Andersonville's Big Jones moves forward with more focus

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After 10 years in business, an Andersonville restaurant celebrated by re-signing its lease, shutting down for a month and re-doing the kitchen and dining room. (WLS)

After 10 years in business, an Andersonville restaurant celebrated by re-signing its lease, shutting down for a month and re-doing the kitchen and dining room. It's a bet on the future of the neighborhood, as well as locals' love of all things Southern.

You can still have an expertly made sazerac with an absinthe rinse at the bar inside Big Jones, or get that crispy heirloom cornbread baked in cast iron with bacon fat and honey butter, but this Andersonville mainstay, now a decade old, is taking a more focused outlook these days.

"We made a lot of mistakes the first time around, turned out OK, but we made a lot of mistakes the first time around and thought, 'What lessons have we learned and what knowledge can we apply to fix those?'" said Paul Fehribach, the owner of Big Jones.

That meant new equipment in the kitchen, for one thing. Fehribach invested in a pressure fryer so his popular fried chicken now takes only 13 minutes, rather than 30. A C-Vap, which stands for controlled vapor technology, allows him to keep that chicken at the perfect temperature, even though he's still frying in a combination of lard, ham drippings and clarified butter.

"We find that a 35 degree differential between the humidity and the hot air gives you the crisp crust and also the really kind of succulent, juicy interior," he said.

He's also serving it with sides like turnip greens, or petite rouge heirloom peas and rice. There is crawfish etoufee, decadent and slightly spicy, made with cayenne and worcestershire, but that equipment also gives him the ability to make things like cinnamon rolls for brunch. The recipe was inspired by another Southern restaurant's tradition.

"Have the big pot of lard rendering, you throw the cinnamon rolls in there, and then take the cracklings out and smear 'em all over the cinnamon roll and I thought, 'Let's do that,'" he said.

After he proofs the dough in that C-Vap, he fries them in lard then tops them with crushed pork cracklings.

Even a simple banh mi sandwich is elevated due to that housemade liver terrine, topped with jalapeno and purple daikon radish, along with kumquat marmalade and fresh cilantro. It's part of his new menu and new focus.

"We thought, 'What do we want to do over the next 10 years? Let's get better,'" said Fehribach.

So after 10 years in business, a revamped kitchen, a refreshed dining room and some newly-inspired dishes including quicker fried chicken, maybe now's a good time to revisit Big Jones.

WATCH: In Steve's extra course video, he takes a closer look at one of the truly Southern desserts at the restaurant, called cala.

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After 10 years in business, an Andersonville restaurant celebrated by re-signing its lease, shutting down for a month and re-doing the kitchen and dining room.

Big Jones
5347 N. Clark St.
(773) 275-5725
https://bigjoneschicago.com/
Related Topics:
foodhungry houndchickenrestaurantcrawfishChicagoAndersonville
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