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Charred Slab of Delight (Poochie's in Skokie)

Charred Slab of Delight (Poochie's in Skokie)
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  • Charred Slab of Delight (Poochie's in Skokie)

    Post #1 - January 20th, 2005, 6:07 pm
    Post #1 - January 20th, 2005, 6:07 pm Post #1 - January 20th, 2005, 6:07 pm
    I know that Poochie's is well-regarded by many LTHers. I paid them yet another visit this past weekend for the exact same sandwich I've been ordering there for many years. I thought I'd share my brief blog entry on the subject.

    Best,
    Michael

    -------------------------------------

    Poochie's, on Dempster in Skokie, bills itself as "the home of the cheddar-burger". I have been to Poochie's many, many times throughout my life and I think I've had only one burger. The also specialize in char-dogs and char-polishes, which I have never ordered. (I don't care for char-dogs. I want 'em steamed and snappin').

    So, what do I order at Poochie's? Why am I even bringing it up?

    Two words: Char. Salami.

    Poochie's serves up a char salami sandwich that is a thing of beauty. A long slab of salami (not round slices) is charred on the grill and served on a French roll cut to the exact length of the slab. Condiments of your choice are added. I highly recommend keeping it simple with mustard and onions (both grilled and raw). Sometimes I go for the hot peppers, but I find that they can overwhelm the salami flavor, which is the anchor. A side of their very good hand-cut fries are the obvious accompaniment.

    The only weak link in the sandwich is the roll. It's a decent French-style roll, but I'd prefer a proper baguette. The roll is a little on the soft side and not nearly crusty or chewy enough. Even so, it doesn't hold back the sandwich's overall greatness.

    This sandwich always makes my day. The very sight of the salami-slab hitting the grill brings a smile to my face.

    Go get a char-salami sandwich at
    Poochie's
    3832 Dempster
    Skokie
    847-673-0100
  • Post #2 - January 24th, 2005, 8:03 am
    Post #2 - January 24th, 2005, 8:03 am Post #2 - January 24th, 2005, 8:03 am
    eatchicago wrote:Two words: Char. Salami.

    Michael,

    Two words, hangover cure.

    5-6 inches of grilled thick slice salami, sport peppers, raw and fried onions, a healthy shot of mustard all loaded on an Italian beef roll. Oh yea, you're preaching to the choir. I also like Poochie's house cut unpeeled fries, though they have a tendency to be slightly overcooked and need salt. Poochie's is a great hot dog stand, even if you don't have a hangover.

    While I do love Poochie's, my current favorite Chicago Hot Dog, Hot Doug's notwithstanding, can be found at Herm's on Dempster. Herm's has natural casing Vienna, steamed poppy seed buns and a full spectrum of toppings, though I go for the minimalist mustard, onion, sport pepper. Fries are of the skinny school, ask for them crisp.

    Speaking of hot dog stands, last time I was at Jimmy's, Grand/Pulaski, it occurred to me it's a perfect little slice of urban life, albeit the grittier side. Two businesses being run out of car trunks in the parking lot, one of which was, get this, full-on Japanese Samurai swords. Yep, 3-foot long swords hawked with perfect Ron Popiel patter.

    Families with kids, tough guys with attitudes, businessmen, preachers, pretty much the full spectrum of humanity crowding in, only to be greeted by a cross-eyed, poorly dressed refugee from reality selling bootleg dvd's of recent feature films, $15 a piece, 3 for $35. No one gets out of line at Jimmy's though, at least not for long. Jimmy's is not the Wiener Circle, no Disneyesque affectations of verbal abuse here, if you tick 'em off they come around the counter and kick your ass or, at the least, bounce it out the door.

    Jimmy's dog is of the minimalist school, mustard, onion, sport pepper, which is my preference. The dog itself is just ok, especially in light of the fact it's natural casing. It's not that it's bad, just the flavor is somewhat nondescript. The fries, on the other hand, are excellent. Crisp, burnt on a few edges, salty, slightly greasy, potatoey, fluffy, dense, lots of differing tastes, textures. Hand cut fry perfection.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Herm's Hot Dog Palace
    3406 Dempster St
    Skokie, IL 60076
    847-673-9757

    Jimmy's Red Hots
    4000 West Grand Ave
    Chicago, IL 60651
    773-384-9513
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #3 - January 24th, 2005, 10:17 am
    Post #3 - January 24th, 2005, 10:17 am Post #3 - January 24th, 2005, 10:17 am
    Dining on Dempster is always tough for me. There are a ton of choices. The Ms. tends to gravitate toward Pita Inn and I always either want to graze at Kaufman's or get a char salami.

