In Search of Hot Beef

In Search of Hot Beef

Does red eye gravy have caffeine in it?

One of the great vexations of writing about Northern cuisine, as opposed to Southern, is our lack of iconic restaurant foods. The South has so much, like biscuits, pimento cheese, barbecue, fried chicken. We havewhat, exactly?

Our small-town cafs served pie; we can all agree on that. Eggs and bacon and hash browns. Ristet brød. At some point in the mid-20th century, we got hamburgers and fries. These are not exactly foods that lend themselves to Faulknerian rhapsody among the tupelo trees.

Yet one particular Northern food-culture question has been tickling at the edges of my mind for years. It has to do with something thats sometimes called a beef commercial sandwich, sometimes called hot beef. I decided this year to get to the bottom of it. Where did it begin? Where is it now?

I got a ping back from the news archives, and the summer of 1952, when The Minneapolis Tribune took a few inches away from the dire issues of the day to reprint an editorial from The Christian Science Monitor. Much was my consternation the first time I sat down in a modern American eatery and ordered the advertised Hot Beef Sandwich, the author started. What I got was a perfectly straightforward Beef lAngleterre—an intentionally pretentious phrase for roast beef.

Men on farms get hungry. Thats the rough shape of what I heard again and again. Beatrice Ojakangas, the James Beard Awardwinning Minnesota cookbook queen, was born in 1934, on a farm in Floodwood, Minnesota. It was what my dad would get when he went into town, Ojakangas said of the sandwich.

I reached Ojakangas on the phone when she happened to be visiting with a group of older friends. And she called out my question to the group: When did they recall first seeing hot beef sandwiches? One man remembered his dad ordering them when he hauled pulpwood to Cloquet. Another recalled his dad ordering them in Duluth. The group burst into laughter, which broke like the sound of waves on a rocky beach through the cell-phone line.

That said, two variations exist, one made with deli-style roast beef and the other with pot roaststyle beef. But either one can appear under either name. The name hot beef commercial is more popular in southwestern Minnesota, bleeding toward South Dakota. Mankato is roughly the epicenter of the commercial name. In the rest of Minnesota and in North Dakota, look for hot beef.

However, Tracy Deutsch, the historian, helped me find a great number of 1950s and 1960s newspaper advertisements for beef. Here, commercial and beef appear to be inextricably intertwineda classification akin to prime rib.

Speaking of gravy, do you know what its like to eat 12 ounces of gravy at a sitting? I dont, because I couldnt finish it all. But lets talk about eating six ounces of gravy, plus pot roast, plus mashed potatoes, plus bread. I learned something about early 20th-century life you cant learn any other way: What was it like to haul pulpwood to Cloquet by wagon? What was it like to work in a Minneapolis sawmill? It required calories. As many as you could get on a plate.

Raising over 25 of all pork in the U. ., it should come as no surprise that Hawkeyes enjoy a tasty, breaded and deep-fried pork tenderloin first thing in the morning, especially if its served with gravy, a couple of eggs, home fries and a side of mini-pancakes.

Need another reason to cook up some red-eye gravy? It's ridiculously easy to make. The purist version is just black coffee and the drippings from frying up some country ham. The thin sauce often separates, creating a rosy "red eye" of fat around the dark pool of coffee. But these days, plenty of chefs are finding ways to tone down some of the bitter notes in the traditional sauce, creating modern versions of the gravy.

Slade Rushing, executive chef of Brennan's in New Orleans, remembers having redeye gravy growing up in his southern Mississippi home. His father used thick-cut Virginia ham, pork chops, and even venison sausage as a base for the gravy. But Rushing never really liked it as a kid. Fast-forward to grown-up Rushing, who developed a more refined take on the cowboy dish: Soft scrambled duck eggs with smoked duck ham, grilled country bread, and a redeye duck jus. Jus er lavet af en rig duck og kalvekød bestand og inkorporerer koldbrygget kaffe, rushing forklarer, fordi det har mere ristet kaffebønne smag, mindre bitterhed og mere af en raffineret kaffe smag end traditionel varmbrygget kaffe.

Justin Burdett, en anden ung sydkok, fortalte os, når du ser Remeye Gravy, det får dig til at tænke på Backwoods Sticks i syd. Men i Ruka's bord i Highlands, NC, Burdett tilbød en gengivelse af den sovs, der føles langt mere uptown end Backwoods røget hog-hjerne ravioli og kærnemælk-stegte grouper kinder Med en delikat redeye consommé lavet af skinkebenhold og fransk presse kaffe. Burdett arbejder i øjeblikket på en ny restaurant i Asheville, NC, hvor han vil tjene en mere afslappet, men lige så lækkert tage på Redeye Gravy: En Redye Mayo spredt på en stegt havkat sandwich.

Mens sort øje blev opkaldt efter udseendet af den cirkulære sorte markering forårsaget af at hælde skuddet på toppen af ​​koppen af ​​kaffe med fløde, blev det røde øje navngivet for den ekstra tilføjede lynlås, der var nødvendigt for at holde sig vågen gennem en overnatning Røde øjenflyvning fra vestkysten til New York.

Red-Eye Gravy er en favorit i nogle dele af syd, spist til morgenmad sammen med nogle kiks for at sopping op ad sovs og nogle stegte æg og grits selvfølgelig. Red-Eye Gravy serveres også over grits.


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