Mickey’s Head Chef Kevin Hornby (L), along with Sous Chef Brandon Kelley.
For the Risotto:
-1/4 cup olive oil
-1 medium white onion, finely chopped
-1 pound Arborio rice (about 2 1/3 cups)
-4 cups India Pale Ale
-3 cups stock or low-sodium chicken broth
-1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces)
For the filling:
For the filling:
-1 1/2 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese (about 12 ounces)
-1/2 pound diced grilled shrimp
For frying and serving:
-2 to 2 1/2 quarts vegetable oil
-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
-Freshly ground black pepper
-4 large eggs
-1 1/2 cup, unseasoned Panko bread crumbs
-Basic tomato sauce or marinara sauce, warmed for serving
Oil medium heat
Sauté onions until translucent
Add rice and sauté briefly
Add beer and simmer, until mostly absorbed
Add chicken stock 1 cup at a time, occasionally stirring until absorbed
When rice is cooked tender, add Parmesan cheese
Cool rice completely
Form rice into 4 ounce balls
Mix cooled cooked diced shrimp, basil, and shredded smoked Gouda cheese, and form into small balls
Create a pocket in risotto ball fill with cheese stuffing, and seal off pocket
Flour, egg wash and bread balls
Fry at 300 until golden brown and heated through, serve over warm marinara.
The flavor at Mickey’s restaurant in Plattsburgh is definitely that: local.
But even with a head chef and a sous chef who are both from the Champlain Valley, and who cut their culinary teeth working in local kitchens in and around Plattsburgh, the dinner menu at Mickey’s is far from the status quo.
Head Chef/Kitchen Manager Kevin Hornby is a Peru High School and Plattsburgh State University graduate, with a degree in hotel and restaurant tourism. His Sous Chef Brandon Kelley, from Ausable, graduated from Paul Smith’s College with a degree in culinary arts.
“It basically started as a way to pay the bills,” Hornby said. “Moving out and going to college, it’s a pretty easy job to get into.”
He worked around the area while going to college, working at the former Royal Savage, the Elk’s Club and the Leaning Pines (now Crickets) in Peru. He landed at Mickey’s 17 years ago, and has been there ever since. He’s been head chef at Mickey’s for nearly 14 years.
The industry, he says, is good for raising a family because of the flexibility of the job as well as the dynamic found in a well run kitchen, a dynamic he says is definitely found at Mickey’s.
“I feel very fortunate to work here,” agrees Kelley. “As long as the people who are here right now are here down the road I don’t plan on going anywhere. I’ve worked in a lot of restaurants around town before I came here, and there’s just no other crew like there is here.”
Five years ago Kelley joined the team as sous chef, and the pair work seemlessly together to keep Mickey’s staple recipes fresh, while getting creative with the specials.
“Everyone in the kitchen will take anyone’s opinion,” Kelley said. “We’re not set in our ways. We like to try new things.”
Hornby said about 85 percent of the menu at Mickey’s stays constant, while they experiment with about 15 percent.
The balance of new recipes to stand-byes is good he thinks. Some people, he says, come to Mickey’s day after day and order the same thing.
“When we do our weekend specials, we like to think outside the box a little bit, and steer maybe a little bit away from Italian. We do some steak, and seafood, do a little Mediterranean every now and then,” says Hornby.
Hornby doesn’t eat out much locally, but vacations from time to time in coastal New Hampshire, and comes back from there with new menu ideas. The pair will also use the Internet and other sources like television to dig up fresh ideas. The Shrimp and Gouda Arancini, featured below for instance, came from an episode of The Soprano’s according to Hornby.
The pair have no plans to leave Mickey’s any time soon, and for diners at the Riley Avenue eatery, that is certainly welcome news.