A Letter from the Chef: To the Friends of Tuesday Night Dinner
photo by Erica Gannett
"The time has come to follow us a little further down the rabbit hole…"
As we pass the three year milestone of Tuesday Night Dinner, I cannot help but look back with the utmost gratitude for your support of Chicago’s underground dining community. With the help of those who believed in our mission and believed in our food, we have been able to hone our craft and hopefully inspired others to do the same. Through your support we have been able to build connections in various Chicago communities, give back to the less fortunate, and draw inspiration from the city we hold so dear to our hearts. I have seen many faces come and go throughout my tenure at TND, but I believe that they have all connected with us through our commitment to community and social interaction through food.
It is with this reverence that I am proud to announce TND’s newest development: Border Oak, a seated dinner series committed to the exploration and celebration of the cuisine of the American Midlands. The American Midlands are a group of bioregions in and around the greater Midwest. At Border Oak, we will explore the diversity of food products and traditions from these regions. We will seek out products from the hills, streams, fields, lakes, and forests of the American heartland in order to celebrate our own regional terroir. We will showcase our discoveries through a nine-course tasting menu.
A major part of TND’s mission is to connect people to their food source. This is what we hope to achieve with Border Oak. We want our guests to connect with the land on which we reside in a deeply personal way. We hope to resurrect pride in the products coming from our corner of the Earth. We want to remind people that if they look past the surface, there are worlds of beauty and adventure just beyond the horizon.
The exact date/time/location/menu for the first dinner will be announced within the next week. Until then I ask you to go out and meet a farmer or a forager. Go for a walk in the woods. Take a road trip and get lost. Head north to the Lake Superior, or south to the Ozark Mountains. Build a raft and float down the Des Plaines River, or wander the Oak Savannas hunting for morels. There is a whole big world of food out there, just waiting to connect with you.
Tuesday Night Dinner Presents - Safari Supper, a progressive dinner showcasing Chicago’s underground dining community. ‘Safari Supper’ refers to a dinner party in which each successive course is prepared and eaten at the residence of a different host. Join TND, Guerrilla Smiles, Feast & Imbibe, Sobremesa, and Twain Pairings for dinner on April 27th, as we take the show on the road. Our guests will travel to 4 distinct Chicago art spaces, each hosted by a different supper club. Included in the evening are paired drinks, curated art, and live music per course- all by way of one bus.
FEAST & IMBIBE Sea Urchin, Spring Peas, Sassafras paired with F.E.W American Gin, Grapefruit, Cucumber and Egg White
TWAIN PAIRINGS ‘South By South America’ 5-Alive Habanero Shrimp/Blue Grits/Brined Radish/Cilantro/Basil paired with Alma Negra Rose 2010 (Sparkling Malbec)
:: bus departs @ 5:45PM ::
6PM 1 :: TUESDAY NIGHT DINNER the HAUSER Gallery 230 W SUPERIOR
COURSE: ‘Overgrown Garden’-Stinging Nettle Dumplings x Hop Shoots x Rabbit Confit x Edible Weeds PAIRING: Dreamsicle - Orange, Vanilla, Bourbon MUSIC: Karlis Kander ART: Curated by Brave New Art World Atalanta & The Lion
7PM 2 :: SOBREMESA SUPPER CLUB The Conservatory 1942 S HALSTED
COURSE: Roasted Sunchokes, Pickled Daikon, Green Radish, Pickled Mustard Seeds, Market Greens PAIRING: Local Wheat Beer MUSIC: Sonorama ART: Curated by Flow Johnson
8PM 3 :: GUERRILLA SMILES No Sandbox 159 N RACINE
COURSE: ‘Cracker Jack Grits’ Popcorn / Mustard Caramel / Paulina Bacon / Nuts PAIRING: Malort Ecto-Cooler MUSIC: No Goodbye ART: Curated by No Sandbox
9PM 4 :: FEAST & IMBIBE 2037 W NORTH AVE
COURSE: Braised Lamb Shoulder, Yellow Foot Chanterelles, Fiddlehead Ferns, Celery Root Crisps PAIRING: Belleruche, M. Chapoutier, Cotes Du Rhones 2010 MUSIC: Jennifer Hall ART: Curated by Alyssa Martinez & Jason Ticus
Jacqlyn Lancaster, our logistics maven, can take the credit for conceptualizing this simple but masterful dish. We were talking back and forth about dessert ideas, about flans and custards. We talked about how we liked the smooth richness of the custards when they are just barely set, and they will just melt away in your mouth with the lingering taste of cream, egg, and vanilla. We wanted to come up with something fun and playful for our ‘Off the Boat, Into the Kitchen’ series at No Sandbox Studios and Jacqlyn came up with the idea for a ‘flan-ton’. We thought it played well to the idea of traditional ingredients from different cultures meeting on the plate, as they often do in real life.
