The Tomato Sandwich: Why You Don''t Always Need Bacon to Be a Glutton

Adventures with buttered toast, ripe tomatoes, and Duke's mayonnaise.

2nd Aug 2011

Most people return from the beach with tans; I returned with tomatoes. It was a half-bushel, to be exact, and they were stashed in the back of a car as it wound its way from North Carolina, through the Great Smoky Mountains, and, some 16 hours later, finally to Chicago. Why such extravagant measures for tomatoes?

When it comes to tomatoes, I don't suffer fools, and I simply can't accept sub-p...

Introducing The Soft Shell Crab Sandwich...with Bacon

Getting a head start on the season

16th May 2011


Soft shell crab season is here, generally considered to begin at some point in May.  So we here at The Paupered Chef decided it was time to take advantage.  Generally, the soft shell crab  is dusted with flour and fried up in a skillet, and I'm not sure there is a better way to prepare this crustacean than this recipe by David Lentz from Food & Wine magazine : stuffed into a crusty baguette...

The Case for Going Animal Style: The Double-Double In-N-Out Clone

I don't really care for big burgers.

23rd Mar 2011

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one railing against the big burger tide. While nearly every new restaurant opening in Chicago features a big, fat burger on its menu, I’m that guy that prefers thin little griddled burgers. Usually I can only find them at old school joints, but even these are frequently harder to find these days. It’s getting to the point where I haven’t eaten a burger...

Gorgefest | Los Angeles Edition

A mad dash for LA's best food in one afternoon.

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We had four hours to eat in L.A., a period of time which all of us agreed wasn't long enough. While most people would have simply given up and spent the time driving around Hollywood or lounging on the beach, we plowed ahead, sure we could catch a plane and sample some of the best food in the city along way. So our afternoon in L.A. was spent cruising the endless sprawl of concrete and zig zag...

Serious Eats Roundup: Smoked Paprika, Sriracha Mayonnaise, and a Salad BLT

6th Jul 2010

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Our weekly roundup of what the two of us have written over on Serious Eats.

"Dinner Tonight" Column


Steak and Eggs with Smoked Paprika
A sprinkle of smoked paprika helps wake up this breakfast classic.

Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Salad with Aioli Dressing
This dish reinterprets the ingredients of a BLT as a refreshing summer salad.


The Creation of Will''s Special

The brief, wondrous history of a Chicago sandwich.

14th Apr 2010

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A few weeks ago, a mad group of seven men took part in the great Chicago Italian Sub Tour of 2010 . We visited six places, ate way more than we should have, and came away with the pretty definite conclusion that J.P. Graziano served the best Italian sub of the day. They used the best bread, and paid the most attention to each individual element of the sandwich. Oddly though, mixed in w...

The Best Italian Sub in Chicago: A Tour of Six Delis

Which Italian deli in Chicago makes the best subs?

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We assembled at 11 a.m., seven hungry men, at J. P. Graziano's. This unadorned storefront in the restaurant supply district of Chicago's West Loop seemed like an odd place to begin a journey to find the best Italian sub in Chicago. The shop's exterior had no tell-tale signals that it made sandwiches--just a sign stating their business as wholesale importers. The interior contained no vine...

I Hate the Mac Snack Wrap: A Rant

The Big Mac will always be better.

2nd Mar 2010

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I should apologize in advance for this fast food rant. I've never indulged in such a tirade before, but I simply couldn't resist this one. Regularly scheduled content will return later this week, I promise.

The Mac Snack wrap is the stupidest, most idiotic, dumbest fast food creation I've ever seen. It purports to be a Big Mac in flour tortilla, except it betrays logic and any culinary...

Homemade Sliders

The PC guide to little burgers.

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What is a slider? A slider is a particular thing. It's particularly American. It's a small subset of our great culinary tradition, the hamburger. But as I explained last week , it's not just a mini-hamburger. To be a slider, it cannot be perverted with expensive ingredients like foie gras or tuna tartar, a cutesy version of a burger for a chef to play with. A slider consists of a thin laye...

Idea Lab: Sliders

How do you make the best mini burgers?

19th Jan 2010

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First things first: there's something to clear up about " sliders ." They are not mini hamburgers. Along with Adam Kuban over at A Hamburger Today, I actually sort of hate mini hamburgers and the implied cuteness . Sliders are a different beast, and not cute. They are compact and small, yes, but they are also haunted by sauteed onion, which they are cooked on top of to create a sort of...

