For the Love of Un-Simple Things: Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo

Just a little love for laborious cooking projects.

17th Oct 2011

The older I get, the more I appreciate the un-simple things. Sure, I admire the shining brilliance of singularly perfect foods — like the best summer tomatoes or a properly aged steak — but I'm far more interested in dishes that combine dozens of components into a complex and bewildering whole. I speak of Mexican moles, feisty Thai salads, balanced Indian curries, and, of course, a certain C...

Corned Beef Short Ribs

A quicker, easier process than the whole brisket

15th Mar 2011


Corned beef is one of the more basic and surprising kitchen experiments. But I think that people still think it's pretty nuts.  I'm staying in California for a couple weeks, and had to buy the ingredients, cook, photograph, and eat this project while staying at someone else's house (sorry for the lack of pictures).  First of all--it's really tough cooking somewhere you don't have all your fami...

Smoking Success: Homemade Allen and Sons Barbecue

How to make chopped (not pulled) pork

14th Dec 2010

allensons 6
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...

Gorgefest | Los Angeles Edition

A mad dash for LA's best food in one afternoon.

Los Angeles Gorgefest 01

We had four hours to eat in L.A., a period of time which all of us agreed wasn't long enough. While most people would have simply given up and spent the time driving around Hollywood or lounging on the beach, we plowed ahead, sure we could catch a plane and sample some of the best food in the city along way. So our afternoon in L.A. was spent cruising the endless sprawl of concrete and zig zag...

Korean Barbecue: What''s Your Secret Ingredient?

The kiwi could change everything

5th Oct 2010

korean barbecue 1
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.


Forget the Tomato: Chicago-Style Hot Dogs with Pickled Green Tomatoes

Tweaking the classic Chicago hot dog (aka The Superdawg)

29th Sep 2010

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Though it pains me to say this, the Chicago hot dog has one little flaw. It’s not always an issue, but it’s there just the same. Most of the seven toppings which make up a proper Chicago-style Hot Dog can be had at any time: mustard and relish are condiments, celery salt is a seasoning, the sport peppers and pickle come from a jar, and onions can be freshly cut up at any time of the year....

My Chicago: Cafe Spiaggia

Chicago's famed restaurant revamps their cafe

11th Aug 2010

cafe spiaggia 1

Spiaggia isn’t the sort of restaurant you waltz into on a whim--you have to wear a jacket to eat there, its gorgeous dining room has floor-to-ceiling windows, they have a cheese cave, and, oh, it’s really, really expensive. But the secret is that Spiaggia also has a cafe . It’s casual, intimate, and the food is superb. The attention to detail that is expected of a high-end restaurant...

Griddled Carne Asada Tacos

Or, the best carne asada tacos we've ever had

9th Jul 2010

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As far as I know there are only two kinds of ways to make carne asada. The first method is to take thinly sliced flank or skirt steak, sear it over mad charcoal fire, chop it up, and then stuff it into warm corn tortillas. It's almost always great. The second method is the kind that most taquerias use, which is to scoop some bits of raw steak, plop it on a grill, and sauté until it is cooked....

Basic Tomato Sauce

Sometimes you need to start with the basics.

23rd Mar 2010

tomato sauce

I was recently bumming on a friend's membership to Costco, arms full of inexpensive bulk yeast and Dijon mustard for salad dressing , when I discovered the can of tomatoes you see above. It seemed like the deal of a century. For $3.89, I walked away with a can of San Marzano tomatoes weighing almost 7 pounds. That's the price you sometimes pay for a single 28 oz can of them.

I immed...

I Hate the Mac Snack Wrap: A Rant

The Big Mac will always be better.

2nd Mar 2010

pc macsnackwrap 3

I should apologize in advance for this fast food rant. I've never indulged in such a tirade before, but I simply couldn't resist this one. Regularly scheduled content will return later this week, I promise.

The Mac Snack wrap is the stupidest, most idiotic, dumbest fast food creation I've ever seen. It purports to be a Big Mac in flour tortilla, except it betrays logic and any culinary...

How to Make a 3 Dollar Pizza Stone

Great pizza doesn't have to cost much.

12th Feb 2010

focaccia pizza 14

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...

Homemade Sliders

The PC guide to little burgers.

sliders 1

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 laye...

Idea Lab: Sliders

How do you make the best mini burgers?

19th Jan 2010

idealab sliders01

First things first: there's something to clear up about " sliders ." They are not mini hamburgers. Along with Adam Kuban over at A Hamburger Today, I actually sort of hate mini hamburgers and the implied cuteness . Sliders are a different beast, and not cute. They are compact and small, yes, but they are also haunted by sauteed onion, which they are cooked on top of to create a sort of...

