Tag Archives: Garbage Plate

Week of the Garbage Plate: Hot Sauce


This is the very last step in the process, and the reason for the whole week’s worth of posts: the sauce. Without the chili hot sauce, it’s just a mess of ingredients on the plate. With the hot sauce, it’s truly a Rochester Garbage Plate.

Rochester Plate Sauce, the product that tops my homemade plate in the picture above, is a strikingly close facsimile to the stuff you’ll get in Rochester on a traditional plate. The sauce comes in a packet that can be heated up by placing the pouch in boiling water for two minutes and then pouring over your finished plate (that’s the mac salad, the homefries, then the burger). The Plate Sauce is a little bit on the spicy side, but it makes the plate a PLATE. Die hard plate fans will notice that it lacks the finely ground beef that traditional plates in Rochester feature but again, it’s probably as close as you’ll get if you’re a Rochester ex-pat living in Nebraska or Texas. Well worth the $10 it’ll cost you for 3 pouches.

The last step to the plate is the chopped onions (standard raw white onion, chopped), yellow mustard, and ketchup. And it is extremely important to note that the ketchup design is unique to each person: some prefer the swirly, some go with the smiley face, I prefer the checkerboard. It’s really up to you. And yes… it makes a difference.

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Week of the Garbage Plate: Burgers

This is a relatively self-explanatory step in the Garbage Plate process but I thought I’d fill you in anyhow. Garbage Plates can be topped with a variety of stuff: red hots, white hots, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fried fish, even fried eggs (that’s a breakfast plate if you’re not from the Roch). But my personal favorite, and I would imagine the most popular choice, is cheeseburgers. And don’t go looking for some fancy-schmancy gourmet beef burger with artisan cheese to top it off. This is a good old fashioned ground beef, 1/2 inch thick hamburg with a slice of plain American cheese.

On the menu:
Cheeseburgers
Serves 2 (makes 2 plates)

1/2 pound ground beef
Salt and pepper
2 slices of American cheese*

Mix ground beef in a bowl with salt and pepper. Pack ground beef down into the bottom of the bowl. Eye ball the diameter of the bowl and using the edge of your hand, make a line down the middle of the circle of ground beef. This ensures you have 2 patties of equal size.

Make a round ball with the beef and then flatten it out as thin as possible with your hands, or by pressing down on a cutting board. Grill the burgers on a grill, or in a skillet over medium/high heat on the stove top for 5 minutes on each side. Top the burger with cheese and close the grill cover or put tin foil tent over the skillet for 2 minutes so the cheese melts. Place burgers on top of mac salad and homefries.

*Confession: I had a bag of shredded cheddar that had to be used up so I topped the burgers with that. Don’t worry, still not gourmet. Just not as ghetto/authentic as American cheese.

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Week of the Garbage Plate: Crispy Homefries

This is a tried and true method for making crispy homefries, straight from someone who always mucks it up. Either they take forever, or they come out unevenly cooked, or they burn… but these are perfect. Delicious, crispy, soft on the inside, and evenly cooked.

These homefries will sit nicely next to your cold mac salad on the plate, serving as a lovely little bed and ready to hold your burgers. But that’s the next step, and you’ll have to wait til tomorrow for that gem.

On the menu:
Crispy homefries
Serves 4 (or makes enough for 2 plates)

4 large potatoes (Russet or Idaho will work fine), diced into 1/2 inch cubes
3 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil
Salt and pepper

Place diced potatoes between two damp paper towels and microwave them for 2 minutes on high. Heat oil in a large heavy bottomed iron skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes in a single layer and do not touch them for four minutes! This step is so important to get the crispiest crust possible. After cooking for 4 minutes, toss the potatoes and let rest for cooking again for 4 minutes. Continue this process for around 20 – 30 minutes or until the potatoes are crisp and golden on all sides.

Remove potatoes from the skillet and put on a paper towel to drain the excess oil. Toss immediately with salt and pepper. Plate next to mac salad on a large plate.

Note: It should be noted that because these potatoes are the basis of your plate, they’re not overly flavored on purpose. If you’re making these for breakfast, I would add diced onions and finely chopped red and green peppers after the potatoes have cooked for around 15 minutes.

