Butternut squash puree transforms polenta into a nutritious and delicious side dish.
Butternut squash puree transforms polenta into a nutritious side dish while enhancing its rustic appeal. How much squash could we add without overpowering polenta's texture and sweet corn flavor? Turns out, for 1 cup of cornmeal, a whole small squash was perfect. Roasting squash halves and scooping out the creamy flesh kept the process unfussy. For fluffy, creamy polenta, we added a pinch of baking soda, which encouraged the grains to release their starches for a silky consistency with minimal stirring. To round out the flavor, we cooked the polenta with fresh sage and a pinch of nutmeg, then finished with a bit of Parmesan.
Shred vegetables, mix into batter, fry—could crispy fritters really be that easy?
For more-flavorful fritters, we tested a number of vegetable options and settled on a mix of shredded zucchini, shredded carrot, sliced red bell pepper, and thinly sliced onion. We found that we needed only 3 cups of vegetables to make 12 fritters. For the thick batter, we combined equal parts flour and cornstarch plus seltzer and baking powder so the fritters would be shatteringly crispy. We added salt to the vegetable batter just before frying so it didn’t draw water out of the prepared vegetables and interfere with crispiness. We carefully monitored the temperature of the shallow oil we used to fry the fritters, turning off the burner between batches to keep the oil from overheating and to ensure that each batch came out deep golden brown, lacy, and crispy. And finally, we whipped up a creamy, bright horseradish mayonnaise to complement the crunchy fritters.
Many modern versions of this comforting classic add too many frills. We bring it back to basics.
This Carolina classic is famous for its tender shrimp, silky gravy, and creamy grits. To control the cooking of the shrimp, we parcook them in rendered bacon fat. This gives them a head start without cooking them through to rubbery right away. We set them aside while creating a light gravy of flavorful (and quick) shrimp stock, bacon, garlic, lemon, and Tabasco; we then finish cooking the shrimp directly in the gravy. We found that toasting the grits before adding liquid helps bring out the most corn flavor. Chopped scallions finish the dish with a jolt of freshness.
The Art of Indonesian Beef Rendang
West Sumatra’s tradition of slowly cooking and browning beef with coconut milk and vibrant aromatics until caramelized delivers a braise unlike any other.
A triple-chocolate cookie should be rich and intense, but it shouldn't be death by chocolate.
The classic triple-chocolate cookie combines unsweetened, bittersweet, and semisweet chocolates. Balance is key in these soft and chewy cookies. They should be packed with serious chocolate flavor, but shouldn’t be a case of death by chocolate. The unsweetened chocolate adds intense, earthy chocolate flavor; the bittersweet chocolate adds a sophisticated, rich chocolate flavor; and the semisweet balances the two more bitter chocolates. With more than a pound of chocolate in the recipe, the methods we typically use for cookies and brownies produced cookies that were too wet and didn’t hold their shape. We got the best results by beating the eggs and sugar together until fluffy, then adding the melted chocolate and mixing in the dry ingredients last. Beating the eggs and sugar for a few minutes gave the batter more structure and resulted in cookies with a pleasantly crisp, meringue-like shell. Premium bittersweet bar chocolates were too rich (and too greasy) for this recipe. Melted bittersweet chocolate chips, which contain less fat than chocolate bars, worked much better. They improved the batter by making it less fluid, yet also added the same grown-up, not-too-sweet flavor as more expensive bar chocolates. We also added a little coffee powder and vanilla to bolster the chocolate flavor. The cookies retain their fudgy texture when cooled directly on the baking sheet, rather than on a baking rack.
Against all odds, our Ranch Fried Chicken has both super-crunchy texture and herby flavor.
Classic American ranch dressing herbs and seasonings appear in three components of the recipe—the buttermilk coating, the flour coating, and the ranch dipping sauce—to pack summer flavors into this fried chicken. We wanted to get the fresh, tangy flavor of ranch dressing into a coating for fried chicken. But the herbs that give ranch its flavor quickly lost their taste in hot oil. We swapped in thinner boneless chicken thighs for the usual bone-in chicken pieces. Using boneless thighs ensures juicy meat without the hour-long brining process and the thighs needed much less time to cook through, so the herbs didn't spend as much time in the oil. We also incorporated the herbs in the buttermilk mixture and the flour coating for the chicken, as well as in a creamy dipping sauce.
Making shrimp in a hot cast-iron skillet results in tender shrimp ready to pair with a nutty sauce.
Pan-searing shrimp often results in shrimp that are either dry and flavorless or pale and gummy. We wanted shrimp that were well caramelized but still moist, sweet, and tender. Brining peeled shrimp inhibited browning, so instead we seasoned them with a flavorful mixture of paprika, salt, pepper, cayenne, and sugar, which brought out their natural sweetness and aided in browning. We cooked the shrimp in batches in a large, piping-hot cast-iron skillet. The cast iron's great heat retention helped us get perfectly even browning all over the shrimp. To accompany the shrimp, we created a batch of quick, classic Spanish romesco, which is made with roasted red peppers and traditionally served with fish. We started with a base of extra-virgin olive oil, hearty sandwich bread, and almonds, which we toasted for added richness and texture. To keep things simple, we skipped roasting our own red peppers and stuck with boldly flavored jarred roasted red peppers.
