“Well, isn’t that Special?” – 1- Chow

Hey there sweet family,

Rowland and I are as much foodies as we are music lovers. In fact, we eat out way more often than we go to concerts – especially on nights restaurants offer specials we like. As much fun as that is, we thought we’d try a little experiment.

Can we go 3 months without caving in to the impulse of going out to eat on “special” nights? Not only that, but can we possibly re-create the specials and restaurant ambience at home? To the extent that after 3 months, we might actually (gasp) prefer eating in to going out? All those questions and more will be answered in a blog segment we call, <<drum roll>> “Well, isn’t that Special?”

Well, isn't that special?

Well, isn’t that special?

The first eatsa de resistance we attempted was Chow Burger & Pizza Bar’s Monday special: $10 for a burger and 20 oz. draft.  French fries are an additional $.95, for a 2-diner total of $21.50, plus tax and tip. Chow’s burgers are good, the beer is cold, the inside dining room  has loads of seating and the tables outside create an almost café-like ambience. However, we never sit outside because *almost café-like ambience* means the scenery can be an automotive Stonehenge.

Chow Burgers and Pizza Bar

Chow Burgers and Pizza Bar

As I shopped at Food Lion after work in preparation for the meal, I got a good deal on fresh ground chuck and fresh ground sirloin. In my mind that justified picking up trendy pretzel rolls instead of traditional hamburger buns – call it Pretzel Logic. 😉 The only other items on our shopping list were potatoes for French fries and jalapenos for Rowland’s burger. Everything else we needed we had at home. Voila:

Ingredients for our Chow special eat-at-home meal.

Ingredients for our Chow special eat-at-home meal.

Since this isn’t a full-blown cooking blog I won’t go into all the details of how we made our special meal, but a few points need to be shared:

1. Having made burgers our entire adult lives, we thought we had the technique down pat. Man, were we wrong. Last night we tried a tip Iron Chef  Geoffrey Zakarian recently shared on  Food Network’s The Kitchen , “When you make burgers pat the meat together loosely because otherwise you’ll get meat loaf.” Hallelujiah! Hallelujiah! Hallelujiah! Best. Burger. Tip. Ever. Thank you, GZ!

2. Since Chow doesn’t cook their burgers outside on a grill we decided that in all fairness we couldn’t either. A cast iron skillet worked great.

3. Forget every thing you ever read about perfect fries needing to be cut hours in advance, chilled in a refrigerator, dried, chilled again, fried partially, fried again yadda yadda yadda. We took a low-brow cue from the Anchor Bar in Superior, WI and cut our fries fresh (btw, one large russet potato made enough fries for both of us), threw them in a pan of hot Crisco until they got their gold on, drained ’em on a paper towel, shook on salt and served them. Perfection in under 2o minutes. The results:

Rowland's burger

Rowland’s burger

Lana's burger

Lana’s burger

(The photographer obviously told this burger to  “Say cheese!” )

So, how did we do?

* Did we succeed in re-creating the Chow Burger & Beer special at home?

Oh, hell to the yesssss!! Our homemade Burger & Beer special, plus fries, *completely* blew Chow’s away and at a total cost of $5.03 the price wasn’t hard to swallow either. We loved it so much we discussed never eating a burger and fries out again!

* How about re-creating the restaurant ambience at home?

Outdoor seating at our house is much more relaxing.

Our house

Our house

Well, isn’t that Special? 😉

Take care and know that you are loved, Lana

Update: We made the French fries for this blog in a pan filled with hot Crisco after we discovered that our deep fryer was broken. That technique worked fine. However, we wanted to replace our deeper fryer and found a great deal on a T-fal Family Pro model.