TINLEY PARK, Ill. - St. Patrick's Day is exactly one week away, and that means Irish-leaning kitchens are busy right now, cooking up corned beef and baking soda bread.
One of the busiest places in the region right now is Tinley Park, Ill., where a 20-year-old Irish market is in full swing and getting ready for next week's crowds.
For more than 20 years, fans of imported Irish and British foods have been able to satisfy their cravings for candy, tea, butter and chips at Winston's Market in Tinley Park. It's an outgrowth of the business Mike Winston's dad started on the city's South Side.
"Back in the early 60s, there was a need for the Irish community to find where they could get the Irish products that they were used to from Ireland, and that's how my dad started out the business," Winston said.
Winston also has a full deli, where they make one heck of a Reuben, the star of course being the homemade corned beef and sauerkraut, griddled between marble rye.
"We start with the raw briskets, and then we inject them with a solution of salt and sugars and other spices and then we let it sit for a couple of days and then it's ready for packaging and for sale," he said.
They also make white and black pudding, Irish bacon and boiling bacon, which you can buy to go or to eat in their adjacent restaurant, the Ashford House. Naturally, they make a filling Irish breakfast with all of those sausages plus beans, eggs and potatoes as well as a plate of corned beef and cabbage that will get you through the day. They make a lot of corned beef.
"We cook probably about 300 pounds a day," Winston said.
But they also make a lot of Irish soda bread every day, weighing out each loaf before baking and stamping. This week is their busiest of the year. When you consider they go through only a thousand pounds of corned beef in an average week.
"St. Patricks' Day is like Christmas around here. We go through about 40,000 pounds of corned beef, 20,000 loaves of soda bread and it's all made in-house," he said.
A lot of restaurants are busy on St. Patrick's Day of course, so is the Ashford House, but the nice thing about this location is that they make all the products every day and sell them every day here in the restaurant, so kind of every day is St. Patrick's Day.
In this week's online only Extra Course, Steve Dolinksy talks about some of the incredible imported candy selections at Winston's Market.
7961 159th St., Tinley Park
The Ashford House
7959 159th St., Tinley Park
4701 West 63rd St., Chicago