    It has been many years since I've been to Herm's, but I have fond memories of my father taking me there for my first meal after picking me up from the bus home from summer camp. Eight weeks of dining hall food in the middle of Wisconsin was always tough on me. It was a tradition to wash the taste out of my mouth with a Herm's hot dog w/everything, cheese fries, and a Kayo (a combination that makes me wince today).

    I'll stop in on Herm's again, but I'll leave the Kayo in the cooler and the cheese off the fries.

    Best,
    Michael / EC
  • Post #4 - January 24th, 2005, 10:27 am
    Post #4 - January 24th, 2005, 10:27 am Post #4 - January 24th, 2005, 10:27 am
    IIRC there were two Hern's.Herm's Palace and Big Herm's.Can anyone confirm?
  • Post #5 - January 24th, 2005, 10:29 am
    Post #5 - January 24th, 2005, 10:29 am Post #5 - January 24th, 2005, 10:29 am
    hattyn wrote:IIRC there were two Hern's.Herm's Palace and Big Herm's.Can anyone confirm?


    Yes, I believe you are correct. I think Big Herm's was right across the street. We always went to Herm's Palace, so my memory is a little foggy on Big Herm's.
  • Post #6 - January 24th, 2005, 4:03 pm
    Post #6 - January 24th, 2005, 4:03 pm Post #6 - January 24th, 2005, 4:03 pm
    hattyn wrote:IIRC there were two Hern's.Herm's Palace and Big Herm's.Can anyone confirm?


    Yes. They were across the street from each other and related (Uncle/nephew). They hated each other with a passion. Big Herms is now a drug store.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #7 - January 24th, 2005, 4:13 pm
    Post #7 - January 24th, 2005, 4:13 pm Post #7 - January 24th, 2005, 4:13 pm
    While you're in the area, don't forget Eastern Style Pizza. Their grinders are excellent including the strange Rueben.
  • Post #8 - January 24th, 2005, 4:21 pm
    Post #8 - January 24th, 2005, 4:21 pm Post #8 - January 24th, 2005, 4:21 pm
    Eastern Style is another place I've been meaning to try.Do they have cheesesteak?And what makes it a strange Reuben?
  • Post #9 - January 24th, 2005, 4:24 pm
    Post #9 - January 24th, 2005, 4:24 pm Post #9 - January 24th, 2005, 4:24 pm
    I've seen cheesesteak on the menu but never ordered it nor even seen it ordered.

    About the rueben, it's a grinder. No rye bread in site.
  • Post #10 - January 24th, 2005, 4:31 pm
    Post #10 - January 24th, 2005, 4:31 pm Post #10 - January 24th, 2005, 4:31 pm
    Hey, I said it was weird, not bad :D

    The Rueben is my standard order there along with the combination. I usually order 1 of each and take them home. Each half sandwich makes for a nice lunch so 1 trip yeilds me 4 meals.
  • Post #11 - January 24th, 2005, 4:59 pm
    Post #11 - January 24th, 2005, 4:59 pm Post #11 - January 24th, 2005, 4:59 pm
    I grew up in West RP, much closer to the Touhy location of Eastern Style. Always hated their pizza, but their meatball grinder remains a favorite to this day.

    Eastern Style Pizza
    2911 W. Touhy
  • Post #12 - January 24th, 2005, 5:03 pm
    Post #12 - January 24th, 2005, 5:03 pm Post #12 - January 24th, 2005, 5:03 pm
    The Touhy location doesn't serve the Rueben.
  • Post #13 - February 15th, 2006, 2:55 pm
    Post #13 - February 15th, 2006, 2:55 pm Post #13 - February 15th, 2006, 2:55 pm
    G Wiv wrote:Poochie's, home of EatChicago's favorite Char Salami, which is a great cure for a night of drinking


    Gary,

    Reading your post this morning turned on a lightbulb in my head. Since I'm home from work today, but house-bound due to the presence of delivery and installation work going on, I decided to approximate Poochie's Char Salami in my kitchen. I had a Vienna salami in the house (it was a Valentine's Day gift from my lovely wife), along with some fresh bread and yellow mustard. Alas, no onion (I had used up the last of it last night), but this sandwich held up just fine without onion. I didn't grill it, but rather griddled it. The key here was the Poochie's-style salami slab.

