Repertoire | The Dinner Party

Rules for success, including porchetta

25th Oct 2011

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 silen...

How to Make Proper Barbecue Chicken

No offense, but you're probably doing it wrong

22nd Jul 2011

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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....

Tea-Smoked Duck Breast

Or, how to smoke indoors with a wok

11th May 2011

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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 c...

How to Make Shoyu Ramen at Home

With a lot of help from Takashi's Noodles.

19th Apr 2011


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 marve...

Engineering the Perfect Risotto

From Bone Marrow to Saffron

28th Feb 2011

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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...

Idea Lab | Is it Possible to Make Transcendent Risotto at Home?

And: Should Risotto Spread?

17th Feb 2011

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 riso...

An Opinionated Way to Roast a Chicken

What's your favorite way?

24th Jan 2011

Roast Chicken in the Oven

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 ti...

Smoking Success: Homemade Allen and Sons Barbecue

How to make chopped (not pulled) pork

14th Dec 2010

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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...

Korean Barbecue: What''s Your Secret Ingredient?

The kiwi could change everything

5th Oct 2010

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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.

...

How to Make Homemade Vinegar (It Couldn''t Be Easier)

A pineapple and a few weeks is all you need

19th Aug 2010

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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, s...

Romesco Sauce, Meet the Summertime Grill

A blend of bread, nuts, olive oil, tomato, and peppers

15th Jul 2010

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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 b...

Under Pressure: How To Make Superb Chicken Stock In About An Hour

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?

10th Jun 2010

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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 hour...

My First Mole: Rich Red Mole with Chicken

Tackling Mexico's national dish

1st Jun 2010

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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 balanc...

Trout a la Meunière, or Sharing a Culinary Epiphany with Julia Child

The original celebrity chef helps us out with this French classic.

4th May 2010

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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...

Chez Panisse Cassoulet

A tastier and quicker version of the classic.

4th Mar 2010

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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" vari...

How to Make a 3 Dollar Pizza Stone

Great pizza doesn't have to cost much.

12th Feb 2010

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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...

A Gastrique Primer, or How to Improve Your Next Tomato Sauce

Vinegar and sugar can spruce up any sauce.

9th Feb 2010

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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 tast...

Faux Confit: Steamed Duck Legs

Can steamed duck legs tasted better than ones poached in duck fat?

14th Jan 2010

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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 f...

Idea Lab: Steamed Duck Confit?

Can you really leave behind all the fat??

5th Jan 2010

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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 uniq...

Red-Braised Pork Belly, and a Sichuan Cooking Primer

Where to start your Sichuan obsession.

11th Dec 2009

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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 recip...

Experiments with Sous-Vide Chicken

Perhaps the best way to cook chicken.

18th Nov 2009

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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 p...

Pajeon, the Korean Scallion Pancake

Not like most pancakes...

15th Sep 2009

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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 eatin...

The Importance of Jus: Two Chickens in One Meal

How the most chickeny chicken dish imaginable.

10th Aug 2009

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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...can...

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

What to pair with North Carolina-style barbecue.

6th Aug 2009

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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

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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...

Chicken Satay

There's more than one way to grill a chicken.

14th Jul 2009

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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...

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...

In Honor of Honey 1 Barbecue: Barbecue Ribs

How to make Grand World Champion ribs.

16th Apr 2009

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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...

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

How to cook your next porterhouse.

9th Apr 2009

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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...

Korean Short Ribs

Korean barbecue solves the challenges of cooking short ribs.

12th Mar 2009

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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...

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

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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...

Apple City Barbecue''s Smoked Pulled Pork

Make pulled pork at home.

5th Aug 2008

Apple City Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Day 1

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  • 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

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  • 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...

Melting Potatoes

Those on a diet should click away now

4th Jun 2006

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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,...

Pan-Seared Salmon with Pasta and Spinach Cream Sauce

This pasta is surprisingly light, a delightful characteristic considering the richness of the cream.

9th Feb 2006

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While our enthusiasm for cooking has grown immensely over the past year, we still feel mostly reluctant to toss our recipe books aside and approach the task with our own original ideas and ingredients.  A sense of improvisation comes with confidence, and as the acting theorist Konstantin Stanislavski suggests, cultivating concentration and trusting one's instincts.  Instincts.  We don't do...