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You may have heard a bit by now about the boundless meatopia of Publican Quality Meats, the butcher-baker-sandwich maker adjunct to Paul Kahan's Publican. It's an overwhelming environment with its staggering cornucopia of meats—cured, encased, and fresh—its smartly curated collection of dry goods, the fresh rustic breads by Ehsan Ganji, and a freezer case full of frozen geese, wild boar roasts, and tubs of house-made stock and gelatinous bacon braise. I'll tell you, if you ever crave the spontaneous exclamatory approval of a bunch of butchers, stand in front of the meat case and ask for a pound of blood sausage.
The environment encourages gaping; the aroma, a narcotic iron-rich ambrosia of blood, fermented meat, and smoke, probably doesn't help the line move much faster during prime time. The sandwich menu too, hanging above the counter touting the nduja and dandelion green focaccia, the olive oil-poached tuna muffaletta, the pork belly gyro, and beef meatball on a Franks 'n Dawg's (rather, Nicole's) lobster roll—prompts neck cramping and indecision.
It hasn't garnered too much attention, but a simple method of end-running this dilemma—provided you have a partner—is to order the "butcher's meal," or cocido. That's a Spanish national dish of infinite variation, an olla, or stew-pot, of meat and chickpeas usually served in courses: a porky, sometimes cinnamon-spiked broth, followed by various sausages and tender slow-cooked cuts, then the legumes, then the vegetables. Or some other order—people argue about it.
At PQM it arrives in a large Le Creuset ceramic dutch oven, barely containing a bubbling, golden, fat-enriched broth brimming with chickpeas; potato; dense, tangy chorizo; earthy, rich blood sausage; and tender slow-cooked beef shin meat. A separate plate of roasted carrots, charred cabbage, pickled peppers, mint, cilantro, and mojo picon, a garlicky red pepper sauce from the Canary Islands, customizes your bowl with acidity and herbaceousness. Add to that a warm mini-baguette, and this is one of the greatest values in the city. $22 feeds two, but I'm betting you'll fight for the leftovers. Describing it as a One Bite is a knee-slapper. The only downside is that it takes 20 minutes to prepare, but that leaves plenty of time for gawking.
Publican Quality Meats, 825 W. Fulton Market, 312-445-8977