TABASCO: The Eye Opener
Quick — name a drink that uses TABASCO.
I’m going to take a wild guess and say you offered the Bloody Mary. Possibly the Snapper or the Caesar. Or, if you’ve built an appreciation for cocktailia arcana, you might have conjured up a Bullshot or Praire Oyster. Whatever your choice was, it certainly had something in common with all other famous TABASCO drinks, beyond the hot sauce itself, of course. Your choice was a restorative.
In our previous post, we talked a bit about the stomach-settling, appetite-promoting qualities of the chili pepper family. It should come as little surprise then that the place where these qualities are most needed is the very same place you’re likely to find TABASCO applied in alcoholic drinks. That place would be the land of the hair-of-the-dog. Whether you’re enjoying a brunch with friends or reaching for a little assistance with last night’s hangover, the combination of hot peppers, herbal notes, and a small-to-medium serving of alcohol can be just the thing to set the world right again.
For years, one of our favorite places to enjoy brunch and a Soju Bloody Mary has been the Ramos House Cafe in San Juan Capistrano, California. Maybe it’s the Orange County location, but the Ramos feels like the perfect Disneyland restaurant — charming, staffed with cool, beautiful people, and adjacent to a major attraction, namely the Pacific Surfliner Amtrak line. Take the train down, hop across the tracks, and you’re there. It would have been natural to wrap up our salute to TABASCO with a Bloody Mary, and the one made by the Ramos House’s Chef/Owner John Q. is among our favorites. He garnishes the drink with pickled green beans and crab claw skewering a Scotch quail egg. Wow, what a drink. Yes, we should be offer you a great Bloody Mary today. But, that would be too easy. Instead, today we’re doing a riff on the Scotch egg which John Q. uses as a garnish for his drink.
When I returned from my visit to Avery Island, a Cajun variation of a Scotch egg was the first recipe I decided upon. If you’re not familiar, a Scotch egg is a hard (or semi-hard) boiled egg encased in a layer of sausage, rolled in breadcrumbs and fried. As brunch or corpse-reviver fare goes, it’s hard to beat a Scotch egg, especially if you’re also drinking. When asked about the Bloody Mary/Scotch egg combo by Wine Enthusiast magazine, Chef Q. replied, “Together they will erase most any hangover.” Along with chili peppers, eggs are a great post-drinking binge restorative. An article found in The Times of India offers that “eggs contain cysteine which helps break down the acetaldehyde (a by-product of alcohol metabolism) content in the body.” Then, you have the protein of the sausage, which helps restore amino acids depleted by the alcohol. On every front, the Scotch egg is helping you get back on your feet.
Of course, if we couldn’t do a Bloody Mary today, we sure enough couldn’t do your run-of-the-mill Scotch egg. We needed something more 12 Bottle Bar, and of course, since we’re celebrating TABSCO, something way more Cajun. Our first step was to replace the standard hard boiled egg with a pickled egg. Pickled eggs are old-timey bar food, and rightfully so (see eggs and alcohol, above). Moreover, they are delicious. For our standard pickled eggs, we add sliced jalapenos and some ginger. Here, we replace all the herbs and flavorings with a bit of TABASCO — the Chipotle variety, to be exact — which does all the spice and depth-of-flavor delivery for us. The Chipotle adds a warmth which perfectly complements the richness of the egg.
The next change was to substitute the any-old sausage called for in many Scotch egg recipes with a great Cajun boudin. Comprised chiefly of pork and rice with bits of liver and blood, Cajun boudin (not to be confused with the French variety of the same name) is a wonder — rich, hearty, and just spicy enough. Like most great Cajun food, making boudin is a balance of carefully harmonizing ingredients and good old gut know-how. Not having the latter, we sought out someone who did (you can also find boudin online). Louie’s of Mar Vista is the place our Cajun friends make a pilgrimage to on Sundays to exchange cries of “Geaux Saints!” Chef/Owner John Atkinson is not only one of the more gracious chefs we’ve met, he also makes some amazing Southern fusion food, a fact we learn when we visited the restaurant for a Museum of the American Cocktail event focused on the drinks of New Orleans. Within an hour of leaving a message for Chef Atkinson, he respond that he had house made boudin on hand and would happily provide me with what I needed. If you live in the Los Angeles area and haven’t made a trip to Louie’s, do yourself a favor. Chef’s boudin follows the traditional profile; “It’s not so much a recipe as a mixture of those things (pork, rice, liver, blood, spices),” he texted me. “Make what you like and always respect the protein”.
If making a Scotch egg seems daunting at all, it shouldn’t. Nothing could be easier. Simply roll the hard boiled (or pickled) egg in flour, wrap it in a patty made of the sausage (the sausage should be raw and uncased), coat the sausage in bread crumbs, and fry. Here, the TABASCO Chipotle in the pickled egg and the boudin have done almost all the seasoning work for you; all that you need to do is assemble. Traditionally, you might pair a Scotch egg with a mustard sauce or remoulade. In order to counter the inherent spice of the eggs, we offer a tamer, brighter sauce here — and work in a bit of one of our favorite TABASCO varieties, Sweet and Spicy.[ultimate-recipe id=”8360″ template=”default”]
Is the Scotch egg the prefect hangover cure? When combined with the proper re-constitutional, it just might be. Even if it doesn’t perform miracles, it certainly makes the process of recovery a great deal more enjoyable.