Welcome to Johnny Van's Smoke House

We're bringing real Texas BBQ to the great city of Chicago!  All of our meats are slow smoked over locally sourced hickory, apple, and cherry wood.  

At Johnny Van's we practice the ancient art of BBQ alchemy, slowly turning base meats into gold!  


We believe that meat should never go swimming!  None of our dishes are "boiled" to speed up the process, most are prepared with a dry rub that sets up overnight before spending from 6-12 hours in our smokers slowly becoming more and more tender and flavorful!


Sound good?  Give us a call today, we can set you up with a little sample, once you try it we know you'll be back!

Johhny Van's Blog, the musings of a wandering BBQ enthusiast





Super Bowl Wing Sauce's

Great time visiting Bruce and Dan at The Big 89 WLS-AM!

This morning we were on the radio talking about grilling up some wings for the Super Bowl, here's some hints and recipes to help you make your game day delicious!


Smoked Wings

Start with a dry rub on fresh jumbo chicken wings, let the rub set up for about an hour before smoking....


Smoke the wings for about one hour to infuse the hardwood flavors, then toss them in sauce and grill til crispy.


Some Great Wing Sauce Recipes...  (because sharing is nice!)

Alabama White Sauce


1 1/2 Cups Mayo

3 Tbs Horseradish

1 1/2 Tbs Kosher Salt

2 Tbs Black Pepper

6 Tps Cider Vinegar

Juice of 3 Fresh Squeezed Lemons


Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, transfer to an air tight container, refridgerate overnight to let the flavors set up, enjoy!


Mango Habanero BBQ Sauce


1 tbs vegetable oil

1 small minced onion

2 medium cloves minced garlic

1 tsp ginger

2 Mangos, pelled and chopped

1 cup mango juice

1 cup tomato sauce

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

1/3 cup honey

1/3 cup cider vinegar

2 tbs molasses

2 tbs lime juice

1 tbs Worcestershire sauce

1 tbs Yellow Mustard

2 Haanero Chilis seeded, finely chopped habanero chiles

2 tsp Kosher salt

1 tsp black pepper


-Heat Oil in Sauce Pan, add the the onions until translucent, then add the garlic and ginger for the last minute

-Stir in remaining ingrediants, bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes

-Blend the Sauce until it reaches the desired texture (silky vs. smooth is a whole other debate)

-Transfer to an air tight container, refridgerate overnight to let the flavors set up, enjoy!


House Buffalo Sauce


1/3 cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce
1/3 cup butter
1-2 Tbs white vinegar (optional)

1 Tsp Ground Chipotle Pepper

1 Tsp Kosher Salt

1 Tsp Black Pepper

-In a Sauce Pan, melt the butter, add Frank's Red House Sauce, stir, slowly add in remaining ingediants as seasoning to taste


-Can be used immediatley or chilled for later use, enjoy!







Trying something new...

I had a ton of fun in the kitchen last night, my good friend Chef Eddie Pearce gave me a call, he had a pork shoulder from his family's farm and wanted to have some fun with it!  Eddie is a classically trained French chef who turns out incredible Asian and French Vietnamese dishes, sounds like collaboration time!

We did a quick rub on that beautiful pork and got it into the indoor smoker for about an hour over cherry and hickory, then transfered it to the newest toy in the kitchen, a Caphalon pressure cooker.  We gave it a quick braise then pressure cooked for 45 minutes.  

Meanwhile, we prepped a carrot and cabbage slaw flavored with Rice Wine Vinger, Hoisin Sauce, and ginger.  Eddie banged out a tangy mushroom paste and fired some peppers on the Pro Grade Infrared Grill.  I have to tell you, watching Chef Eddie in action is a thing of beauty, he knows how to develope Asian flavors like few ever will.  

I'll spare you the gory details of my fat hands destroying the Rice Paper wraps as the spring rolls were prepped.  The flavors were spot on, a perfect blend of East Texas BBQ and perfectly spiced Asian elements.  I guess that's the point of this post, go have some fun in the kitchen, get out of wheel house and try something new, worst thing that can happen is you wind up calling for a pizza!

Chow for now,

Johnny Van






Defending the Chili Cup!

So, this weekend I had the chance to defend the cup at the Annual Chipp Inn Chili Contest!  I made a smoked brisket and pork shoulder chili, it was a lot like last years winning pot, except I didn't include BK's house made ancho chili BBQ sauce as a base for the gravy.  The competition was very well attended again this year.  The Chipp is an incredible host, if you're in the Chicago/Ashland area it's a great little neighborhood beer and shot joint to check out.

The chili's this year ran the gambit from a moose chili (great concept but VERY oily) to a turkey and ghost chili brew (it didn't pack the heat I was expecting).

Unfortunatley, it wasn't our day to win back-to-back years, we got edged out by a local favorite, a ground beef based tomato sauced chili that was nicely spiced with onions and green peppers backed with a crowd of loyal followers! 

All in all, a very fun day, special shout outs to my friends that stopped by to wish me luck!  

Cheers everyone!

-Johnny Van