Brunch at Four Seasons ChicagoHoliday Brunch
Brunch at the Four Seasons Chicago is as much an institution as the hotel itself. As one of the original five star hotels on Chicago's Mag Mile, the lavish buffet has long been a staple for Sunday brunch. But these days, what was old is new. With a recent multimillion-dollar renovation that refreshed the hotel from classically formal to modern cool, this is not your parents’ Four Seasons. Yes, the service is flawless. Yes, the food is exquisite. And yes, they still make one of the best, and biggest, martinis in town. But, whereas its predecessor was a special occasion spot, now the living room atmosphere encourages you – with trademark Midwestern hospitality – to stop by any time. With crab fritters served alongside a healthy dollop of caviar and lobster spread, we don't mind if we do.
Move over, buffet table. In its place is a brunch tower, cooked to order for you to get the party started, plus a choose-your-own entrée. For those missing the buffet, there’s a decadent spread of a "dessert experience.” The Four Seasons Chicago Sous Chef Jason White shared his secret brunch recipes with Galavante, and we're just doing our part by paying it forward.
French toast is decadent enough, but at the Four Seasons, it’s taken to a high art with smoked slab bacon, fall fruits, and bourbon-barrel-aged maple syrup.
Follow the straight dough method; adjust with flour. Scale each loaf to 1.5 lb. Speed 1 until it comes together; speed 2 for 8 minutes; windowpane test. Mist with water and bake in oven at 350°F for approximately 20 minutes. Begin by cooking two 1/4-inch-thick pieces of smoked bacon, preferably the Nueske’s brand. Submerge two 1.5-inch-thick pieces of the bacon and onion bread in royale. In a buttered pan or griddle top, cook French toast slices. While French toast and bacon are cooking, portion the fruit – fig, apple, pear, grape, pomegranate, etc. Plate the finished French toast and lay bacon strips over, garnishing with the fruit. Burton’s Maplewood Farm from Medora, Indiana, is a great source for the barrel-aged syrup.
There are sliders. And then there are Four Seasons sliders, made with country-fried steak spiked with hot sauce mayonnaise. A plateful of these will negate having to eat until the next day (or night).
Mix all ingredients together and marinade portioned steak overnight. For our application, we use beef tenderloin, sliced thin and pounded flat, approximately 1.5 oz portions, cubed steak. After marinating overnight, steak is dredged in seasoned all-purpose flour and fried in 400°F oil. The fried steak is patted dry, slider is built using two slices of the mini white bread, a slice of our housemade pickles, and hot sauce mayonnaise.
Straight mix method. Speed 1 until it comes together. Speed 2 for 8 minutes; windowpane test. Mist with water and bake in deck oven at 350°F for approximately 20 minutes (for the 2.5 oz loaves).
Roast bell peppers and shallots together, tossed in a little bit of oil and salt, for 20 minutes in a 350°F convection oven. Remove stems from bell peppers and combine the roasted peppers and shallots with the remaining ingredients and boil for 25 minutes until everything is tender. Purée until smooth and strain through a fine chinois. Two parts of mayonnaise to one part of hot sauce for the dressing.
Pickling liquid for house pickles:
8 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp pickling spice
5 cups water
Pickling liquid for house pickles:
Bring liquid to a simmer to dissolve and infuse all ingredients. Chill before using. Slice pickles and vacuum-seal with liquid. Pickles will be ready in 2 hours.
When a dish has “fat” in the title, you know it’s going to be good. The Four Seasons Chicago recipe pairs the fluffy egg fat bread with juicy sausage, porcini mushrooms, and crumbly yet creamy Prairie Breeze cheese.
Follow the straight dough method. Put dry ingredients in bowl, add wet ingredients, mix on speed 2 until dough forms, scrape down, and switch to speed 3 for 6 minutes. Windowpane test; dough temperature should be 76–83 degrees. Bulk proof until double in size. Portion into 10 oz balls. Store.
Roll out dough to a thickness of a 1/2 inch. Dock the dough and parbake in a 350°F oven for 7–8 minutes, starting to brown. Remove dough and allow to cool. At this point, dough can be wrapped and stored or used right away. Spread soubise over the entire area of the bread, top with freshly sliced porcini mushroom and shredded Prairie Breeze cheese. Bake for 4 minutes on a pizza stone in a pre-heated oven of 425°F. As the bread is baking, soft scramble 8 ounces of beaten whole cage-free eggs. After the 4 minutes, remove from the oven, top with the soft scrambled eggs, sprinkle more cheese on top, and cover with slices of ham. Return to the oven for 1 more minute. Remove, cut bread, and top with chopped chives.
Combine the first four ingredients together in a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Cook the farce while crumbling it apart with whisk. Once farce is cooked, add flour and cook for 4 more minutes. Add the milk and simmer while whisking. Once flour has been cooked and gravy is thick, adjust seasonings with kosher salt. Cool and mix with the following recipe of onion soubise.
Slowly sweat first three ingredients in the butter over a low heat until onions are soft but not caramelized. Add the heavy cream and simmer until cream reduces by half. Blend this mixture and then mix with the breakfast gravy once cool.
Mix all ingredients, allowing dry to dissolve. Portion pork into 5–6 lb portions and tie. Submerge “hams” for 9 days in the brine, cold-smoke with applewood, and roast in slow oven, 185°F until internal temperature of 155°F.
If your only knowledge of hash browns is from the corner diner, these will jingle your bells. At the Four Seasons Chicago brunch, the hash browns are layered with smoked chicken and creamy hollandaise, and get a kick from butternut squash and candied pistachios. Order seconds, and consider it a holiday gift to yourself.
Smoked chicken hash:
Braise skinless chicken thighs in chicken stock with roasted mirepoix. Once tender, cool and pull the meat. Cold-smoke the meat with applewood, wrap, and store. Roast diced onion and squash until soft (use one half of the squash for the dice and the other half for the purée). In large bowl, mix all ingredients together and form into patties using a large ring mold. Formed hash can then be wrapped and stored or used immediately. Hash is browned on the griddle top or in buttered pan over medium heat. Flip hash over once bottom side has become golden brown and crispy. Plate the hash when second side has browned. Top the hash with the butternut hollandaise, sunny-up egg, shaved black truffle, and candied pistachios. Add a little drizzle of black truffle oil if that suits you!
Whisk together the egg yolks, water, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the cayenne in a 2-quart saucier for 1 minute. Put the saucier over low heat and whisk vigorously, moving the pan on and off the heat every 10 to 15 seconds, bringing the mixture to 140 to 145°F, on an instant-read thermometer, approximately 3 minutes. Add 1 piece of butter at a time, every 30 seconds, while continually whisking and moving the saucier on and off the heat. Maintain temperature around 120 to 130°F throughout the remainder of the cooking process. Once half of the butter, or 8 pieces, have been added, add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Add the remaining 8 pieces of butter, 1 at a time, every 30 seconds, while continuing to move the saucier on and off the heat and maintaining 120°F to 130°F. After the last piece of butter has been added, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, and the sugar, and whisk for 1 to 2 minutes. Taste and add more lemon juice, as desired. Move immediately to a short, wide-mouthed thermos to hold for up to 2 hours. Reheat over low heat for 45 seconds.
Over medium heat, cook all ingredients together until liquid has reduced by half.