Culinary Demonstration – The Hearty Boys Catering – Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2012

Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh

The Hearty Boys Catering, Chicago, Illinois

October 26, 2012

Hearty Boys Cocktails, Chicago, Illinois

Ward 8 Cocktail

The Ward 8 Cocktail has been around for quite a while, since 1898. There are a lot of stories about it’s origin, basically, the cocktail was created to honor a politician from Ward 8 in Boston, Massachusetts. Steve says that this drink is beautifully balanced

  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz fresh orange juice
  • 1 tsp grenadine [make your own, don’t use the bottled stuff — great recipe from Alton Brown here (very similar to Steve’s)]
  • cherry

Ward 8 Cocktail

Dan and Steve, The Hearty Boys, started out as actors in New York City Рboth were waiters РSteve in front of house (bar) and Dan in back of house (kitchen). They moved to Chicago and became caterers and restauranteurs Рthis gives them a different take on food/parties/etc than chefs have. Next, they went on the first Food Network Star and WON, leading to their show, Party Line with The Hearty Boys. Dan focuses on food and Steve focuses on cocktails.

Dan and Steve

This presentation was going to be about cocktails, forget about pairing wine with food! If we go back to pre-prohibition, cocktails paired with food. Steve said that having come of age during the 1980’s, he couldn’t understand why people used to have a cocktail with food – after all, most cocktails in the 1980’s were sweet and syrupy and made with vodka (they don’t pair with food at all!). Prohibition created a shortage of aged whiskey (rye = spice, bourbon = sweet, and scotch = smoke), and thus a shortage of true cocktails. In addition to whiskey… Steve says that gin has really improved by going back to it’s roots… His job at the restaurant is to walk around telling people to drink gin.

Dan and Steve have a new book, and it’s publication deadlines were all set around the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival! The name of the book? The New Old Bar… they brought copies to the Festival and were going to sign them after the cooking demonstration. Dan contributes bar food (or as Sandy calls them “nibbly bits”) and Steve contributes 200 classic cocktails. Dan says that the foods tend to be crunch, fried, and a little heavier – also, he doesn’t do hard recipes, he didn’t go to school to learn how to cook and he wants to create food that people can make at home. Thus, this book isn’t a book for chefs or for bartenders, it’s a book for real people – it covers the cocktail topics of steeping, making a few simple syrups, and making brandied cherries. They both are very anti-intimidating food.

Thanksgiving is a party! If you mess up, it creates stories for everyone to tell forever. Once the party starts, go with the flow!

Cocktail Notes:

  • Hendrick’s Gin is flavored with rose and cucumber
  • A cocktail should be a balanced blend of liquor + sweet + fresh citrus
  • Cocktails are COOKING! It’s making FOOD!
  • A decent cocktail is balanced, use a jigger, don’t free pour


Kix Mix, Lemon Maple Cocktail Ribs, and Poutine

Kix Mix

Kix Mix, makes 4 cups

  • 1.5 cups Kix cereal
  • 1.5 cups Cracklin’ Oat Bran cereal
  • 1 cup Life cereal
  • 6 tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 tbs garlic powder
  • 1/2 tbs onion powder
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 1/2 tbs black pepper
  • 1 tbs dried basil
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Combine the garlic and onion powders, salt, pepper, and basil in a small bowl.
  3. Pour the 3 cereals into a large bowl. Melt the butter and drizzle over the cereals. Quickly add the spice mix and toss well to coat. Spread evenly onto a 12×18 cookie sheet and place in the middle of the oven. Bake 20-30 minutes, checking twice to move the cereal around so the edges don’t burn.
  4. Remove from the oven and let cool before serving. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place.

Lemon Maple Cocktail Ribs – nick’s was rather small and with little meat

Lemon Maple Cocktail Ribs, makes 20 ribs

  • Barbecue sauce*
    • 1 c pure maple syrup
    • 1 c tomato sauce
    • zest of 1 lemon
    • juice of 1 lemon
    • 1/4 c white vinegar
    • 1/2 tsp cayenne
    • 1 tbs kosher salt
    • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 rack baby back ribs, cut in half lengthwise to the ribs
  • salt and pepper

The full presentation – nora’s had quite a bit more meat and was larger

  1. Put all the barbecue sauce ingredients in a bowl and whisk together.
  2. Season the ribs with salt and pepper and sear both sides in a hot pan. Place the ribs in a baking dish and cover with the sauce. Place in a 275 degree F oven for 2.5 hours or until really tender. Remove from the oven and let stand until cool enough to handle. Using a very sharp knife cut the ribs into individual portions and serve garnished with a little lemon zest.

A good view of the sauce and the black pepper



Poutine with Chicken

  • 2 large Idaho potatoes
  • 4 oz part skim low moisture mozzarella, cut into 1/2 cubes or 4 oz of cheese curds
  • 1/2 c black pepper gravy, recipe follows
  • 4 oz shredded chicken, optional

This serving of poutine had more cheese curds and gravy

  1. Scrub potatoes well and cut them into 1/2 inch fry shapes. Soak in ice water for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat sunflower oil to 325 degrees F. Drain the potatoes and pat them dry so as not to spatter yourself with hot oil. Drop the potatoes into the oil, making sure not to crowd them. Fry about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are a little limp. Remove from the oil to a paper towel lined plate. Let rest 10-20 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. Raise the oil temperature to 350 degrees F and fry the potatoes a second time until crisp and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from oil and season right away with salt.
  5. Pile the fries in an oven safe dish and scatter the cheese on top. Place in the oven for 2-3 minutes until the cheese begins to get soft. Make sure not to melt completely.
  6. Removed from the oven and top with the gravy and shredded chicken if desired. Serve immediately.

Close-up of poutine

Black Pepper Gravy

  • 4 tbs unsalted butter
  • 3 tbs flour
  • 1.5 c milk, scalded
  • 3/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 5 grinds fresh black pepper
  • splash of beer
  1. Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan and whisk in the flour all at once. Let cook one minute.
  2. Whisk in the milk a little at a time, adding more as the gravy thickens. Season with the salt and pepper and a splash of beer.
  3. Simmer one minute and remove from heat. Use immediately or cover the top of the gravy directly with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming.

Black Pepper Gravy

Our notes:

  • The barbecue sauce wasn’t as sweet as we expected
  • The ribs were tasty, but not as browned as preferred (nora’s comment)
  • The Ward 8 cocktail was pretty tart, it was served without ice because Steve didn’t want it to be diluted
  • The poutine would have been better if it was a bit warmer, the chicken was very flavorful and tender


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