Just the Essentials with Becky Hays

Making the fried rice is easy enough, but keeping her six-year-old from eating the fried onions that go with it is a different story.

Published May 2, 2017.

In celebration of 100 Recipes—a book which lists, in our estimation, the 100 most essential recipes in the history of the Test Kitchen—our beloved television personalities have each compiled a list of their five favorite recipes from the book. Below, cast member Becky Hays lists hers, including a recipe for rustic bread that barely needs kneading, and a recipe for tortilla soup she developed a decade ago.

1. Tortilla Soup

I developed this recipe a decade ago and it’s still one of my go-tos. A puree of onion, tomato, and chiles creates a surprising amount of depth and complexity in the cilantro-and-oregano-scented broth. Chicken breasts are poached in the broth and then shredded, and the soup is served with plenty of garnishes. Pile your bowl with crunchy tortilla strips, diced avocado, Mexican crema, and salty Cotija, and you’re in business.

2. Almost No-Knead Bread

For about five minutes of work, the payoff here is huge—a rustic loaf with a tender, airy interior and a rich, crusty exterior. I have the recipe committed to memory and I bake a loaf once or twice a week during the fall and winter months. I particularly like the cranberry-pecan variation toasted for breakfast.

3. Blueberry Pie

Give me a fruit pie over a cake any day, especially if it’s our blueberry pie. Adding a shredded Granny Smith apple (along with some ground tapioca) to the filling is genius: The pectin in the apple thickens the pie to the perfect consistency and balances the sweet berries with just a hint of tartness.

4. Peruvian Roast Chicken with Garlic and Lime

The first time I roasted this chicken for my husband he made me promise to make it again the following week. I obliged, and the recipe is now a regular part of our rotation. The chicken is supermoist and packed with citrusy and fiery chile flavors. Don’t skip the garlicky spicy mayonnaise—it takes this dish over the top.

5. Rice and Lentils with Crispy Onions (Mujaddara)

I make a lot of vegetarian meals for my family, and this one hits all of the right notes. It’s earthy and satisfying and the tangy, garlicky yogurt sauce cuts the richness. Don’t even get me started on the crispy fried onions: My six-year-old son typically tries to gobble them up before dinner.

The Test Kitchen's True Essentials

100 Recipes

If you could only have 100 recipes at your disposal, what would they be? In 100 Recipes, the editors of America’s Test Kitchen present what they consider the recipes everyone should know how to make—these are the dishes that will give anyone the culinary chops they need to succeed in the kitchen.
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For more cast musings on 100 Recipes, read these posts: 

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