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April 23, 2012
It's been awhile.
As many of you have noticed, it's been quite a while since we posted on the site. For that—and mostly for the lack of any news—we apologize. The story of our absence isn't as exciting as we'd like it to be. Basically, due to new jobs for the both of us, we've been busy. Really busy. So we took a little break from posting while we focused on jobs that pay money. Obviously, a note saying so would have been the...
Announcing a collaboration for the month of October
  We’re happy to announce a new collaboration between The Paupered Chef and some fellow friends and bloggers of ours in Chicago: The Midwestyle. It’s a great blog, and thorough. Ostensibly about dressing well on a budget, it’s really about caring: how you look, how you think, how you act like a young man in this here century of ours. We feel an affinity with their go-get-em energy, the same early-20s stuff that...
August 22, 2011
Saving andouille from the supermarket.
This didn't start off as a gumbo mission, though I did end up there (more to come on that front soon.) No, the saga began simply: about three weeks ago I needed andouille for a Dinner Tonight. All I could find at the grocery store was a product that claimed to be the right stuff, but had all the character of cheap bologna and about as much spice as, well, cheap bologna. I was angry. Then I drank too much whiskey and started to dream...
A Chicago Backyard and Many Happy People
Mexican food is made for parties. The construction of tortillas, fillings, salsas, and toppings; the spicy, rich flavors; and above all, the fact that it tastes so darn good. This was our guiding principle on a recent Saturday when, with the help of a handful of talented friends, we threw a Baja Fish Taco party under warm string lights in a Chicago backyard. We were celebrating one of the early recipes published on this blog for beer-...
Getting a head start on the season
Soft shell crab season is here, generally considered to begin at some point in May.  So we here at The Paupered Chef decided it was time to take advantage.  Generally, the soft shell crab  is dusted with flour and fried up in a skillet, and I'm not sure there is a better way to prepare this crustacean than this recipe by David Lentz from Food & Wine magazine: stuffed into a crusty baguette with a lightly dressed cole...
Cooking step-by-step with "the cookbook reimagined"
Late last year our Paupered Chef inbox dinged with slightly cryptic e-mail about a "new top-secret project" from LA's Clear-Media. We called them up and they shared with us their idea: a step-by-step cooking app built for the iPad. They were gathering up the coolest food bloggers on the planet, and wanted us along. We said yes. The result is Appetites, which has just been released at the App Store…and it's even...
And: Should Risotto Spread?
If you’re a Top Chef junkie like me then you probably remember that Tre got kicked off episode 8 this season after serving a risotto that didn’t “spread.” At least, that’s what judge Tom Colicchio said. It’s always hard to know exactly why contestants are booted off the show when you can't taste the food, but this was one of those cases where you could visibly see that his risotto sat up in a bowl...
February 5, 2011
Brian Runge takes over at Graham Elliot while the four star Michelin chef goes to LA to film the new season of Master Chef.
January 26, 2011
We've joined the Charcutepalooza movement, also known as a group of bloggers led by the folks over at Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Kitchen who are embarking on 12 months of charcuterie-making.  We're throwing our hat in the ring...winner gets a fancy trip to France! See also: Charcuterie Archives on The Paupered Chef
What's your favorite way?
Having roasted many, many chickens in my cooking life, I've come to the opinion that there is no way to roast a chicken without some kind of opinion. You may get away with tossing an untrussed chicken into the oven with a shower of salt, maybe a lemon in the cavity, and calling it dinner, pretending to be as careless as possible.  But that's still an opinion. So is planning days ahead of time brining it and messing around with...
January 22, 2011
Welcome to our redesign!
  We would like to welcome you, at long last, to the newly designed home of The Paupered Chef. Let us all breathe a sigh of collective relief. We’re back. Well, things look a lot different. The pictures everywhere on the site are bigger, and we've laid out the homepage so that the articles we write get some prime real estate on the site. We've also instituted a Tumblr-style blog below, where we'll be ruminating,...
The British television star that has inspired us time and again
The River Cottage TV show begins with a ridiculously cheesy cartoon showing a curly haired driver fleeing a polluted city for an idyllic paradise, complete with jumping fish, smiling cows, and some friendly pigs. During the course of three seasons of River Cottage and the many years of spinoffs, host Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall manages to kill and eat every single one of those creatures and many, many more. This isn't some hippie feel-...
