Foods so delicious and quintessentially American are honored with their own food holidays, and nothing says “America” quite like a serving of crispy French fries or a generous helping of mac & cheese. Celebrated one right after the other, National French Fry Day is July 13, and National Mac & Cheese Day is July 14. Whether you eat them as an entrée, side or afternoon snack, both are guaranteed to hit the spot. At Luella’s Southern Kitchen (4609 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-961-8196), Owner/Chef Darnell Reed gives some southern flair to the American classics.
French fries are anything but traditional at Luella’s Southern Kitchen. Reed prepares his fries with a lemon and Cajun
seasoning, giving them the southern spin they need to complement his dishes. At Luella’s, French fries come as a side with multiple dishes. They accompany the Pimento Cheeseburger ($11), the Soft Shell Crab Po’ Boy ($15), and the Fried Green Tomato BLT ($11). And don’t worry, Luella’s hasn’t forgotten about the kids! A side of fries ($3) is included on the kids menu, but you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy them.
Reed also puts a Southern twist on the beloved mac & cheese. His BBQ Brisket Mac & Cheese ($11) expands on the classic dish with the addition of tender brisket cooked to perfection, a creamy Mornay sauce and buttered bread crumbs. You haven’t truly experienced mac & cheese until you taste it prepared like this.
This year, don’t be a small fry! Head over to Luella’s Southern Kitchen and celebrate National French Fry Day and National Mac & Cheese Day like you’re below the Mason-Dixon Line. Luella’s is closed on Mondays, so you will have to pack in both celebrations into one day on Tuesday, July 14. And if you like what you taste, check out the BBQ Brisket Mac & Cheese recipe below. Whip it up for friends and family to keep the festivities going all summer long.
Luella’s Southern Kitchen BBQ Brisket Mac & Cheese
Chef Darnell Reed
Ingredients for Mac and Cheese:
- 3 oz heavy cream).
- 3 oz cheese sauce (recipe for sauce below)
- 1 slice American cheese
- 3 oz barbecue brisket
- 6.5 oz cooked pasta
- 1.5 T barbecue bread crumbs
- Salt and pepper to taste
Place the heavy cream, cheese sauce and American cheese in a pan and bring to a simmer. Add the brisket and continue to simmer until the meat is heated through. Add the pasta and season it with salt and pepper. Toss the mixture, letting the sauce continue to form and thicken until it coats the pasta evenly. Season more, if necessary, or serve with toasted bread crumbs.
Ingredients for Cheese Sauce:
- 6 oz butter
- 6 oz all-purpose flour
- 2 T mustard powder
- 2 tsp paprika
- 2 cups chopped Spanish onion
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 gallon of whole milk
- 12 oz mascarpone cheese
- 6 oz shredded Parmesan cheese
- 6 oz grated Romano cheese
- 1.5 pounds American cheese
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a medium heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook slowly, stirring occasionally for two or three minutes. Sprinkle the flour and cook for one to three minutes, stirring constantly so the roux doesn't brown. Whisk constantly. Add dry mustard, paprika, bay leaves and milk until no visible lumps. Turn heat to low and bring to a slow simmer, whisking occasionally. Continue to simmer and whisk until you achieve nappe consistency. Remove the sauce from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Strain sauce, add cheeses and whisk to melt cheese.
Ingredients for Barbecue Spice for Brisket:
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 1/4 cup paprika
- 2 T granulated onion
- 2 T granulated garlic
Mix all ingredients in a robot coupe for about 15 seconds until they are mixed evenly. Store in a cool, dry place, covered. (NOTE: This is enough rub to season one brisket up to 12 pounds.)
Instructions for Brisket:
Rub the brisket all over with the barbecue seasoning mix. Smoke the fat side up at 215 degrees for about 12 hours, or one hour and 10 minutes per pound at the same temperature.
About Chef Reed
Darnell Reed is a graduate of Washburne Culinary Institute in Chicago. He began his professional career in 1997 at the Palmer House Hilton where he served as Restaurant Chef at the French Quarter and the Big Downtown. In 2005, he was promoted to Executive Sous Chef at the Embassy Suites Chicago Lakefront where he handled banquet functions for up to 700 people. In April 2007, Reed was promoted to the dual Executive Chef position at the Hilton of Oakbrook and Hilton Garden Inn of Oakbrook. In May of 2010, he accepted the Executive Sous Chef position at the Conrad Chicago Hotel and was promoted to Executive Chef in 2011.
About Luella’s Southern Kitchen
Luella’s Southern Kitchen, located at 4609 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago’s Lincoln Square, is a casual independent restaurant owned by Chef Darnell Reed. The restaurant opened February 3, 2015. Luella’s serves lunch and dinner Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Weekend brunch is served from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday; dinner is served until 10 p.m. on Saturday and 8 p.m. on Sunday. All major cards are accepted. Luella’s is a BYOB establishment; no corkage fee is charged. Takeout and delivery service are available. For more information, call the restaurant at (773) 961-8196 or visit the website atwww.luellassouthernkitchen.com.
Photo credit: Cindy Kurman, Kurman Communications, Inc.