Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Recipe From the Party Of The Century!

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A post from fellow blogger Little Augury reminded me of this recipe which was published in the book Party of the Century: The Fabulous Story of Truman Capote and His Black and White Ball  It is the story of Capote's party for some 500 of his most influential and aristocratic friends given at the Plaza Hotel in 1966.   At the expense of  dating myself, I remember that party and all the hoopla surrounding it.  Every day we opened the New York papers to yet another saga in the evolution of this grand event.  Who was invited, who had left town, who was wearing what, and on and on...  The party made headlines not only for its lavish details but also for all the enemies poor Truman made by not inviting them to his party.  It is a most entertaining book and a perfect one for lazy summer afternoon.

Capote with Kay Graham, the honored guest

Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow

Two of Capote's swans Gloria Guiness and Babe Paley with Bill Paley

Truman Capote loved the Plaza Hotel.  He "frequented Trader Vic's for Polynesian fare, the Palm Court for Tea an the Oak Room which had the old moneyed atmosphere of a gentleman's club for lunch.  His favorite dish was the Plaza's signature Chicken Hash, an uptown spin on a dinner classic, refined by the use of chicken instead of corned beef." from The party of the century

The Plaza Hotel in the 60's was a one stop gathering place for both young and old of a "certain" class.  I remember staying at the hotel with my grandfather en route to boarding school interviews and having lunch in a little veiled hat at the Oak Room.  We had a suite at the hotel (we were still under the delusion Castro would stay but a few months) with two connecting bedrooms and a living room so large you couldn't see the concert piano at first glance.  Later on,  I remember taking the train into the city and after an afternoon of shopping at Best & Co. where my grandmother kept a charge account for me (still delusional) making our last stop at Trader Vic's to enjoy one of those umbrella topped Polynesian concoctions and spare ribs.  It wasn't until later, when I was married, that tea at the Palm Court became de rigueur after a day of serious shopping at nearby Bergdorf's and Bendel's.  But the best, oh yes the very best, was a two month stay at the Plaza while I was "studying" for my Series 7 exam with Merrill Lynch.  That is too long a story and definitely not for this blog! All I can say, is imagine arriving "home" everyday to the tunes emanating from the Palm Court!

One of the great things about the book is looking through the guest list, too long to publish here. 

Do get this book if you haven't read it.  Now that I have it in my hands I think I will give it another read.  Thanks Gaye for reminding me! great excuse for putting down my current reading Crisis Economics: A Crash Course in the Future of Finance by Nouriel Roubini, which is very good but definitely not for fun.

But on to the Chicken Hash.....By the way, the other entree was spaghetti and meatballs.  Thank heavens Truman Capote became famous as a writer.  I don't think he would have ever made it as a party planner!

Recipe For Plaza Chicken Hash

4 Cups finely diced cooked chicken (white meat only)

1 1/2 C heavy cream

1 C cream sauce (bechamel)

2 tsps salt

1/8 tsp white pepper

1/4 C dry Sherry

1/2 C Hollandaise Sauce

Mix chicken, cream, Cream Sauce, and seasonings in a heavy skillet.  Cook over moderate heat, stirring often for about 10 minutes.  When moisture is slightly reduced, place skillet in a moderate oven 350 and bake 30 minutes.  Stir in Sherry and return to oven for 10 minutes.  Lightly fold in Hollandaise Sauce and serve at once.  Makes 4-5 servings.

There must have been an excess of cream at the Plaza's kitchen on the day they invented this sauce.  Can you imagine, heavy cream AND cream sauce AND Hollandaise for that small amount of chicken? makes my arteries clog just thinking about it.  Needless to say I have never tried this recipe so proceed at your own risk!


  1. I'll have to look for this -- I remember reading about the event too -- in Life perhaps? With pictures!

    The lavishness -- the black and white (what a concept at the time) and the earthiness of the food.

    It took a certain person to pull off a party like this and Capote certainlly was that person!

    Thanks for the recipe -- it does look like a 60's recipe with cream, cream, butter and more cream!

  2. Martha

    Ssshhh...we are dating ourselves!

  3. You needed that reading break! and none too soon. Glad to be of service, I think this sounds deadly but delish. Another reason to get cracking on my current reads to dish with Truman. pgt

  4. Mid-century Oceanliner cooking at it's best!!!!

  5. I was there at the a dancer, he hired five of us from Joffrey Ballet to dance in an anti-room as part of the entertainment. We did not peasants...we just performed and left...but we were pleased to be invited...@seniorcaretips

  6. Hi Lindaraxa: Although I have been remiss in writing I read each and every one
    of your recipes which I find fabulous. I am of course making them too. Best
    wishes on this endeavor. My regards Adela Batista

  7. Dear Anonymous,

    What great fun and what a wonderful thing to be able to recount after all these years. They don't make parties like that anymore, no matter how much money they spend on them. Thanks for writing and sharing this with us.

  8. Dear Adela,

    I know you have, you are such a dear and supportive friend. I'm glad you are enjoying them and thanks for writing. Now that you know how to do it come back soon and often!

  9. Happened to be re-reading the Gerald Clarke biography of Truman Capote and your post on the
    party coincided with the chapter in front of me! I had
    quite a different notion of what "Chicken Hash" might
    be. Awfully cream centric, that dish, as you say! Still, the simple tastes of otherwise exotic personalities have
    always fascinated me. Diana Vreeland admitted to a love for corned beef hash with ketchup. I understand this~completely.
    Thanks for this marvelous post, and the graceful
    recollections within.

  10. Dear Toby,

    What a pleasant surprise to wake up to your visit! No, your notion of Chicken Hash is probably the correct one. This one is way over the top. The "21" Club still serves their famous creamy version of the dish and it is still nowhere near this one. No wonder people dropped of like flies in those days!

  11. Lindaraxa,

    You may be interested to see a documentary of the B&W Ball as a special feature to the Mad Men S5 DVD set. This, and Basket of Kisses, and wikipedia led me to your kind offering of the recipe.

    I think I'll adapt it. I prefer dark meat, so that will go in along with chicken breast (or perhaps a second experimental dish). I'll have to brush up on hollandaise, bechamel is easier.

    As for porportions, I fully intend to eyeball that (why measure?).

    Really, 3-cups of cream and sauce with 4-cups chicken? Cut the cream and bechamel to half and it's still plenty decadent.

  12. Just sent to my Kindle...tonight I'll did into it....can't wait!!

  13. Had this chicken hash at the now closed Doherty's Irish Pub in Palm Beach, Fl about 30 years ago and I got the recipe from the waitressbecause the owner responded to a request from Gourmet Magazine. The only thing missing is the little lemon in the Hollendase sauce. Years later I had it at the now closed Jefferson's on Las Olas Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, Fl


    1. Well, now you can make it...that is if you don't have heart problems. Thanks for your comment.


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