Part Two of My Cucumber Sandwich Revenge: Tea Time

How to create the perfect cucumber sandwich.

21st Aug 2009

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I feel like I finally understand the cucumber sandwich. After weeks of thinking about it, and trying to recreate the most authentic version I could muster, it finally sunk in. The taste isn't rich, indulgent, spicy, acidic, comforting, salty, or fatty. It's cool, calm, and collected. The strongest reaction I had towards one was a contented sigh, a sort of momentary delight.

So why was I bre...

Part One of My Cucumber Sandwich Revenge: Pain de Mie

Starting with the perfect loaf of bread.

18th Aug 2009

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(Check out Part Two of My Cucumber Sandwich Revenge for the sandwich recipe)

I went to see a man about a loaf pan. All the traditional outlets had failed (Crate and Barrel, Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma and four restaurant supply stores) and I was starting to get desperate. See, I needed a very peculiar kind of loaf pan, one that would help me create the mysterious loaf, pain...

How to Make a Chicago-Style Hot Dog

A step-by-step guide to every condiment and step in making the perfect, authentic Chicago-style hot dog.

22nd Jul 2009

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The Chicago Hot Dog is, perhaps, one of the most improbable food combinations in the world. We do know this: it shouldn't work. A towering, precipitous bundle, loaded up with so many condiments that it's twice the volume of the dog itself. It threatens to fall apart, to be so absurd it forgets its provenance as a hot dog. It's misguided, it's madness. Yet it's mad enough to succeed brilliantly...

Focaccia, the Easiest Homemade Bread

The best bread to make for those that don't like to make bread.

6th Mar 2009

If bread making scares you like it scares me, but the lure of authenticity is irresistible, then focaccia may be the place to begin.

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The intoxicating smell of yeast; the wet stickiness between your fingers; the magical billowing quality of the dough when a warm spot trns it into a living thing.  These are the pleasures of bread making.  And these are the pleasures I am almost wholly unfam...

Homemade Italian Beef

How to make this Chicago classic.

13th Feb 2009


The other issue I had to face was how to cut the meat.  As I remembered from my visit to Al's #1, the beef should be shaved as thinly as possible.  Al's used an huge deli slicer, which I obviously didn't have.  Saveur recommended just tossing the meat in the freezer for 2 hours before serving and then slicing it as thinly as possible with a chef's knife.  Some recipes recommended taking th...

Dipping Into the Italian Beef

Discovering Chicago's distinctive beef sandwich.

11th Feb 2009

The mystery is that while the sandwich's meat is incredibly tender, it isn't made from some expensive cut of beef.  From the research that I've done, most Italian beef recipes call for round or the sirloin tip, which are both tough and lean cuts.  The use of a cheap, neglected cut really interested me.

At first glance, the sandwich looks a lot like a cheese-less Philly cheesesteak.  But I've b...

The Smash Technique and Skinny Burger Perfection

How to make the best burger at home.

11th Dec 2008


You know the burger obsession is going off the deep end when semi-serious discussion takes place over the burger making skills of a cartoon .  Please stick with me.  This cartoon happened feature J. Wellington Wimpy, the burger-loving sidekick of Popeye.  Hamburger America author George Motz found this clip and was there to comment on Wimpy's burger making skills: "Notice how even in...

The Quick-Flipped Fat Burger

Keep that spatula at hand.

26th Aug 2008

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At first everything was fine. Taking a cue from Adam Kuban , we decided to make our own onion rings instead of the normal burger pairing of fries. The recipe was taken from Simply Recipes , which soaked the onions in buttermilk and coated them in flour and cornmeal.

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We fried them in canola oil set to 350 degrees for a few minutes, until nice and golden brown.  We stashed them i...

Apple City Barbecue''s Smoked Pulled Pork

Make pulled pork at home.

5th Aug 2008

Apple City Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Day 1


  • 1 pork butt (4-6 pounds), preferably with the bone-in

Prick the pork butt all over with a fork.

Magic Dust: AKA the Rub


  • 1/2 cup paprika
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mustard powder
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1/4 cup ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup granulated garlic...

They Came, I Ground, We Ate: Which Cuts Make for the Best Burger?

How to make a better burger at home.

21st Feb 2008


Grinding meat may seem like an exercise for those with too much time on their hands, or those overly devoted to doing things from scratch--which I am.  But I'm here to argue that there are more compelling and more logical reasons for doing so: for one, the meat will taste better.  You'll also know where it omes from, unlike with a styrofoam tray from the grocery store, which is likely the su...

