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Three Delicious Early Autumn Dishes You Should Try

By Melissa McEwen in Food on Sep 24, 2014 7:00PM

Homestyle Taste’s Stewed Mushroom With Chicken (Photo by Melissa McEwen)

Autumn is one of my favorite times of year. Cooler temperatures make the perfect weather for warm savory dishes full of late season vegetables. Here are three of the best I've had— so far.

Stewed Mushroom With Chicken At Homestyle Taste (3205 S Halsted St.)

At home I love to cook food from my native South with Asian touches I’ve picked up throughout my life. One of my favorite dishes is Taiwanese red-cooked pork belly with a classic Southern cornbread. I thought it was at least somewhat original, until I had this dish from the Dongbei region of China. It has a surprise guest on top— cornbread. Corn, as well as wheat, dominate grain agriculture in this region, which makes it a bit different from the typical Chinese grain Americans are used to, which is rice. Below the cornbread, a rich broth is leaden with savory Chinese mushrooms and pieces of dark meat chicken. It’s the perfect meal for a cool autumn day.

(Photo by Melissa McEwen)

Toasted Eggplant And Baba Ganoush At Rootstock (954 N California Ave.)

Sounds kind of redundant, right? But actually it’s pure genius and I confess I can’t stop talking about this dish. These two showcase the best ways to prepare eggplant and contrast deliciously on the plate. The toasted eggplant is crispy and infused with Middle Eastern spices and the baba ganoush is creamy and lush with high-quality olive oil and lemon, topped with toasted sesame seeds. It’s hard not to wonder if someone’s been reading Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem, one of my favorite cookbooks. The rest of the dish varies and it usually includes some kind of tender lamb or goat with another vegetable like shishito peppers or mushrooms.

(Photo by Melissa McEwen)

Pork Belly at Two (1132 W Grand Ave.)

I can never get enough of Two’s pork dishes. It’s the protein they do best. Pork belly can be difficult to balance out because it’s so absurdly rich in fat. But here Chef Tom Van Lente brings the perfectly seared slices of belly to lard harmony with a shiitake broth and a luxuriously smooth parsnip puree.