Billy Dec, the man behind Sunda, Bottlefork, The Underground, Rockit Burger Bar, Rockit Bar & Grill, and Ay Chiwowa, is one of Chicago’s most well-known and well-loved restaurateurs, and for good reason: each of his concepts offers something fresh and innovative, earning a deserved place among the city’s most frequented restaurants and bars. In his honor, we’ve handpicked three knockout recipes plucked from menus at his restaurants to share with you.
The crimson-hued Devil’s Tongue cocktail at Ay Chiwowa is everything an autumnal libation should be: generously spiced, warming, and potent enough to get you buzzing after just one (an especially important feature when entertaining extended family). And as an added bonus, your at-home bar will acquire a few more impressive, conversation-starting bottles.
The Devil’s Tongue at Ay Chiwowa 311 W. Chicago Ave., 312-643-3200 MAKES 1 COCKTAIL
1½ oz. Novo Fogo Silver Cachaça
¾ oz. Giffard Crème de Mûre
¾ oz. lime juice
Splash of Bittermen's Habanero Shrub
3 oz. Gosling’s Ginger Beer
Combine everything but the ginger beer in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a Collins glass over ice and top with ginger beer. Garnish with two blackberries.
Bow down before Chef Amanda Downing, Chicago’s resident haute burger goddess. Her Johnny Apple Burger bursts with bold flavors reminiscent of a Thanksgiving feast, sans the hassle. When apples, pecans, and warm, melt-y brie punctuate a juicy black angus burger, turkey seems like little more than a hollow afterthought. Pair with sweet potato fries for full effect.
Johnny Apple Burger at Rockit Burger Bar 3700 N. Clark St., 773-645-4400 MAKES 4 BURGERS
2 lbs. fresh-ground black angus beef, formed into 4 8-oz.patties
8 slices brie cheese, 2x¼"
4 soft, buttery hamburger buns, toasted
8 slices thick-cut, cooked applewood smoked bacon
2 gala apples, cut into ¼" match sticks
4 tbsp pecan aioli (see recipe below)
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
For pecan aioli:
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup pecan halves, toasted and finely chopped
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
Heat grill to medium heat and be sure it is clean and well oiled with vegetable oil. Season each patty with salt and pepper.
Place burgers on grill, turning once after 3 minutes and then flipping after an additional 3 minutes. Cook for another 5-6 minutes after flipping until cooked to desired temperature.
Place two slices of brie cheese on each patty the last 30 seconds of grilling to allow the cheese to begin to melt. Remove from grill.
Mix together pecan aioli ingredients in a small bowl.
To assemble, spread one tablespoon of pecan aioli on the bottom of each of the buns. Place patty with melted cheese on top of aioli, top with two bacon slices on each burger, and finish with a small handful of the sliced apples.
Nothing says America like a good, old-fashioned s’more, which is exactly why the Sunda S’more from Dec’s new Asian concept ditches convention (and the campfire) in favor of tiny mason jars, ginger, and a handy brulee torch. This recipe will require a few more tools than you might already have on hand, but the extra effort is worth it for a taste of the marshmallow-y treat.
Sunda S’more at Sunda 110 W. Illinois St., 312-644-0500 MAKES 2 S'MORES
4 oz. butter
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup cake flour
¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
2/3 cup sour cream
¼ cup crystalized ginger
½ tsp ground ginger
½ cup milk
In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter until smooth. Add brown sugar and eggs and mix until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Add the vanilla, baking soda, salt, graham cracker crumbs, crystallized ginger, and ground ginger. Mix until combined.
Add half of the flour, then half of the sour cream, and mix until combined. Repeat with the remaining flour and sour cream, and then drizzle in milk.
Fill two ½-pint mason jars with 4 oz. of batter each and cover with lids.
Place a 4” hotel pan or pot filled with water on the stovetop. Slowly drop the mason jars into the pan.
On a slow simmer leave the jars completely submerged in the water for 30 minutes. Remove and cool.
Add chopped chocolate and marshmallows and lightly torch the top of the marshmallows with a brulee torch.