Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Green with Envy

St. Patrick's Day is here on Thursday, though I don't think that many of you reading this will end up being dragged out of a bar by friends at the end of it, but I've been surprised before!!

For those of you who are looking for an alternative to puking up green beer, I have just the thing for you!

This week I'm continuing with my twists on the traditional corned beef and cabbage dish like the previous years while keeping with the spirit of the holiday.

For this year I wanted to do something unusual and create an interpretation of our own dish, the 219 Benedict, which is already a take on the classic by dicing the Canadian bacon and adding it to cooked, grated potatoes along with smoked gouda and scallions that we then top two with poached eggs and a creamy tomato and mushroom sauce.

The funny thing that people don't see about restaurants is the way we cooks snack on the food you enjoy, but in a different way. Take the Benedict for example: there's always an odd ball (literally) leftover that brunch chef Alejandro likes to deep fry for himself. This combination reminded me of corned beef hash, another item on our brunch menu, and the rest just fell into place.

Corned beef has nothing to do with corn; it actually refers to the kernel-sized salt that was once used to cure beef brisket. I used to make our own, but due to a shortage of refrigeration I couldn't just let forty pounds of beef cure in there for a week at a time, so we started buying it made locally by our sausage company, Cascioppo Brothers, which may not be as good as mine (hehehe), but it's pretty damn good.

After a long, slow cook in just enough water to help the meat stay moist it's left to cool overnight so that it's firm enough to dice finely. Meanwhile, I simmered peeled, whole potatoes until just done and allowed them to cool completely before grating them by hand and tossing in chopped scallions, eggs and the corned beef. I shaped them into three, three ounce eggs.

Why eggs? Why not!!

You can't have corned beef and cabbage without the cabbage, but I really don't like the time it takes to braise traditional white cabbage, let alone the stinky sulfur it can give off, so I went with a new favorite: napa cabbage sauteed in butter, onions and garlic, yellow and black mustard seeds and chopped parsley. Perfect.

I also prefer a little nice mustard to go with my CB&C, plus the dish needed some moisture in form of a sauce, so I simmered a stock with the usual suspects: parsley stems, bay leaves, onion, garlic and peppercorns to name a few, and then I added an equal part of white wine and reduced it until almost dry before adding heavy cream and seasoning it. The sauce is then strained and, once reheated to order, finished by stirring in a heaping tablespoon of Dijon mustard.

I thought long and hard about what kind of drink to offer this week. I wanted to focus on the two most commonly known Irish beverages; either Guinness or an Irish Whiskey like Jameson, (but don't think I don't know about the others, like Poitín, aka Irish moonshine).

After an experience at an Irish bar in Brooklyn, NY I realized that there are some people in this country that prefer to drink a certain spirit distilled in a certain region of a country by a certain religion, like Jameson, believed to be made in southern Ireland by Catholics, and Bushmills, which is produced in Northern Ireland and thought to be produced by Protestants (and possibly the world's oldest licenced distillery in the world) - one of stupidest forms of ignorant bigotry that I've come across... and I've seen a lot!!

Bigotry aside, I personally prefer Jameson whiskey for taste alone, so after researching cocktails containing Irish whiskey I came up with an ingenious name for a drink that also helped form it's foundation.

The Irish Redhead!!

I filled a pint glass of ice 3/4 full with Jameson's (hey, some stereotypes are for a reason; we do love our booze, after all..) and added honey, fresh lemon juice and egg white powder that I shook vigorously and finished with club soda. To help balance the drink and solidify its moniker I topped it with several dashes of Peychaud's bitters that were stirred into the foam created by the egg white powder, giving it a red-hued float!

Chicago can keep the green dye for their river; I prefer red!!

With Love,