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The Week of the Garbage Plate

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to come in contact with Jim at Rochester Plate Sauce. That’s right, kids. There is a company that packages and sells the glorious (some might say, magical) hot sauce that tops Rochester Garbage Plates. If you’ve never had one, you’re probably thinking, “Whooooo cares? It’s just hot sauce, right?”

WRONG.

This sauce is finely ground beef with about a bajillion spices in it and although I’ve never attempted to make it at home, I can only imagine how labor intensive it is to make. Visions of me, 60 pounds heavier, sweating profusely, with O Sole Mio playing in the background, float around in my head.

Anyhow, Jim sent me a sample of this incredible sauce and finally forced me (FORCED me, I tell you!) to make a garbage plate at home. What else am I gonna do with this sauce?! Well… I’m gonna try a bunch of things. But first things first: the trash plate.

This week I’ll be providing you all the steps you need to take to make these divine plates yourself. And just know that obtaining the sauce is as easy as clicking the link here.

On the menu:
Step 1: Macaroni Salad
Serves 10 (but will make enough mac salad for 5 Garbage Plates)

1 lb elbow macaroni
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 white vinegar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp yellow mustard
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 large white onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/4 cup carrot, chopped

Boil macaroni per instructions. Once it’s cooked, drain and run under cool water to stop the cooking.*

Stir together mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper. Stir in vegetables until combined. Once pasta is completely cooled add dressing to macaroni and stir to combine. Chill for at least one hour before serving for best results.

*Note: if you stir together warm pasta with the dressing, the liquid will get absorbed into the macaroni and you’ll have a less creamy mac salad. I know it’s tough, but wait it out and let it cool. It’ll be well worth it, I promise.

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Little Town NYC


It’s not often that you’ll find a negative restaurant review on Food E. Most of the time if I go to a restaurant and it’s mediocre or downright terrible, I take it to Yelp. I like to keep this a positive place and one where you can come to scroll and find all amazing things.

Well… consider this a break in tradition.

Last night The BF headlined a show at Caroline’s on Broadway and a friend and I thought we’d get some drinks and snacks pre-show. Finding a bar in midtown is not always easy, so I took to the interwebz for recommendations. I found that Little Town NYC which opened their first shop in Union Square, had opened a sister store in midtown. Being from Rochester, people are always trying to tell me where I can find garbage plates in the city, and Little Town is a name that’s come up more than once. The restaurant features all New-York-State-based foods: Buffalo wings, Rochester garbage plates, Long Island oysters, Binghamton spiedies, etc. I was incredibly excited.

Upon first entering the restaurant, I realized there was no air conditioning. Let me tell you a little something about New York City in the summer: it’s freaking hot. In addition to the steamy temperatures, we walk everywhere. And I was wearing heels. 10 minute walk + 86 degrees + 4 inch heels = 1 sweaty mess. Little Town’s three pathetic fans were barely spinning and the air conditioning must’ve been set to 80 degrees. But I had told my friend this is where we were meeting, and meet there we would.

I looked up at the huge chalkboard over the bar touting all the $5 happy hour beers on tap. I asked the waitress how sweet the sour cherry cider was. “Oh, we’re out of that.” “Okay,” I said, “How about the Checkered Cab?” “Oh… we’re actually out of that, too. The board hasn’t been updated, I guess.” I wiped sweat from my forehead and asked for something, anything, cold and light. My dining partner asked for a vodka cocktail that was also on happy hour special at 2 for 1. The beer arrived semi-cold and the cocktail arrived semi-cocked. “This is all cranberry juice,” my friend said with a grimace. She downed the tiny thing in three gulps. “I guess we know why they’re 2 for 1.”

I took a look at the food menu, searching first for the garbage plate. I didn’t really think I’d order it (let’s face it, fellow Rochesterians, we know those plates are their best when you’re 3 drinks in and hunched over that red tray in the brightly lit “dining room” of a dingy Hots at 2:30 in the morning) but I wanted to know what it was all about. First things first, it costs $18. EIGHTEEN DOLLARS. If you’re not familiar with a garbage plate and you’re too lazy to click that link above, a garbage plate is mac salad, home fries, 2 burgers, onions, hot sauce, and ketchup and mustard. Not a single ingredient in there costs upwards of $.50, and even with markups the plates in Rochester only cost around $8. The Little Town menu says “Feeds 2.”

