Helpful ReplyRace, segregation, and Chicago South Side barbecue

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scrumptiouschef
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2018/02/08 12:48:50 (permalink)

Race, segregation, and Chicago South Side barbecue

https://www.saveur.com/chicago-barbecue
 
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1bbqboy
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Re: Race, segregation, and Chicago South Side barbecue 2018/02/08 14:54:59 (permalink)
We've been discussing Chicago and aquarium smokers here for many years.
Perhaps this is why glossy upscale food magazines are an endangered species.
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BuddyRoadhouse
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Re: Race, segregation, and Chicago South Side barbecue 2018/02/08 15:34:06 (permalink)
Very nice article.  For those reluctant to read it due to a fear of too much politics and social injustice mixed in with their 'Que, I'd say the food is the primary focus with regional Chicago BBQ history and technique as a secondary point.  The article certainly doesn't ignore race, but there's nothing new in telling the world "Chicago (is) the nation’s most segregated city."  I've lived here all my life and it's no secret.  Not proud of it, just fact; one that I see getting slowly better, not in inches but in millimeters.
 
I was lucky enough to be in my late teens/early twenties and attending college in the city when Leon's BBQ opened up a northside location.  Granted it was across the street from the notorious Cabrini Green Housing Development, but a hunger for great 'Que trumped any sense of danger.  Back then, when my metabolism was running at peak performance, a full slab of ribs blanketing a huge mound of fries, all slathered in Leon's amazing sauce*, was considered a single serving.  Lordy, I miss those days...
 
The experience was exactly as Kevin Pang describes it in his article; no indoor seating, lots of bullet proof glass and tempered steel (should have been a tip off, even to us dumb-ass white boys) including a bullet proof turnstile so no potential evildoer could ever have malevolent contact with the staff.
 
Pang's article focuses on Rib Tips and Hot Links.  I've tried both and think I'll stick with Ribs by the slab.  His assessment of "the high effort-to-food ratio of rib tips" is exactly what keeps me solidly in the full rib camp.  Tips are just too much work as far as my lazy butt is concerned.  I think part of the problem is the lack of uniformity.  Pitmasters will take a cleaver to a hunk of tips, chopping willy-nilly, creating a pile of random bits and pieces, each one different from another.  So when you've got one in your mouth and you're trying to separate meat from gristle and bone, there's no consistency, no tactile tongue memory to say, "Okay this method worked the last time, it should work again now."  Each frustrating bite is different from the last with no hope of ever working out a dependable and repeatable meat retrieval system.
 
Not much to say about Hot Links.  They're a fine change of pace, but when it comes to Chicago Style Aquarium Pit Smoked BBQ, Ribs are king with me.
 
We do occasionally get down to the southside for 'Que, but not often enough.  Lem's BBQ was a featured stop on a past Contingent Tour a few years back.  Maybe this article will inspire a near future return trip.  Anyone want to come along for the ride?
 
Buddy
 
 
* I think it must have been Leon's sauce that got me into the BBQ Sauce business.  It was available for a short time as a bottled retail item on many Chicago area supermarket shelves, including out in the suburbs where I lived.  Then one day it mysteriously disappeared.  That frustrating absence must have been one of my motivating factors for starting Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce.  Necessity is the mother...etc..
post edited by BuddyRoadhouse - 2018/02/08 23:52:26
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ScreamingChicken
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Re: Race, segregation, and Chicago South Side barbecue 2018/02/08 18:28:36 (permalink)
That was a good read.  I've never had south side-style barbecue and would be interested in trying it sometime, and I do like rib tips.  Plus with one of my Sox caps on I'll fit right in.
 
A couple of peripheral statements caught my attention, though: "baby back ribs get smoked and sauced from Kansas City to Memphis" and "unlike ribs from Memphis or Kansas City, brown sugar is rarely used in Chicago barbecue dry rub".  My impression of Memphis is that the ribs are typically dry-rubbed and more savory in nature; is this not the case?
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MilwFoodlovers
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Re: Race, segregation, and Chicago South Side barbecue 2018/09/12 08:02:14 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby JRPfeff 2018/09/12 13:00:22
A return to both Lem's in Chi and Speed Queen in Miltown should be on future Contingent stops.
Not to be political but I thought Milwaukee was America's most segregated city? Chicago is bigger I grant you. 
 

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scrumptiouschef
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Re: Race, segregation, and Chicago South Side barbecue 2018/09/12 11:46:20 (permalink)
"I was lucky enough to be in my late teens/early twenties and attending college in the city when Leon's BBQ opened up a northside location.  Granted it was across the street from the notorious Cabrini Green Housing Development, but a hunger for great 'Que trumped any sense of danger.  Back then, when my metabolism was running at peak performance, a full slab of ribs blanketing a huge mound of fries, all slathered in Leon's amazing sauce*, was considered a single serving.  Lordy, I miss those days..."
 
I miss those days too. I could easily take down an entire rack of ribs with a monster side of fries and wash it down with a quart of sweet tea, and not gain an ounce. Now if I eat a donut it's a 10lb weight gain that takes three months to remove.
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BuddyRoadhouse
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Re: Race, segregation, and Chicago South Side barbecue 2018/09/12 14:56:25 (permalink)
MilwFoodlovers
A return to both Lem's in Chi and Speed Queen in Miltown should be on future Contingent stops.
Not to be political but I thought Milwaukee was America's most segregated city? Chicago is bigger I grant you. 
 



Maybe an "All Drive-In, All The Time Tour" (thanks to JRPfeff for this link), followed by a stop at Speed Queen would be in order.  A lot of the places on the list are probably closed for the season, or close to it.  Maybe a priority next spring or early summer?
 
I'd definitely like to get the group down to the south side for more 'Que.  There are other Greashouses worth visiting in the area; Leon's, Uncle John's, etc.
 
scrumptiouschef
"I was lucky enough to be in my late teens/early twenties and attending college in the city when Leon's BBQ opened up a northside location.  Granted it was across the street from the notorious Cabrini Green Housing Development, but a hunger for great 'Que trumped any sense of danger.  Back then, when my metabolism was running at peak performance, a full slab of ribs blanketing a huge mound of fries, all slathered in Leon's amazing sauce*, was considered a single serving.  Lordy, I miss those days..."
 
I miss those days too. I could easily take down an entire rack of ribs with a monster side of fries and wash it down with a quart of sweet tea, and not gain an ounce. Now if I eat a donut it's a 10lb weight gain that takes three months to remove.


Gettin' old totally sucks don't it?  I swear we will be down your way someday so we can commiserate over gaining weight and greying hair while chowing down on Po'Boys, Jambalaya, and various forms of Étouffée.  Save a spot at the table for us!
 
Buddy
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JRPfeff
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Re: Race, segregation, and Chicago South Side barbecue 2018/09/12 19:01:58 (permalink)
Jeff ,

Are any of the Roadhouse sauces similar to Leon's?

Jim
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BuddyRoadhouse
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Re: Race, segregation, and Chicago South Side barbecue 2018/09/12 21:06:41 (permalink)
I'd say they were inspired by certain sweet/tangy elements of Leon's sauce, but there was no intentional effort to copy what they were doing.
 
Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauces actually evolved from a sauce recipe I got from my Mother-In-Law around 1981.  It was something I made for more than a decade, just for family and friends, before we ever considered producing it commercially.  As with any recipe you repeat over a long period of time, you try new ingredients, eliminate those that aren't working, etc.  What we ended up with is a variation of her original recipe with flavor notes from other favorite sauces added in.
 
Buddy
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