Hair of the Dog: On the Importance of Good Hangover Food

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Fact: I am a big fan of self-medicating. And while there are plenty of occasions when there’s little to nothing that can be done to cure what ails me, being hungover is not one of those times. The problem, though, is that unlike the phenomenon of drunk eating, wherein anything and everything tastes ohmygodsofuckinggoodIwanttocry, eating while hungover needs to be done with more caution, lest I wind up, you know, throwing up what I’ve just eaten and feeling even worse. The first trick is to mix things that are good for me (like ginger and garlic and fermented food) with things that are just good (like carbs and cheese and bacon). The second trick is to make sure that whatever I cook isn’t so complicated that my head winds up hurting even more than it already does. The end goal, of course, is to take my hangover food directly back to bed, where I can curl up and eat and watch movies until any bad feelings have disappeared and I’m ready to go out and drink again.

Maca-Ramen-Ara
courtesy of Justin Warner, author of The Laws of Cooking: And How to Break Them

This dish is not ramen, not macaroni and cheese, and not carbonara, but it draws from all three, with pickles thrown in because I strongly believe in the restorative property of fermented things. Basically, we use mustard to speed-emulsify bacon fat in stock. We then suspend Velveeta in this mix because melty cheese makes our tum-tums feel good, or at least our brains feel comforted. Then ginger and garlic which everyone believes is good for them so that’s that. A dash of sriracha gives you just a little case of the sweats to purge the poison from your pores.

Makes enough for one really hungry really hungover person or two people who don’t want to feel like hell watching Netflix.


Ingredients

Kosher salt
5 strips of uncooked bacon
1 ½ cups salt-free chicken stock
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ inch knob of ginger, minced
1TB Dijon mustard
1TB soy sauce
2TB pickle brine
6 oz perciatelli pasta… it’s like long macaroni and not that uncommon.  Use spaghetti or even packaged ramen noodles if you want, but you’re on your own for cooking that and your results may vary.
1 1/2 cups Velveeta cheese shreds (trust me)
4 dill pickle spears
Sriracha (unless you are a wuss)


Fill your pasta pot 2/3s with water and add some generous pinches of salt to the water.  Set over high heat.

While the pasta water is heating up, place the bacon in the pan and cook over low heat turning occasionally until uniformly done to your liking.  Don’t rush this, as we are trying to coax out as much fat as we can.  Fat makes you feel better.

While this is working, put the chicken stock in your pot and add the Dijon.

When the bacon is done, carefully remove it to drain on paper towels.  Keep the heat on low, and add the garlic and ginger to the bacon fat, and cook until just colored, but not brown or burned. This will take about 1-2 minutes.

Carefully—and I mean carefully—pour the bacon fat, garlic and ginger into the pot of chicken stock and Dijon.  Return the bacon pan to the heat and add the soy sauce, while scraping the pot with the wooden spoon.  Add the soy sauce and yummy brown bits you scraped up to the chicken stock, and blend with your blending device.  Set this over medium heat and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package instructions, drain, and transfer to your bowl.

When the stock mixture is boiling, add 1 cup of the cheese and blend again.  Pour this over the noodles.

Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top and broil in an oven-safe bowl until just bubbly.

Carefully remove the bowl from the broiler and jam the pickles and bacon everywhere.  Hit the top with sriracha unless you are scared.

Devour.

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