Prisco’s Family Market

1108 Prairie Street, Aurora, IL 60506 | 630-264-9400

Hours: Monday - Friday, 7 am to 8:30 pm | Saturday, 7 am to 8 pm | Sunday, 8 am to 7 pm

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Prisco’s continues the tradition of training future meat experts using its Apprenticeship Program.- Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Many of our customers can still relate to the “good old days” in the meat business when the local butcher stood behind the meat counter and recognized every customer as they approached. Each shopper was greeted with a warm “hello” followed by their first name, and then most likely the butcher would ask them how they'd enjoyed the pot roast they'd cut for them last week.

Behind the counter stood a huge wooden cutting block and on the wall behind that hung a large assortment of knives and hand saws used to cut and trim the meat as he or she took it off the hanging carcass. The area around the meat case had a distinct smell of freshly butchered meat and the floor was covered in a fresh layer of sawdust from the lumber mill down the street...

For those of you who are under the age of forty, this is only something that you may have seen in an old movie, magazine or book; the meat business has seen a great deal of change since those days when local butchers cut hanging beef, pork and lamb in their stores.

Some of the changes, like the removal of saw dust and wooden cutting blocks, occurred as we learned that there were much more sanitary ways to handle raw meat. Most of the changes, however, occurred as the result of a need to be more labor efficient. Today, depending on the retailer, much of the processing is no longer done in-store. Instead, the meat often arrives at the store already shrink-wrapped in Cryovac and loaded in boxes. No longer are whole carcesses kept on-site in large coolers.

As things changed, the need for expert meat cutters rapidly diminished and the idea of making a career of meat cutting all but became extinct. Large box stores and supermarket chains have gone from having a dozen or so apprentices and journeymen in-store to operating with as few as one or two individuals who frequently don't know anything about the physical attributes of the animals that they sell.

Today in most stores you need to buy what you see in the case as-is. The ground meats arrive in store all pre-ground and often pre-packaged. Things like fresh or smoked sausages are simply not available but sold as prepackaged brands that claim that they taste just like their homemade “old fashioned” predecessors.

At Prisco’s, we are proud to say that our meat department has held true to its roots for 90 years now; we still run our meat department in very much the same way as it was run back when great grandpa Prisco first opened his shop on Bishop Avenue.

While the wooden chopping blocks, the saw dust on the floors, and the rails of hanging carcasses are only memories, the care and hand craftsmanship that goes into preparing each piece of meat that you purchase at our store remains intact. This, of course, can only be accomplished by maintaining a steady stream of young apprentices eager to learn the art of meat cutting.

I’d like to introduce you to Tysen Sandifer, our newest meat apprentice. If he already looks quite familiar there are good reasons for that:

Tysen is not just an employee but a neighbor who lives with his family only two blocks from the store. He first came to us about 2 1/2 years ago when he applied for work as a member of the clean-up crew. For the most part, members of the clean-up crew work behind the scenes each day scrubbing down and sanitizing the counters, floors, walls, and ceilings, as well as all of the saws, slicers and other equipment used to grind, cut and wrap our meat.

Last year when I took over as manager of the meat department, I recognized a number of good qualities in Tysen and really appreciated his strong work ethic. I soon offered him a promotion to become a meat wrapper. Having mastered that job, Tysen and I began to talk about his plans for the future and what he would like to pursue as a career. In time his interest in learning more about the meat business became apparent.

Born in Geneva and raised in Rock Falls, Tysen attended Aurora Catholic High for three years and graduated last year from Aurora West. He is presently a freshman at Waubonsee Community College pursuing a liberal arts degree. Standing in at 6’5”, Tysen is a real gentle giant who enjoys a friendly pick-up game of basketball, a sport he excelled at in high school.

As Tysen and I met recently to go over his performance review, he made it clear to me that he thoroughly enjoyed working at Prisco’s and asked if he could continue to expand his knowledge of the meat business. We agreed to have him embark on a training program as a journeyman apprentice, and we couldn’t be more pleased to have Tysen on board as it helps to assure that the skills of meat cutting will be passed along to another generation.  Next time you visit the store, please join me in congratulating Tysen on becoming or newest meat apprentice.


See you in the meat department!

Chris Tope – Prisco’s Meat Department Manager


How to take advantage of abundant summer fruits- Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Summer is a great time of year to experiment with a variety of fruits. Because fruits like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, pineapples and mangos are so abundant and comparatively cheap, it would be a veritable crime to not take advantage and explore preparation or presentation options that you may not have considered before.