With one taste of this hearty dish, you'll understand why farro-based grain bowls are so popular.
For the base of our satisfying grain bowl we use farro. It is a nutty, whole grain that delivers incredible chew and structure without an overpowering taste on its own. We toss the hot cooked farro with a vinaigrette and let it sit to soak up all that flavor while sautéing some mushrooms. Alongside the mushrooms we add to the bowl shaved carrot ribbons, 4 cups of baby spinach, and top the entire thing with crumbled goat cheese. This vegetarian lunch serves 4 (or gives you 3 servings of leftovers) and comes together in just 30 minutes for a simple weekday pick-you-up.
It's time to make this luscious apple-y sauce and drizzle it on cheesecake and other desserts.
At first glance, this may look like a simple, familiar caramel sauce, but it isn't. An unexpected ingredient, Basque cider (known as sagardoa), gave this sauce bright, tangy, slightly funky notes and undefinable complexity. We were inspired by a sauce made by Chef Ana Rodríguez at La Cuchara de San Telmo in the city of Donostia-San Sebastián, Basque Country, Spain. We love it drizzled over a hefty slice of our La Viña–Style Cheesecake.
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The watery substance in yogurt containers is called whey, but what should you do with it?
This spin on beef and broccoli swaps out the steak for flavor-packed meatballs.
We used 90 percent lean ground beef to avoid greasy meatballs, and we used extra bread crumbs as a binder to keep the juices contained, not leaking out onto the baking sheet. To keep this dinner as easy on the cleanup side as possible, we only use one baking sheet and one bowl. To roast the broccoli and the meatballs, we put each on one half of the baking sheet until the meatballs register 160 degrees and broccoli is crisp-tender. At that time, we brush a hoisin glaze over the meatballs and return the sheet to the oven to bubble and broil the meatball tops and brown the broccoli.
Here's how to get flavor-packed Cantonese-style barbecued ribs in two hours.
Chinese-style barbecued ribs are usually marinated for several hours and then slow-roasted and basted repeatedly to build up a thick crust. For a faster version, we cut the ribs into individual pieces (to speed cooking and create more surface area) and then braised them in a highly seasoned liquid, which helped the flavor penetrate thoroughly and quickly. Then we strained, defatted, and reduced the braising liquid to make a full-bodied glaze in which we tossed the ribs before roasting them on a rack in a hot oven to color and crisp their exteriors.
After a trip to East Harlem, we re-created the bodega classic chopped cheese sandwich at home.
There's nothing like a real bodega chopped cheese sandwich—packed with ground beef and American cheese—straight off a flat-top griddle in East Harlem. But not wanting to travel to New York City every time the craving hit, we developed our own recipe, which was inspired by the version sold at Blue Sky Deli in East Harlem. We started with 1 pound of 85 percent lean ground beef, enough to pack four soft sub rolls. Cooking the meat in a nonstick skillet and breaking it up with a wooden spoon mimicked the texture of the meat we ate in New York. Lawry's Seasoned Salt and Goya Adobo All Purpose Seasoning packed in tons of flavor. Wrapping the warm, assembled sandwiches tightly in parchment paper swaddled the cheese and beef to help the filling meld.
This rib-sticking soup is just what the doctor ordered. (Grilled cheese sold separately.)
This tomato soup fits the bill when you want something wholesome to eat: It's simple, comforting, and nourishing. And unlike some tomato soup recipes that call for sugar to enhance the natural sweetness of tomatoes, this hearty version relies on a harmonious mix of vegetables for its sweet notes. We started the flavorful soup base by sautéing carrot, onion, fennel, and garlic until the vegetables were slightly softened and lightly browned, and then we added the mixture to the slow cooker. Next, we stirred in drained cannellini beans; chicken (or vegetable) broth; canned crushed tomatoes; and a sprinkle of slightly minty, floral dried thyme. We didn't rinse the beans, as the starchy liquid clinging to them helped give the soup body. After the vegetables had fully softened and the flavors had mingled in the slow cooker, we pureed a measured amount of beans and vegetables with a measured amount of the liquid to create a velvety consistency without the need for flour, ground bread, or heavy cream (keeping this soup gluten- and dairy-free). For a spectacular savory finish, we drizzled the soup with an aromatic kalamata-fennel oil. To make it, we combined olive oil, chopped kalamata olives, ground fennel, and red pepper flakes in a bowl; microwaved the mixture until it was fragrant; and let it steep before we stirred in minced fresh parsley.
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Want to get the most out of your kitchen scale? This button will help.
This irresistible crunchewy dish was inspired by the Laotian rice salad called nam khao.
Nam khao is a popular Laotian rice salad featuring a plethora of contrasting flavors and textures: crunchy and soft, tangy and salty, spicy and sweet, nutty and herbal. Traditionally, the dish features rice balls deep-fried until they develop a crunchy crust, an appealing contrast to their soft, chewy interior. The balls are broken into pieces and tossed with fermented pork sausage, fresh herbs, peanuts, and a citrusy-spicy dressing. Instead of forming the rice into balls, our homage has you fry half of the cooked rice in clusters until they're light golden and crisp throughout. This creates a rougher surface with crunchier nooks and crannies. Tossing this fried rice with the remaining cooked rice creates an irresistible crunchewy quality.