We decided to incorporate evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk to the custard as well as some persimmon syrup. After the custard had set we froze it o make it easier to work with. Cutting appropriate sized pieces of frozen custard, we wrapped them in wonton sheets and returned them to the freezer. The last thing we wanted was for the custard to separate and break apart once the wonton hit the fryer. So freezing them again was a necessity.
We finished the dish with a persimmon glaze made by slowly cooking minced persimmon pieces with brown sugar, water, and star anise. To add a bit of brightness to the dish we made a quick avocado puree with vanilla and whipping cream, and then finished with a slice of fresh persmisson for color and freshness. - Jeremy
TND Presents: Last Tuesdays - 'Off the Boat, Into the Kitchen'
Tuesday Night Dinner invites you to “Off the Boat, Into the Kitchen”-the second installment of ‘Last Tuesdays’, a winter dinner series. The series draws inspiration from Chicago’s collective food history, sourcing from little known ethnic markets and specialty suppliers across the city. At ‘Off the Boat, Into the Kitchen’, guests will experience an interpretation of Old World favorites tweaked through the lens of the Windy City. For $30, guests will enjoy a four-course plated meal from the TND kitchen, libations, live music, and art.
Tuesday Night Dinner hosts a communal dinner the last Tuesday of each month. The locations, artists, and collaborators rotate depending on each dinner. This month’s TND is on January 29th, from 8-11pm, at No Sandbox Studio located at 159 N. Racine 4th floor. Each course will be plated and then served communally.
This is a pre-sale event only, purchase your tickets HERE
Menu: Amuse: Chicken Confit Jibarito 1) Hen of the Woods Vesuvio 2) ‘Czech me out’ Boar Loin 3) Desi Tacos - lamb breast x garbanzo 4) Persimmon Tres Leches ‘Flan-Ton’
TND Presents: Last Tuesdays - 'South Side Staples'
The creative team at TND have devised a tour de saveur, ‘Last Tuesdays’: A winter dinner series that draws inspiration from Chicago’s collective food history, sourcing from little known ethnic markets and specialty suppliers across the city.
Please join us 11/27 at Ven Sherrod Studio for South Side Staples. The evening will feature a four-course plated meal of Chicago’s regionally influenced delectables by the TND kitchen. The evening will also feature visual artist Greta White, and live music by No Goodbye.
**THIS IS A PRE-SALE EVENT** -Space is limited. -$30
Tuesday Night Dinner Presents Tuesday Night Drinks: Bar Pop-Up
Thirsty? Yeah, so are we! Tuesday Night Dinner will be heading over to Hearty Restaurant on Tuesday, August 28 at 8pm for a night of cocktails and music. We will be serving up five specialty cocktails for guests to enjoy along with complimentary bar snacks. Live music by Briar Rabbit, Goodbyehome, and Ami Saraiya. Tickets are $5 at the door with cocktails ranging from $4-$6.
Tuesday, August 28 Bar Menu (Tentative):
Michelada Blueberry Bramble Spicy Mezcal Watermelon Mint Martini Elderflower White Sangria Bar Snacks: curry popcorn, old bay fries, blue crab & caper jalepeno poppers
Hearty Restaurant is at 3819 N. Broadway Avenue and is accessible by the Sheridan Red Line stop. First come, first served; until supplies last. We will be shaking up cocktails til midnight.
