Cocktail Bar Cuisine

Ever been to Cobble Hill? That’s a neighborhood in Brooklyn that’s just bars on bars on bars. Beer bars, literary bars and of course – schmancy cocktail bars. I have no problem with cocktail bars in theory, but I don’t think just because you stock up on chartreuse you automatically justify $16 drinks. On top of that, most cocktail bars offer pretty meh food selections: charcuterie,  pickled things, little toast (fine, “crostini”) – not blowing my mind here.

All that being said, I totally, wholly and completely ate my words the first time I visited Henry Public. THAT place does NOT phone in the dinner menu, nor is it dainty little food. Trust me – a heaping plate of cheesy, baked macaroni will help your pisco and lillet drink go down all the smoother.

And now, I draw your attention to the star of the show, the turkey leg sandwich. They give you a massive turkey leg, braised in milk, covered in gravy with some crusty bread that only hopes to contain it. I ate it, promptly fell asleep, woke up sheepishly and resolved to recreate it at home. Here is my tale:

I looked online to see if anyone had already paved this road, but couldn’t find any specific recipe for this deliciousness. There are other ones for milk-braised turkey in the abstract, but the flavors didn’t quite match up (cinnamon stick? No thanks Jamie Oliver…). So I made my own!

Turkey legs, copious garlic and onions, butter, milk and salt. When I don’t know what I’m doing, I try and keep it simple. I headed out to the grocery store and discovered a funny wrinkle of the three or four stores by me – apparently turkey can only be sold as a whole turkey or ground turkey and nowhere in between. Alright, chicken it is!

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First I seasoned the chicken with plenty of salt and pepper, then browned it in butter. When it’s golden and delicious, I removed it from the pot. I deglazed the pot with a little bit o’ white wine, and threw in the chopped garlic and onions. While that cooked down, I shredded up the chicken so it could really soak up the braise. When the onions had softened, I tossed the shredded chicken back in the pot and added the milk with some additional butter. I let that cook on medium-low heat for a couple of hours – basically until the chicken soaked up the milk and became absurdly tender.

I opted for sourdough bread, figuring that could stand up to our saucy chicken, and served it along with a little side salad and some pickles to lighten things up a bit.

Milk-braised turkey sandwich with pickles and side salad.

Milk-braised turkey sandwich with pickles and side salad.

Pitfalls: One that I’ve already mentioned is that I was surprisingly unable to find turkey legs at my local grocers. I’m sure if I went to a butcher or specialty grocery store I’d have more luck, but the chicken worked out just fine.

You’ll notice I also opted for an open-faced sandwich rather than your traditional orientation. My biggest food pet peeve is when you order a sandwich (or burger, taco, wrap, etc) and it just completely falls apart. I CAN’T STAND THAT. I could already tell that my sourdough was not going to be up for the task, so I went open-faced to skip the heartache. That ended up being perfectly delicious, but if you do want to go traditional make sure you’ve got some seriously thick and crusty bread.

The VerdictThis sandwich is seriously full-flavored. Be prepared to stare dreamily off into space for the following 20-30 minutes while you fondly recall each milky, meaty bite. The salad and pickles were also key to balancing the richness and rounding out the meal, do not skip.

This sandwich was a revelation for a cold winter night. Feel free to follow the aforementioned steps to make your own, or hop over to Henry Public for the real deal. They’ve even got a cocktail with four ingredients – all four alcohol!

Cheers,

Not Chef Jared

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Sweet baby Jesus! I had quite a bit of leftover chicken and was totally ready to make more sandwiches, when lightning struck. My brother was telling me how easy and awesome it is to make congee, and I had the great idea of making a psuedo-congee using my saucy-braised chicken. IT. WAS. AWESOME. To call it rich would be an understatement, but to call it god damn delicious would be an…accuratestatement. Do it.

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