For example, most cookouts and barbeque spreads feature a fruit salad of some sort as one of the sides, but have you ever tried serving fruit as part of the main dish? How about serving fruit-based soups or stews as the primary entree? There are so many possibilities, if you are willing to experiment. Don't relegate your fruits to the usual side dishes or desserts!

So, what are your options? Well, you can try adding fruit to...


Replace tomato slices on your sandwich with thin slices of fruit. You can also try mashing fruit such as strawberries and mangos, and using them as a condiment in hot sandwiches. What you can try: Sliced peaches with turkey and a spicy ranch dressing is a great option, or try mixing chopped grapes or pineapple with tuna, sliced green onions and light mayonnaise.


Fruit can add depth and flavor to salads and main dishes. Sweet fruits can balance out salty, tangy flavors, like mixing strawberries and feta cheese in a salad. What you can try: Mix spinach or romaine lettuce with sliced strawberries, watermelon or other type of melon. Add crumbled feta or blue cheese and sliced almonds. Toss with 1-2 tablespoons of vinaigrette.


Fruit can add depth and flavor to main dishes: Different varieties may complement meat, chicken and fish beautifully. What you can try: Shish kabobs featuring bite-sized chicken, sliced bell peppers and pineapple chunks is a wonderful choice, and easy to make.


Fruit can mellow out the heat from chiles and other fiery spices, like salsas made with mango and chile peppers. What you can try: Blend soft, sweet fruits, like mangoes, strawberries or peaches, with chopped red onions, sweet peppers, chiles and herbs for a sweet and savory condiment.

Soups & Stews

Fruit soups are incredibly versatile; they're not excessively sweet, so you can serve them at the beginning of a meal, or in small cups as an appetizer. Stews featuring fruit are common as well, and may be served as the main course. What you can try: Slice or dice up apples or apricots and add them to your next pot of beef stew. The mild sweetness of these fruits adds a wonderful tang to the earthy flavors of the herbs and vegetables.

You can also serve fruit frozen. Try using frozen blueberries, strawberries, watermelon or peaches instead of ice cubes in iced tea, lemonade or other beverages for a refreshing summer drink!


[Info courtesy of &]

Summer Heat Relief: No-bake desserts- Tuesday, June 21, 2016

When it comes to desserts, you don't always need to think in terms of cakes, cookies, homemade pies, or other baked goods. When summer temperatures are soaring, there are any number of other options for satisfying your sweet tooth, and those of your family and friends, that don't require the use of a hot oven. Save your sweat for the grill!

Ice cream Shakes or Smoothies

This is the obvious choice for someone who wants to keep dessert tasty but simple. The great thing about shakes and smoothies, aside from being straight-forward to prepare, is their versatility.  From strawberry-banana shakes to key lime, orange cream, almond-coconut, French vanilla or traditional chocolate, the only limit to the flavors you can bring to the table along with the blender is your imagination.

Simple Milkshake

Black-and-White Milkshake


Parfaits are another relatively simple, no-bake dessert option. As with shakes, parfaits can be made in a number of flavors and with different types of ingredients – from pudding to cottage or ricotta cheese to ice cream. But what makes parfaits a bit more interesting is their presentation. Parfaits are usually prepared in clear containers, such as short glasses or jars, with the layers of ingredients  visible for the recipient to appreciate. You're not just throwing all your ingredients in a bowl and mixing them together – you get to be a bit more artistic.

Apricot Yogurt Parfaits

Blackberry Parfaits

Cream, pudding or gelatin pies

Want to go the more traditional route but still want to stear clear of the oven? Then a no-bake pie may be right up your alley. They are typically easy to prepare, so long as you have access to pre-made pie crusts. Some recipes may also require putting in a little time at the stove, but cook times tend to be minimal.  One of the other advantageous of this dessert option is, of course, portability. Unlike ice cream, you don't generally need to worry about your pie melting once the ingredients have set, and you are not carting around a bunch of different ingredients in separate containers, either! 

Fresh Coconut Cream Pie

Glazed Strawberry Pie


Getting Excited about Salads- Tuesday, June 21, 2016

As many of you know, I’m fairly new to the Produce Department at Prisco’s and I’m really having a ball learning about different fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s been especially fun these past few weeks seeing several new and unknown (to me and many shoppers, at least) items coming in from our two local farms, Bountiful Blessings Farm in Hinckley and Heritage Prairie Farm in Elburn.

