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Monday, April 29, 2013

Red-flannel hash redux, from Leo's Lunchroom

Posted by on 04.29.13 at 12:40 PM

Eric Mays red flannel hash
On Saturday, Friend of the Food Chain Eric May threw a pop-up tribute to Leo's Lunchroom at the Piranha Club. Through the late 80s and early 90s, the Wicker Park diner was pretty much the only place you could eat in its immediate surroundings on Division. But it was much more than that. A hangout for artists, musicians, and assorted neighborhood weirdos in the heady days of pre- and mid-gentrification Wicker Park, it served an eclectic and mostly delicious pan-global assortment of budget-friendly food, cooked by Donna Knezek, who went on to Bite and Feed, and has since relocated to Albuquerque.

May got in touch with Knezek, former owner Sheila McCoy, and a few other staffers for recipes, and reverse engineered a few more with the help of some crowd sourcing among old regulars. He served brunch, lunch, and dinner, and turned out some amazingly faithful renditions of the biscuits and mushroom gravy, the veggie chili, the sweet-potato burrito, samosas, pecan-crusted catfish with mustard pan sauce, and more. The Reuben, griddled by Tom Harrington and served with potato salad, brought a Proustian tear to my eye.

May shared the simple recipe for the arresting red-flannel hash, and there are a few more shots of other dishes after the jump.

Leo's Red-Flannel Hash Redux
Per May: "The recipe is pretty loosey-goosey. Here's an approximation for 2."

A good knob of butter
1/2 cup diced onion
1 cup corned beef, diced into about 1/2" chunks
1 cup cooked and sliced beets (I boil whole until a butter knife pierces without resistance; about an hour)
2 medium-size russet potatoes, chopped into one-inch cubes and boiled until soft
salt and pepper

Saute onions in butter until soft. Throw in corned beef and cook until it sizzles. Throw in beets and potatoes and lower burner to a medium flame. Don't fuss too much, but when when the potatoes hit the pan, give them a good smashing with the spatula. Let a good brown crust form, allowing about five minutes, then flip and brown the other side. Season. Serve with two runny eggs, fried or poached.

Not much to it.

Leos reuben, via Pirahna Club

Leos biscuits with mushroom gravy, via the Pirahna Club
  • Mike Sula
  • Leo's biscuits with mushroom gravy, via Pirahna Club

Mike Sula writes about cooking every Monday.

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