The Iroquois Hotel kitchen is where my dad worked from 1935 to 1975.
Heck, by age six, in the early '50s I was peeling bushels of apples and dishing up food for banquets, polishing the flatware and folding hundreds of napkins.
I did shifts as a bellhop or ran the coat check when the hotel banquet and dining rooms were operating at full capacity. I spent most of my childhood in the kitchen beside my dad and this is where it all started for me.
The Galt landmark was destroyed by fire in April 1975. It was a sad day as most of my dad’s memorabilia, recipes, menus, cooking equipment and his treasured knives and braising pans were lost in the ruins.
Lots of famous people dined there and returned on numerous occasions to enjoy a sumptuous portion of my dad’s famous Standing Prime Rib and Yorkshire Pudding.
For the first half of the twentieth century, the Iroquois Hotel was the premier dining and convention centre in Galt recommended by world-renowned gourmet traveler Duncan Hines.
Lots of area families made the Iroquois a place for the many weddings and reunion get-together dinners.
Here is a little history about some of the Iroquois past guests.
John Diefenbaker, a rising young political star from the west, fired up the local Conservatives there in the late 1940s.
The late Earl Werstine, of the Galt Reporter, held court and got stories in the beverage room. That’s where he compiled material for his popular “Around the Town” column. Some Reporter staffers referred to the hotel beer parlour as the paper’s “Main Street bureau.”
Here is another interesting post from the Evening Reporter:
Precious little is known for sure about Millicent Milroy (1890-1894), but this much is engraved in stone: “Millicent Milroy A.M.M.M. St. Daughter of James and Helen Milroy, 1890 — Wife of Edward V111, 1894.
The tombstone, at Mount View Cemetery, in Galt Ontario, was engraved by Ms. Milroy herself shortly after the death of the Prince of Wales in 1972.
Until she died in 1984, the former school teacher maintained that she had met Edward at the Iroquois Hotel in Galt during one of his visits to North America, and had married him.
There are several versions of the story, including the speculation that two boys, Edward and Andrew, were born of the union and had been adopted, with Edward having made secret arrangements
After playwright Gary Kirkham heard the story on CBC, he visited the gravesite. His imagination went wild and he resolved to dig a little deeper.
During his research, the clerk at the library instantly recognized his subject and said “Oh you mean Milli,” and Kirkham’s first full-length award-winning play, Queen Milli of Galt was conceived.
The Iroquois Hotel was a landmark for many years before its painful demise by fire on April 1975.
Here is the same recipe my dad used to serve the Royals during their visits, and all the corporate diners, civic clubs and Galt families.
He instructed me well on how to roast a Prime Rib and Yorkshire Pudding fit for a King.
Iroquois Prime Rib
For the beef to qualify, it has to be free of bruises, evenly marbled steer meat, dry aged for at least 29 days. This recipe is for a four-bone center cut of beef. A one inch thick fat cap is also required.
Start by rubbing a spice mixture which contains equal amounts of kosher salt, garlic powder, beef base, ground black pepper, keens mustard powder and mild paprika.
The spice rub is most important to making a tender roast. Massage this mixture all over the room temperature beef until it is well coated. Place the roast onto a thick roasting pan and pour about a cup of heated rendered beef fat over the roast to seal the rub. Ask for extra beef suet from the butcher.
In a preheated, 400F oven, bake the roast for about 60 minutes.
Now lower the temperature to 325F and leave the roast undisturbed for another 2 hrs.
Do not open the oven door as this will interrupt the even cooking temperature. Timing is everything.
After 2 hours remove the roast from the pan and place it in another pan, cover it over with heavy-gauge tin foil and let it rest till service, saving the juices that have pooled.
The fat drippings in the pan can be skimmed for the Yorkshire Puddings.
Place the roast pan and the juices on the stove top on high and deglaze with some good red wine and beef stock.
The juices this creates are further reduced to obtain the au jus.
Hotel Yorkshire Pudding
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup beef fat drippings.
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs just to blend. Gradually whisk in milk. Sift flour, salt baking powder into egg mixture and whisk until well blended. Let batter stand at room temperature while roast is in the oven or at least 30 minutes before using. Transfer to a large measuring cup or pitcher with a spout so easy to pour.
Preheat the oven to 450F and place a muffin cup on a baking sheet for 10 minutes.
Pour about 1 oz. fat drippings into each well. Return the pan to the oven until the fat is very hot, about 10 minutes. Now pour stirred batter into the hot fat, by pulling the rack out but not removing it from the oven. The fat should be really hot when you add the batter.
Bake until puddings are golden brown and puffy (about 12 to 15 minutes).
Serve immediately out of the oven while hot.
Stand the beef on end and slice off a 1 inch portion cutting into the meat horizontally back to the bone. Plate the meat and crown with a pudding and spoon over some au jus.
Side with roasted new potatoes and butter glazed asparagus.
Fresh horseradish is a must.
Now I know it sounds hard to do but if you follow this recipe you will be known to your family and friends for making prime rib and Yorkshire pudding fit for a king or queen.