown in. Not that good butter really needs any help, but sometimes one must venture outside the safe zone.

A compound butter can be served at room temperature, but it can also be served as a sauce (for example the famous French beurre blanc) or frozen for use at a later date.

I´d like to use this opportunity to say a few words in honor of butter. First: Butter is spelled b-u-t-t-e-r, and not m-a-r-g-a-r-i-n-e. Margarine is not butter, has never been butter, and has absolutely no future in the butter business. I find it shocking that so many people, including a lot of so-called foodies, spread margarine on their slices of bread.

Margarine at its best can kind of look like butter, but its taste and consistency are a whole other story. If you really want to live life to its fullest (and ok, maybe a week or two less of it), butter is the only way to go. When preparing compound butters, butter is your best friend.

The regular dairy butter from TINE is quite good, and you can also find other good butters such as Kviteseidsmør (a rich, salty butter) and the excellent butter from the Røros dairy.

When making Voodoo Butter and its cousins like garlic butter, chili butter, etc., it is important to use room temperature butter. I really like using unsalted butter so that I can determine just how much salt I want in the finished product. Regular salted butter will work equally as well.

Here is the recipe. I hope you enjoy it. And as Frank Zappa liked to say: ”Beauty is a pair of shoes that makes you wanna die.”

Voodoo Butter

8 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature
3 canned chipotle chilies, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
grated rind from 1 orange
juice from 1/2 orange
salt to taste

1. Blend together the butter, chipotles, garlic, brown sugar, pepper, orange zest and orange juice in a bowl. Mix well with an electric mixer.

2. Lay the butter on a piece of plastic wrap and form into a thick sausage.

3. Roll up the "butter sausage" in the plastic and place in freezer ‘til ready to use.

If you are using Voodoo Butter with mussels you can top them with chopped parsley or fresh cilantro (coriander). Parsley is best, but some people just have to make everything ”exotic”.

“Thank you and good evening.”

Email: craig@craig.no



Published on Saturday, 6th March, 2010 at 08:32 under the entertainment category, by Craig Whitson.

This post has the following tags: chicago, windy, city, chop, house, peter, luger, brooklyn, rick, bayless, topolobampo, frontera, grill, japonais, frank, zappa.





  
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