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Content about Cooking

Rules for success, including porchetta
Ed. note: This is the third post in a "Repertoire" series on the interplay of food and style, with our friends The Midwestyle. We're helping their readers learn a few recipes, and they're teaching us a few things about doing it in style. To say you’re an accomplished person is putting it lightly. That time you summited Kilimanjaro during a snow storm. The month you took a vow of silence. The day all the...
No offense, but you're probably doing it wrong
There's a lot of misconception when it comes to "barbecue." The problem is the word itself. It's used as a synonym for grilling, refers to the grill itself, or to the meat being grilled; it also has a sauce named after it; and sometimes it's just the word for the party itself held outdoors in somebody's backyard. What, actually, is "barbecue"? American purists see things a little differently. To them...
May 11, 2011
Or, how to smoke indoors with a wok
I love what smoke does to foods—preserving, often cooking them, and adding layers of flavor. Next to cooking over wood fire, there's nothing more basic and caveman.  There's just one major problem with this particular hobby (true of many caveman-esque cooking experiments): it's impossible to pull off without outdoor space and a backyard. This isn't always a luxury we're afforded living in a city. I have tried...
With a lot of help from Takashi's Noodles.
One sip of real ramen is enough. That’s all I needed to permanently erase all those memories of those pathetic packaged noodles, which I greedily warmed up in the microwave during college. One sip. Done. It was also enough to make me question whether there was a better soup on the planet. Fragrant, rich, and soothing, it has no parallel in the Midwest cuisine I grew up on, and while other marvelous brothy soups my attract my attention...
March 15, 2011
Here's a video on 5 ways to make duck charcuterie--redefining what we mean by eating nose to tail.  Also, check out the PC's Beginner's Charcuterie post where Blake takes on duck prosciutto! Duck Charcuterie 5 Ways (and Recipes)
From Bone Marrow to Saffron
Learning how to make risotto at home was one of the more liberating experiences of my early culinary career. The idea that I could create a perfectly legitimate risotto by just buying arborio rice and stirring like mad, was enough to make me wonder what else I couldn’t cook. I’m not going to say it single-handedly helped launch this blog and my writing career, but it was crucial. It was the moment that I looked around the...
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...
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...
How to make chopped (not pulled) pork
Just add sauce... Does anyone have the recipe for Allen and Son's barbecue sauce, because I'll lay down a sizable chunk of change to get my hands on it. It's one my favorite barbecue restaurants in the country, and it's almost all down to that tangy, vineger based sauce. It doesn't coat the meat like a thick Kansas City-style sauce, but seems to disappear into the meat, making each bite acidic, spicy, and addictive....
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...
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...
A blend of bread, nuts, olive oil, tomato, and peppers
My fridge lately has been so full of food I can hardly see what’s inside of it. Since joining a CSA, I am completely overwhelmed with the amount of food I have, and how to cook it all quickly enough. The other day I realized that I had, like, 2 or 3 pounds of green onions--and not wispy little ones, big, fat ones, the white roots thick and juicy, the green shoots long and vibrant. I’d been using them as quickly as I could,...
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...
The original celebrity chef helps us out with this French classic.
A variation on meunière sauce with almonds In one of the opening scenes of My Life in France, Julia Child experiences an early meal in France with her husband, Paul, a lunch at La Couronne, a medieval house turned restaurant built in 1345. After oysters, she goes on to describe an early culinary epiphany, apart of what would become "the most exciting meal of my life." Paul had decided to order sole meunière....
March 4, 2010
A tastier and quicker version of the classic.
I'm tired of people lying about cassoulet. Every recipe I've ever read calls it a "peasant dish," and the fact is, cassoulet is really, really expensive to make. You need duck confit, which, if you don't buy pre-made, costs you either in the form of overpriced duck fat or the need to buy a whole duck to render it yourself. Then, you need fancy sausage, preferably the garlicky "Toulouse" variety, which is...
Great pizza doesn't have to cost much.
If you're not down with pizza stones, it's time. Bread-bakers and home pizza afficionados praise them for their heat-retaining, moisture-wicking ability to imitate the floor of a brick oven. You put it in your oven and it not only provides a rustic surface to bake the bread on, but it also keeps the heat of the oven steady. Especially when it comes to pizza, that ever-important underside char and blistering (sometimes known as the...
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...
Can steamed duck legs tasted better than ones poached in duck fat?
The question about whether a steamed duck leg tastes as good duck confit has been boggling my mind for months ever since I read this article in the New York Times. Finally, last night, after spending the previous three days hacking up two ducks, rendering loads of fat, and figuring out what to do with the heads (Jonathan Gold actually sent me some interesting options on Twitter), I finally sat down to a blind taste test.  A...
