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Paul C. Reilly is no stranger to the restaurant business. As the culinary pro behind Coperta and Beast & Bottle, the chef knows the struggles the food industry has faced since the pandemic. After shuttering the doors to Beast & Bottle in June 2021, Reilly unveiled his latest concept, Apple Blossom, in downtown Denver in October of the same year. The farm-to-table restaurant is located inside the Hyatt Centric Downtown Denver, something Reilly says took some getting used to after operating standalone Beast & Bottle for eight years.
“While Beast & Bottle was known for its intimacy, Apple Blossom is a much larger project serving a larger audience at the hotel,” he says. “We have a larger menu with ingredients sourced from all across the United States, but still want our guests to know where their food is coming from.”
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Apple Blossom’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus, which heavily focus on seasonal ingredients, feature dinner entrées like the duck leg confit French dip and the Colorado mushrooms in adobo. “We’ve really figured out how our concept fits in with the hotel and the neighborhood, and I’m actually more proud of the menu we have now than any other menu we’ve had before,” Reilly says.
While you’re sure to find a delicious meal at Apple Blossom any time of day, the brunch menu is especially appetizing. Served on weekends from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., the menu is split in two sections: “Brrrr…” for the breakfast-focused entrées, and “…unch!” for plates you’re more likely to enjoy later in the day. The main difference is simple, Reilly says: Any dish that features eggs—which the restaurant sources from Croft Family Farm in the small town of Kersey in Weld County—is found on the breakfast side of the menu.
If you stop by Apple Blossom’s brunch hours, you’d be wise to try the pancakes, which were created by chef de cuisine Russ Fox. “They’re made to order and are probably about four inches high. It’s the most different, best pancake you’ve ever had,” Reilly says.
But a favorite on the current brunch menu is the corned lamb shank hash, which comes topped with a sunny-side-up egg and horseradish cream. The dish dates back to Beast & Bottle, and while the dish takes four days to make, it’s worth the payout, Reilly says. The veggies in the hash change with the seasons: peas and turnips in spring, corn in the summer, and spaghetti squash in the fall. Lucky for us, Reilly was willing to diverge his trade secrets, so you can try a variation of specialty for yourself at home.
Apple Blossom’s Lamb Shank Hash
2 cups kosher salt
½ cup sugar
5 tsp. pink salt
3 Tbs. pickling spice
7 garlic cloves
2 bone-in lamb shanks
1 white onion
1 celery stalk
½ cup sour cream
2 Tbs. prepared horseradish
Juice of half of a lemon
1 russet potato, peeled and diced
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 eggs, fried before serving
Four days before serving: In an extra large pot, bring the salt, sugar, pink salt, 2 tablespoons of the pickling spice, and four garlic cloves to a boil with one gallon of water. Allow the mixture to cool completely. In a container large enough to hold both lamb shanks, cover the meat with brine and refrigerate for four days.
One day before serving: After four days, rinse the brine off the shanks and place them in a large pot. Cover the meat with water and add in half of the white onion (save the other half for later), celery stalk, remaining 1 tablespoon of pickling spice, and three garlic cloves. The shanks should be a few inches under water. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook on low until lamb meat pulls off the bone (about three hours). Allow the shanks to cool in the liquid. Once cool, discard the aromatics and pick the lamb meat off the bone in large chunks and store it in the refrigerator.
Make the horseradish cream: In a small bowl, fold together the sour cream, horseradish, and lemon juice with a pinch of salt and a few cracks of freshly ground pepper. Cover and refrigerate overnight (or at least 30 minutes) before serving.
Day of serving: Dice the remaining half onion and add it to a small pot with the peeled and diced potato. Cover with water and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring everything to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the potato is tender (about 10 minutes). Drain well and set aside.
To make the hash: In a nonstick pan or skillet, heat the vegetable oil on medium-high heat. Add the shredded lamb shank to the pan, reduce the heat to medium, and allow the meat to caramelize well. When it begins to darken, add in the potato and onion and move the mixture around in the pan, allowing potato and onion to brown. Mix in the butter and when it is melted, remove the hash from the heat. To serve, spread the bottom of a plate with the horseradish sour cream, place the hash on top of the cream, and put a fried egg on top of the hash. Serve with a side salad or fruit.