It was cold, windy night, dark by 5 pm, and I was in the mood for chili. I was also alone in my pajama pants and had no intention of leaving my toasty apartment for the tomatoes and onions I didn’t have. I knew I had a frozen pound of ground beef in the freezer, a box of pasta, a stalk of broccoli, though. So instead of putting the meat in the chili, I figured I’d put the chili in the meat, make chili meat balls, serve them on garlic pasta, with a side of good-for-you greenery. I keep a good stash of fresh spices in my freezer. I made the preparation hard on myself by cooking the spices and garlic in some olive oil before adding them to the meat—brings out the flavor in the Read On »

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When life is in disarray, travel! Which is what I’ve been doing nonstop for a month and a half, and more. The above is a salumi maker from Norcia, a town famed for its butchers and recently devastated by an earthquake. Happily he found a place in Rome to sell his goods. I have neglected my pledge to spend more time on this blog, but herewith is the reason why, a sort of photo essay of the lands and pigs and pork and salumi and chefs from the past six weeks. It began in Rhode Island, little old Rhode Island, where I made some mandatory holiday aged eggnog.   I was there to do a reading with Ruth Reichl at Matt and Kristin Jenkins lovely Chez Pascal, sponsored by Goat Hill, an organization like Boston’s Grub Street that Read On »

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  Finishing up an interview with Jean-Georges Vongerichten at his restaurant day before Thanksgiving, I asked if his long-time right hand man Greg Brianin and his ace executive chef Mark Lapico were around. I wanted to give them one of my offset spoons (middle of the top three, and my favorite all time spoon). I showed Jean-Georges and he said, “This is yours?” Yes. “I love it!” And then “Can I have one?” Bien sur. When we found Mark, buried in Thanksgiving prep, I gave a spoon to him he said, “You have your own spoon? Oh my god. Every time I would go on the meat station, I would take their Kunz spoon and bend it. they would say, ‘Why are you fucking up my tools.’ I’d say, ‘I’m telling you, it’s going to Read On »

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Last year my cousin Ryan, feeling overwhelmed by the task of hosting his first Thanksgiving dinner, wrote to me for advice. I’m reposting the advice I gave him here, along with the roast/braise method. The bottom line is this and it’s the mantra I want all anxious cooks out there to repeat continually: Everything will be fine. Really. Everything will be fine. Really. (Thank you @SamSifton.)  Below is a collection of posts that cover all the fundamental dishes. Nothing new here; the good stuff always stays the same. Remember, no one step is particularly hard, so it’s simply a matter of being organized. For last minute questions, I’ll be taking them online at the @Food52 hotline, Thanksgiving day from 2-3. Homemade Turkey Stock The Original Roasted/Braised Turkey Post with Illustrative Photos and Slide Show. If you want Read On »

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My trusted assistant, Emilia Juocys, emailed to say she was making her holiday eggnog and I said, “Take pix! I want to remind people to get their eggnog made!” She did, see above, then pointed me to this intriguing Food Lab article on aged eggnog: http://www.seriouseats.com/2016/09/is-aging-holiday-eggnog-worth-it.html. It seems intuitive to me that the longer anything ages, the more complex and funky it will be. But is it better? That was the case with two-year eggnog, which had turned a kind of dangerous-looking brown, but I enjoyed the deep funk. How can you keep dairy and eggs in your fridge for a year or three? The alcohol kills the bacteria that cause food to spoil (not to mention salmonella that might be in raw egg). This is a good thing to remember if you need to leave Read On »

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