Nick throws down. He is an authority on all things culinary and is continuously experimenting with new ideas. Book in advance to hang, cause this boy’s schedule fills up quick. Be sure to check out his catering company!
Mini Q&A with Jirasek:
Pick it! Pen or Pencil?
Favorite cut of meat?
Paleron. Shoulder cut of beef also called chicken steak but it’s beef. It’s really lean and you can handle it like a brisket.
What music do you listen to in the kitchen?
Chin Up Chin Up
Queens of the Stone Age
System of a Down
Fav line on the el?
Blue line. I use to take the train a lot. I feel focused on the el, take it all the way down to the airport and back. I would read and do homework, the Blue line library.
What television character would you dine with?
Charlie Day-Always Sunday in Philadelphia
Come hang out with Nick and the rest of the Tuesday Night Dinner crew at July’s TND.
This is Selorm Yo Nkpe. Or Selly to you. He’s the man on the floor, the eyes and ears of the organization. Selly brings his superstar charm to Tuesday Night Dinner, personally greeting every guest. He is the best new friend you’ll ever have. The go-to-guy at TND, Selly has access to all levels of the events. He is happy to accommodate the needs of any guests, no matter how large or small. When Selly isn’t touching tables at TND, you can find him making moved at the Trump Tower, or developing his talents as a performance artist and MC.
The Fortuna launch party was a great success, a wonderful evening filled with food, music, and art. At TND we are excited to be participating in such a vibrant space to host our winter dinners. We will see you there in 2012!
We know that is has been a while since we’ve seen you last, we’ve missed you all terribly. But we have been busy gearing up for the winter season. Construction is underway for our new kitchen in the Fortuna Loft. If all goes well, we will be hosting some out of this world post-modern speakeasy events: food, cocktails, music - all artisanally crafted and community spirited. Below are some mobile photos of the kitchen overhauling.
Tis the season for cozy fire places, cuddling, and soup! To honor TND’s origins we are going to begin having soup and bread dinners on different days of the week. These will be smaller, more intimate gatherings to meet new friends and reconnect with old ones.
More info about both events will be available very soon. Endless thanks for your patience and constant support.
Right off the bat, I would like to thank all you who who have continually supported Tuesday Night Dinner. It is because of your continuous giving, that this culinary carnival is rolling strong three years after its inception. It is the spirit of community and the spirit of adventure that keeps us going. ‘Fearless Cooking’ we like to call it. It is the freedom to think outside the box, ensuring that endless achievements are not only possible but near certain. TND is not a business, or even a club. It’s a movement, a way of thinking about your interactions with your food, your peers, your world, and yourselves. When you give your donations at the communal dinners, or book us for a private event you are not buying a plate of food. Rather, you are showing your willingness to support and participate in an emerging culinary subculture. Essentially, you are redefining what it means to dine out in Chicago.
Tuesday Night Dinner began as an experiment in advanced social cooperation. A group of roommates wanted to see if they could tempt their friends out of hibernation in the winter of 2007, with the promise of bread, soup, and of course beer. Since its humble and honest beginnings, TND has seen many faces, many homes, many phases in its evolution. We love and embrace the past, but we live for the moment, and gaze into the future. With the help of friends like Erica Gannett, Mike Palmer, Adrienne Dawes, and Willie Wagner we have had homes to visit, and the means to document and share our story with the world. This past month was Derrick Phillips’ final dinner with TND, a near perfect sendoff under summer sky at the Convent. It is during these times of great transition that I would like to express the vast gratitude we have for all of you who have found refuge in our little gypsy camp. I find solace in reconnecting with the founding ideals of TND: community, self-determination, and a commitment to fearless cooking and respectful dining.
We are at a very exciting place in the legacy of Tuesday Night Dinner. Right now interest in our community has never been higher. The refinement of our craft has never been greater. Remaining true to our ideals, we are embracing the concept of inclusiveness and we want your help, your ideas, your contributions. There are several ways to get involved, both as a guest or as a volunteer.
