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Diamond Jim Brady: Filet of Sole Marguery

Quote for Today: I’ve always said, “if you are going to make money, you’ve got to look like money.” Diamond Jim Television Character

James Buchanan Brady was born on this day in history back in 1856, a native New Yorker who was a member of an Irish American family on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Brady became known as Diamond Jim during the gilded age of American history for his penchant for jewelry, especially diamonds. When he was done his collection was worth $50 million in today’s dollars.

Sample of Diamond Jim's car

Electric Brougham Vehicle

Working his way up from bell boy to messenger, he gained employment in the New York Central Railroad Company and became chief assistant to the GM at the age of twenty-one. At twenty-three Brady used his knowledge of the railroad industry to become a highly paid salesman for Manning, Maxwell, and Moore then later for the Pressed Steel Car Company. Brady quickly became one of the richest men in America. Rumor has it Mr. Brady started the first traffic jam in 1895 with his electric Brougham vehicle. I guess the horses got spooked!

Along with his flamboyance and love of jewelry he also became know for his enormous appetite. It was not unusual for Brady to eat enough food for ten people at one sitting. George Rector, owner of the famous seafood restaurant bearing his name, described Brady as “the best twenty-five customers I’ve ever had.”

Diamond Jim loved fresh seafood.

Seafood Platter

A typical Brady breakfast would be eggs, pancakes, pork chops, corn bread, fried potatoes, hominy, muffins, and a beef steak. For refreshment, a gallon of orange juice or “golden nectar” as he called his favorite drink. For lunch, he consumed two lobsters, deviled crabs, clams, Oysters, and beef, with a few pies for dessert. Dinner would double lunch with the addition of Terrapin Soup, a few ducks, and a two pound box of candy. Diamond Jim upon his return from a trip to Paris informed his friend, Charles Rector that the Filet of Sole Marguery that he enjoyed on his journey was so good that if Rector’s couldn’t come up with something to rival it he was going to find another restaurant to patronize.

Charles quickly summoned his son George, compelled him to drop out of Cornell Law School and placed him aboard the first ship to Paris. Charles final words to his son were “Come back with the sauce, or in it.”

The acquisition of this guarded recipe from chefs in Paris at this time was not an easy task. George was both determined and resourceful, he procured a job at Restaurant Marguery in Paris. First as a dishwasher, then bus boy to waiter, then finally as an apprentice in a kitchen. Finally, after a full year he was able to witness this famous sauce prepared and was on his way home.

Before the gang plank hit the Manhattan docks, George’s welcoming party consisting of his father and Diamond Jim himself were both shouting “Did you get the sauce?” Wasting no time they went straight back to the restaurant where George went to the kitchen to cook and Diamond Jim went to gather up his friends so they could join him for dinner.

The meal was a resounding success. Diamond Jim had six portions himself and proclaimed to young George “This sauce would make a Turkish bath towel edible.” The rest is history. Years later the Rector’s stated “This single dish produced over one million dollars in sales at the original Rector’s and the Restaurant Marguery they built some years later. Mr. Brady lives on today in a film from Universal Studios starring Edward Arnold made in 1935.

Below is a simplified version of his favorite dish to make at home: Filet of Sole Marguery
• 1 tablespoon shallots, minced
• 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
• 12 white button mushroom caps
• 4 – 6 oz.Dover sole filets(flounder can sub)
•Salt and White pepper to taste
• 1/2cup dry white wine
• 1 cup fish stock
• 8 shrimp, peeled and deveined
• 12 mussels, scrubbed and debearded
• 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
• Chopped parsley
Put shallots, mushrooms and 1 T. butter in a large stainless steel pan. Place salted and peppered Dover sole fillets on top; add the wine and fish broth; cover tightly with lid. Adjust heat to low and poach fillets very gently. Continue poaching frequently checking the fish until it is completely cooked, about 6 minutes. Carefully remove the fillets and keep warm. Place the sauté pan with the poaching liquid over high heat; add the heavy cream and reduce by half (about a cup). Turn heat to low, allow the cream to cool down a bit, then add the mussels and shrimp. Cook until the mussels open and the shrimp is firm, about 4-6 minutes. Place 1 fillet onto each warmed plate with 3 mushrooms, 3 mussels and 2 shrimp per serving. Bring sauce back to a boil, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and whisk in the remaining 2 T. butter. Divide sauce evenly over the top of each serving. Garnish with parsley.

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