Thursday, September 29, 2016

Fall is the Time to Try Pork & Mindy's

ParentUnplugged - Stacy Snyder - Pork & Mindy's
Bao to the Tot - photo courtesy of Pork & Mindy's
Wherever you live, you probably have access to Food Network star Jeff Mauro and his relish creations on the boob tub.  Maybe you've even tried some of his recipes at home or picked up his famous sauces int he grocery store.  But have you visited Pork & Mindy's in Chicago, where he and founder Kevin Corsello put his Sandwich King status to the test with crazy-good smoked creations?

To be fair, I wouldn’t have known about about Pork & Mindy’s unless a) it was mentioned in the Red Eye, the Tribune’s dumbed down version of a newspaper for people like me with short attention spans, of which I am obsessed with reading in order to bucket-list new restaurants; or, b) someone told me about it.  It turns out both happened.  Unfortunately I missed the writeup earlier this year while jacked up on painkillers that kept me from reading.  Thank heavens my wife joined forces with the quirky Wicker Park / Bucktown restaurant as Franchise and Operations Director not long after, so that she could tell me about how freakin’ phenomenal the food tastes!

This morning, I opened the catering menu that had been residing in my purse since I picked it up two nights ago at the fall tasting event at Pork and Mindy’s which featured their newest culinary mind-blowers.  Like Pavlov’s dog, my taste buds immediately lit up as I got a whiff of their famous smoked meats right from the paper flyer.  The Bao to the Pork, a gorgeous piece of pork-shoulder topped with a jalapeƱo relish and some other crunchy veggies, on a……wait for it…..steamed bao bun, is my all-time favorite sandwich on the menu.  After the party, I’m thinking it might have to take a temporary back seat to the new Eggplant Parm, which rocked my world!  While it’s described on their menu as crisply fried eggplant coupled with the house smoked mozzarella, which is killer in its own right, I was pleased to note the eggplant carried the best of both worlds, with a firm texture consistent with a fried item, but without the greasy breading that often accompanies a watery vegetable like this.  Perfectly-herbed focaccia encompassed the staples, along with sundried tomato pesto, fresh basic, and roma tomatoes.  Perfecto!

A better man would have paired it with Sweet Potato Potato Salad to keep it totally vegetarian, but I’m a sucker for the meats, so I chose the Reuben Tots as a funky sideshow, complete with pastrami, homemade 1000 Island dressing, toasted rye seeds, and shredded swiss atop perfectly seasoned tater tots.  Right now, I’m making that motion of kissing my fingers and flinging them out with with flair that usually signifies how good something tastes, just thinking about it.  The tots on their own, without a single topping, dipped in Pork & Mindy’s homemade buttermilk ranch dressing, make a bold statement of taste.

Other items launched at the event included Da Beef, a slow smoke-braised chuck with giardiniera, sweet peppers, and beef au jus on a dipped roll and the Pastramindy, yep you guessed it, a house-cured, smoked pastrami sandwich on marble rye with mustard and spicy pickles.  The new Buffalo Chicken Tots gave the established Totty Bar classics a run for their money (Bao to the Tot and Tot’tine) with smoked chicken, hot sauce, blue cheese, and ranch. 

I didn’t get a chance to sample the Cheezy Beef Tots, but I’m guessing it would have held my attention with giardiniera, smoked mozz, and chuck.  Pork & Mindy’s famous candied bacon, aptly named Pig Candy, made an appearance in the new Buffalo Blue Hog Slaw, partnered with creamy buffalo dressing and blue cheese.  While I didn’t try it, I can’t imagine a single food item that couldn’t be enhanced by Pig Candy!

If you’ve already tried Pork & Mindy’s, go again and try the new stuff! If you’ve never tried it, get on it….stat.  
ParentUnplugged - Stacy Snyder - Pork & Mindy's

Pork & Mindy’s 
1623 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL  60647

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