Giardiniera may be an Italian relish, but Chicagoans have long claimed—and adapted it—into a signature condiment, ranging from fiery to subtle, and always crunchy and acidic. Typically made up of pickled chiles, celery, cauliflower and carrots, all submerged in oil, giardiniera is the go-to garnish for Italian beef, deep-dish pizza and Italian subs. At Heritage, an American restaurant inspired by Eastern European flavors, Executive Chef Guy Meikle looks to giardiniera as a high-impact ingredient, using it in unexpected places to great effect.
“We top foods with it when we want to add flair, spice, crunch, funkiness, acidity and olive oil,” he says. Heritage’s House Lacto-Fermented Giardiniera features a brined vegetable mix combined with poached garlic and onions. It’s fermented for just over a week and then gets a hit of olive oil and ferments for another three days. Meikle uses the giardiniera across the menu. “It adds crunch to our Fried Buttermilk Chicken and Chicago-Style Shaved Lamb Sandwich,” he says.
“We also do a different version for our mignonette for oysters, which over the past four years has been incredibly popular. It is something familiar, but intriguing, plus we like to incorporate it where no one thinks it would be.”