    I present to you: Griddled Salami ala Poochie's:

    Image

    Thanks for the idea.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #14 - February 15th, 2006, 4:11 pm
    Post #14 - February 15th, 2006, 4:11 pm Post #14 - February 15th, 2006, 4:11 pm
    eatchicago wrote:I had a Vienna salami in the house (it was a Valentine's Day gift from my lovely wife)l

    Michael,

    Sandwich looks terrific. But, as a newlywed, you seem to be confused as to who gives the salami to whom on Valentines Day.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #15 - February 15th, 2006, 4:14 pm
    Post #15 - February 15th, 2006, 4:14 pm Post #15 - February 15th, 2006, 4:14 pm
    G Wiv wrote:Sandwich looks terrific. But, as a newlywed, you seem to be confused as to who gives the salami to whom on Valentines Day.


    Sounds like you understood the joke. ;)
  • Post #16 - February 16th, 2006, 11:59 am
    Post #16 - February 16th, 2006, 11:59 am Post #16 - February 16th, 2006, 11:59 am
    The only weak link in the sandwich is the roll. It's a decent French-style roll, but I'd prefer a proper baguette. The roll is a little on the soft side and not nearly crusty or chewy enough.


    Michael, this is also my primary complaint with Italian Beef sandwiches - the rolls are just a delivery mechanism, and add nothing to the sandwich. Gary brought a baguette to Chickies on one Beefathon, and they made us a sandwich on it, and the difference was major.

    So I am hereby announcing and recruiting all of you to join my new campaign to BRING REAL BREAD TO CHICAGO SANDWICHES!

    With a very few exceptions, all Italian sub places that do get it, the bread is a scandal, and I do not think we should sweep this dirty secret under the rug any longer. Perhaps a Gonnella boycott, along with picketing Al's, Poochies and other strategic places would get our message across?

    Please join me in this crusade to stamp out bread abuse and make this world a better place.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #17 - February 16th, 2006, 2:22 pm
    Post #17 - February 16th, 2006, 2:22 pm Post #17 - February 16th, 2006, 2:22 pm
    Eatchicago---that ho-made char-salami sangwich looks like quite a mouthful! That roll looks very fresh (or is it the backlighting?)

    So to carry dicksond's torch....what are we talking about here? For example, thinking outside the envelope---wouldn't everything that's inside a great Chicago Italian beef--thinly sliced shards of beef, the juice, the spices, the peppers sweet & hot--do just as well on a variety of great breads? Like...a Mexican bolio roll used for tortas...or the pressed loaf strictly for a Cuban sandwich....or the black bread of a Hackneyburger...or heaven forbid a fresh-out-of-the oven pita pocket?

    I realize talking like this is foodie blasphemy, like ketchup on a Vienna.[/u]
  • Post #18 - February 16th, 2006, 2:56 pm
    Post #18 - February 16th, 2006, 2:56 pm Post #18 - February 16th, 2006, 2:56 pm
    jnm123 wrote:Eatchicago---that ho-made char-salami sangwich looks like quite a mouthful! That roll looks very fresh (or is it the backlighting?)


    Well, it was lunch for two. Even so, it was certainly two mouthsfull.

    The roll was very fresh. I wasn't 100% house-bound. I managed to escape to Tony's market down the street and got some bread still warm from the oven.

    :)

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #19 - February 16th, 2006, 3:03 pm
    Post #19 - February 16th, 2006, 3:03 pm Post #19 - February 16th, 2006, 3:03 pm
    I have been bemoaning the bread commonly used on sandwiches around here for some time now and I'm pretty sure JeffB has made similar remarks on more than one occasion as well. The dissolving, tasteless rolls on which Italian beef is always served are for me a major turn-off to the genre as a whole (though I basically like the beef and giardiniera combo itself).

    But beyond that, even a place like Bari, which turns out fine sandwiches and actually uses good quality bread -- the long, soft, light coloured loaves from D'Amato's next door -- stops short of going all the way. If I'm in the mood for a sandwich and am near Bari, I buy imported cold cuts from them and then go next door and get a loaf of the real, dark and toothsome Italian bread that is the glory of D'Amatos. (Not that under appropriate circumstances, I would hesitate to order a sandwich made at Bari.)

    The fact is -- and this I base in part on the direct testimony of someone who has baked bread in Chicago for more than 50 years -- most people don't want sandwiches on bread that isn't very soft and 'low profile'. As with pizza, most folks in this country focus their attention less on the bread-element and more on the other stuff and while that seems to be changing a bit as good bread becomes more widely available, the frequency with which I hear people say Gonnella or Turano products are good indicates that change is coming slowly.

