Back in the late 90’s, I had the good fortune of serving the Amagansett, NY community on a daily basis. The restaurant was called Estia’s and I had a bird’s eye view of Main Street for 16 years from my kitchen.
The nice thing about running a full-service restaurant seven days a week over the course of a decade is the people that you meet. One of my favorites was an elegant lady named Sarah Davis. She stopped by occasionally for lunch with her daughter Tracy. It was my good fortune to have a chance to serve Sarah, joining the legions of friends who admired her style.
Sarah Davis had her final meal last week at a steakhouse in East Hampton with Tracy and some friends. Unfortunately, she did not make it home. The good things that I see in her passing are that she lived a complete life, was the belle of the ball, and stepped away with very little suffering.
This afternoon I was honored to provide a hot dish at her memorial service. The suggested dish that I prepared was Chicken Hash in the “21” style. Let me explain how it came together.
This dish was created to serve 60 in tandem with tea sandwiches and salad for Sarah’s service. The ingredient list will fill three large Pyrex baking dishes. It can be prepared a day in advance and kept cold until service. To prepare, simply bring the chicken hash to a simmer on the stovetop. Fill casserole dishes and place them in an oven preheated to 350°F degrees to warm. Remove the heated dishes, top with shredded Gruyere cheese and serve.
Ingredients & Preparation:
6 – 3½ to 4 pound chickens:
Season with salt & pepper and roast for 45 minutes at 375°F. Once roasted, remove the chickens from the oven and allow them to cool on the counter top.
2 large Spanish Onions:
Finely diced and softened over a medium flame with 4 tablespoons of butter.
1 large butternut squash:
Peeled and seeded, then diced into ¼-inch pieces. Simmer in 1 quart of chicken stock for 30 minutes.
2 cups all-purpose flour combined with ¼-pound of butter:
Heated in a saucepan over medium flame. Stir until the roux turns a nutty brown.
1-quart chicken stock, 2 cups white wine, 1 teaspoon ground all spice, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg and 2 tablespoons kosher salt: Combine with the flour and butter mixture and stir.
Stir the mixture aggressively with a mettle whisk until smooth. Add 2 quarts of heavy cream slowly while stirring (do not boil unattended). Simmer for 10 minutes. Finally, add 1-cup sherry and stir for 4 minutes then remove heat. This will create the béchamel sauce.
By this time, the chickens should be cool enough to handle. You can begin tearing all of the meat from the bones. Remove and discard skin first, then carefully shred the white and dark meat removing all bones.
At this point, start to fill a very large bowl (or hotel pan) with the chicken. Add the onions. Strain the butternut squash and reserve the chicken stock. Add the butternut squash to the bowl. Return the chicken stock to the stovetop and allow it to simmer.
20 medium carrots:
Clean and chop to the size of your thumbnail. Add the carrots to the simmering chicken stock for 20 minutes. When the carrots begin to soften, strain the chicken stock and reserve it for the next day. Add the carrots to the bowl with the chicken.
2 24 ounce packages of button mushrooms:
Slice into pieces and place in a sauté pan 2 cups at a time, adding 1 tablespoon of butter with each addition. Stir over medium flame until the mushrooms soften. Then strain the liquid and add the mushrooms to the bowl. Return the sauté pan to the stove and add 4 leeks (chopped and rinsed) with 2 tablespoons of butter. When soft add to the bowl with the liquid.
Finally, add about ¾ of the béchamel. Stir everything together. Reserve the remaining béchamel for service as it might come in handy if you need to adjust or add more (sauce and chicken) due to a larger crowd.
When the hash has been completed, place the bowl (or hotel pan) on ice in the sink and stir for 10 minutes to rapidly cool. Then place in the refrigerator uncovered overnight.
For service, follow suggestions above and top with grated Gruyere as the dishes go piping hot to the table.