Abuelita Dircia wanted to know why there’s no rice and beans or sancocho on her niña’s menu.
You might know “niña,” aka chef Angelina Bastidas, from her work at the late AMK Kitchen Bar and BIN 36. Or maybe you know her from her turns on Top Chef or Bong Appetit; or her private, fine-dining (with or without weed) experience Tournant. Maybe you’ve made her cannabutter recipe.
What you probably don’t know is that before she learned to throw down Burrata Salad with Confit Cherry Tomatoes, Pickled Shallots, and Thai Basil Pesto; or Crab Cakes with Lemon Coriander Aioli, Chili Oil, and Arugula, she learned to cook at Dircia’s side, specifically Dominican soul food, which is abundant in Miami, where she grew up, but in pretty short supply in Chicago, where she made her name.
What you will come to find out this Monday, May 9, is that the food of the Dominican Republic is much more than rice and beans. That’s when Bastidas applies her skills to her grandmother’s culinary legacy at Monday Night Foodball, the Reader’s weekly chef pop-up at the Kedzie Inn in Irving Park.
That means quipe, the Domincan take on kibbeh, the meat-stuffed, deep-fried, bulgur wheat orbs, brought to the island by Lebanese immigrants, here sauced with harissa yogurt. She’s also doing a sirloin burger topped with caramelized red onions on crusty pan de agua, aka water bread.
The mid-pandemic demise of the late, great Morena’s Kitchen left the city devoid of the DR’s miraculous citrus-marinated fried chicken, but Bastidas has that covered too, along with the crispy chicharron-mined smashed plaintain mofongo with gently stewed shrimp and garlic confit, along with a singular tres leches cake built on sweet potato bread with dulce de leche and chantilly cream.
“I think when people think Dominican the first question is, ‘Isn’t it the same thing as Puerto Rican?’” says Bastidas. “And it’s not. There are dishes and flavors that you don’t see a lot and you don’t see them the way we’re gonna present them.”
But what does Abuelita Dircia say? “I don’t know if she’ll think it’s as good as hers—and it might not be—but she’s happy I’m finally representing where my family is from.”
Preorders are on sale now for this final Foodball before our three-week May break (Jon Pokorny’s getting hitched!), but as always a limited number of walk-in orders are available beginning at 5 PM.
Meanwhile, stay tuned for a smashing new Monday Night Foodball lineup beginning in June.