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...

Making Andouille at Home

Saving andouille from the supermarket.

22nd Aug 2011

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...

Serious Eats Roundup: Pork Chops, Brandade, and Breakfast Sausage

21st Jun 2010

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Our weekly roundup of what the two of us have written over on Serious Eats.

"Dinner Tonight" Column

QUICK MEALS TO YOUR TABLE FIVE DAYS A WEEK.

Slow Cooked Salmon with Ginger and Scallion
This simple salmon dish is cooked in a low oven so the flesh stays moist and succulent.

Thick-Cut Pork Chops with Apples and Onion
The classic dish of pork chops and applesauce is spruced up h...

Better Homemade Biscuits and Gravy

It's my opinion that the secret to great biscuits and gravy is that there is no secret

19th May 2010

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I know that biscuits and gravy together don't make sense. It's meat, thickened with flour and milk, ladled atop a starchy biscuit. There is no balance, no acid, and no spice. Compared to the dynamic Szechuan food I've been making lately, it can seem safe and boring. But that's not how I think of it. Perhaps it's something that needs to be injected to your blood as a child, because I have a fon...

Homemade British Bangers and the Search for Rusk

How to make better bangers

30th Mar 2010

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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 sausa...

Idea Lab: Full English Breakfast from Scratch

Can you replicate the best English breakfast at home?

16th Mar 2010

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To eat well in England you should have breakfast three times a day.
- W. Somerset Maugham

I survived my half a year in England on a diet of boiled potatoes, canned peas, Heinz beans, and 99p egg and cress sandwiches I purchased from a convenient store. The dollar was nearly worthless next to the mighty pound at that time, and I hoarded what little cash I could for bus passes and the od...

Serious Eats Roundup: Depression Dogs, Baked Wings, and Vegetarian Mains

8th Feb 2010

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Our weekly roundup of what the two of us have written over on Serious Eats.

"Dinner Tonight" Column

Quick meals to your table five days a week.

Dinner Tonight: Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
This Indiana specialty deserves some attention now and again.

Dinner Tonight: Vegetarian Chili
Let's just call this a vegetable stew with a healthy kick of chili powder.

Dinner Tonight: C...

There Will be Blood. Sausages.

7th Jan 2010

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Last year I fell in love with blood sausage.  Maybe that sounds strange.  So let me explain.

In Estonia, around Christmastime, they begin to fill up the meat counters, black and smooth. Just piles of them.  When Christmas comes, everyone roasts pork and potatoes, makes sauerkraut, and serves them with blood sausages.  And it wasn't until I had them as apart of this ritual that I began to...

How to Make a Chicago-Style Hot Dog

A step-by-step guide to every condiment and step in making the perfect, authentic Chicago-style hot dog.

22nd Jul 2009

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The Chicago Hot Dog is, perhaps, one of the most improbable food combinations in the world. We do know this: it shouldn't work. A towering, precipitous bundle, loaded up with so many condiments that it's twice the volume of the dog itself. It threatens to fall apart, to be so absurd it forgets its provenance as a hot dog. It's misguided, it's madness. Yet it's mad enough to succeed brilliantly...

A Weekend of Beans and Brats

Insight into perfecting 90 minute, no-soak beans and homemade bratwursts.

24th Jun 2009

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It's been a delicious week.  I've been doling out my homemade bratwurst to close friends and making batches of 90 Minute, No-Soak beans just because I can.  I know some people had some questions about both of these posts, and this week has given me a few more insights to both processes which hopefully will answer some of them.  Also, Michael Ruhlman wanted to see my amateurish sp...

Wisconsin-Style Bratwurst

The ultimate guide to the Midwest's finest encased meat.

18th Jun 2009

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My little adventure with bratwurst reached its pinnacle after a tortuous three hour process of grinding, mixing, stuffing, poaching, and charcoal grilling.  What I faced, fortunately, looked a lot like the bratwurst of my wildest fantasies.  It was perfectly plump, gushing with juice, and absolutely haunted by charcoal smoke.  I stuffed that sausage into a huge roll and piled it high wi...

The Bratwurst Mystery

How do you make this Wisconsin classic?

