Times have changed in Ireland, the U.S. and New York.
The Irish started immigrating to the U. S. in the 1800s. Because they were fleeing poverty and hunger, they came as laborers and service staff, migrating across the country.
People used to say, “The Irish focus on potatoes.” Well, that is not true today. Whether you are experiencing an Irish chef or in an Irish restaurant, you will enjoy some fine fare.
When asking about a well-known Irish chef, many New Yorkers will think of Bobby Flay and his famous Mesa Grill NYC; Bar American burger places in Garden City, NY; Lake Grove, NY; Cherry Hill, NJ; Eatontown, NJ; or Paramus, NJ. He has certainly made his mark serving exceptional food, with a wide variety of prices and a dynamite television show.
Kerry Heffernan opened Union Square Hospitality Group’s Eleven Madison Park and in time, became partner. This was after bringing 20 years of culinary excellence, experience and leadership to the kitchen on Central Park South at New York City’s South Gate and becoming known for his seasonal American dishes. However, Chef Heffernan did his due diligence around the world and in New York City at Montrachet, Le Régence, Restaurant Bouley, Sous Chef, working with Chef Tom Colicchio at Mondrian before landing his first job as Chef de Cuisine at One Fifth Avenue. Under the direction of Chef Alfred Portale, Kerry designed the restaurant’s signature fish menu. Kerry later became the Executive Chef of the Westbury Hotel’s famed Polo Restaurant.
At Eleven Madison Park, he introduced his elegant seasonal cuisine. Under his leadership, the restaurant continues to receive accolades with a tie with Per Se on “Zagat Survey’s Top 20 Most Popular Restaurants in New York,” The James Beard Foundation’s Award for Outstanding Service in America, Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence and Esquire Magazine’s “Best New Restaurant.”
Kerry is as involved outside the kitchen, with numerous philanthropic projects including: Share Our Strength, Project by Project, City Meals on Wheels, Kids for Kids and both the Central Park and Madison Square Park Conservancies. Kerry also serves as an advisor to seafood sustainability and conservation agencies. He was honored in 2012 as the commencement speaker at the Culinary Institute of America.
As a seafood expert and avid outdoorsman, Kerry has won numerous charity fishing tournaments. Two include the “Manhattan Cup” and the “Montauk Redbone.” He also seems to be a favorite on many TV shows, including: The Today Show, Good Morning America, Martha Stewart, CBS and CNN’s American Morning.
Chef is an avid saltwater fly fisherman and snowboarder. Kerry sees Central Park as a seasonal inspiration and ideal backdrop for his cuisine.
Kerry was kind enough to share a recipe with us — unfortunately, no photo, but it is easy to envision.
Deconstructed Turkey Shepherd’s Pie
4 cups cooked diced turkey meat (light or dark, free of fat and skin)
2 cups white sauce (see recipe)
1½-cups cooked diced vegetables (optional)
½ small bunch sage, shredded
1 bunch parsley, chopped
In a 6-quart saucepan, gently heat sauce; check, adjust seasoning, if needed, as it warms. Place turkey and veggies in a microwaveable covered container, sprinkle with water to moisten; heat for 2 minutes, then “toss” and reheat for another minute. Add herbs to sauce, check seasoning, add warmed turkey, veggies and continue to heat on stove, gently folding with rubber spatula until just hot.
2-qts peeled pearl onions, cipollini or other small onion (leftover creamed or roasted onions work well)
3/4 cup Carolina rice
2-qts chicken stock
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1-cup heavy cream
*This is basically creamed onions, thickened with rice and pureed.
Put all ingredients except cream in a 6 qt saucepot; season well, simmer slowly until onions are cooked through and remove (if some of the overcooked ones remain, that is fine, too). Add cream to rice. For stock mixture; reheat to simmer, check seasoning. Cool for 1/2 hour for safer blending.
Place in blender (in batches if needed) so that the mixture never fills more than half of the blender. Puree slowly at first, then build speed, until completely smooth.
3 cups leftover mashed potatoes
1 cup all purpose flour
2 whole eggs beaten with ¼-cup milk
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
2 cups canola oil
Form leftover mashed potatoes into approximately 8 thin disks; brush each disk evenly with egg wash and dredge in flour and Panko mixture. Fry at a high temp until both sides are golden brown, carefully flipping between each side. Remove and drain on a plate with paper towels.
To serve, lay crisp sautéed potatoes in four bowls and spoon equal amounts of hot turkey mixture on top. Serve immediately.
Images courtesy of Kerry Heffernan