Communal Dinner: Our bread and butter, the heart of it all, will always be the communal dinners. This is where the magic started and we will remain committed to hosting large communal dinners in the most interesting spaces Chicago has to offer. We love the sense of community these large events bring. It is the collective participation that makes these dinners so successful. Whether you are donating a cheese platter, gazpacho, or just handing out buttons, the effort put into the dinners is returned 10-fold. We are committed to keeping these dinners low-cost and inclusive.
Craft Dinner: While we are committed to keeping the communal dinners going each month, we are also dedicated to pushing ourselves as craftsmen in the kitchen. Simply put, there are things in the kitchen we cannot do for 60+ guests at once. That is why, beginning the month of September, we will begin a ‘Craft Dinner’ series. These will be seated meal events, a smaller guest count, with a pure focus of pushing the craft of cooking to levels we have not yet achieved. A smaller guest count means that a higher level of attention can be paid to each dish. Our first event in this series will be held at The Den Theatre on Sept. 18th. Guests will enjoy a four course brunch and paired cocktails.
Collab Dinner: Part of our ‘fearless cooking’ mentality is about cooking without ego, supporting our friends and their fearless passions. We are committed to supporting Chicago’s underground movements. Whether it is artisanal, theatre, music, dance, social, political, or community based, we are all strands of the same cloth, attempting to enrich the cultural livelihood of Chicago. This month we will be creating small dishes that complement the performance pieces at Art@War on Sept. 16th at Treasure Town Loft.
This is just the beginning.
There are so many new projects and ideas we hope you are ready for. We will never stop evolving. We will never stop pushing ourselves. But most importantly, the support has never been greater, and I just really wanted to thank all of you for that.
Something was in the air last Tuesday. Outdoor dinner at dusk on a perfect night. TND found itself in a beautifully secluded rose garden and former convent in the heart of Pilsen. Things just came together that night. A perfect end for longtime chef & co-founder Derrick Phillips, who will be moving on to pursue a career in theatre. This place has a real energy about it, especially on summer nights. We felt it only appropriate to stretch the bounds for dinner. Seven small courses, each representing a level/color of the Chakra. Huge thanks to Willie Wagner and his family who have opened their amazing convent to our little club.
Combine kosher salt, sugar, and curing spices together and coat duck breast generously. Put the duck breast into a ziplock freezer bag and squeeze out all the air. Place on a tray in the refrigerator, and weigh it down with a couple of text books. Leave in the fridge for up to 7 days, and no less than 4. Turn over once a day, until you are ready to use. Remove from the bag and pat dry. Slow smoke the duck breast over coals and wood chips (roughly at 230 degrees). Remove after 20-30 minutes. Allow to fully cool and slice.
Finely slice the red cabbage and the fennel. Heat a large pot to medium heat and add butter. Add the cabbage, fennel and salt just before the butter begins to brown. Stir the cabbage and fennel until it is slightly sauteed, about 5 minutes. Add the spices, vinegar, and sugar, stir until all combined and incorporated. Cover the pot and lower the heat. Stir once after 10 minutes and remove from the heat. Allow to cool before serving.
Make a simple mayonnaise with the egg yolk, the grapeseed oil, white wine vinegar, and salt. Add minced gherkins, capers, mustard, anchovy oil, and herbs.
Brown a slice of brioche on a pan with a bit of butter, top with the sliced duck breast, a bit of braised cabbage, and a dab of remoulade. Add a gherkin for a final garnish.
Our July communal dinner will be a very special one. It will also be a sad one. It will be the final dinner that co-founder Derrick Phillips will be cooking at. In August, along with his wife Heather, and son Hawthorne, Derrick will be moving on to a master’s program in theatre at the University of Southern Mississippi. Derrick has been the heart and soul, the creative engine behind so many TND signature dishes. Join us the third Tuesday in July as we tip our hats to the cook, the man, the legend: Derrick Phillips.