Okay, so be honest, how many of you know what kohlrabi is, what it tastes like, and how to best prepare it? When Jeff Wielert of Bountiful Blessings asked if I wanted to order any last week I had to admit I had no idea what a it was. Jeff explained that it’s a relative of cabbage. The name, kohlrabi, is derived from the Germanic ‘kohl’ for “cabbage” and ‘rabi’ for “turnip.” It was named for its edible enlarged stem, which grows above ground. Kohlrabi’s flavor is likened to broccoli stems: sweet and mild, with a hint of cabbage or radish. The texture is firm and crisp and the flesh is juicy. Kohlrabi can be eaten both raw and cooked. 

Popular in Hungary, Germany, northern France, Italy, Russia and Asia, immigrants from these countries brought with them their love of kohlrabi, exposing American communities to the vegetable beginning around the turn of the 19th century. Kohlrabi is also commonly used in Indian cooking; it pairs well with traditional Indian spices like turmeric, cumin, coriander, and garam masala.

Here are a few easy-to-make recipes using kohlrabi that I’d invite you to try out. Each of these can be found on our website but just click here for a quick view.

For the summer, kohlrabi can be a nice change of pace addition to a homemade salad. Actually, just about everything we have been getting in these past few weeks are great salad ingredients, including:

  • Snap peas
  • Radishes
  • Table onions
  • Bok Choy
  • MicroGreens
  • Spring mixed greens
  • Green and red leaf lettuce
  • Collard greens
  • Red & rainbow chard
  • Tuscan and curly kale
  • Escarole
  • Green and red kale

For those of you who have pretty much stuck to Iceberg and Romaine lettuce for salad making, here is a quick primer on some of these more unusual varieties.

Chard - Chard is really is a relative of the beet. But unlike traditional beets — which put their
energy into producing finger-staining roots — chard produces big, tender leaves and crunchy stalks. The taste depends on which part you eat. The large, firm leaves are mild, sweet, earthy and just slightly bitter; on the whole, it’s a bit milder than spinach. The stalks — which can be white, yellow, red, purple, pink, striped, and so on— resemble flat celery with a sweet taste slightly reminiscent of beets.

Escarole - Escarole is a leafy green vegetable and member of the chicory family, along with endive and Belgian endive. Sometimes called broad-leafed endive, escarole has broad, curly green leaves and a slightly bitter flavor. In addition to being served in green salads, escarole is often sautéed or braised in a similar fashion to collard greens. It's also frequently included in pasta and soup recipes. Escarole and beans is a popular recipe made with white beans and sometimes featuring bacon or ham.

Collard Greens - A large, dark colored, edible leaf, collard greens are a large leafy green that can be used in a number of dishes and is part of the cruciferous family of vegetables. Collard Greens provide an enormous amount of nutrition – and possess little to no calories! A great source of soluble fiber and Vitamin C, plus multiple nutrients with anticancer properties, one serving of Collard Greens contains more than your daily allotment of Vitamin K and A, and is a great source of folate, manganese, calcium and tryptophan. A single serving has a mere 46 calories.

I do hope that you will stop by our produce department and check out the wide assortment of locally grown vegetables. Stay tuned because soon we will begin getting in delicious, mouth watering local tomatoes and fresh picked, juicy sweet corn -- so yummy that you don’t even need to cook it. You’re going to love it!

See you in the produce department.


Dona Hess – Produce Lead

A salute to our dads, stepdads and granddads. Happy Father's Day!- Tuesday, June 14, 2016

As I sat to reflect on this blog entry, I didn’t really know where to start. I started to contemplate all the great things I’ve done with my dad, all the great things he’s been there to help me accomplish, all the guidance, love and support he’s given to me. While I love reminiscing on these memories, how do I get you to connect with these moments? How do I get you to connect to the moment he helped me design my pinewood derby cars? How do I get you to appreciate the countless hours he’s spent trying to teach me to have good form in a golf swing? The thing is, I don’t think I can. But what I can do is try relate to the effect these moments have had on me.

If anyone knows me of late, a fast-paced work environment coupled with a large family with lots going on, my memory hasn’t been as sharp as it’s been. But I still remember these moments with my dad. That’s the importance of a father. The moments that stick with us, that teach how to be a good person, are what will remain with us forever. Lessons in work ethic, respectfulness, professionalism, humility, and humanitarianism are all values that come to mind when I meditate on time spent with my dad.

