CHICAGO'S Bachelor Cok of the Year for 1971 has relocated in Washington. Nor the man who won the title from several hundred competitors for his Stuffed Pork to Stuffed People spends most of his time in the West Wing of the White House, where he answers more difficult questions than what wine to serve with what dish.
But Ronald Reagan's press secretary, Jim Brady, would rather be "the nouveau Jim Beard. I would pay to do that -- eat and then write about it," Brady said on a recent Sunday night as he crowed over his pot of Thibadeaux's Creole Jambalaya. Crowed because his cooking and eating buddy, "B" Oglesby, special assistant for legislative affairs for the White House, kept urging him to add more water so the rice wouldn't stick and Brady kept resisting.
"It'll be rich," Brady insisted. Rich! A recipe for eight contained a pound of pork, 12 fat sasuages and a cup of ham. Brady was right.
The jambalaya was dietetic comapred with the Shrimp "T." Jean (pronounced "T. Jonn," Cajun style for Petit Jean, spelled de jonghe in some quarters). ybrady's interest in Louisiana cooking results from his "apprenticeship in the kitchens of the Centralia House," a Cajuan restaurant in his Illinois home town. Basically, T. Jean is 36 shrimp sauteed and baked in one pound of butter and two cups of oil (with seasonings, of course). The sauce has one other function, as a dipping medium for large hunks of French bread.
Brady loves to eat. That's obvious. And he loves to cook. He has ever since he was an Eagle Scout. "My group was into eating. While everyone else was trying to climb a mountain, we were back trying to cook beef wellington in a reflector oven," Brady explained.
As a Canadian forest guide, he competed with other guides to see who could produce the best food on wilderness expeditions. "I love barbecue-type stuff. That plays into my strength, going back to cooking out over a fire." And even though he frequently doesn't get home until 9:30 p.m., he will start a fire in one of his two charcoal grills to cook dinner . . . winter and summer.
Cooking is therapy, though Brady says he's not the kind of chef who beats the veal because he can't beat the people who work for him. "I'm not a violent chef," he explained, as he sipped a bear on a break from his afternoon of cooking. "It takes my mind off other things."
Back in his bachelor days in Chicago, Brady entertained every other night. He and several friends formed a gastronomic society and called it Les Cadets de la Chaine des Rotisseurs, a much younger version of the original group.
"We did the same things: plan dinners -- black-tie, 16-course numbers. We worked our way through every good restaurant in Chicago between 1968 and 1973. The committee would have a sample meal before the dinner. I was always on the committee."
Brady has hundreds of cookbooks, stuffed into every corner of the kitchen and throughout the house. In deference to picture-taking, his wife Sarah (they have been married eight years) had removed several dozen from the top of the microwave oven that sits on top of the butcher block (a real one with a crack in it). It was a futile effort to "straighten up" the kitchen. But there is no way to hide the fact that this kitchen is in heavy use. The corners that don't contain cookbooks contain spices -- on the shelf over the sink, on the shelf over the stove, even on the outside of the pantry closet door. There is something to cover almost every spot. "If it's a gadget, we've got it," Brady said. And the spots not taken up with equipment and seasonings are taken up with what What Brady is preparing.
For this Sunday evening feast, in addition to the jambalaya and shrimp, there were roasted red peppers with Italian anchovies served on warm French bread slathered with butter. "It's a cooking dish," Brady explained as he sliced sasuages, "the kind of dish you put your fingers in while you're cooking." He poured Schramburg Blanc de Blanc to drink with the peppers.
Oglesby also arranged a few slices of hearts of palm with slices of pickled vegetables, mayonnaise and cayenne. The cayenne is the most important element. "I've had more chefs tell me they use it to heighten your taste awareness," Brady explained. His son, Scott, has a very aware palate for a 2-year-old. "That has cayenne on it," Oglesby said as Sarah, better known as "Raccoon" for reasons that will be explained later, prepared to give Scott a heart-of-palm slice. "He won't like it," Sarah said as Scott grabbed for it, licked it, said "hot" and then ate it.
"It won't hurt him," his father said. "The kid is into it. He won't eat his hamburger unless it's doctored up."
The first course after everyone sat down was Brady's oysters baked on the half shell, topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese, French bread crumb, freshly ground black pepper and butter. The remains of the Schramsburg washed down the oysters.
No wine for the artichokes with mustard vinaigrette (nothing goes with vinaigrette), but that was soon remedied when the shrimp arrived, accompanied by a bottle of 1979 Joseph Phelps Gewurztraminer. A 1978 zinfandel, from A. Rafanelli, was served with the jambalaya. Then there were salads of marinated beets and green beans. For dessert, a pecan pie and, for anyone who was still hungry, an incredibly rich blue cheshire cheese with port.
