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Lexington Betty Smokehouse, with a Side of Mild Sauce

Lexington Betty Smokehouse, with a Side of Mild Sauce
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  • Lexington Betty Smokehouse, with a Side of Mild Sauce

    Post #1 - February 8th, 2020, 10:03 am
    Post #1 - February 8th, 2020, 10:03 am Post #1 - February 8th, 2020, 10:03 am
    At Lexington Betty Smokehouse, new to my neighborhood, I got the tips and brisket, with greens and potato salad, and Carolyn got the pulled pork, greens and corn bread.

    Tips and brisket.jpg


    The brisket was very good, with flavorful bark. Though it may be considered “too tender” by some, I really liked it. Also knocked out by the greens, which were done with smoked turkey and had much, more flavor than many servings of greens I’ve had in the past. Tips were fine, pulled pork seemed a touch dry, so the next time we go, I’m just going to double down on the brisket and greens, about which I could not get enough – that’s saying a lot; I have a short attention span with food and am usually bored half-way through most entrees, but this brisket…I could have gone for a second helping.

    Lexington Betty Smokehouse started out as a food truck and a caterer, and now they have the Galewood/Oak Park location and a stall (open just about a week) at One Eleven Food Hall in Pullman. But here’s the thing: they are not set up to smoke meat in Pullman, so they’re hauling the BBQ from Oak Park to the southside. Although BBQ travels well, LBS may very well be at its best in Oak Park.

    Dominique.jpg


    Pit master (mistress?) Dominique Leach was kitchen manager at the Art Institute, and that’s where she met Tony Mantuano when he opened his Terzo Piano in the same building. Mantuano snatched her up and she spent several years at Spiaggia, which is an interesting fine-dining detour in her career path to the BBQ pit. Her wife, Tanisha, told us that she’s the one responsible for the rub on the brisket that yielded the excellent outer crust.

    Tanisha had asked us if we wanted sauce cooked onto the meat or on the side, and we went with it on the side (SOP). We got the mild sauce, as this is a Chicago original food that I just don’t know much about. There are several references to mild sauce on this forum, and nobody seems to like it very much. I’d love to say I loved it, but I didn’t, though I did enjoy the mild sauce at Lexington Betty’s better than I have at other places: it didn’t have the disagreeable notes of a commodity sauce, though it may very well have contained some of that, which is typical for mild sauce.

    Googling around, I discovered a place called Mild Sauce in Los Angeles that caters to West Coast transplants missing the taste of Chicago mild sauce, which seems strange to me as the flavor of mild sauce apparently varies from location to location, so longing for mild sauce could mean different things to different people.

    On Youtube (the font of all human knowledge) I came across some recipes for mild sauce, and there are lots of variations, with some recipes calling for a can of Coke, pickled ginger and other unexpected ingredients.

    In 2017, there was a Chicago magazine article about mild sauce written by Hannibal Buress (in town to appear with me in the Netflix series “Easy,” a Joe Swanberg mumblecore effort in which Buress plays a writer for Newcity). In that short, funny piece, Buress wrote:

    “If you live on the South Side or West Side and you go to a restaurant that has bulletproof glass, they probably have mild sauce. Apologies, that was a horrible explanation. I’ll try again. If serenity had a flavor, it would taste like mild sauce. It should have Sriracha levels of fame. I think it’s a combination of barbecue sauce, hot sauce, and ketchup. The reason I’m guessing is because I’ve never seen an actual bottle that says “mild sauce” on it. They always pour it from some blank, nondescript bottle.”

    “Serenity,” yeah, I can see that.

    I don’t use much if any sauce on my BBQ – and it would have been a shame to spackle over the flavor of the brisket with sauce of any kind – but I plan to order mild sauce every chance I get, if for no other reason than to gain a better sense of what this Chicago original condiment is all about.

    Lexington Betty Smokehouse
    6954 W. North Avenue
    https://www.lexingtonbettysmokehouse.com/
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins
  • Post #2 - February 8th, 2020, 10:19 am
    Post #2 - February 8th, 2020, 10:19 am Post #2 - February 8th, 2020, 10:19 am
    David Hammond wrote:We got the mild sauce, as this is a Chicago original food

    Bill Daley did a "What's the Story" Mild Sauce article for the Trib a few years ago, I'm quoted a few times including my WAG at a mild sauce recipe, Peter Engler is quoted as well as a few other Chicago food people.

    When I think of Mild Sauce what pops to mind is the wildly non-PC YouTube video Harold's 6-Piece, Mild sauce Fried hard.

