A taste of Chicago in the ‘burg
But whether you grill, broil, boil, fry or steam them, you can still enjoy this all-American treat, especially if you live within walking or driving distance of Leesburg’s go-to doggery, Windy City Red Hots. Unless you hail from Chicago, America’s “Windy City,” you may not get it, but some of the country’s most tantalizing hot dogs were created there, and thanks to former Chicago city resident, Angel Mirand
“I was born in Chicago,” Miranda said, “And when my wife and I moved here 15 years ago, there was nothing like it.”
Everyone knows what Philly cheese steaks are like, he pointed out, but he couldn’t find Chicago sandwiches. And everyone was talking about opening such a place.
“So my wife and I talked about opening a hot dog store,” he said. And that’s what they did. “I worked in an office,” he said, “but the whole time I had the itch.”
So six years ago, long before food trucks became popular dining destinations in the metro area, Miranda took his truck to Ashburn – today, it is parked on Lexington Drive, in the Blue Mount Nursery – and started his dog business.
The reactions to his early-days food truck were mixed, he said, but once customers tried out his creations, they loved the Chicago-style dogs. “People from Chicago said they would tell me what was wrong,” he said, “but then they loved the dogs” Today, of course, he has opened his second hot dog place, his own store front in Leesburg.
Miranda noted that he imports all the basics – the beef, the Chicago buns, the relishes and the peppers – from Chicago, and then prepares everything from scratch, adding he himself does not make the hot dogs, sausages or rolls. “All I have to do is to steam and reheat them at the proper temperature,” he said.
The most popular dog is the Windy City Red Hot topped with mustard, relish, onions, tomato, pickles and sport peppers, all heaped on the poppy seed bun.
Other choices include even a veggie dog, and something that sounds more Mexican or Italian than Chicagoan, the pizza puff, which consists of a flour tortilla stuffed with an Italian sausage, flavored with pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese, and then deep-fried. “That’s what makes it puff,” he said.
He even offers a typical Chicago-style dessert, the cheesecake. All this is, he said, is a slice of cheesecake on a stick that is then dipped in chocolate and frozen.
Thanks to social media and some positive magazine and newspaper reviews, the word is out about this unusual eatery. It helps, too, that no real competition exists in the area. And it also helps that Miranda’s food excels because though he has had no culinary training, he admitted that he simply loves food.
Windy City Red Hots, 28 S. King St., Leesburg. 703-669-8606. Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Mondays. Check out the website for more information and to know the hours of the hot dog truck at http://www.windycityredhots.com.
(Filipino Sweet Banana Spring Rolls)
Angel Miranda’s wife makes these, and the family loves them. This recipe calls for lumpia wrappers (lumpia are the Filipino’s version of spring rolls.)
2 bananas, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise
4 lumpia or spring roll wrappers
About 1 cup brown sugar
Vegetable oil for frying
Coat each banana slice with brown sugar. Place a wrapper on a flat surface, then place 1 banana slice in the center. Take the bottom edge of the wrapper and fold it toward the center, covering the banana. Take the left and right sides of the wrapper and fold them toward the center. Roll the wrapper toward the outer edge until the banana is completely covered. Moisten the edges with water to seal. Repeat.
Pour about 2 inches oil into a deep skillet and heat it to 375 degrees. Fry each roll until golden brown and floating to the surface of the oil, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels. In a separate saucepan, heat the remaining brown sugar until it melts; drizzle that over the cooked rolls, cool slightly and eat.