11th Jun 2009

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I have been thinking about bratwurst for days.  What started as an idea for a simple cookout on my little Webber Grill has now completely consumed me because I simply can't find the right recipe.  The question eventually led me to walk into Hot Dougs on a recent Wednesday and ask Mr. Doug himself what was in the sausage.

But first, do you know?  What is it, exactly, that makes a bratwu...

Top that Pie: Fresh Italian Sausage

Make the perfect topping for your pizza.

23rd Feb 2009

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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...

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...

"Saucisson" of Pork Tenderloin

A baby step towards making salami.

30th Nov 2008

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It's similar in appearance and texture, and has that unmistakable salty tang of cured meat.  I'm surprised it never occurred to me before, but the idea is simple.  Pork tenderloin, which is already in a convenient salami-like shape perfect for slicing, makes a perfect dry-curing project.

There is already one traditional cured meat called Lonzino , Italian, which is made not from the ten...

Homemade Hot Dogs and the Sausage Stuffing Adventure

13th Oct 2008

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Well, just look at that!  After all my anxiety and the lack of sausage stuffer before I started this adventure , on the third day I ate hot dogs.  They looked like hot dogs, smelled like hot dogs, and tasted like that perfect hot dog you always dream about (well, at least I dream about hot dogs).  Unbelievably beefy and with a hard snap from the sheep intestine, this was a truly wonderfu...

Fresh Mexican Chorizo

How to make the staple Mexican sausage.

18th Sep 2008

The recipe comes from Diana Kennedy's "From My Mexican Kitchen".  This particular version comes from the Michoacán region.  She does give direction on how to stuff the mixture into casings, but I bailed out early.  Some day.

As first sausage making experiences go, I'd have to say this was pretty remarkable.  I got about 2 pounds of fresh sausage and spent about $12 dollars.  Half of it is fro...

Real Homemade American Bacon

How to smoke pork belly at home.

2nd Jul 2008

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First, I needed to find some pork belly with its skin still firmly on. My previous attempt removed it , along with a lot of precious fat directly underneath.  My bacon didn't have nearly enough fat on it to fry up, so instead cooking up beautifully in a pan, it burned .  My local butcher wouldn't sell me a piece with the skin on unless I bought 10 pounds, a fact I still find ridicu...

New Orleans (Faraway, So Close): The Sad Tale of File Gumbo

28th May 2008

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I can't remember exactly where the conversation began, or why we suddenly started talking about New Orleans, but for about 5 minutes last Friday Night I waxed poetic about the Crescent City.  My interest has been explored before , but apparently my chatter seemed especially interesting that night.  I suppose I could have been because my friend Hal had never been, and I took umbrage. ...

Guanciale, Or How to Hang a Pig Jowl in Your Living Room

The other Italian bacon.

14th May 2008

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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...

Cassoulet, Hooray!

25th Jan 2007

Cassoulet2_10 It was a terrifying moment: The bottom of my pan was lined with raw pig skin, on top of which were alternating layers of beans, the meat from pig knuckles, duck confit, sausages, a paste made of blended onions and more boiled pig skin--and I was rapidly reaching the top rim.  In fact, I'd already reached it.  I still had a bowl of beans, not to mention 4 cups of gelatinous bean and pork water...

On Discovering Lentils

3rd Nov 2006

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Rice, beans, pasta.  These are the ways we make sure we haven't incidentally fallen into the Calorie Restriction Diet .  They keep us looking flush and healthy and let us concentrate our attention on careful preparation of everything else on the plate.  Just about every recipe we've cooked has one of these ingredients incorporated so that we don't leave the table hungry.

Yet I've never...

Mussels a la Portuguese, OR: "Hey man, that''s a lot of mussels." "Yeah, that''s what she said."

A chorizo-laden recipe deglazed with champagne

15th Apr 2006

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When’s the last time you went to a butcher or fish guy and ordered six pounds of anything?  “Hey, I was wondering if you can give me six pounds of salmon.”  “Sure thing, bub.  That’ll be a hundred and eight dollars.”  “Um, thanks.” With mussels, you can.  They're like $2.50 a pound.  Three of us devoured (and I mean devoured : mussels are a sensual, hands-on affair) two pounds each of thes...