I still remember when I was working at the store in early college as the dairy manager and my aunt came up to me. She said, “Andy, you’ve just started college and just started managing a department. How do you know how to be so professional?” I distinctly remember sitting there stunned for a second then smiling and saying “my dad.” I was proud. Proud that someone noticed how I handle people and situations, and proud that I learned it from my dad.

I can only hope that we all have dedicated fathers, as mine has been for me, but I know that is not the case. I consider myself very fortunate that not only has my father been there for my four siblings and myself, but also for in-laws, friends, cousins, aunts, uncles, and now my fiancée. I am very blessed for the things that I have, and my dad is one of many; but out of everyone, he is the one that I thank most for the opportunities that I have encountered.

So with a warm and humble heart, I’d like to say Happy Father’s Day, Dad (Frank)! And Happy Father’s Day to the rest of the men who have given their time, energy, and heart to their children. You truly are what keeps our future possible.


Best Wishes,


Why local produce is important to all of us- Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The local produce harvest is finally in an upswing with new deliveries of fresh fruits and vegetables coming in from both of our local farms -- Heritage Prairie Farm in Elburn and Bountiful Blessings Farm in Hinckley -- every day. We have always been strong supporters of buying locally produced and grown foods, but in the past it simply wasn’t feasible to rely on local farms to supply us. That changed this year and we are extremely pleased to be able to offer you a wide selection of locally grown produce items.

So far shoppers have been very enthusiastic and are buying up the local produce as fast as we receive it. For those of you who haven’t given it a try, perhaps these few points will help make believers out of you as well... 

Good reasons to buy local produce when it’s available:

  • Local food is fresh - Local produce is fresher and tastes better because it is often sold within 24 hours of being picked. When we receive a delivery from one of our local farms, we know that the product was still growing in the field earlier that same day.
  • Local food is riper – Produce that needs to be shipped cross-country or even farther needs to be picked long before it is ripe in order to make certain that the items are able to stand up to the packing, shipping, and travel from the fields to warehouses and eventually to our store. Local produce gets to spend more time in the ground or on the vine to ripen because it’s grown less than a 1/2 hour from our store. This gives you a tastier, vine-ripened product.
  • Eating local is “green” - Eating local reduces your carbon footprint. When your food doesn’t travel long distances, you’re promoting better air quality and reducing pollution.
  • Local food is seasonal - Buying local food keeps us in touch with the seasons. Most locally grown items are not available all year round. When you buy local you are getting the best nature has to offer at its peak of freshness. And when it’s most affordable.
  • Local food is more pure - When you buy food that travels less distances, it is less likely to be contaminated or tampered with. Our local farmers all use organic growing methods. Heritage Prairie Farm is a Certified Organic Farm and Bountiful Blessing Farm, while not certified organic, does incorporate sustainable practices and integrated pest management.  When weed or pest control is necessary they start with organic compounds and don’t use anything stronger than a one-day pre-harvest interval.
  • Buying local is more fulfilling - Knowing that your food has a story and that it came from one of your neighbors makes eating it that much more enjoyable.
  • Local foods offer unique variety – Both of our local farms are quite diversified. They offer a number of delicious items not available from our standard channels of supply. Also, the land is healthier and farming practices more sustainable when the farms raise a wider variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Local foods support responsible land development - When we buy local foods, we support local farmers. This gives those with farms and pastures a reason to stay undeveloped.
  • Local food enhances our environment - In addition to the reduced carbon footprint we experience with food grown less than twenty miles from tour store, there are lots of other reasons that our environment benefits when we support local farming.   The more land that is cultivated organically decreases the overall usage of chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers, and increases biodiversity in our local ecosystem.
  • Local food is good for our economy - Eating local means more money stays within your community. Every dollar spent generates twice as much income for the local economy.
  • Buying local enriches our social community - When we buy local foods, we create a more intimate relationship with the people who grow our food because they’re our neighbors.


Fruits that go "grate" on the grill- Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Grilling season is in full swing, and throughout our store you will find an abundance of foods that will go "grate" on your grill: Everything from the traditional hotdogs, burgers and brats, to delicious steaks and seafood. But don't limit yourself to protein only... certain varieties of fresh fruits also lend themselves to grilling, and can be served alongside the main entrees.

