How often is it that you’re able to leaf through a food magazine and then have the cooks themselves tell you why each recipe is so special to them?
Well, at Cook’s Country we always like to deliver a personal touch, so we’ve had our test cooks write about a few of their recipes from the February/March 2023 edition and give you the stories, inspirations, and journeys behind them.
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10 ingredients. 45 minutes. Quick, easy, and fresh weeknight recipes.
Here’s a collection of our favorites.
Bryan Roof’s On the Road–inspired Quesabirria Tacos start off with boneless beef chuck roast braised in a flavor-packed broth (guajillo chiles, onion, garlic, and spices) to a shreddable consistency. This incredibly delicious beef is then placed in corn tortillas that get pan-fried in some of the excess beef drippings to a crisp texture along with gooey cheese, fresh cilantro, and red onion. If that wasn’t enough, the broth and all its seasonings make the taco even more amazing after a little dip.
Quesabirria TacosA Tucson original with his own spin.
Mushroom Taleggio Pizza
This forest-friendly pie is something even the most avid meat eaters in your life will devour. Morgan Bolling’s Mushroom Taleggio Pizza is loaded with four cheeses and packed with earthy mushroom flavor. Taleggio cheese has a strong musty aroma with a surprisingly mild flavor and a tangy aftertaste. It pairs well with sweet and pungent fontina and nutty, salty Parmesan cheese. The buttery taleggio and fontina, which are sprinkled over the spread of cottage cheese “sauce,” melt together to become one delightfully gooey layer. For maximum flavor, definitely use a mix of mushrooms. My favorites are creminis mixed with maitake and shiitake mushrooms for a variety of meaty flavors and textures. Sprinkle the hot pizza with fresh chives and spicy red pepper flakes before serving. Pair this hearty pizza with an elegant Pinot Noir or medium-bodied white wine and enjoy!
Mushroom Taleggio PizzaMellow, nutty Taleggio cheese and earthy mushrooms pair up to top this easy, deeply savory pizza.
Braised Chicken and Lentils
When I was first getting into cooking, I never really knew what to do with lentils. I didn’t grow up with them in my diet. And there are many types of this legume, each of which cooks up differently. Still, I was determined to love them, and suffered many nights of mushy lentil soup hoping to find that eureka moment. Amanda Luchtel’s Braised Chicken and Lentils was my turning point; rich, creamy green lentils slowly simmer in chicken drippings, bright aromatics, and bold spices to create a hearty, stew-like dish. Best of all, this recipe is exceedingly simple, building each layer on top of the fat and fond from rendered chicken thighs. Smoked paprika is bloomed in the base, which gives the lentils an intriguing depth, reminiscent of smoky bacon. If there’s any foolproof way to dive into the world of lentils, this dish is the perfect starting point.
Braised Chicken and LentilsThis stewy dish of spiced chicken and lentils is incredibly satisfying.
Torn Potato Salad with Toasted Garlic and Herb Dressing
I have to admit: I am not the biggest fan of mayonnaise-based potato salads—but I absolutely love potatoes prepared almost any other way. That’s why I was so excited to try Nicole Konstantinakos’ Torn Potato Salad with Toasted Garlic and Herb Dressing. As soon as Nicole’s recipe was final, I took it into my own kitchen to make for dinner. For this potato salad, you boil baby Yukon Gold potatoes until very tender and then set them aside to cool slightly. In the same pot, you toast thinly sliced garlic in olive oil. This makes the base of the dressing to which you add a very small amount of mayo, a splash of sherry vinegar, and some salt and pepper. Then comes the fun part: You tear the potatoes into pieces so they’re a little craggy and irregular. Add them to the dressing (the torn potatoes will soak it right up), and toss in a big handful of chopped fresh herbs, like chives and parsley. This garlicky, herby, slightly warm potato salad is much more my speed. And it brings those summer potato salad vibes into the kitchen all year long. Just have a little more patience than I did and wait for those potatoes to cool enough to handle before trying to tear them apart!
Torn Potato Salad with Toasted Garlic and Herb DressingA fresh approach to a familiar dish.
Pickle-Brined Fried Chicken Sandwiches
I have a weakness for fried chicken sandwiches, and these are no exception. These Pickle-Brined Fried Chicken Sandwiches are the platonic ideal of what a fried chicken sandwich should be. Juicy thighs are brined in salty, tangy pickle juice and then coated in the perfectly seasoned dry mixture that fries up supercrispy and crunchy. If that isn’t enough, the chicken thighs are topped with a punchy yet refreshing dill pickle topping, crisp shredded lettuce, and a schmear of mayo that had me constantly craving another bite during tastings. I’m sure Lawman Johnson was less than enthused when I’d ask him to fry up some of these when we got in first thing in the morning, but these sandwiches are just that good. I hope you try them and feel the same.
Pickle-Brined Fried Chicken SandwichesHow do you get bold pickle flavor deep inside your fried chicken?
Arroz con Tocino (Rice with Salt Pork)
Rice is my quintessential comfort food. Whether it’s fried rice, New Orleans–style red beans and rice, jambalaya, or sushi rolls, rice is also fundamental to many of my favorite foods. So it says a lot that Von Diaz’s Arroz con Tocino has become my new favorite way to prepare my all-time most-prepared food. Nearly as easy as making plain steamed rice and with just two more ingredients, this recipe couldn’t be simpler. But the flavor and texture are light-years beyond your typical steamed rice. The salt pork is rich and incredibly savory, and its rendered fat coats each grain of the short-grain rice, keeping it from becoming mushy or gummy. The bite of the garlic complements the pork and sweet, mild rice perfectly. All together, it’s complete enough to be eaten alone, yet simple enough to accompany any number of dishes. I’ve eaten it for breakfast topped with a fried egg and hot sauce; I’ve eaten it spooned into a bowl of seafood gumbo; and I’ve eaten it under a generous ladle-full of Von’s Habichuelas Guisadas. And I couldn’t recommend it more.
Arroz con Tocino (Rice with Salt Pork)Stewed red kidney beans served atop salt pork–studded rice tells a rich history of one of Puerto Rico's most comforting dishes.
Chocolate Chip–Orange Cannoli Dip
In the test kitchen we’ve had long conversations about what foods can be dip-ified (aka turned into a dip). And this Chocolate Chip–Orange Cannoli Dip is one delicious example. It combines the delightful flavor of a cannoli with the ease and party appeal of a dip. When developing it, Amanda Luchtel made a creamy ricotta and mascarpone mixture that is customizable; my favorite has mini chocolate chips and just a touch of orange. When you bring this out at a party—especially with a tray of fun options to dip such as strawberries, cookies, and broken waffle cones—your party guests will be so excited.