DUH.

We ordered pretzel crusted chicken fingers and fried oysters. My friend said she was concerned the chicken would be breaded in pretzel dough and I laughed at her. “No, I’m sure it’s coated in hard pretzel crumbs.” Oh… you’re sure, Lauren? You’re SURE. HOW CAN YOU BE SO SUUUURE?

I was wrong. Soft pretzel breading with some kind of bizarro hard pretzel chunks mixed in. The fried oysters, served over “coleslaw”, were on the half shell. The oysters alone were pretty tasty, if not faintly tasting of heavy grease. I just wish those oysters hadn’t been nestled into giant dollops of mayonnaise mixed with wilted cabbage.

During our meal I saw a garbage plate go by on its way to another table. I guess Little Town’s way of giving you your $18’s worth is to use “fancy” pasta instead of plain old elbow macaroni because the mac salad portion of the dish looked like an entree at an Italian restaurant.

Here’s a tangent: street food is street food for a reason. It is cheap and popular because it is simple and accessible. Hometown favorites like garbage plates are not meant to be gussied up and served over fancy pasta on a china plate in a dimly lit bistro. I guess for a lot of people the novelty of a dish is worth eating out and forking over $18 for, but I am not one of those people.

Overall, I would not recommend Little Town NYC based on lackluster service (we had to flag down our waitress for drinks, waited awhile to get said drinks, and flag her down again for the check), uncomfortable dining room, unavailable menu items, overpriced and underwhelming food, and stripping one of my favorite dishes of its charm.

…too harsh? Now you know why I don’t write more negative reviews.

Little Town NYC, 366 W. 46th St (between 8th Ave and 9th Ave), New York, NY.

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ROCH! And things that I will eat when I’m there.

Rarely do I find myself this excited to go to a location in April that is currently experiencing snow… but Rochester is my home. I get to see my weirdo-but-awesome family, meet the newest dance girl baby, and indulge in some of this… Okay… LOTS of this.

It’s a garbage plate. And I can’t wait to bury my face in it. Have a happy weekend, kids!

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ROC City Part 1: The Garbage Plate

Growing up in Rochester, New York, I never really understood why so many people would want to voluntarily call it home. It snows 9 months out of the year (yes, it snowed on Mother’s Day… that’s May 9, people), one of the greatest forms of weekend entertainment is a trip to Wegmans grocery store, and you can’t go out for a meal without running into your kindergarten teacher or your first boyfriend. However, now that I am a mature woman of twenty-COUGH, I see all the beauty that lies in The Flour City. That’s right. The food.

How could I have ignored the fact that the city I grew up in is famous for a flour mill, Genesee Beer, and Garbage Plates? Oh yeah, and Kodak… whatever.

This week, I’m going to share some of my favorite Rochester, New York treats in an homage to my hometown. It’s no New York or Boston, heck it’s not even Minneapolis, but it’s where I was born so it’s alright with me.

The Garbage Plate at Empire Hots

On the menu:
The Garbage Plate
Bread and butter (the requisite side dish)

This is how we do math in Rochester, NY. Don’t let anyone tell you different:

One plate / (macaroni salad + homefries) + 2 cheeseburgers + (finely ground beef sauteed with hot sauce and spices) + sauteed onions + ketchup + mustard = The Garbage Plate

Derivatives include substituting burgers for red hot dogs, fried fish, eggs (breakfast plate, duh) or the popular white hot dog, a Rochester special made from pork.

If you ever travel upstate, and yes this is the REAL upstate, you have got to go to the original Nick Tahou’s Hots for a Trash Plate. If you value your life and would rather not be shot, or if you simply want a Plate after dark (Tahou’s closes at 8PM because of all the crime they experience) go to Empire Hots in Webster, NY. It might not look pretty, but your taste buds will be singing a different tune.

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