Can you really leave behind all the fat??
Welcome to the Idea Lab, where we explore topics before we head into the kitchen. We welcome your thoughts, opinions, and ideas, so please leave them in the comments! Is duck confit a lie? According to Dr. Myhrvold, who runs Intellectual Ventures in Seattle, the technique is actually rather pointless. ...confit, the French technique of cooking slowly in fat, is supposed to impart a unique taste and texture as the fat penetrates the...
Where to start your Sichuan obsession.
For awhile now, I've been looking for a way into Chinese cooking. The whole business of it feels impenetrable. Strange flavors, ingredients, and cooking techniques, and no ability to rely on what I've already learned about Western cooking and improvise. Then there's the problem that you can't accurately call anything "Chinese cooking," because China is made up of provinces with different recipes and methods. They...
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...
Not like most pancakes...
I recently experienced Korean Barbecue for the first time, and I'm not sure I'll ever be quite the same. For days afterwards, I could taste the spicy, sweet, marinated short ribs between my teeth. The heady scent of kimchi haunted me; I'd walk around corners and swear I could smell it. Korean barbecue is soul food. It's comforting, the flavors are deep, and it's all based around communal eating. The concept of Korean...
How the most chickeny chicken dish imaginable.
Every morning we would roast thirty-six chickens just for their juices, rather than for the meat...Thirty-six chicken provided enough juices for thirty portions of freshly cooked chicken. In other words, the customer had the juice of more than one whole chicken accompanying his dish...It was extreme. - Marco Pierre White, Devil in the Kitchen The flavor of natural roasting juices...cannot be surpassed. - James Peterson, Sauces I...
What to pair with North Carolina-style barbecue.
The crisp bite of coleslaw, the crunchy crust of freshly fried hushpuppies, and the porky punch of black eyed peas: I realized after a mad dash through the barbecue trail in North Carolina that these were not just side dishes, but essentials. Without them my meals would have fallen apart, lost in meat gluttony. They helped achieve a barbecue balance, where everything complimented and heightened the taste of each other. I couldn't...
My first trip through North Carolina.
After the fifth barbecue stop in North Carolina my brother-in-law and I were delirious. We stumbled out of the door of the last joint, nearly tripping over ourselves like a couple of drunk freshman.  I called my wife but when I attempted to speak the right words wouldn’t come out.  Sure my belly was full of pork, but it was something about the addition of coleslaw, hush puppies, and glass upon glass of sweet tea to the...
July 14, 2009
There's more than one way to grill a chicken.
Cooking chicken satay at a July 4th cookout is, I admit, a little odd.  It's especially so if you consider that my wife and I subjected our parents and grandparents to the ordeal.  While everyone else around the country casually flipped hamburgers and hot dogs, I rounded up everyone available to help me skewer tiny pieces of highly marinated chicken onto wooden skewers.  That marinade also happened to have loads of...
June 3, 2009
The spiciest way to grill your chicken.
My first bite of jerk chicken, fresh from two hours of mingling with smoke, was everything I wanted it to be.  The rub of allspice berries and black peppercorns mixed with fresh ginger and thyme and created this incredible aroma --one that I couldn't help but adore.  I was completely happy and content until quickly, and without much warning, the spice hit.  A double dose of habanero cut through all of that complexity,...
May 27, 2009
Nick's tour of the South's barbecue capital.
Memphis has insanely good ribs, some so mouthwatering and juicy that they make most of the barbecue I've ever eaten fall of their bones in shame.  The rub is better, the smoke more lingering, and the sauce more lip-smacklingly suited to the cause.  What cause?  Sublime barbecue.  I wanted to see how good it could be.  Which isn't to say that everything went perfectly or that every bite left me in awe. ...
How to make Grand World Champion ribs.
I returned home from a weekend in Ohio to to find that a fire had struck Honey 1 Barbecue.  The building was still intact, but the smoking aquarium where they cook all their meat had been destroyed.  According to owner, it might take a few months to get back in order if smoker is salvageable and the insurance company gives up the money quickly.  It could take much longer.  I found the news hard to take.  It's...
How to cook your next porterhouse.
I'm not interested in carbonizing the surface of the meat. To me that ruins the flavor. - Alain Ducasse It was a bachelor weekend of sorts. My wife mercifully let me pass on attending a wedding of an old family family friend, so I had the whole weekend alone in the apartment to get work done.  I had some crazy projects planned including a mad braise of a cow tongue, but the first night alone was all about pure unrestrained male...