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Hangover Remedies 2011: Battle Plans for Behind the Line

by Jessica Dukes
Antoinette Bruno
December 2010

New Year’s Day brunch for a chef is two ibuprofens, coffee, and a knife. And once you’ve downed those pills, soldier, the party’s over. You’ve got zombies staggering into your dining room, all with powerful cravings, and this day’s begging to be put out of its misery.

Identifying your diners’ hankerings is child’s play—you’ve cured this Day After epidemic before. Revelers’ bodies cry out for replenishment. Every weary, wobbly diner coming through your doors hungers for comfort, grease, relief, and maybe a fruit smoothie (if they still have the wherewithal to spell “electrolytes”). But the chef who wants repeat business brings something more to the battle: nourishment, yes, but also creative, soulful, belly-satisfying fortification. Here are three dishes on our hangover dream list from the trenches of homegrown, Chi-town chefs:

The Belly Dog with Pickled Green Papaya, Curry Mayonnaise and Crispy Egg Noodles from Chef-owner Bill Kim of Belly Shack (and Urban Belly) provides the complex carbohydrates and fatty base necessary to maintain a steady level of sugar in the bloodstream, giving the overworked liver a little lift. The Pickled Green Papaya packs potassium—heavy artillery against toxins. Plus, a dash of togarashi spice helps sweat out all-around bad juju. And on top of all that, it’s a seriously mouthwatering dog. Chef Bill Kim may not partake too often himself, but he recommends re-hydrating with coconut water with mango as a cure-all for a night of overindulgence.

Braised Lamb Crêpes, Asian Pears, and Hazelnut-Sage Glaze from Jeffrey Mauro of Jam make a juicy, tender brunch “burrito.” The crêpes provide a mega dose of vitamin B12, a.k.a. Dirty Harry for hangovers. The dish’s Asian pears and Hazelnut-Sage Glaze is plate-lickingly rich, and it delivers a one-two punch of electrolytes, plus nature’s own fructose for much-needed energy. With New Year’s Day 2011 falling on a Saturday, a day he describes as typically “bananas” at Jam, Mauro says it’s important to bring you’re A game, since people are generally more impatient at breakfast. His plan: “streamline the regular menu, showcase the hit list and deliver the best breakfast they will ever have with efficient service.”

Chef Jared Van Camp’s Spicy Duck Wings, Harissa, and Cucumber-Mint Raita is winning loyal followers from Chicago’s Old Town Social to San Diego, California, where they appear on Quality Social’s “Morning After” Hangover Brunch menu. In case diners blew all their cash at bars on New Year’s Eve, Quality Social offers a discount to diners wearing last night’s outfit or carrying last night’s drink receipt. With or without a discount, the Spicy Duck Wings are crispy, juicy (after cooking for four hours in duck fat) and just what finger-licking good was meant to signify. Not to mention that Van Camp’s raita is chock full of the refreshing and curative properties of both cucumber and mint. And for chefs in the know, plucky duck wing drumettes, an off-cut, are just as cheap as they are chic.

It takes a great warrior and chef to wade through the jungle of New Year’s Day and, in the process, elevate hangover food above the status of mess-hall grub. Go forth, chefs, and may your vittles end up converting your dazed and confused diners back into … humans.