The kiwi could change everything
The kiwi that could change everything I keep returning to Korean barbecue, and once I get it in my head, nothing else interests me. The amazing flavor of the meat--beefy and complex and sweet--and the unique butchering and cooking method, which renders the normally tough short rib into a grillable pleasure. These things are crack to someone who loves to eat and is fascinated with cooking. So here's what we know about Korean-style...
Our solution for what to do with too many tomatoes
There isn't much argument that summertime is the peak season for cooking. It never gets easier than in August: the produce is top-notch, everywhere, and cheap. Locavores are finally settling down and enjoying themselves instead of passing judgement on the rest of us for buying zucchini out of season. You can make dinner by cutting up tomatoes and fresh mozzarella and calling it a masterpiece. My CSA vegetable delivery is overflowing...
A pineapple and a few weeks is all you need
When I think of Mexican cuisine, I think of balance. Mexicans love acidity in their cooking, and that's what makes it so appealing to eat. Though it's a function of living in a warm climate--the same reason Thai cuisine is also fond of citrus, it's a necessary form of preservation--the culinary benefit has outlasted the necessity. When you have something rich and heavy in your taco--like, say, hunks of pork shoulder that have...
An afternoon learning about "Grahampagne"
Through a heavy, metal door with "Brewery Employees Only" slapped on the front, I was led into a warm, steamy room where Goose Island beer is made. I side-stepped hoses and puddles of water and found a capacious space filled with slanted light; up above, at the top of a skinny ladder, great tanks of beer were lined up at various stages of aging and fermentation on a platform, were Goose Island's brewmaster Jared was talking to...
What if there was a method for making stock that not only dispensed with the time-consuming part, but also produced something that tasted better?
In practice, significantly more flavor is extracted from the meat. [...] When combined with good ingredients, these factors produce remarkable stocks in significantly less time. -Heston Blumenthal, The Fat Duck Cookbook I started making stock when I realized that you could stash the carcasses from roast chickens in the freezer and save them up for an empty Sunday and a few hours of simmering. That certainly got me past the cost...
Tackling Mexico's national dish
You can shave truffles over a dish and call it special, but it's not; it's just expensive. - Rick Bayless I've been a fan of Rick Bayless since this blog started over four years ago, but it wasn't until he blurted out the above statement during the Top Chef Masters finale last year that I really figured out why. I already knew that I loved so many Mexican dishes because they balanced fat with acid, and layered spices...
Forget hollandaise: this will blow your mind
I recently stumbled on an essay called The Power of the Hot Vinaigrette in Michael Symon's new cookbook. "Cold vinaigrettes are excellent," he writes, "but add one to the hot pan you've sauteed some shrimp in, and the blended acid and oil will pick up all the flavor of the bits of protein and sugars that have stuck to the pan." He advocates for pan sauces to be vinaigrette-based, rather than stock-based. "I...
How to make better bangers
As I was digging into making my own British bangers for my Full English Breakfast challenge, I kept stumbling onto the same sad story which may or may not be complete bullshit: During the early 20th century thanks to two World Wars, meat was scarce in England and pork sausages were padded with some grains and extra liquid to help stretch the meat reserves. When cooked, these padded sausages had the tendency to burst out of their...
Vinegar and sugar can spruce up any sauce.
Once we had blanched and peeled the tomatoes we chopped them, strained the seeds, and simmered it for twenty minutes into a simple sauce. Then I made my gastrique, which involved no measuring -- maybe 1/4 cup of vinegar and 3 tablespoons of sugar -- and a quick boil into something thick and syrupy. I tasted the sauce before adding it, which was fine, clean and simple.  And then I tasted it after. The difference was noticeable. Both...
January 28, 2010
The PC guide to little burgers.
What is a slider? A slider is a particular thing. It's particularly American. It's a small subset of our great culinary tradition, the hamburger. But as I explained last week, it's not just a mini-hamburger. To be a slider, it cannot be perverted with expensive ingredients like foie gras or tuna tartar, a cutesy version of a burger for a chef to play with. A slider consists of a thin layer of beef, American cheese, a soft bun,...