    Hammond, looking forward to trying Lexington Betty soon. Great post.
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #3 - February 8th, 2020, 10:33 am
    Post #3 - February 8th, 2020, 10:33 am Post #3 - February 8th, 2020, 10:33 am
    Gwiv, this may be a false memory, but I seem to recall that Charmaine Rickett showed up at an early Chowhound event with some of her dad's mild sauce.
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins
  • Post #4 - February 8th, 2020, 11:15 am
    Post #4 - February 8th, 2020, 11:15 am Post #4 - February 8th, 2020, 11:15 am
    There are actually a couple of brands now sold commercially as "mild sauce." I have a bottle of Tip32 Mild Sauce in my fridge which, according to the label, is modeled after Farmer Brown's "Chicken and Rib Shack" (closed 2000; used to be on Clybourn and Division IIRC.) This is a very molasses-y type of mild sauce. Ingredients are just "all natural puree [tomato, of course, I would assume], molasses, light brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, lemon juice." There's no element of heat to it whatsoever, but it does taste like a cross between ketchup and molasses-based barbecue sauce.

    There's at least one other brand that my brother picked up that I don't remember the name of, but my research leads me to believe it was this one, That Mild Sauce, as he picked it up in NW Indiana at Strack and Van Till's (mentioned on their website as one of their retailers.) I haven't tried it, though, so can't report on the flavor.

    Personally, I love the stuff, but each version I've had seems to be slightly different. A mix of hot & mild is my go-to at places like Harold's and Uncle Remus's. And mild sauce plain on fries is the best.
  • Post #5 - February 9th, 2020, 8:47 am
    Post #5 - February 9th, 2020, 8:47 am Post #5 - February 9th, 2020, 8:47 am
    Binko wrote:Personally, I love the stuff, but each version I've had seems to be slightly different. A mix of hot & mild is my go-to at places like Harold's and Uncle Remus's. And mild sauce plain on fries is the best.


    On fries, makes sense, and I can see using a mix of hot and mild.

    Would you say that, generally, mild sauce is going to tend toward the sweeter end of the flavor spectrum?
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins
  • Post #6 - February 9th, 2020, 10:02 am
    Post #6 - February 9th, 2020, 10:02 am Post #6 - February 9th, 2020, 10:02 am
    David Hammond wrote:Would you say that, generally, mild sauce is going to tend toward the sweeter end of the flavor spectrum?


    Yes, very much so. Like ketchup sweet, maybe sweeter, at least to my tastes. (Maybe like commercial KC barbecue sauce levels of sweet?) It's sweet enough that it usually leaves a bit of a sugary stickiness on my lips when I smack them. I actually tend not to like sweet sauces (like some of the various sweeter Asian style chicken wings are too much for me), but, for whatever reason, I enjoy mild sauce. Harold's mild sauce definitely tastes sweeter to me, and is particularly nice when it's mixed with the vinegary hot sauce.
  • Post #7 - February 11th, 2020, 4:20 pm
    Post #7 - February 11th, 2020, 4:20 pm Post #7 - February 11th, 2020, 4:20 pm
    While waiting for my daughter to get out of school, I popped into the new-ish Harold's Chicken #88 Meets Beer at 1450 S. Michigan Ave. and noticed at the cash register that they sell 12oz(?) squeeze bottles of both mild sauce and hot sauce there. I don't know if this is peculiar to this location, but I don't remember seeing them for sale at other Harold's.

    Anyhow, when I came home, I evaluated the sauce on its own (which I don't think I've ever done before -- I've only had it on the chicken or with the fries.) The first hit I get is of ketchup, followed by a sweet-and-sour Open Pit (original) type of flavor (wouldn't be surprised if it was, to be honest.) Tasting it alongside some Hunt's ketchup (which is the ketchup of choice at Chez Binko), it seems be both a bit sweeter and a bit sourer than the ketchup. The tang seems to linger a bit longer. It does leave a bit of residual sweetness on the lips. Unfortunately, I don't have any Open Pit original to compare it with (which is odd, as that's the only barbecue sauce I usually stock around here.) I don't detect any heat, but I wouldn't necessarily be surprised if there is--I just can't make any out.

    Hmm...Now to make a trip out to Uncle Remus and get a 12oz bottle of their sauce (only $3.49 according to their website!) and compare notes now that I can do it side-by-side and not rely on memory.