Our friend Stephen at Beerecorder has been so amazing with all his support. He has begun work on a Tuesday Night Dinner beer, that should be available in limited quantities next month. The first beer he is crafting for us is a brown ale with chocolatey-toasted malty notes using a Belgium yeast. We are perpetually grateful for the amazing partnerships and friendships TND has made over the years. Here’s to you Stephen!
Last weekend we set up shop in the Pilsen loft of our good friend and TND photographer Erica Gannett. She was hosting a small dinner party for some friends, and we were elated to participate in such an intimate event. It allows us to try things that don’t work on the scale for 50 people. The dinner was coursed as so:
We cured a duck breast in kosher salt, brown sugar, black peppercorns, and juniper berries. We paired it with an old school by-the-book Escoffier remoulade, and braised red cabbage with fennel.
The yellowtail hamachi was dry-cured very quickly in salt, sugar, and gin spices: juniper, orange peel, and various other botanicals. It was served along side pea tendrils, frissee, pan roasted radishes, and white grapefruit. The salad was dressed with a marjoram vinaigrette.
The spring flight featured baby artichokes with a green garlic aioli, fresh garbanzo beans marinated with marjoram and lavender, and roasted asparagus with a fermented garlic vinaigrette.
We decided to serve pork two ways. We slow braised the shoulder in stout beer, chocolate, and black garlic. The tenderloin was rubbed with fresh lavender leaves, marjoram, sesame seeds, and sumac. We served the pork with yellow corn grits, a reduced roasted pork broth, and trumpet mushrooms.
As a quick intermezzo, we served a meyer lemon and fennel sorbet with a rhubarb coulis.
To end things out we wanted to serve a dessert that was light and refreshing, while still keeping a decadent feel. We decideded on cucumber anglaise, over a marjoram cookie, sweet compressed cucumber, and candied marjoram.
This April, Tuesday Night Dinner will be participating in its first ever Communal ‘Earth Dinner’. We will be partnering with The Earth Dinner, Organic Valley, and Chef’s Collaborative to host a dinner dedicated to the planet on which we reside. As stewards of the Earth, it is our responsibility to perpetuate proper consumption practices. Donations to TND during this event will be given directly to The Earth Dinner, to continue supporting local, ecologically-sound farming practices. On top of all that, Organic Valley will match all dontations TND brings in.
From the Earth Dinner website
"The Earth Dinner is a festive gathering with family and friends to celebrate local, seasonal and organic food and farming, and to talk about, learn from, and rejoice in the food the Earth provides."
Make Stock. Slice carrots, onions, celery, shallots, and leeks on a bias so as much surface area is exposed as possible. Saute in stock pot for 8 minutes. Deglaze with sherry and tomato paste. Add cold water to stock pot and skim the top. Add mushrooms, garlic and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 45 minutes. Turn off heat, add thyme for 5 minutes and strain. Keep strained stock on the stove on low heat.
Make Polenta. Add all polenta into large pot. Add enough mushroom stock to cover. Bring to a boil and begin strring. Turn down to a simmer, add olive oil and continue stirring. As stock becomes absorbed into the polenta continue to add hot mushroom stock from your simmering stock pot. Continue stirring for 30 minutes, adding stock until all has been absorbed into the polenta. Continue stirring, not allowing the polenta to stick to the sides and in the corners of the pot. When all the mushroom stock has been absorbed, and the polenta is thick and fully cooked, pour the polenta onto cool, pre-oiled sheet trays. Allow polenta to set for several hours. Cut polenta into batons once it has cooled. Sear polenta over high heat, about 2 minutes each side and remove from heat. Salt to taste.
Make Ragout. Brunoise (finely chop) all forest mushrooms and mix in a bowl. Separate mushrooms into two batches, in order to avoid overcrowding the pan. Add half the mushrooms to a hot dry saute pan. Allow mushrooms to toast. Do not shake the pan at this stage. When the mushrooms begin to wilt and release their water, add grapeseen oil and shallots. Saute until mushrooms and shallots are cooked through, about 7 minutes. Drain any excess oil. Deglaze the pan with balsamic vinegar to au sec(dry). Repeat this process with the Half Acre Beer, and finally the dry sherry. Toss the mushrooms with thyme and cardamom. Salt to taste.