If you aren't sure which fruits are appropriate for this style of cooking, here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Peaches, nectarines or apricots

Grilling these summer fruits deepens their natural sweetness, and it’s oh-so-easy to do: simply slice them in half, remove the pits, and put them facedown on a grill that’s been preheated to high. Remove when golden brown, about 5 minutes. Try brushing them with honey, sprinkling them with cinnamon, or topping them with Greek yogurt.


Grilling pineapple cuts the fruit’s acidity and turns it into a treat that’s as sweet as candy. Cut your pineapple into wedges or rings and place it on the grill for about 3 minutes per side.


Sure we all know how delicious a cold slice of fresh watermelon can taste but grilled watermelon brings a whole new dimension to this fruit. To grill, cut your watermelon into big wedges or 1-inch-thick rounds. Place the fruit on a very hot grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side.


Add a smoky flavor to pasta dishes and salads by grilling your tomatoes over high heat. Just slice the tomatoes in half, brush the cut sides with olive oil, and place on a grill heated to high for about 3 minutes.


Give your banana split a summery twist: slice banana in half lengthwise, coat with cooking spray, then grill over medium heat for 2 minutes per side.

Cooking fruit on the grill requires different preparation and a slightly different method than cooking meats, so before you you start tossing your produce onto the grate, here are a few useful tips...

  • To avoid messy grilling, you will want to make use of skewers or a grill basket to prevent small chunks from falling through the grate. Using two skewers will help prevent vegetables from spinning while turning on the grill. It’s ok to use bamboo skewers but be certain to soak them in water for 30 or more minutes before using to prevent them from burning.
  • Use a light brushing of oil on fruits to prevent sticking.
  • Ideal grilling fruits are firm and barely ripe. Watermelon, pineapple, plums and peaches can all take the heat. Soak them in liquor or drizzle with honey before grilling for an added burst of flavor.
  • To enhance the flavor of the fruit, try brushing cut fruits with melted butter and sprinkling with sugar, cinnamon, brown sugar, or lemon juice while grilling. Sugar tends to burn so it is best to apply it toward the end of cooking time.
  • Caution, most fruits contain a high level of water which will get extremely hot when grilling. Be certain to allow the fruit to cool slightly after removing it from the grill, or the fruit may cause serious burns to the mouth.


Enjoy the wines of Summer- Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Now that the warm weather seems to be here to stay, we've see a definite shift in the type of wines people are picking up. I’m often asked, “What are the best wines to complement summer grilling and warm weather?"

That's an important question, and (fortunately) it's one that can be readily answered. A crisp white can have an icy snap that's equally appealing in July or January; however, most reds like Cabernets, rich Zinfandels, or powerful Bordeaux feel overwhelmingly heavy in warm and humid weather. During the summer, lightness and a refreshing simplicity trump almost any other consideration.

Pinot Grigio has become such a popular warm-weather wine. Like Pinot Noir, it's originally from Burgundy, though it has taken a far different path than its cousin. While the Pinot Grigio grape produces full-bodied, aromatic wines under the alias Pinot Gris in Oregon and France's Alsace region, the best-known versions are crisp, relatively simple ones from northern Italy.

Actually Italy produces plenty of other great summer white wine options with more character. Floral, fragrant Falanghina from Campania is one great choice.

Spain has two great contributions to summer drinking: Viura, from Rioja, and Verdejo, from the Rueda region. Viura often has a refreshing green-apple tang while Verdejo tends to serve up flavors of gooseberry and passion fruit, similar to Sauvignon Blanc.

If red wine is truly your favorite, all you need do is make some subtle changes in the varietals that you choose. Skip the Cabernets and Syrahs and look for lighter-bodied reds; if you can chill them to about 60 degrees, so much the better. One French red that responds well to chilling is Beaujolais.  Labeled by the village they come from (e.g., Brouilly, Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent), are berry-driven reds light enough for fish dishes on a hot day, yet still complex and interesting.

For those folks simply looking for a cool, refreshing adult beverage who may not be very into wine, there is always a white or red Sangria, a traditional wine punch of Spain and Portugal. Not limited to a set list of ingredients, wine -- red or white -- typically serves as the main ingredient and base to which fruit, sweetener, and even spirits are added. Oranges, citrus fruit and apples are common but personal preference can play a part in the variations. Peach and nectarine are popular in some parts of Spain; while cinnamon and brandy are classic ingredients in Portugal.

I hope that this gives you a well-rounded set of choices for wine enjoyment this summer season.