Brady usually lies down on the floor of the living room after such a meanl, and he invites his guests to do the same. Is it any wonder?
Brady likes his wines as much as he likes to eat. He was drinking California vintages long before he joined Ronald Regan's campaign. But on the campaign plane he and Bill Plante, now CBS White House correspondent, had a "wine cellar" . . . located above Plante's seat. It always contained three or four bottles plus real glasses for the "wine tastings."
Plante and Brady were also part of a wine and food club. "Those were the people who had called ahead to the next stop to reserve a table" at one of the better restaurants, Brady explained. Mike Deaver, now deputy chief of staff and assistant to Reagan, NBC correspondnet Don Oliver and newspaper reporter Lisa Myers were the other members.
But the trugh of the matter, Brady hastened to add, is that "we went where the votes were, not where the food was. It was bad planning." What's worse, he said, "the closing time for any place on the campaign trail was 10 minutes after the plane landed."
At home Brady always has four or five cases of wine laid down and about 20 bottles in his collection of rare vintages. His next project for his Arlington house is to build a temperature- and humidity-controlled wine cellar.
Plant gets the blame for turning Brady's wife on to good wines. "It's the worst thing that ever happened to me. We used to have jug wines," Raccoon explained. Sarah says she is called Raccoon because of the circles under her eyes and because she has little hands, which, like her namesake, work very quickly when she is eating. In turn, she calls her husband, "Pooh," short for Pooh Bear.
Raccoon's contribution to the meal included running all over town shopping, and baking the pie shell. "The Raccoon makes pie shells like you can't believe," her husband said modestly. Her secret? Chilling the dough overnight and using lard. Raccoon takes a back seat gladly to her husband's cooking fame. It wasn't always that way. "One of our biggest fights when we were first married," she said, "was I'd do all the cleaning. He'd do all the cooking and he'd get all the credit."
Oglesbydid his share of shopping for this meal, too, taking a trip to Litteri's for the anchovies and the parmesan, and out to buy the French bread and a few other ingredients the cook had forgotten.
He and Brady have been eating buddies since 1960. They began cooking together in Washington in 1973. The commonality of interest was cemented by some steam table turnips.During a political campaign they found themselves in Paris, Ill, at the same time. "How many people in the world would eat everything at a steam table at the Elks Club, including all the turnips?" Brady said by way of explanation.
Raccoon paid Oglesby the "supreme compliment" when she asked him to cook Jim's birthday dinner.
Brady doesn't actually cook from the cookbooks he owns, though he reads them avidly."Maybe I look at 20 recipes on exactly the same thing. Of the 20, maybe one knows what he's doing and does something a little different -- like Morrison Wood, who puts olives in his chili. I started doing that."
"Brady works very hard at his chili," Oglesby explained. And Brady insists his chili receipe wold have won the Washington area cookoff last year if he'd only entered that contest instead of another one on the same day. From the contest in which he was not entered, the local winner went on to California, where he picked up the grand prize of $10,000. This year, Brady says, he's going to win with his secret weapon: a black cast-iron dutch oven, in which he also cooked the jambalaya. It certainly did wonders for the jambalaya.
Brady picks up cooking tips by sitting down and talking to chefs and techniques by attending cooking classes. Before he went to work at the White House, he used to eat around town a lot. His tastes are eclectic: Germaine's, Cantina d'Italia, Apana, Jockey Club, Prime Rib and Speedy Gonzales, though he doesn't think Speedy's is what it used to be since "they bought the new linoleum."
He judges restaurants by their vegetables: "If you have someone who cooks vegetables right, you know everything else will be good. We tend to overcook our vegetables in this country."
Brady likes food so much he even eats at those press breakfasts reporters put together to question newsmakers. "I insist on chewing. Besides," he said, "it gives me a chance to think."
Nights when Brady hasn't cooked a soporific dinner, he likes to relax before bed with one of his Captain Bear's Magic Nightly Nights. It's made with Lapsang Souchong tea, bourbon and sugar.
A tea buff, on hearing of the potion, wrote Brady: "I don't know you, but anyone who would do that to good tea should be watched." THIBADEAUX'S CREOLE JAMBALAYA (8 servings) 4 tablespoons butter 1 pound lean port, cut in 3/4-inch cubes 8 cups chopped onion 1 1/3 cups chopped green pepper 2/3 cup finely chopped shallots 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic 1/4 cup finely minced parsley 1 cup finely chopped ham 12 smoked sausages (mixture of Creole, French garlic, Polish or whatever combination you can get), cut in 1/2-inch slices. Salt to taste 1 tablespoon hot chili powder 1/4 teaspoon cayenne 4 whole bay leaves 1/2 teaspoon cloves l teaspoon thyme 3 cups converted long-grain rice 6 cups rich beef stock
In heavy 7- or 8-quart kettle or pot, melt butter over low heat. Set aside.
