The executive chef of Reserve restaurant at the Ambassador Hotel, Shaun Brady, honors his Irish heritage with a hearty brunch
I am not a morning person. I’ll be the first to admit it (closely followed by my early-bird wife). Prior to 10 a.m. I can stomach little more than a cup of strong coffee. That being said, when mid-day rolls around I am more than ready to enjoy a delicious brunch.
It is fairly common in my home country of Ireland to eat a larger meal for lunch and a smaller meal at dinner time. Traditionally, this was to sustain a long day of work in the fields. For anyone who has visited the Emerald Isle, you’ve surely heard of an Irish Breakfast: rashers (bacon), sausages, eggs, white pudding, black pudding (blood sausage), baked beans, mushrooms, tomato, soda bread, etc. To some (non-Irish) this is a heart attack on a plate; for us “Paddies,” it is heaven.
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From the time I was 12 years old, I knew I wanted to be a chef. However, living in a small, rural, Irish town, I was unsure of how I would meet my goal. I attended home economics classes at the all-girls school because those classes were not offered at my all-boys Christian Brothers school. I worked in a bakery (early shifts, aaugh) and several small cafes where I peeled my weight in vegetables several times over.
Throughout all of these experiences I always had the support of my family. Specifically, my maternal grandmother encouraged me to follow my passion for cooking. My recipe for scones and jam is in honor of my grandmother and the very first thing she taught me how to make. Scones work well at brunch, or as a snack any time of day or night.
Hash, corned beef or otherwise, is both delicious and handy for disposing of leftovers. Meat, potatoes, onions—need I say more? It is also a fitting addition for those planning a St. Patrick’s Day brunch.
Coming from an island nation and being spoiled by an abundance of fresh seafood, I felt compelled to include a tasty fish dish. Irish whiskey-cured salmon is a recipe that I started working on a couple of months ago. This recipe works well in a number of ways, including salmon eggs benedict, a bagel or a baked flatbread.
I had the good fortune of securing the role as executive chef at Reserve restaurant at the Ambassador Hotel when my family relocated to the Kansas City area almost two years ago. I have fallen in love with the city and all it has to offer, and I truly value the opportunity to use my traditional recipes within the modern atmosphere of the Ambassador Hotel. If you don’t like to cook or just feel like having someone else do all the work, please come by.
CORNED BEEF HASH
6 ounces cooked corned beef, cut into cubes
4 ounces cooked Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into large dice
2 ounces sautéed Spanish onion
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 ounce beef demi-glace or beef stock
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large, preheated sauté pan add the corned beef and sauté until golden brown, about four minutes. Add the potatoes and onions and sauté for an additional two to three minutes. Add half of the beef stock and taste, then add the rest of beef stock as needed. Top with fresh chopped parsley and two eggs cooked to your preference.
IRISH WHISKEY-CURED SALMON
1 cup kosher salt
1 cup light brown sugar
1 half salmon fillet, pin bones out
2 tablespoons fresh-ground pepper
2 tablespoons fresh-ground coriander
Zest from one lemon
Zest from one orange
6 ounces Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey
2 bunches fresh dill (large stems removed, rinsed free of sand)
In a large bowl, combine the salt and sugar. Trim the belly from the salmon and remove the skin and dark parts. Lay the salmon on a piece of plastic wrap large enough to cover the fillet. Spread half the salt-sugar mix onto two pieces of plastic, then top each with half the dill. On the skin side of the salmon, grind half the pepper and coriander. Zest half the lemon and orange over the salmon. Turn fillet over onto sugar and dill mixture. Repeat the seasoning on the flesh side with remaining pepper and coriander, lemon and orange zest. Top with remaining dill. Spread remaining half of the salt-sugar mix over the fillet. Drizzle the whiskey over the fillet. Tightly wrap the salmon in plastic, then wrap in foil. Place the salmon on a sheet tray, top with a second sheet tray and weigh the fillet down with approximately eight pounds. (I use a brick wrapped in plastic wrap). Salmon should cure with the weight atop it for 36 hours.
4 cups flour
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1½ teaspoons salt
4 ounces unsalted butter, small dice
1¾ cups buttermilk
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 cup raisins
¼ cup apple juice
¼ cup orange juice
1 beaten egg yolk to brush the scones before baking
To a small saucepan add raisins, apple and orange juices and simmer on medium heat for a couple of minutes until raisins plump up. Set aside to cool down. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into the mixed dried ingredients. Add plumped raisins to the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix the whole egg and egg yolks with buttermilk and stir until combined. Mix wet and dry ingredients together. Hold back some of the liquid. You might not need it all. Roll the dough out to about ½-inch thick. Using a large cookie cutter, cut out the scones and place on a baking sheet. Brush the scones with egg yolk. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in a pre-heated 375 degree oven until golden brown. Serve with homemade jam and whipped cream.
1 cup blueberries
1 cup raspberries
1 cup blackberries
2 cups strawberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½cup simple syrup
½orange (both juice and zest)
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook 25 minutes. Let cool.
When Shaun Brady accepted a position with a Dublin restaurant about a dozen years ago, he didn’t realize that it would change his life in more ways than one. Born and raised in Ireland, Brady always knew he wanted to be a chef, taking his first full-time job at 16. After moving to Dublin, he studied at the Dublin Institute of Technology. And when he started at that Dublin restaurant, he met his future wife, a Wichita native who was spending a year abroad and working at the same restaurant. The couple married and moved back to the U.S., first to Chicago, where Brady worked with Stephanie Izard at Scylla, and then after the birth of their son, on to Kansas City and the Ambassador Hotel. “I always said I’d never work in a hotel, but when I walked into that building, I fell in love with it. And I have the freedom to do whatever I want to—within reason,” he says with a laugh.