Naked Nuggets

>> Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Not too long ago I was approached by someone who represents Naked Nuggets, an all white meat grilled chicken nugget. Completely intrigued by the name and the idea, I wanted to find out more about their product. Naked Nuggets is the brainchild of New York Chefs, Eric and Bruce Bromberg of Blue Ribbon (a restaurant that changed my perception on food after tasting a sweet bread for the first time). As a father to three children, Eric realized that the "nuggets" of yore just weren't cutting in terms of nutrition and, um, they're disgusting...what part of a chicken does a nugget come from? Oh right, there is no "nugget" meat, its everything left over on a chicken, breaded, then fried. If you really want to be grossed out - check out this clip from Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution where he makes chicken nuggets and the kids STILL EAT IT. Totally gross.

Anyways, after reviewing their website and reading more about their story I was sold. However, there still was the whole matter of how it tastes...I asked my friend Gabrielle to send me some samples so I could make an educated comment on this product. I have to admit - I was excited. These are really the kind of brands that I like to get behind. Honest people trying to make a change to better their children's lives.

A few days later my nuggets arrive. I opened the packet and examined the first nugget. I was impressed to see the real grill marks on the nugget. I mean it looks like it actually hit a grill. On the back, the directions say you can either heat in the microwave or sautee in a pan. I decided to do both.

I microwaved a couple of nuggets for about a minute or so. I pulled them out of the microwave and dove right in. I can still remember taking that first bite and thinking this is really moist, I'm shocked! Seasoned with white pepper, garlic powder, basil, marjoram salt and pepper the nuggets could stand on their own. They don't need to added sugar from ketchup or bbq sauce. I, however, am hot sauce freak and tossed them with that and it was out of this world. The skillet nuggets were great as well. Took a little longer, and didn't really impact the flavor. Whenever I am in a rush I just microwave them.

With only 110 calories and 2 grams of fat for SEVEN nuggets, you can get a meal full of 20 grams of protein. And the best part: this really isn't just for kids. I live alone, I have no children, and I find myself tossing the Naked Nuggets in with stir frys and pasta for a little added protein. It's quick, it's easy and I swear - they really are good!

My friends at Naked Nuggets want to extend an offer to all of you dear Foodies, for a bag of Naked Nuggets. The person who best comments on how you would incorporate into your food routine will win!

I know this sounds like they put me up to writing this, but I swear everything written here is a reflection of my own opinion. I truly admire these chefs for not waiting for someone else to figure out a way for children to eat healthy (and ok, me too).

Check out their Twitter and Facebook pages or go to their website for more information


Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinders

>> Friday, August 13, 2010

Chicago is known for pizza. We have deep dish, New York has thin slice. This is nothing new, right? What I am going to tell you may blow your mind - there is something new. Something so new I didn't understand how or what to make of it. Pizza pot pie...

Before you start to jump to conclusions, let me explain. Tucked away on Clark street near Dickens, Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinders has taken the tradition deep dish and turned it upside down - literally. I'm not sure how this concept of a pizza pot pie came to be and to be honest - I don't care, all I know is that ever since I have moved here I have wanted to try it. So when my friend Sara called and invited me to dinner with her lovely family, I agreed without hesitation.

Walking into a pseudo-beerhall with exposed wood on the walls and beams, you feel like you've just been transported to somewhere in a small Italian village. The hostess greets you and ask how many are in your party, you tell him and he tells you a time and you're done. There's no pen, no paper, no way to peek to see how many people are in front of you, this guy just knows. You are not to question, just simply sit there and wait.

Seated at the bar, we survey every dish that passes us. Huge salads, bread so big it spills over the plate, and bowls of dough covering something delicious. That has to be it - that has to be the pot pie!

Mediterranean Bread
After about 30 minutes were seated. Sara and her boyfriend Patrick are on it - we'll have the Mediterranean bread, and the small Country French salad, oh and a couple more glasses of wine and beers. Our server returns with a circle of bread that would make a large pizza look like a personal pan. This bread is HUGE, flat and covered in Italian seasonings. Hands start flying, bread is torn, we are happy. The outside of the bread is deceptive. You take a bite and think - yeah, I mean, this is good. As you start tearing away and making your way towards then center, you realize you've been a fool - this is the gold mine. Soft, full of butter, and seasonings - this is the jackpot. When I return, my strategy will be to go straight for the middle and save the outside for the gargantuan salad...

Speaking of which, the small Country French salad could seriously feed six people. Really. Six. This thing was the biggest salad I have ever see. It's a small salad on steroids. Packed with onions, peppers, tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, artichoke hearts, and topped with fresh Farmer's cheese this salad is pretty hard to beat. Our server suggested combining the sour cream garlic, sweet and sour poppyseed, and Italian dressing together. Is this place a food laboratory or a restaurant?! While I looked him like, you're obviously drinking in the back, I complied. There is something to be said for taking advice. Out of this world. Really, really good salad. I took some of the bread and sopped up the dressing and honestly I was in heaven. Everything was SO GOOD and we hadn't even come to the main event yet!
The "small" salad
Luckily, our server returned shortly with the pizza pot pies or else he would have seen me face first licking the bottom of the salad plate. We ordered two, one pound pies and as he approached our table I could smell, the tomatoes, sausage, cheese and mushrooms. They were begging to be devoured. He takes the dough bowl covering the "insides" and in some magical hand motions, flips the insides so that you are left with a hot bowl of pizza pot pie. I would love to be able to go into more detail as to how he did this, but I was so intoxication by the smell of the meat I missed it.

