After a particularly good (i.e. busy/lucrative) weekend behind the bar, often I like to treat myself to a Sunday-evening dinner at the Red Hen (no, not *that* Red Hen), a low-key, Italian-influenced contemporary American restaurant in Washington, D.C.'s Bloomingdale neighborhood. With its excellent cocktails and well-curated wine list, super-knowledgeable bartenders, and--oh, yeah--the FOOD (Charred Beef Tongue with Root Vegetable Slaw, Mint & Tonnato Sauce WHAT), I've never had a bad meal there, ever. If I can, I like to snag the corner seat at the bar, nearest the open kitchen, adjacent to the pass. My face is familiar enough now that the chef de cuisine will occasionally send over a bonus dish or stop to chat in one of the exceedingly rare moments in which the kitchen isn't cranking.
Although the restaurant is justly renowned in the area for its signature Mezze Rigatoni with Fennel-Sausage Ragu, but it's the summertime variation on the seasonally-rotating cavatelli dish that is the perennial object of my obsession, when corn comes in season. Last summer, I sat in my favorite seat and paid close attention as one of the cooks assembled the dish. I could identify every component except one, which was graciously clarified for me: corn brodo. The secret ingredient? A parmesan stock as its base. Blanks roughly filled in, I set out to recreate the dish at home.
I amalgamated the parmesan broth from several source recipes, including the Cowgirl Creamery one posted here at Food52, which I love for the addition of dried mushrooms, which works particularly well here given the finished dish's mushroom component. —Chris Hagan