With Thanksgiving around the corner, it’s assumed that the holiday will involve typical items such as turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, etc. However, for those who do not celebrate the “typical” American holiday or in an effort to go against the grain, a wonderful substitution for the butterball turkey & the maple-glazed ham are slices of beautifully encased meats. Having so many locations around the city perfecting its charcuterie and sausage platters, it’s hard to truly dub a favourite – which is why we’ve narrowed it down to our top five (in no particular order):
Publican Quality Meats
825 W. Fulton Market Street Chicago, IL 60607
As it says in the name, PQM is known for its quality meats, along with its hyper-seasonal menu. Offering its own house-made charcuterie, seasonal cheeses, rustic soups, home-made breads, and more, PQM is not only a butcher shop, but it is also a neighborhood cafe, bakery, and gourmet market. Calling its home in Chicago’s meatpacking district, PQM, along with its sister restaurant, Publican, continue to wow its customers with its conscionable and local selections.
626 N State St, Chicago, IL 60654
Whether it’s bone chilling cold or stifling hot outside, Quartino is always busy catering its fresh and rustic Italian cuisine to both locals and tourists. Besides it’s intense and regional wine selections, the star of Quartino’s menu is its charcuterie selections. Made from family-old recipes comprised of organic and local products, Chef John Coletta makes ten varieties of charcuterie in house. Ranging from fragrant Spianata Romana (blended pork shoulder and pork belly), to aromatic prosciutto d’ anatra (duck prosciutto)”, to even my personal favourite, salame al tartufo nero (truffle salume), it’s clear that tender loving care is put forth in all of its preparation – which you can taste for yourself. For those who are hesitant of heavier meats but still want to somewhat celebrate the “turkey” holiday, the house-made turkey bresaola is now in season. Consisting of organic turkey breasts and served with house-made cranberry mostarda, this “bird” is a great substitution for the usual.
1227 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608
Although cured and dried meat aren’t on the line-up at Dusek’s, fresh sausages and modernized choucroute are up for grabs. Contrived with duck confit, house garlic sausage, fresh bacon, red potatoes, sauerkraut, and pickled apple, the choucroute pays tribute to the neighborhood’s European roots, while still remaining a favourite menu item. If you’re in the mood to wash away the tangy and lingering kraut flavour or just looking for an after-meal beverage, head downstairs to Punch House for its crafty (but strong) libations.
1401 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
Head Chef Kim says it best, “We’re trying to make food that tastes good using a different, but familiar application.” With that being said, Mott Street introduces a Filipino and Thai version of a charcuterie platter, serving up two different types of sausages that play off both the sweet and savory sides of the spectrum. While the Longanisa, the sweeter pork sausage, brings a softer and enjoyable flavour profile to the board, the Issan Sausage, made of fermented garlicky pork and rice, contains pieces of whole peppercorns that explode with flavour during each bite. If the sausages don’t blow your mind, wait until you try its garnish of luscious apple-ginger marmalade, you’ll want to scoop out every last spoonful.
Table, Donkey and Stick
2728 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
Featuring a mix of traditional and non-so-traditional charcuterie, this quaint and quirky Logan Square location offers items ranging from pork rillettes, smoked trout, to szechuan cured pork loin, and pheasant galantine. Although the charcuterie is normally presented in groups of proteins, each item is looked at as its own miniature composed plate – focusing on every detail, down to the seasonal garnish. A current standout and my personal favourite, was the rich and decadent Duck Liver Mousse (below), topped with cocoa nibs and fresh cherry preserve. By lathering the restaurant’s freshly baked sourdough rye baguettes and sunflower oat bread with a large schmear of the Duck Liver Mouse and its toppings, it exemplified a perfect and delectable adult PBJ, only much more extraordinary.