• Friday, September 25, 2020

Chicago Food Recipes

A Breezy Meal - Chicago
By , Cooling Your Jets Contributor
December 6, 2011

Galavante Co-Founders Christine and Sharmila grew up in Chicago, where they will always call Sweet Home.  Besides the comfort of seeing family, they visit all their favorite haunts, which still includes Le Colonial and for more casual bites, anywhere that will serve a warm spinach dip or authentic Mexican food.  Chicagoans love their food, and for good reason.  Rock star chefs like Rick Bayless and Grant Achatz command the kitchens, showing you they are the Top Chefs.  And with more than 20 Michelin-rated restaurants dotting the streets, you’d think Chicago’s food scene would be as intense as its Cubs fans. Yet, in typical Midwestern fashion, it remains as comforting as a slice of deep dish pizza pie. When bringing Chicago home, don’t be afraid to embrace comfort foods, but add some refinement for your own modern spin. 




4 ripe Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled

1 lime, juiced

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 shallot, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro


Maybe it has to do with the abundance of sports-fans, but Chicagoans love their avocado dip. Here, a simple recipe that pairs perfectly with blue corn chips or toasted baguette.

Serves 4-6

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook/inactive time: 45 minutes

Place the avocado pulp in a large mixing bowl and coat with lime juice. Using a fork, mash the avocado until smooth. Stir in the salt. Taste and adjust accordingly. Fold in shallot, garlic, tomato and cilantro. Allow the flavors to meld at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving. 

Spinach Dip with Homemade Tortilla Chips


1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

1 cup sour cream

1 cup mayonnaise

3/4 cup scallions, chopped

2 teaspoons dried parsley

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt


What special occasion (or Tuesday night) is complete without a bowl of creamy spinach dip? A favorite in Chicago households, this pub grub classic is as easy to make as it is to eat.

Serve 8-10

Prep time: 15 minutes

Inactive cook time: 30 minutes

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving alongside homemade baked tortilla chips (recipe below).

Corn Tortilla Chips


24 6-inch white corn tortillas

Cooking spray



Serves 8-10

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 12 minutes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray each side of the tortilla with cooking spray. Stack tortillas and cut into sixths to make chips. Sprinkle with salt and spread the chips in a single layer on baking sheet(s) and bake until lightly golden, about 12 minutes.

Classic Wedge Salad with Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing


1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled

3/4 cup buttermilk

1 cup sour cream

4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

5 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon super fine sugar

1 tablespoon crumbled bacon

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 head iceberg lettuce, core removed, cut into 4 wedges

2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 small red onion, thinly sliced


Turn your home into a Chicago steakhouse with this classic first course. You can certainly use your favorite bottle of blue cheese dressing, but our homemade version is as easy as turning on your blender.

Serves 4

Prep time: 25 minutes

Cook/assembling time: 15 minutes

Heat a large skillet and add bacon. Cook until fat is rendered and strips are crispy. Drain on a paper towel. When cool, crumble and set aside.

For the dressing, add the buttermilk, sour cream, blue cheese, vinegar and sugar to blender. Pulse until smooth. Fold in one tablespoon of the bacon and add salt and pepper to taste.

For the salad, place one wedge on each plate and top with crumbled bacon, tomatoes, onion and dressing. 

Braised Short Ribs & Veggies


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

5-6 lbs. short ribs
1 medium Spanish onion, chopped
2 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 fennel bulb, cut into 1-inch pieces
5 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced

5 sprigs thyme

1 32-ounce can tomato puree
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 1/2 cups beef stock or broth

Kosher salt

Freshly-ground black pepper


What’s a traditional Midwestern meal without a little meat? This braise gets a little punch from salty kalamata olives and sweet fennel.

Serves 6

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 3 hours

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Add olive oil to a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add short ribs in a single layer and brown on all sides. Remove from pan. Add onion, carrot, fennel and garlic and cook until soft, about 8 minutes. Add tomato, wine and stock and bring to a boil. Return short ribs to pan. Add thyme and olives and season with salt and pepper. Cover and place in oven for 2 ½ to 3 hours, or until short ribs are tender. If pan becomes too dry, add water or stock.

When tender, remove meat from pan and strain liquid into a sauce pan. Reserve vegetables (remove thyme sprigs) for service. Place sauce over medium-high heat and allow to simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. To serve, place short ribs on a large platter surrounded by vegetables and drizzle reduced sauce over the top.

Barbecued Salmon


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium Spanish onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups tomato ketchup

1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 (8-ounce) salmon steaks, 1-inch thick, skin removed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Vegetable oil, for brushing


Chicago winters are some of the worst. This simple grilled salmon recipe, complete with tangy barbecue sauce, evokes memories that those wonderful Chi-town summers are around the corner (kind of).

Serves 4

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

For barbecue sauce: Heat oil in a medium sauce pot and sauté onions until translucent, add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add ketchup, Worcestershire, vinegar, chili powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside.

For salmon: Heat a grill pan over medium high heat. Lightly season salmon with salt and pepper. Brush the grill with vegetable oil. Cook fish on one side for 4 minutes. Flip and brush with barbecue sauce and continue to cook for another 4 minutes or until fish is opaque. Serve with extra sauce on the side.

Gruyere Mac & Cheese


1 pound elbow macaroni

1 quart milk

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

4 cups Gruyere, grated  

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg


Cheese is another staple in the Chicago food scene so it’s only fitting this gooey Gruyere Mac & Cheese make it to your table.

Serves 6 to 8

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Cook macaroni according to directions, drain well.

While macaroni is cooking heat the milk in a sauce pan until just before the simmer. In a separate  pot melt butter and add in the flour.  Whisk over low heat for about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the hot milk and cook until thick and smoother. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add in the cooked macaroni and stir well. Serve immediately.


Creamed Spinach


2 pounds baby spinach

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium Spanish onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup heavy cream


More spinach? Of course! The windy city can’t get enough of their leafy greens, especially when simmered with cream and spices.

Add spinach to a pot of boiling salted water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and press to remove as much water as possible. Finely chop the cooked spinach and set aside.

Melt butter in a large skillet and add the onions and garlic. Cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until all the liquid evaporates. Add in cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Simmer gently until the cream thickens and reduces by half. Serve immediately.

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