Make Aioli. Whisk together two egg yolks, balsamic vinegar, garlic, meyer lemon juice and zest. Salt to taste. Slowly and steadily whisk in grapeseed oil until an emulsion is formed. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Make Gremolata. Finely slice(not chop) basil and mint. Combine with olive oil and lemon zest. Salt to taste.
For garnish, slice trumpet mushrooms legnthwise in quarters. Sear over very high heat for 30 seconds on each side and deglaze with sherry. Very lightly dress arugula with lemon juice, salt, and olive oil.
Make rosewater. Get large stock pot and a large enough pyrex bowl to sit above the liquid. Place bowl into pot and surround with rose petals. Cover petals with water just until submerged. Make sure the bowl inside stays empty, this will collect the finished rosewater. Bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and place the lid inverted on the pot. Fill the lid of the pot wit ice. You have created a mini-distiller. Keep ice on top the entire time, replace ice as needed. Check every 15 minutes to make sure there is still water covering the petals. After 30-45 minutes the bowl inside will begin collecting rosewater. Remove bowl and allow rosewater to cool.
Compress the pineapple in rosewater. Take large vacuum seal bags and place large pieces of the pineapple inside, distributing equally between the bags. Divide rosewater evenly among the bags. Compress in vacuum sealer for 120 seconds. The pineapple will lose considerable size in the process.
Make the bread. Proof 2 pkgs of yeast in 1/2 cup of water and sugar. Mix all dry ingredients plus 1 pkg of yeast in a mixing bowl. in a seperate bowl mix the yeast starter with the water. Combine wet and dry. Add garlic. Knead bread for 7-10 minutes to develop gluten structure. Knead by hand an additional 4 minutes if done by hand. Let bread rest and rise under a wet towel or oiled plastic wrap until double in size. punch down loaf, shape into loaf and allow it to proof a second time. before baking, score the top of the bread. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes, until the bread sounds hollow when you knock it. Let cool for several hours.
Pickle the carrots. Heat vinegar, water, and pickling spices with a vinegar water ratio of 4:1 until boiling. cover the sliced carrots in a bowl with the hot liquid. Cover and set aside until ready to use. Salt picking juice to taste.
Beet pickle the parsnips. Peel and juice beet. Cover parsnips with beat juice. Bring pickling brine (water, vinegar, spices) to a boil Add vinegar to the beet juice and parsnips. Salt to taste.
Make the champagne vinaigrette. Take the minced shallots and soak them in 1 cup champagne vinegar. allow them to steep for 10 minutes. Add mustard, slowly wisk in olive oil. Salt to taste.
When the bread is cooled, remove the crust, and tear into medium sized rustic pieces. Pan fry bread until golden brown on all sides. Salt to taste.
Pick chickweed. Remove inedible pieces. Pick leaves of parsley. Clean frisee. Combine chickweed, arugula, parsley, and frisee to a large mixing bowl. Lightly dress in champagne vinaigrette. Salt to taste.
For Plating, place pieces of compressed pineapple and bread champons on the bottom, layering the greens mixture and pickles until desired size is achieved.
At the next dinner we are lucky enough to feature the artisanal breads of Executive Baker Pamela Fitzpatrick and her team at Fox & Obel. Community support is what keeps TND living and vibrant. We can’t wait to share our good fortune with everyone at the Jan. 18th dinner.
Last summer, our friend Mikey was kind enough to open his loft to our humble supper club. Ever since, it has felt like home. The space houses the recording studio Observatory, a former speak-easy known as the Heart of Gold (no longer in commission), and seven other performers, artists, and musicians. Everyone has embraced TND whole-heartedly. We are so thankful for all of their support.
Bring vinegar, water, salt, sugar, and spices to a boil and turn off heat. Pack sterilized jars with carrots, garlic, and rosemary. Pour boiling pickling liquid and spices into the sterilized jar until all carrots are covered. Water-bath for 15 minutes to seal the jar.