Idea Lab: Focaccia Pizza

Can great pizza be made at home quickly?

12th Jan 2010

idea lab focaccia pizza

Idea Lab is where we explore topics before we head into the kitchen. We welcome your thoughts, opinions, and ideas, so please leave them in the comments!

Though I once praised the virtues of the broiling pizza on Serious Eats, I'm now over it. I'm tired of broiler antics and pre-heating cast iron pans to make approximations of Neopolitan-style pizza at home (I've already ruined one ba...

Year in Review: An Obsession with Beef

Best of the beef.


When Blake and I sat back and looked at what food obsessed us in 2009, we noticed an unusual interest in beef. Pork is still the hippest meat around, and praise for beef sometimes seems limited to talk about steaks or short ribs. We wrote about both of those cuts this year, but we did it our way.  We also managed to dress up mounds of round, tenderize brisket, turn chuck into the tender found...

Homemade Ketchup and French Fries

Make both of those at home.

24th Sep 2009

ketchupandfries 23

The tomatoes were turning on me. A few weeks ago they were red and rosy, destined for a starring role in a BLT. Now, I'm not sure if they can withstand the scrutiny of the spotlight. They are still light years beyond what appears during the winter here in the Midwest, but not quite the ones you can slice up, sprinkle with salt, and eat raw. I kind of wish I would have known this before I bough...

Part Two of My Cucumber Sandwich Revenge: Tea Time

How to create the perfect cucumber sandwich.

21st Aug 2009

cucumbersandwich 18

I feel like I finally understand the cucumber sandwich. After weeks of thinking about it, and trying to recreate the most authentic version I could muster, it finally sunk in. The taste isn't rich, indulgent, spicy, acidic, comforting, salty, or fatty. It's cool, calm, and collected. The strongest reaction I had towards one was a contented sigh, a sort of momentary delight.

So why was I bre...

Part One of My Cucumber Sandwich Revenge: Pain de Mie

Starting with the perfect loaf of bread.

18th Aug 2009

pullmanloaf 22

(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...

The Sides of Barbecue: Homemade Red Coleslaw, Hushpuppies, and Black Eyed Peas

What to pair with North Carolina-style barbecue.

6th Aug 2009


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 heigh...

North Carolina Barbecue: A Tale of Vinegar, Hush Puppies, and the Whole Hog

My first trip through North Carolina.

28th Jul 2009

pc ncbbq 32

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...

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

The spiciest way to grill your chicken.

3rd Jun 2009

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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 thr...

Memphis Barbecue

Nick's tour of the South's barbecue capital.

27th May 2009

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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 le...

Corned Beef

How to pickle brisket.

13th May 2009

corned beef 24

I was standing in the meat section of my local Korean grocery store (the excellent Joong Boo Market ) with fellow food blogger Brian, from the Daily Ikura .  He was talking me through his favorite Korean dishes and ingredients, and I was loving it.  We were discussing uses of red bean paste, which ramen was worth its price, and whether some brands of soy sauce were really so good you...

In Honor of Honey 1 Barbecue: Barbecue Ribs

How to make Grand World Champion ribs.

16th Apr 2009

barbecue ribs 18

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 n...

Easter Dinner and My Mysteriously Cheap Lamb Chops

Cooking Easter dinner with no oven.

14th Apr 2009

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Easter dinner has always been a giant-baked-ham affair for me.  Glazed with a sticky concoction loaded to its saturation point with brown sugar and splashed with bourbon, studded with cloves, and baked until warm and tender--ah, it's hard to beat.

Living here in a country full of pork , I figured reproducing this wouldn't be too hard to pull off.  But two problems presented themselves:...

The Butter Steak: What''s the Best Way to Cook a Steak?

How to cook your next porterhouse.

9th Apr 2009

butter steak 03

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 nigh...

Deep-Dish Pizza: Round 2

Nick learns from his mistakes and makes a good deep-dish pie at home.

3rd Apr 2009


I was determined not to fail this time.  My last attempt at deep-dish wasn't an absolute failure, but it was close.  It was too soggy and messy , and had none of the glorious qualities that my favorite Chicago pizzeria, Pequods , displayed.  I theorized about all kinds reasons for the failure, thinking it had something to do with the crust.  Then I just gave up and asked you all...

Digging into Deep-Dish

Nick struggles to perfect deep-dish pizza at home.

