I’ve been fortunate enough to meet Marcus Samuelsson in person on two different occasions. I first met him at a cooking class at Central Market back in 2012, and the following year, he participated in a Brooklyn Brewery event benefiting Slow Food Austin that was held at Springdale Farm. Obviously, I’m a fan, and I couldn’t wait to have a look at his newest book, The Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem, of which I received a review copy. Of course, the book is full of recipes for the great food that’s served at the restaurant, but it’s also full of stories about Harlem where the restaurant is located. The stories cover past and present and make evident Samuelsson’s respect and affection for this community. The recipes begin with cocktails and bar snacks. Right away, I started mixing up a Rum Rum Punch. It’s made with coconut water, pineapple juice, lime juice, white rum, and Goslings Black Seal rum, and it did not disappoint. I only wish I’d had some of the Cauliflower Frites with Green Mayonnaise or Fish Croquettes to go with it. The dishes in this book include American classics, a few from Ethiopian cuisine, some inspired by the cultures present in Harlem, and some more modern chef creations. So, you’ll find Fried Yardbird, Corn Bread, Beef Kitfo with Awase, Pescado Wrapped in Banana Leaves with Green Sauce, Curried Goat Stew, and Lacquered Halibut with Charred Eggplant and Spinach. Some are more complicated than others, but they all offer great flavor combinations and, in some cases, interesting hits of spice. I was ready to make the Peas and Rice that involves cooking the rice in coconut milk with tomatoes and then make the Red Rooster Hot Sauce to drizzle on top until I turned a few more pages and saw the Sunday Tomato Eggs dish. And, I did make it for Sunday brunch.
Let me start by saying that this dish was to be made with Mexican pork chorizo, but I used soy chorizo instead. The first step was to cook the chorizo with onion, celery, and garlic. Next, canned tomatoes were added along with capers, chopped Kalamata olives, a minced chipotle in adobo, and some water. The mixture was left to simmer for a few minutes before freshly grated horseradish was added. Eggs were then cracked directly into the mixture and cooked until set. Meanwhile, some sourdough bread was toasted to serve on the side. Just before serving, basil was added on top.
This dish was a lot like shakshuka, but here there were spicy, bloody mary flavors along for the ride. For a brief moment, I wondered if it was all too much with the chorizo, celery, chipotle, and horseradish, but it definitely was not. The flavors meld nicely and make an exciting surround for the eggs. Here’s how I know the dish was fantastic: there was supposed to have been a piece of burrata with each serving. I love burrata. I bought the burrata just for this dish. Then, I completely forgot about it. I plated the dish, took photos, ate it happily, and only later realized I had forgotten the burrata. If it was good enough that I didn’t even realize it was missing the burrata, then it was very, very good. Read this book to learn about Harlem, the Red Rooster, and to cook some good food.
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