In a separate skillet, cook pork in its own fat until lightly browned. Add onions, pepper, shallots, garlic, parsley, ham and pork to melted butter and cook over low heat about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until meat and vegetables are browned.
Add sausages, salt, chili powder and cayenne. Rub bay leaves, cloves and thyme in palm of hands before adding to kettle. Continue to cook over low heat, stirring, for about 5 minutes longer.
Add rice and beef stock and mix well. Raise heat to high and bring to boil. Turn heat to low, stir and cook about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent rice from sticking. For last 20 minutes cover and cook over very low heat. Stir frequently. Adjust seasonings and serve immediately. SHRIMP "T." JEAN (6 sevings) 1 pound butter 2 cups vegetable oil 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice 2 teaspoons minced garlic 8 whole bay leaves, crushed 4 teaspoons rosemary 1 teaspoon basil 1 teaspoon oregano 1 teaspoon cayenne 1 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper 36 large shrimp in the shell Hot pepper sauce French bread for dipping
In heavy saute pan or saucepan, melt butter, add oil and mix well. Add remaining ingredients except shrimp and hot sauce. Cook over medium heat, stirring until sauce begins to boil. Reduce heat to low -- simmer 7 to 8 minutes. Stir frequently. Remove pan from heat. Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature, at least 30 minutes.
Add shrimp to sauce mixture; mix well. Place over medium heat and cook shrimp about 5 minutes, until they turn pink. Place pan in 450-degree oven and bake shrimp 10 minutes.
Serve 6 shrimp per person with about 1/2 cup sauce poured over each portion. Pass hot pepper sauce. Serve with thick slices of warm French bread for dipping.
Note: Do not attempt to eat the shrimp with silverware. Use your fingers. Make sure the sauce is stirred up well from the bottom because that's where some of the best flavors settle.
You may want to reduce the quantity of butter and oil, but Brady doesn't recommend it. The recipe is similar to the barbecued shrimp for which Pascal's Manale of New Orleans is famous. PACAYUNE MARINATED GREEN BEAN SALAD (6 to 8 servings) 2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 3-inch lengths 1/4 cup tarragon vinegar 1/2 cup good quality olive oil 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice 1 teaspoon white pepper Salt to taste 2 teaspoons finely minced parsley 3/4 teaspoon sugar 2 or 3 small to medium white onions, thinly sliced
Steam beans just until tender but still slightly crisp. Drain and rinse with cold water. Combine vinegar, oil and lemon juice and whisk. Beat in remaining pepper, salt, parsley and sugar.
Place sliced onions and green beans in bowl and pour dressing over, mixing gently but well, being careful not to mash the beans. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours before seving. BEET SALAD
Wrap trimmed beets with their skins still on in heavy-duty aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees until tender, about 1 1/2 hours. When cool enough to handle, ship skins off. Slice into julienne strips. Place in bowl, season with salt, pepper, olive oil and wine vinegar in any combination desired. (A good ratio is two parts oil and one part vinegar.) ROASTED RED PEPPERS AND ANCHOVIES (6 servings) 1 cup canned roasted red peppers, sliced in strips 8 canned, dried anchovies* 3 tablespoons good quality olive oil 1 teaspoon capers French bread and sweet butter for serving
Mix red peppers and anchovies with oil and capers. Serve on thick slices of warm French bread that has been spread with sweet butter.
*Note: Available in Italian markets. ARTICHOKES WITH MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE (6 servings) 6 large artichokes, cooked 3/4 cup olive oil 1/4 cup red-wine vinegar Freshly ground black pepper 2 tablespoons dijon mustard Dash hot pepper sauce
Remove chokes from artichokes. Mox oil with enough vinegar to make slightly more than 1 cup. Beat in remaining ingredients and pour over artichokes. Chill for at least 2 hours. PECAN PIE FELIX (6 to 8 servings) 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup butter 3 eggs 1 1/2 cups large pecan halves 1/8 teaspoon salt l/2 cup dark corn syrup 1/2 cup light corn syrup 1 teaspoon vanilla 9-inch pie shell, unbaked Whipped cream for garnish
Crean together sugar and butter. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add pecans, salt, corn syrups and vanilla and mix lightly but thoroughly. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes.
Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 30 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center of pie filling comes our clean. Cool pie on rack and serve at room temperature.
Note: If pie has been made ahead and refrigerated, allow to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Pass whipped cream, if desired.