Food Snob Chronicles — The 2014 Ballpark Tour: Chicago (South Side)

There are plenty of reasons to love Chicago. Mine are the deep dish pizza, Chicken Vesuvio and the most confused hot dog in the world (Is it a salad or a hot dog?). The windy city, which actually has less wind than a lot of other cities, has also gained some fame for the local pork chop sandwich.

Unorthodox thing, you make our hearts sing.

Unorthodox thing, you make our hearts sing.

Here in Texas, we’re not famous for our pork chop sandwiches. There is a dive about 20 minutes from my home that serves a dandy version with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle and mayo. (Though this place was immortalized on the Tonight Show w/ Johnny Carson by local celebrity George Foreman, it was for their marvelous hamburgers.) Otherwise, if you order a pork sandwich around these parts, you’re going to get bone-in ribs on a bun, or hickory smoke-flavored pulled pork. — Back in my old stomping grounds on the East Coast, the only pork sandwich I remember had Taylor Pork Roll as its main ingredient.

So why Chicago for pork chops? Well, keep in mind that Chicago sits in the heart of pig country. Seriously. Sure, Memphis is renowned for its pulled pork, but the upper Midwest is the real deal. Illinois, according to the USDA, was second only to Iowa in 2013 for U.S. pork production. Think of it like Texas’ barbecued beef, or Wisconsin’s cheese.

Did you know?  Pork chops on buns might be old hat at the Midwest ballparks, but professional baseball didn’t welcome its first player named Pork Chop until 1988. Actually, Pork Chop Pough’s given name was Clyde. But throughout his career — spent entirely in the minors through 2003 — he was known simply as Pork Chop.

A version of the below recipe is served regularly at U.S. Cellular Field (New Comiskey Park), home of the White Sox. Wrigley Field offered a version earlier this season to coincide with the stadium’s 100th anniversary. If you want to keep it totally Chicago, use bone-in pork chops on the sandwich.

Chicago-style Pork Chop Sandwich

Chicago-style Pork Chop Sandwich — South side, baby!

Chicago-style Pork Chop Sandwich — South side, baby!

1½ lbs. – Boneless pork chops, halved and pounded to about 1/3-inch thickness
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour, for dredging (about 1/2 cup)
Vegetable oil, for frying (about 1 cup)

4 – Sub or sandwich rolls, toasted
Grilled onions (below)

Make the grilled onions
2 – Large yellow onions, sliced thinly
2 TB – Butter

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and stir to coat. Allow to cook uncovered until golden, about 10 minutes. Remove onions and set aside.

Fry the chops
To the large skillet you used to cook the onions, add the vegetable and preheat to medium-high. Season pork with salt and pepper then dredge in flour, shaking off excess. Fry each piece for about 3-4 minutes per side. Drain on paper plate or paper towel-lined plate.

Make the sandwich
Divide the chops among the four sandwich rolls, top each sandwich with a generous serving of the onions. The classic Chicago-style pork chop sandwich is dressed with brown mustard. Sport peppers are also a traditional topper (substitute pickled Pepperoncini or Serrano).

Serve with fries. Makes 4 sandwiches.

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Comments

  1. Oh, my stars! Delish…nothing more to say.

  2. Oh my goodness. I’ve never had one of these even though I lived up there for 25 years. Of course, the south side and me never had much in common. It looks amazing though and now that I live away from there, it’s time to have one.

    • adamjholland says:

      That’s sort of like my attendance at Broadway plays. I never saw one until I moved away. Go figure. And please, enjoy responsibly. :-)

  3. That right there is one drool-worthy sandwich!

  4. I just love this little tour! You know it has inspired me to make a “Play Ball! Ballpark Eats” Pinterest board that many people are now following – I think about 1000. I pin every one of your tour posts to it and this is no exception – already pinned it!

    • adamjholland says:

      Woo hoo! Are we Pinterest friends, or followers, or likers … or whatever? I’m gonna go hunt you down and stalk you, if you don’t mind.

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