    Antonius
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #20 - February 16th, 2006, 3:13 pm
    Post #20 - February 16th, 2006, 3:13 pm Post #20 - February 16th, 2006, 3:13 pm
    I love the crispy burnt bread next door dearly as bread, drizzle with oil or mop up the sauce with it, but I think Bari makes the right choice for a sandwich in going for the lighter, more evanescent version. Yet even that is too robust for some people:

    But I could tell it wasn't quite the coal-fired D'Amato's bread you get at Bari. I asked, "Is this D'Amato's?" "Yes, but it's the sons', not the father's," the lady behind the counter said. (There are two D'Amato's bakeries on Grand Ave., separately run, very similar but only the father's has a coal-fired oven.) "A lot of people have told us they prefer it, it's not as hard as the other."
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #21 - February 16th, 2006, 3:59 pm
    Post #21 - February 16th, 2006, 3:59 pm Post #21 - February 16th, 2006, 3:59 pm
    Mike G wrote:I love the crispy burnt bread next door dearly as bread, drizzle with oil or mop up the sauce with it, but I think Bari makes the right choice for a sandwich in going for the lighter, more evanescent version. Yet even that is too robust for some people:


    The lighter, softer bread from D'Amato's is very good for its type but the type itself isn't the most interesting. The best of the genre, from D'Amato's or Masi's, are miles ahead of the industrially produced varieties and make for nice sandwiches, but I find them underbaked: again, this is intentional and conscious on the part of the bakers, responding to their audience that wants something soft and in the background.

    But ultimately I remain firmly in the camp of those who generally want the bread to be a prominant, even dominant, element in a sandwich. If only good sandwich makers here would have as an option the D'Amato's Italian bread or even just something more like the bread used for the sandwiches pictured below:

    http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?p=50684#50684
    Image

    Image

    Antonius
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #22 - February 16th, 2006, 5:53 pm
    Post #22 - February 16th, 2006, 5:53 pm Post #22 - February 16th, 2006, 5:53 pm
    Antonius wrote:But ultimately I remain firmly in the camp of those who generally want the bread to be a prominant, even dominant, element in a sandwich.


    Antonius,

    When it comes to a Poochie's char salami with grilled onions and giardinara, it would take one hell of a baker to make the bread be the dominant element. :lol:
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #23 - February 16th, 2006, 6:15 pm
    Post #23 - February 16th, 2006, 6:15 pm Post #23 - February 16th, 2006, 6:15 pm
    stevez wrote:
    Antonius wrote:But ultimately I remain firmly in the camp of those who generally want the bread to be a prominant, even dominant, element in a sandwich.


    Antonius,

    When it comes to a Poochie's char salami with grilled onions and giardinara, it would take one hell of a baker to make the bread be the dominant element. :lol:


    Steve:

    Exactly!

    :wink:

    A
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #24 - February 16th, 2006, 6:35 pm
    Post #24 - February 16th, 2006, 6:35 pm Post #24 - February 16th, 2006, 6:35 pm
    Antonius wrote:The lighter, softer bread from D'Amato's is very good for its type but the type itself isn't the most interesting. The best of the genre, from D'Amato's or Masi's, are miles ahead of the industrially produced varieties and make for nice sandwiches, but I find them underbaked: again, this is intentional and conscious on the part of the bakers, responding to their audience that wants something soft and in the background.


    Crust is not a problem, and I do not find the better semi-industrial breads in Chicago to have a crust problem. The D'Amto double-boule we picked up yesterday was especially bullet proof. Even the lesser breads at a place like Caputo's have a good, hard crust. My problem with most Chicago breads, but for a few notable ones like Freddy's and Fox and Obel, is the inside. Most Chicago breads are horribly dry on the inside, with a texture approaching cob webs. The twin horrors, Gonella and Turano are especially bad in that way.

    The other problem about Chicago breads, vis-a-vis subs is the weight of the loafs. The great sub rolls of say New Orleans or Philadelphia are crusty but then light too. It allows for a good bread element, while focusing attention on the insides. I mean I once ("famously") had Freddy's make my pork cutlet sammy on one of their better breads instead of the thin bread used for the sandwiches. The bread was so heavy I could only eat a 1/4 sandwich. It was not a good option.

