Happy birthday, Chicago!  177 years old and you don’t look a day over a century. Such a momentous occasion sparks nostalgia and reminds me why I love this city. I love Chicago for the people. We are hard working people that put up with so much shit. The weather, the politics, the expense, but we are survivors. We live here because we want to. And together we make it one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Amazing neighborhoods, amazing food, amazing architecture, Midwestern values.

The following recipe is a taste of Chicago and I first made this dish as a contestant on Season One of ABC’s “The Taste”. It’s as an homage to Chitown, highlighting our city’s meatpacking and butchering history mixed with a host of flavors that reflect our city’s melting pot. Red pepper flakes straight from the table of your favorite pizza place. Sweet potatoes as a spin on the proverbial Midwestern “meat and potato” with a nod to our city’s soul food influence.

Sandburg got it right, “…city of the Big Shoulders…come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.” Words that still ring true today and I’ve never been more proud to represent my city.

Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon Sweet Potato and Kale

Special meat recipe

Birthday cooking in Chicago.

2T Garlic Minced
2T Red Chili Flakes
2T Fennel Seeds
1 Pork Tenderloin
2 Medium Sweet Potato
1T Butter
1T Brown Sugar 
1/4c Bourbon
1 bunch, Kale

Pork: Trim off silver skin and any excess fat. Preheat oven to 375. Then pat down with paper towel to absorb any additional moisture. Season the pork with salt, garlic, chili flakes and garlic evenly.

Preheat saute pan to medium-hi heat. Add oil and brown Pork on all sides, about 5 min per side. Then transfer pork to sheet tray and put in oven for ~15 min. Internal temp should read 145F. Let rest for 5 min before slicing.

Potato: Peel sweet potato and cut into small dice. Add potato to boiling water, and boil until tender ~15 min. Drain water and add sugar, butter and bourbon to pot. Return potato and stir evenly. Season with salt. Using a masher or your spatula, stir potatoes until they are smooth in texture.

Kale: Rip kale leaves into one inch pieces, removing all stems. In saute pan over medium heat, add olive oil and then saute kale until bright green in color. 3 min. Don’t overcook, as you’ll want the texture to be just right.

Serve together and enjoy.


Chef Aram Reed