Pictures from 21 Club website
The 21 Club in NYC was opened in 1929 by cousins Jack Kreindler and Charlie Berns. Although raided many times, an ingenious liquor chute (there’s a cool video called "Rumrunners, Moonshiners and Bootleggers"showing how this worked on the website) and a magically hidden wine cellar made sure the place was never caught dispensing illegal beverages.
When I was first in NY, a friend was dating an insurance company exec who invited me along to his lunch joint, the 21 Club. I was impressed. The bar room ceiling was (and is) covered in toys… but they were power toys.
Men from Standard Oil sat beneath their company oil truck, a Pan Am exec sat beneath an airplane with the Pan Am logo. At some time or another each toy was related to or donated by a powerful patron.
A visit to the hidden wine cellar (it now serves as a private dining room) brought a view of many ancient treasures including a human-size bottle of Goldwasser that was full of a bucket of real gold leaf.
The cellar, in its time, had stored private bottles for everyone from Ernest Hemingway to JFK to Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe.
Times have changed but this is still a port for the rich and powerful to eat $30 hamburgers and $36 chicken hash, elbow-to-elbow with their peers.
It’s because of that hash that I share the story with you today. It’s really, really good! I used the new 21 Club recipe because I liked the cheese but the old version is fabulous too. I have taken to using it as a wonderful finale for turkey leftovers with some minor changes. It does take a lot of sherry…but the results are divine. Here's the original recipe:
2 c milk
2 T butter
2 T flour
1/4 t white pepper
salt to taste
dash of tabasco
dash of Worcestershire
½ c light cream
¼ c dry sherry
2 c diced cooked chicken breast
2 egg yolks
Preheat the oven to 300º
Make the became sauce by scalding the milk, then melt the butter and adding the flour, cooking for a moment. Then add the milk slowly, stirring all the while. Cook about 15 minutes over medium heat, stirring often. Add the tabasco and Worcestershire. Cover and place in oven for 1½ hours till thick and fluffy.
Strain. You should have 1 cup.
Whisk the sauce with cream and heat. At low heat, add the chicken and sherry and warm about 5 minutes. Add the egg yolks. Be careful not to heat too high for the yolks will curdle. Serve with wild rice and spinach.
3 c turkey gravy (if you don’t have that much left, use additional turkey stock with 3 T flour and 3 T butter for each cup of liquid. Heat that up in the saucepan, add the stock gradually to thicken.)
¼ c dry sherry
¼ c heavy cream
1 ½ lb grated gruyere
½ t nutmeg
Add the sherry and cream to the gravy/thickened stock and warm them. Adjust seasoning and whisk in cheese and nutmeg. Remove from heat when the cheese is melted. Fold in the turkey.
It’s best to add additional cheese to the top and run under the broiler, but not necessary.
This is traditionally served with wild rice and sautéed spinach. You can use up more of your leftovers by serving it on dressing.
While you are making this wonderful hash, may i recommend another gem from 21 Club?
4 cups pomegranate juice
4 cups apple cider
Zest of 1 orange
6 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
1 cup rum (optional)
Warm all except the rum for 10 minutes. Add the rum if desired and serve.