Perhaps the best way to cook chicken.
In my opinion, the best chicken is chicken sous-vide. Each bite is tender and succulent in a way I never thought chicken could possibly be. It's kind of changed everything for me. Even the appearance of the meat is different, instead of stringy and tough, a fork can simply cut through the meat. It's enough to make anyone convert. So for the past few weeks I've been proselytizing about the powers of sous-vide, a...
August 31, 2009
This Mexican classic deserves a little love.
Around hour five, I became terribly exhausted from what felt like continuous marathon of chopping, sautéing, blending, grinding, broiling, stuffing, whisking, dipping, and frying. It was the most complex and curious chile relleno I'd ever laid eyes on and the flavor nearly bawled me over. Every bite revealed layers of flavor, from the salsa, pork stuffing, to the batter. Nothing was an afterthought. Though it doesn't exactly...
Starting with the perfect loaf of bread.
(Check out Part Two of My Cucumber Sandwich Revenge for the sandwich recipe) I went to see a man about a loaf pan. All the traditional outlets had failed (Crate and Barrel, Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma and four restaurant supply stores) and I was starting to get desperate. See, I needed a very peculiar kind of loaf pan, one that would help me create the mysterious loaf, pain de mie, which would hopefully provide the base for the perfect...
Visiting the Spanish coast.
Barcelona was a wonderful city to be in, but leaving it was just as fun. Installed in a tiny stick-shift Citroen, we headed north from the city for Costa Brava, opting for the cheaper no-toll road that snakes along the coast and could take twice as long. Driving in Europe was harrowing the first time I did it, but I've since learned to embrace the speeding, reckless flow--I figure it's safe to go with it than stand in its way....
Blake eats the best of France.
After we spent our Saturday morning at the sprawling market in Apt, sampling cheese and charcuterie, the only task ahead of us was to find a tiny hillside town called Buoux by lunchtime.  Exploring a mountainous countryside of hamlets and hairpin turns was all that awaited us. By the time we'd arrived a few hours later, the sun was falling lazily on a descent toward dusk; the air was fragrant with grass; and a sumptuous meal...
February 13, 2009
How to make this Chicago classic.
The other issue I had to face was how to cut the meat.  As I remembered from my visit to Al's #1, the beef should be shaved as thinly as possible.  Al's used an huge deli slicer, which I obviously didn't have.  Saveur recommended just tossing the meat in the freezer for 2 hours before serving and then slicing it as thinly as possible with a chef's knife.  Some recipes recommended taking the cooked meat...
November 20, 2008
Because fresh pasta deserves a sauce this good.
Once I figured out how to make fresh pasta, I waited all of 12 hours before I set out to create my own Ragù alla Bolognese.  It was a goal of mine ever since watching an episode of Heston Blumenthal's TV series In Search of Perfection.  The premise of the show is for the acclaimed chef to reexamine some stodgy British classics by going back to the roots of the original dish.  His final recipe usually involves...
The other Italian bacon.
It took me almost a month and calls to half the butchers in New York before I could get my hands on a pair of pig jowls.  Here’s the problem: they want you to order the whole head.  And while I had a wonderful time watching pot-roasted pig heads go ferrying by my table at the Spotted Pig, when it was under the tutelage of British chef Fergus Henderson, the thought of lugging a 40 pound hunk of decapitation around the city...
Wherein I spend an entire day to save $22
By Blake Royer I spent 4 hours on Saturday standing... I spent 4 hours on Saturday standing in a sweaty line for cheap cookware.  Broadway Panhandler, a kitchen supply store that generally has a massive selection and discounted prices, was having a moving sale.  75% off!  Free Food!  Live Music!  All of these things made me happy.  I dragged myself out of bed and left the house for the 11AM sale, armed with a...
January 22, 2006
We did our research, spared no expense, and faced the terrors of salmonella. We survived to teach you how to give this haughty dish an American makeover.
The Paupered Chef ransack their local butcher in search of the fresh meat to one of France's most risky dishes. Will they have time to cook it? The Paupered Chefs ransack their local butcher in search of fresh meat for one of France's most risky dishes.  Will they have time to cook their steak tartare? We did our research, spared no expense, and faced the terrors of salmonella. We survived to teach you how to give this...