17th Mar 2009


Or at least, that was my hunch.  I searched for a long time and finally settled on this recipe from  Deep-dish dough is very different from its thin crust counterpart. The crust has a healthy dose of cornmeal, which gives it an interesting crunch and texture.  All the elements seemed to be here.  I tracked down some tomatoes, cheese, and even decided to add some spinach (a...

Korean Short Ribs

Korean barbecue solves the challenges of cooking short ribs.

12th Mar 2009


Short ribs and I don't have a good history. The first time I tried to make these with Blake we ended up with a collection of tough, greasy, hunks of impenetrable meat. The second time I solved the toughness factor by cooking them for ages, but forgot about the fat.  Even after stashing the pot of short ribs in the fridge for a day so I could easily skim some off, I still felt like I h...

Top that Pie: Fresh Italian Sausage

Make the perfect topping for your pizza.

23rd Feb 2009


For the sausage novices, nothing could be quite so easy as this recipe from Michael Ruhlman's Charcuterie.  Because I was using it straight away I had no need to stuff it into casing only break them free a moment a latter.  I essentially just mixed everything together, ground it on the small die of my meat grinder, and cooked it.  It was about as time consuming as cutting up a bunch of vege...

Sauerbraten, Or How to Make Beef Round Tender and Delicious

The German way with round.

17th Feb 2009

Sauerbraten is a national dish of Germany, and there are many variations in its preparation, all hailing from different regions.  However, I didn't have to look much further than Alton Brown for a good recipe--the reviews on the recipe's page at Food Network are almost exclusively raving.  A combination of cider and red wine vinegar provide the recipe's twang, and all the traditional notes fo...

Homemade Italian Beef

How to make this Chicago classic.

13th Feb 2009


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 th...

Dipping Into the Italian Beef

Discovering Chicago's distinctive beef sandwich.

11th Feb 2009

The mystery is that while the sandwich's meat is incredibly tender, it isn't made from some expensive cut of beef.  From the research that I've done, most Italian beef recipes call for round or the sirloin tip, which are both tough and lean cuts.  The use of a cheap, neglected cut really interested me.

At first glance, the sandwich looks a lot like a cheese-less Philly cheesesteak.  But I've b...

The Smash Technique and Skinny Burger Perfection

How to make the best burger at home.

11th Dec 2008


You know the burger obsession is going off the deep end when semi-serious discussion takes place over the burger making skills of a cartoon .  Please stick with me.  This cartoon happened feature J. Wellington Wimpy, the burger-loving sidekick of Popeye.  Hamburger America author George Motz found this clip and was there to comment on Wimpy's burger making skills: "Notice how even in...

The Wait of Dill Pickles

How to make pickles at home without filling your place with the smell of pickles.

10th Sep 2008

But all I did was worry.  Why was there no garlic in the dill pickles? Every other jar of dill pickles I had bought contained garlic.  And why did the pickling spice smell so sweet?  Dill pickles weren't sweet.  I worried that Ruhlman's recipe was too refined.  I wanted simple dill pickles.  I'd have to look elsewhere.


I pulled out Arthur Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking and found Dill Pi...

The Quick-Flipped Fat Burger

Keep that spatula at hand.

26th Aug 2008

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At first everything was fine. Taking a cue from Adam Kuban , we decided to make our own onion rings instead of the normal burger pairing of fries. The recipe was taken from Simply Recipes , which soaked the onions in buttermilk and coated them in flour and cornmeal.

quick flippedburger04

We fried them in canola oil set to 350 degrees for a few minutes, until nice and golden brown.  We stashed them i...

Apple City Barbecue''s Smoked Pulled Pork

Make pulled pork at home.

5th Aug 2008

Apple City Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Day 1


  • 1 pork butt (4-6 pounds), preferably with the bone-in

Prick the pork butt all over with a fork.

Magic Dust: AKA the Rub


  • 1/2 cup paprika
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mustard powder
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1/4 cup ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup granulated garlic...

They Came, I Ground, We Ate: Which Cuts Make for the Best Burger?

How to make a better burger at home.

21st Feb 2008


Grinding meat may seem like an exercise for those with too much time on their hands, or those overly devoted to doing things from scratch--which I am.  But I'm here to argue that there are more compelling and more logical reasons for doing so: for one, the meat will taste better.  You'll also know where it omes from, unlike with a styrofoam tray from the grocery store, which is likely the su...

