It was 1998 when Ace’s Fridges of Fayette County series first began (around the same time Jonathan and Cara Lundy opened Jonathan at Gratz Park) where intrepid Ace Interns rooted around in the fridges of famous bluegrass top chefs (usually without forewarning). Alums from the series include Ouita Michel (Holly Hill Inn) and Lundy, who has a new book out just in time for the holidays.
Rob Bricken thoroughly investigated the Lundy fridge in 2000 and reported back its contents: “A case containing at least one jillion eggs. Motts apple juice. Burgundy wine, for their five-year anniversary. Crystal hot sauce, European butter (higher fat), preserved peaches. Key limes “for a Mexican-food party we had last week. We filled the water cooler with Maragaritas.’ Jonathan Lundy: our new hero. In the door is some Molson beer, ketchup, goat cheese, and butter. And some ALE-8, in the longneck bottles. “Only way to drink it.” Lundy says, then mutters, ‘Uhh you, uh, want one?’ (clearly having no desire to give one up). Experience dictates: Never separate an Ale-8 drinker from their longnecks. In the freezer is Starbucks coffee and Frootee-Ice for Amelia. As the interview winds down, he offers a fig rubbed with cinammon, olive oil, date sugar, and then grilled. Now it’s hard to leave.”
(The new book includes a recipe for the Kentucky Speedball on page 230, a bourbon and Ale-8 cocktail.)
Part coffee-table book (with lovely photography from Lee Thomas), and part cookbook, this self-published project is a love letter from Lundy to the Bluegrass.
In the introduction he writes, “The Bluegrass Region of Kentucky occupies a distinctive place in the American imagination a place of undulating hills, horses and bourbon distilleries. From our front porch swings, we enjoy sunsets over fields of sweet corn, sorghum and soybeans. Food and animal feed crops have replaced much of the traditional tobacco base, and farmers markets have found permanent homes in the cities. There is nothing like a Kentucky tomato or local wildflower honey. Pork has reached near-cult level — country hams, jowl bacon –there is simply none better. The same limestone that nurtures the thoroughbred horses here also imparts its richness to grass-fed lamb, cattle and goats, whose milk has inspired local cheese artisans. A sixth-generation mill still grinds local corn and wheat just up the creek from where I played as a child.”
Lundy (along with Ouita Michel and Debbie Long, to name a few) is one of Lexington’s influential restaurateurs encouraging others along Lexington’s farm-to-table culinary path. Recipes include cornmeal-fried freshwater shrimp, his famous fried green tomatoes, the country ham carbonara, his take on the Hot Brown, and dozens of other classics his regulars have grown to love over the last decade. The country ham pot stickers are ambitious, but he swears they really can be done at home. (Step 10 admits “This is difficult at first, but you will get the hang of it.”)
Readers will likely be able to master his Spalding’s Doughnut Bread Pudding just in time for the holidays:
Click here to purchase Jonathan’s Bluegrass Table: Redefining Kentucky Cuisine by Lexington chef Jonathan Lundy.
1 gallon dried, glazed doughnuts, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 18 -20 doughnuts)
1 quart half-and-half
2 cups brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
1. Prehead oven to 350Âº Fahrenheit
2. Crack eggs into a large mixing bowl. Add half-and-half, brown sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Mix well.
3. Add dried doughnut cubes. Allow the doughnuts to soak in the custard base for 45 minutes.
4. Brush the insides of a 6×9-inch baking dish with the butter.
5. Pour mixture into the baking dish, cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes.
6. Ladle Wild Turkey American Honey Liqueur Sauce before serving.
The sauce is on page 206. Bon Appetit.