Enjoy English Muffins From Scratch At Unite

By Kristine Sherred in Food on Jul 15, 2015 8:20PM

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English Muffin at Unite Urban Grill

Biscuits are the new bread, but while their crumbly nature glibly carries jam from A to B, they can hardly handle a hefty hunk of fried chicken dripping in runny egg. On the other side of breakfast breads, however, the quaint English muffin, cooked on the stovetop rather than baked, crisps up light, airy and strong.

Chef Bobby Hagelstein, a former engineer, puts science to good use at Unite Urban Grill. After turning to cooking and pastry-making professionally, he built bread at Soho House in the West Loop before moving to the Noble Square kitchen, where his English muffins serve as an ideal vessel for a decadent lobster benedict at Sunday brunch.

His advice: don't settle for anything less than "00" (read as double zero) semolina pastry flour. (On recommendation from an Italian friend, I now exclusively use 00 for pizza dough and haven't looked back.) The other key, he says, is clarified butter, made by soft boiling high quality unsalted butter, skimming off milk fat and straining the liquid butter through cheesecloth. This way the pastry can withstand the heat, cooking evenly and burn-free.

Chef Hagelstein lets the dough rise refrigerated overnight, which steers the fermentation process and allows the gluten threads and sourdough tang to strengthen slowly. "Your best friend is time," insists Hagelstein, and a hot four-burner plancha— though at home a cast iron skillet will do just fine.

Unite's English muffin was originally only available on the benedict, but customer demand cajoled them to add it to the brunch sides, served freshly griddled with butter and yes, homemade jam.

Unite is located at 1450 W. Chicago Ave. Brunch is served Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.