    So, I think the bread problem generally is not hopeless if one takes the effort to frequent the better suppliers of local bread. On the other hand, the problem for sub sandwiches is acute.

    BTW, for the record, and I have said this before, I think a squishy Gonella bread works fine for an Italian beef--a sandwich where softness does help.
  • Post #25 - February 16th, 2006, 8:11 pm
    Post #25 - February 16th, 2006, 8:11 pm Post #25 - February 16th, 2006, 8:11 pm
    Since we are talking bread. Chanel 7 did a story on Gonnella Bakery recently.

    http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?sectio ... 66&ft=exLg
  • Post #26 - March 2nd, 2006, 1:06 pm
    Post #26 - March 2nd, 2006, 1:06 pm Post #26 - March 2nd, 2006, 1:06 pm
    And since we are talking bread, and I was downtown and picked up a Bari sub, I also picked up some D'Amato's bread, and the soft gray-day light was just right and the ladies, though suspicious, tolerated my picture-taking...

    Image

    Image

    The best bread in Chicago, admittedly not a great bread town overall, but this is truly worthy: the coal-fired Italian bread from D'Amato's.

    D'Amato's Bakery
    1124 W. Grand Ave.
    (312) 733-5456
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #27 - July 13th, 2006, 6:14 pm
    Post #27 - July 13th, 2006, 6:14 pm Post #27 - July 13th, 2006, 6:14 pm
    LTH,

    The Blessed Mary Kay and family are in from LA and our first stop, after dropping off luggage, was Poochie's. Michael, their son, is a hot dog/burger fan, loves Tommy's, In-n-Out, Pink's, Fat Burger etc. and had read about White Castle Sliders, which he requested. None of the adults were quite up to sliders, though we will most certainly be getting a Crave Case before they depart, so we compromised with Poochie's, a classic Chicago hot dog stand.*

    I'm a Poochie's fan, though unless I'm in the mood for a char salami I'm just as likely to go to Herm's, but today, I gotta tell ya, Poochie's Rocked!

    Char Salami
    Image
    Image

    Double Char Dog w/grilled onion
    Image

    Double Dog w/mustard and relish
    Image

    Dog w/mustard, onion, giardiniera
    Image

    Fries
    Image

    Grill in Action
    Image

    Poochie's
    Image

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    *No need to remind me Poochie's is actually in Skokie. :)
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #28 - July 14th, 2006, 9:28 am
    Post #28 - July 14th, 2006, 9:28 am Post #28 - July 14th, 2006, 9:28 am
    Gary,

    Finally this thread has a pic of the true char salami! Simply beautiful.

    My normal Poochies order is a simple char salami with mustard and raw onion (sometimes adding grilled onions), though next time I might add a touch of giardiniera.

    Nephew Michael wasn't tempted to try Poochie's famous cheddarburger?

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #29 - July 14th, 2006, 10:18 am
    Post #29 - July 14th, 2006, 10:18 am Post #29 - July 14th, 2006, 10:18 am
    eatchicago wrote:Gary,

    Finally this thread has a pic of the true char salami! Simply beautiful.

    My normal Poochies order is a simple char salami with mustard and raw onion (sometimes adding grilled onions), though next time I might add a touch of giardiniera.


    Michael,

    Your order is nearly corrrect. :wink: My order is a char salami with BBQ sauce (applied while cooking), well done grilled onions and giardinara. I've been eating it this way since my father (literally) invented the Poochie's Char Salami some 20+ years ago when his (and my) office was nearly across the street from Poochie's and Harvey was still the owner.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #30 - July 15th, 2006, 12:54 pm
    Post #30 - July 15th, 2006, 12:54 pm Post #30 - July 15th, 2006, 12:54 pm
    Back to the bread, since I started this anyway. What I want in the perfect bread for sandwich is, I admit sheepishly, pretty much a traditional baguette. A good crispy crust, crisper the better, a fairly light, but with good straigthforward flavors of flour and yeast, interior. Needs to be used within 12 hours, at most, of coming out of the oven and should never, ever, ever, be put in plastic or anything else that will retain moisture. No sugar or other seasoning beyond wheat, yeast and the necessary touch of salt (that is what goes into a baguette along with some water, right?).

    That is not to say that some of the heartier rye, whole wheat or other breads do not make good sammies, but the above is my preference. Actually makes a better hot dog bun than most of what is available, too.

    I like the reference to Gonnella and Turano as the twin horrors. In looking back over this, I cannot help but wonder to what degree Wonder Bread has influenced how bread is produced.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy

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