Pump Room Chicken Hash

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The Pump Room Chicken Hash is what Chicago’s famous Pump Room in the Ambassador East Hotel used to serve as a midnight snack of the rich and famous. A simple enough dish to prepare, assuming you already have some “Sauce Escoffier.” What is Escoffier sauce you ask? After some hunting on the internet, I uncovered a pair of extinct sauces called Robert and Escoffier (or Diable) last produced around the late 1980s. I was able to create a facsimile based on Uncle Phaedrus’ recipe which worked for me and made sense, despite the fact that it drastically differed from the last known ingredient list of Nabisco’s sauce Diable. What was interesting is the fact that these sauces, apparently quite established, simply ceased to be. Imagine a world without Worcester sauce or Tobasco. Even more interesting is that it was named after the famous chef Auguste Escoffier who popularized the five French “Mother Sauces.” Anyway, history lesson aside, this was an excellent dish and would work well as the stuffing for a chicken pot pie, with biscuits, or any other way you please. The only alteration I made was to cut in half the amount of Madeira used so that it wasn’t quite so boozy (call it learning from experience). I don’t think I would ever make it again because building the final sauce really took several hours (and several pots) but it was worth it. Strangely, this recipe differs from another version of the Pump Room Chicken Hash released in 1980 sans Escoffier sauce but with cloves and nutmeg. Another recipe that just goes to show what a treasure trove and gateway of culinary history this book is.

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