Key Ingredient: Bailey's Irish Cream | Key Ingredient | Chicago Reader

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Key Ingredient: Bailey's Irish Cream

In this week's chef challenge Blair Herridge of Browntrout is forced to make dessert


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The Chef: Blair Herridge (Browntrout)
The Challenger: Ian Rossman (Frog N Snail)
The Ingredient: Bailey's Irish Cream

Blair Herridge is more comfortable with meats than sweets. "When you called me, I was actually putting four pork shoulders onto the rotisserie out in the back alley," he said. "We had a huge hog roaster, and we were getting ready for RibFest."

Herridge experimented with incorporating Bailey's into a meat dish, both reducing the creamy liqueur to make a sauce and marinating meat in it. But nothing he tried tasted good, he said.

He doesn't hate Bailey's, but "for this particular thing I disliked it, because I wasn't able to flex my muscles as much as I would like to," he said. "I kind of felt pigeonholed into doing some kind of dessert. So I did a dessert."

Video by Michael Gebert/Sky Full of Bacon

The ingredient isn't exactly in line with Browntrout's mantra of local, seasonal, sustainable, either. Still, Herridge used local bread, eggs, milk, and cream for his bread pudding with coffee ice cream and Bailey's caramel sauce.

Blair Herridge Browntrout

Herridge substituted Bailey's for a quarter of the cream in the bread pudding, adding extra egg yolks to the mixture to make up for taking away some of the fat. To reinforce the whiskey flavor of the Bailey's, he soaked golden raisins in Jameson and added them to the mixture along with sugar and cubes of bread. After letting the bread absorb the liquid, he baked it in a water bath.

To play on the idea of coffee with Bailey's, Herridge made coffee ice cream, infusing the cream with coffee beans and then putting the mixture in the blender. He finished the dish with Bailey's caramel. "When I was goofing around with this, I found that just taking some Bailey's and reducing it down makes a really nice caramel, because it's got the cream in it already, it's got the booze in it already . . . it thickens up really quickly and rather nicely," he said. (It also bursts into flames.)


Microplaned coffee beans and Three Sisters candied pecans garnished the bread pudding. Tasting it, Herridge said, "I need a cup of coffee now. It's a good breakfast. A little boozy for breakfast, but I don't mind that." Having it taste alcoholic was intentional, he said. "You gave me booze—well, it's going to taste like booze now. And the coffee is just there to offset it—the bitterness of the coffee since the bread pudding is so rich."

Who's Next:

Jeffrey Sills, chef de cuisine at Sprout, working with chicken gizzards—the bird's second stomach, used for grinding up food. Herridge said he cooks them for family meal at Browntrout since they come in the chickens he buys. "I love to eat 'em, but I've never seen them on a menu up here," he said. "I think just the word 'gizzard' freaks people out a little bit."

Bailey's bread pudding with coffee ice cream

Coffee ice cream

2 c whole coffee beans
1.5 qt whole milk
1 pt heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split
16 egg yolks
20 oz granulated sugar

Combine coffee, milk, cream, and vanilla, bring to a simmer, and let steep for five minutes. Place coffee mixture into a blender and blend until coffee beans have broken up. Bring mixture back to a simmer. Whip egg yolks and sugar together until light and fluffy. Temper coffee mixture into fluffy yolks, return to pot, and cook until the mixture has thickened slightly. Cool in an ice bath. When cool spin in ice cream machine. Place in freezer.

Bailey's bread pudding

4 oz golden raisins
2 oz Jameson Irish whiskey
2 oz melted butter
12 oz day-old bread
¾ qt heavy cream
1 c Bailey's Irish Cream
3 whole eggs
2 egg yolks

Steep raisins in Jameson. Mix bread, cream, and Bailey's together. Allow the bread to soak up most of the liquid. Beat eggs, egg yolks, and sugar together until fluffy. Combine raisins, bread mix, and egg mix. Portion mixture into well-greased muffin pan. Bake in a water bath at 350 degrees for 30 minutes covered with foil. Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes.

Bailey's sauce

1 c Bailey's Irish Cream
1 T whole butter

Put Bailey's in a small saucepan, simmer until thick, and mount with butter.

For plating: Remove bread pudding from tin and top with sauce and ice cream. Enjoy.

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