The Proper Way to Cook a Hot Dog?

A nice technique for cooking hot dogs at home.

26th Oct 2007

By Blake Royer I hardly ever cook hot dogs at...


I hardly ever cook hot dogs at home--it's the kind of food that I buy on a street corner in a rush.  On the way to a concert. When I don’t have more than 5 minutes for lunch. When it’s three days before my paycheck and rent's due.  Two bucks on a street corner, less than that if I'm lucky to be near a Papaya King (or Gray's Papaya ),...

The Pickle Butter and Ham Sandwich

26th Sep 2007


Lately I've been making this sandwich over and over again.  I don't know why.  It's nothing that unusual: ham, bread, sometimes cheese.  I've made it with the shrink-wrapped lunchmeat from my corner bodega; I've made it with thinly sliced Bayonne ham from the charcuterie .

The secret is in this invention I've taken to calling pickle butter.  I don't think I invented it; I think I r...

The Not-So-Humble Hot Brown

9th Sep 2007

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I’ve been gathering cook books by whatever method I can...and beggers usually can’t be choosers.  I borrow nearly anything I can lay my hands on.  I owe lots of money to the library.  And whenever I get to head home I usually make it out with an armful books my mom hoarded over the years ( I promise I’ll return them!).  One of those was The Louisville Courier-Journal Cookbook.  By a...

Croque-Monsieur: The Incriminating Ham Sandwich

5th Oct 2006

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I'll have to admit the real reason I bought a 10 pound ham , beyond "I'd never done it before" cop-out, was to have enough meat to make as many ham sandwiches as I could possibly stomach in a week.  Sure, that Boar's Head Black Forest ham can stuff a hero, but thick slabs of real, brown sugar encrusted ham exist on an entirely different plane of pleasure.  And for three days I had enormo...

School Days Monday: Sloppy, Sloppy Joes

11th Sep 2006

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If you were functioning on the subway this morning, you probably saw a steady stream of backpacked kids parading around with wide mouths and unsure stares.  That daze was the stern face of school, the great unknown and the official end to summer.  Standing amongst those kids, I tried remember my own back-to-school feeling, the churning stomach, the moment when I knew it was all over, and tha...

Grill Week Day 5: North Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwiches

6th Sep 2006


(Hey Everyone!  Check out an updated version of pulled pork and a recent trip down to North Carolina in search of the real thing.)

My bike careens to the left until I start to feel the rush of a truck.  I cut back right, trying to make up for my error--I guess this is a line I’m crossing--but for some reason I can’t ride straight.

I blame the night before.  Sure...

Chicken Salad with Grapes and Dill

14th Jun 2006


With half a chicken left and none of the dark meat in sight, I was left with two slabs of white meat and not one good idea.  Sure there are thousands of cookbooks dedicated to what to slap on boneless, skinless chicken breasts to give them some semblance of flavor, but I don't like lying to myself.  So instead of trying to figure out something creative, I decided to punt and completely d...

Baja Fish Tacos

The best fried fish tacos we've ever had.

9th Jun 2006

Our own version culled from a few different recipes, an emulation of the classic recipe of homemade tortillas, lightly fried tempura-style fish, a dairy-based white sauce, and fresh, crunchy, gently spicy cabbage.

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Real Baja fish tacos are nothing like what you're used to eating when it comes to Mexican food.  In fact, true Mexican cuisine might be our biggest missed chance.  Satisfied...

Egg Mayonnaise and Cress Sandwich

Recreating a fond memory from being poor in London

14th Feb 2006

Though egg mayonnaise is essentially the same thing as American egg salad, it doesn't taste like your average pitch-in.   The mayonnaise was creamy but it had a lightness to it, which probably has something to do with the proportion of ingredients.  Instead of deli-style New York sandwiches where a literal pound of meat is thrown on each sandwich--"It's like a cow with a cracker on either side,...

English Cucumber Sandwiches

"Why cucumber sandwiches? Why such reckless extravagance in one so young?"

4th Feb 2006

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(Hey everyone. Be sure to check out my most recent post on cucumber sandwiches for a slightly more authentic version.)

"...Hallo!  Why all these cups?  Why cucumber sandwiches?  Why such reckless extravagance in one so young?"
-Jack, from Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest

After my body had officialy rejected anything of substance thanks to my w...