    Harold's Chicken #88 Meets Beer
    1450 S. Michigan Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60605
  • Post #8 - February 11th, 2020, 4:52 pm
    Post #8 - February 11th, 2020, 4:52 pm Post #8 - February 11th, 2020, 4:52 pm
    Binko wrote:The first hit I get is of ketchup, followed by a sweet-and-sour Open Pit (original) type of flavor (wouldn't be surprised if it was, to be honest.) Tasting it alongside some Hunt's ketchup (which is the ketchup of choice at Chez Binko), it seems be both a bit sweeter and a bit sourer than the ketchup. The tang seems to linger a bit longer. It does leave a bit of residual sweetness on the lips. Unfortunately, I don't have any Open Pit original to compare it with (which is odd, as that's the only barbecue sauce I usually stock around here.) I don't detect any heat, but I wouldn't necessarily be surprised if there is--I just can't make any out.

    That's pretty much what I guessed Mild Sauce to be in the Bill Daley article I linked upthread. "Gary Wiviott, pitmaster at Lincoln Park's Barn & Company, guesses mild sauce's proportions are 5 parts barbecue sauce to 2 parts ketchup and 1 part hot sauce."

    I know at least one well known aquarium smoker BBQ joint uses Open Pit Original as a base, there maybe more.
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #9 - February 11th, 2020, 5:52 pm
    Post #9 - February 11th, 2020, 5:52 pm Post #9 - February 11th, 2020, 5:52 pm
    I know at least one well known aquarium smoker BBQ joint uses Open Pit Original as a base, there maybe more.


    Yeah, I know I've spied Open Pit at at least one BBQ joint before. I think your guess of BBQ sauce (Open Pit) + ketchup + hot sauce is probably pretty close for at least Harold's. I'll have to pick up a bottle of Open Pit and experiment.

    This Youtube video also has a guess that is very similar to your ratio of BBQ Sauce:Ketchup:Hot Sauce. (Though he uses Kraft BBQ sauce in his video. The other ingredients he just calls "his twist.")

    1 C BBQ Sauce
    1/2 C Ketchup
    3 Tbsp Hot Sauce
    1 Tbsp Apple Cider
    1 Tbps Paprika
    1 tsp Ginger Powder
    1 tsp white pepper
    1 C water
    2 Tbsp brown sugar
    Last edited by Binko on February 13th, 2020, 10:51 am, edited 3 times in total.
  • Post #10 - February 11th, 2020, 7:38 pm
    Post #10 - February 11th, 2020, 7:38 pm Post #10 - February 11th, 2020, 7:38 pm
    Binko, I'm curious: how is that Harold's? I live a block away and have eyed it but not gone in yet.
  • Post #11 - February 11th, 2020, 7:44 pm
    Post #11 - February 11th, 2020, 7:44 pm Post #11 - February 11th, 2020, 7:44 pm
    chezbrad wrote:Binko, I'm curious: how is that Harold's? I live a block away and have eyed it but not gone in yet.


    It's best in a Kimbark Plaza Progressive, which is deboned, crumbled, and stirred into fried rice with kimchi. On its own, it's all about the sauce (which is delicious).
  • Post #12 - February 11th, 2020, 8:40 pm
    Post #12 - February 11th, 2020, 8:40 pm Post #12 - February 11th, 2020, 8:40 pm
    chezbrad wrote:Binko, I'm curious: how is that Harold's? I live a block away and have eyed it but not gone in yet.


    Heh. I actually popped in and only got the mild sauce. :) I was just going to poke my head in to check the place out, (my kid's at Old St. Mary's and I've been passing by it every day for this school year and had yet to pop in) but then I saw the mild and hot sauce by the counter and was sold. I also noticed that they have a chicken sandwich on sale there (for something around $8), which I don't think I've ever seen at a Harold's before. My usual Harold's was actually the one in Kimbark Plaza, though these days I'm most often by the Harold's locations in the Loop.
  • Post #13 - February 13th, 2020, 10:57 am
    Post #13 - February 13th, 2020, 10:57 am Post #13 - February 13th, 2020, 10:57 am
    Binko wrote:I'll have to pick up a bottle of Open Pit and experiment.


    Yeah, the 2:1 ratio with Open Pit and ketchup is too acidic. Reversing it as 2:1 ketchup:Open Pit gets closer, but I might be barking up the wrong tree with Open Pit. There's also a heat to the Open Pit that I don't get with the Harold's mild sauce. Maybe I'll try kicking in a bit of brown sugar and water and see if that gets any closer.

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