A Weekend in Seattle and Olympia: Day 3, Carnitas on the Run

Killer tacos and no-corn-syrup Mexican Coke

17th Nov 2007


With the time change and a long flight ahead of us, we have to leave by 4pm just to arrive home in New York at midnight (Correction: arrive in Newark.  I'm never doing that again).  With a morning left and having had scarce time to explore Olympia itself, we asked Scott exactly what to do with the remaining hours.  “Well, there’s this Mexican taco truck,” he said casually.  And it wa...

Steak au Poivre: Real Cheap and Kind of Authentic

First was the rather easy substitution of bourbon for the cognac

17th Sep 2007

steak au poivre 04

I tend to spend way too much time researching what I'm going to eat.  Nearly every recipe is cross-examined against other works I have, just to make sure I'm doing things correctly.  But I was on to this recipe the moment I saw Alton pull out his steaks.  I didn't check if this was the authentic way to make this, I just went for it.

What could cause me to go into such enthusiastic fits?  S...

Is Broiling a Steak as Good as Grilling One?

29th Nov 2006


There is "no doubt early man cooked his meats using dry heat," claims Madeleine Kamman, author of the esteemed Making of a Cook and a very friendly-looking lady who I sometimes wish was my grandmother.  She speculates that he might have discovered this gastronomic feat in the instance of two different accidents, producing two enduring ways of cooking meat.  The first, a discovery...

Melting Potatoes

Those on a diet should click away now

4th Jun 2006


Those on a diet should click away now.  Those left will have their heart beat just a few ticks faster when these are finally removed from the oven, and even faster once the oil starts pumping through your system...

Barbara Kafka loves these, and we love her from creating them.  They are horrible for your health, use just a little less butter than a hollandaise, and look like burnt, mushy,...

Burgers & Cupcakes

Two things people like to wait in line for. Again.

25th May 2006


Burgers and Cupcakes
458 9th Ave, at 36th st.
Distance from Shake Shack: 0.94 miles
Travel Time: 27 minutes

of People in Line: 9

Burgers and Cupcakes is humorous only to New Yorkers, who can't help but smile at the gall of building a restaurant that caters solely to the big apple's idiocy to stand in line for the most obscenely simple things.  I was spurred to undertake the odysse...

Jacques Pepin''s Corn Chowder

Possibly the easiest corn chowder recipe on the planet

4th Apr 2006


A warm comfort food that, in this case, is remarkably easy to make. Generally chowder is thick and hearty with bacon and potatoes and thick creamy base, but this version instead goes for elegant. It’s almost (but not) too thin, almost silky, surprisingly tasty considering the lack of any complicated seasoning.
By Blake Royer


On a Sunday afternoon, corn chowder is the idea.  A soup bot...

Egg Mayonnaise and Cress Sandwich

Recreating a fond memory from being poor in London

14th Feb 2006

Though egg mayonnaise is essentially the same thing as American egg salad, it doesn't taste like your average pitch-in.   The mayonnaise was creamy but it had a lightness to it, which probably has something to do with the proportion of ingredients.  Instead of deli-style New York sandwiches where a literal pound of meat is thrown on each sandwich--"It's like a cow with a cracker on either side,...

The Great Potato Contest

A bag of potatoes and a quest for the cheapest dinner possible

With minds planted firmly in the dirt, we probed the...

greatpotatocontest 00

With minds planted firmly in the dirt, we probed the starchy tuber for secrets buried within, all in search of the perfect cooked potato.   Armed with a bag of $2.99 Idahos, we set aflame preconcieved notions, sexed things up, and tried to find the courage (and stomachs) to eat nothing but potatoes like our poor brethren of the 19t...

"Wit What?"

An exploration of Philadelphia's quintessential greasy delicacy...the cheesesteak

1st Feb 2006

With Blake off for the weekend, Nick blew the whole...


With Blake off for the weekend, Nick blew the whole Paupered Chef budget on a $20 Chinatown Bus ticket to Philadelphia in search of the city's quintessential greasy delicacy...the cheesesteak.  Armed with locals with serious appetites, he checked out some of their favorite institutions in search of the real thing...Wait, with cheez w...

Dinner with Genghis Khan

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.

Leonards 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 sur...

Pasta Carbonara

This recipe loses the cream altogether, replacing it with white wine.

15th Jan 2006

Pasta Carbonara

  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 thin slices bacon
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 pound farfalle pasta
  • 4 egg yolks
  • small handful chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup of pasta cooking water

Serves 4.

Recipe adapted from Cucina Rustica

pasta carbonara2

Get a huge pot of salted water boiling...