Small pizza - taken from their
website because I was
inhaling my food
Biting in, I died. I kept waiting for someone to tell me this wasn't real and to find my totem (side note: mine would be a knife that wouldn't cut food...). Cheese, meat, bread, sauce, mushrooms. I don't know what else to say. Everything came together and were in perfect harmony together. It's truly an experience.

I ate my 1/3 lb of pizza and sighed. It's over. I came, I saw, I devoured.

Bravo Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinders. Sure Chicago deep dish is a great tradition, but the next time I have friends coming in town and want something "Chicago" I am undoubtedly taking them here instead.

Oh by the way, the oven grinders are sandwiches, but let's be honest, after what you just read are you going to order a sandwich? I don't think so...

Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinders
2121 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614


Vote for Stephanie Izard and Common Threads

>> Thursday, August 12, 2010

Everyone take a moment and visit Mezzetta's Celebrity Chef Sandwich Charity Challenge and vote for Chicago's own Stephanie Izard (and winner of Top Chef) to benefit my buddy Art Smith's charity Common Threads. Common Threads educates low income children to prepare wholesome and healthy food - this is a GREAT organization!

There are seven chefs and sandwich recipes, all of which look amazing. What a great contest! Go vote NOW! 


Slow’s Bar BQ

>> Monday, August 2, 2010

Chic. Barbeque. Detroit. No these are not all antonyms, but words used to describe my dining experience this past weekend while in Michigan for my brother's show and family reunion. I try and keep up with the happenings of Detroit, not only because a majority of my family still lives there, but because I was born there and it breaks my heart to come back to visit and witness the devastation that city is suffering…I read an article not too long ago about a man named Phil Cooley, who started this barbeque restaurant in downtown Detroit. Always one to support local initiatives, when the subject of dinner was discussed with me and 8 other boys/men, Slow's Bar BQ seemed perfect.

Brisket Enchiladas (photo credit: Slow's)
We loaded up the band, my dad and uncle then headed downtown to Detroit's Corktown neighborhood. Situated on a corner facing the old Detroit train depot, Slow's is a beacon of light in an otherwise desolate part of the neighborhood. It reminds me of how the Meatpacking District must have looked after the first time someone decided to create a trendy restaurant among the abandon warehouses…

The first thing you will notice is the massive door (made from the timber of the old place) and the smell of slow roasted meat. Just thinking about it makes me hungry. Walking in were told an 90 minute wait, however seeing all the happy faces and a plethora of local craft beers, we decided to wait it out. A full 90 minutes and 3 beers later (Oberon's for me!), we're sat right outside of the patio. Extremely hungry, we told the waitress "one of every appetizer…now please!" Within 10 minutes our food came out:

  • BBQ Wings
  • Fried Catfish
  • Brisket Enchiladas 
  • Split pea and okra fritters

Like wolves that had just made their first big kill, we attacked this food. Despite being rock stars and famished, the boys were nice enough to share with me. Far and away the enchiladas were the winners for me. The corn tortilla, despite being covered in sauce, still retained some of it's crunchy texture, and the flavor of the brisket came through nicely. This is how enchiladas were meant to be. The wings had a great smoke, the catfish was a great snack and perfect for sharing, the split pea and orka fritters were tasty too, but at the end of that round of food I was longing for more enchiladas.

Carolina Pulled Pork (photo credit: Slow's)
Next came the entrees. I ordered the Carolina pulled pork, my brother order the St. Louis Sparerib, and my dad the Jambalaya with sides of mac and cheese, cornbread and sweet potato mash. I tell ya – I was 2 for 2 this dinner. My pork was so tender and had a nice "bark" on the outside. You could still taste the smoke and see the pink smoke rings. Armed with 5 different styles of bbq sauce, I was all over this dish. As you know dear foodies, I love Carolina BBQ, and this sauce at Slow's was pretty darn good for being so far north. It was not as vinegar-y as I like it, but still great. The apple bbq sauce was OUTSTANDING. I am notorious for having a sweet tooth and this definitely fulfilled my needs. The spicy, was semi-spicy, and good on it's own, but when you combined it with the apple bbq sauce. Shut up. Just shut up. It was SO good. Highly recommend! The ribs were great – tender, but not falling off the bone. They were dry and definitely needed some sauce, but I enjoyed them. The Jambalaya was…ok…it's wasn't bad, but when everything else is so good it just left me (and my dad) wanting more. The mac and cheese, sweet potato mash, fries, cornbread and all the other sides were delicious! Mac and cheese was definitely the star though.

St. Louis Spareribs (photo credit: Slow's)
I can say without a doubt, that this will be my go-to place when I visit Detroit again, and I will make a reservation – don't want to wait that long again. Aside from the delicious food (and probably the best bbq you will get out of the South), I love Phil's initiative to make Detroit better, not only through his efforts to clean up parks, but through food. It's amazing what he's already done and if you are in Detroit I would encourage you to stop by Slow's and enjoy some good BBQ.

Slow's Bar BQ
2138 Michigan Avenue
Detroit, MI 48216-1305
(313) 962-9828



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