Friday, April 28, 2017

Quick and Crispy Home Fries – Or as We Call Them at Home, Fries

It’s a kind of ironic that the only place many people enjoy top-quality home fries is when they eat out at a diner, but sadly that’s the case. Your average home cook’s home fries look great, and we’ll assume taste amazing, but they usually don’t get that nice crispy crust, like the ones at the local greasy spoon.

The reason is simple. There the potatoes are steamed or boiled ahead of time; then cooled, cut, and kept chilled until service. When you pan fry a cold starch, it gets a beautifully crispy surface, which is the secret to the world’s great French fries, polenta sticks, and Korean fried chicken.

To expedite this process, we’re going to microwave the potatoes for a few minutes, until just barely tender. This simulates steaming, which I think is the best way, since boiling can make them waterlogged. Once cool, all you have to do is keep cooking until you’re happy with your crustification. I really hope you give this easy home fry technique  a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 large portions:
 3 large russet potatoes, peeled, quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
pinch garlic powder
pinch onion powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
salt, freshly ground black pepper, cayenne to taste
fresh chives to garnish are nice

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Calamari Marinara – Would You Like That In 45 Seconds or 45 Minutes?

Calamari is affordable, delicious, and sustainable, yet many cooks shy away from it, since it has a reputation for being tricky to work with. I should’ve said “unfair reputation,” because while it’s true calamari can end up with a rubbery texture if overcooked, there’s a very simple way to avoid this… by really overcooking it.

When it comes to calamari, it needs to be cooked in either 45 seconds, or 45 minutes, and nothing in between. If you sear it in a pan, or poach it in a sauce for a very brief time, you should get something nice and tender. However, after just a few extra minutes, the squid gets chewy.

Unfortunately, this is how most calamari is served, since it is easy to overcook, even for a professional. But, if we gently simmer for about 45-minutes total, something amazing happens. The calamari loses that rubbery texture, and becomes tender once again.

I also think it takes on more a meaty flavor, which I love, especially when using this to sauce pasta. So, if you’ve wanted to try cooking calamari, but were afraid of over-cooking it, I really hope you give this easy sauce a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 portions:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1  yellow onion, sliced thin
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 anchovy fillet
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 Serrano chili pepper sliced thin
1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more if needed
1/2 cup drinkable white wine
1 cup clam juice
6 cups crushed or puréed Italian plum tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 pounds frozen calamari tubes and tentacles, thawed, sliced into half-inch pieces
1/4 cup freshly chopped Italian parsley
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, optional
1 pound dry pasta

Friday, April 21, 2017

Grilled Fava Beans – Flavor Flav, Indeed

I bet fava beans would be a lot more popular if people knew how to cook them, or even what they were. For many people, these are just those mysterious, semi-scary, oversized green beans that they’re not sure what to do with.

Which is a shame, since they’re not only delicious, and easy to prepare, but also very versatile. Fava beans shine in salads, and pastas, as well as on pizzas.  The also, as I demonstrated the end of the video, make for a wonderful spread.

By the way, the ingredient amounts below are pure guesses, since this is not the kind of recipe we're going to measure stuff for. Let your conscience be your guide, but remember what we're eating is inside that charred pod, so season generously.

Fava beans should be readily available this time of year, especially at farmers markets, where they tend to be much cheaper that your high-end grocery stores. Regardless of where you find them, I really do hope you give this great bean, and even better technique a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 large or 4 small portions:
2 pounds whole fava beans
olive oil, as needed
2 lemons
1 tablespoon kosher salt, divided
3 whole, peeled, bruised garlic cloves
red pepper flakes to taste
2 tablespoons freshly sliced mint leaves

- Grill over high heat for about five minutes per side, or until the pods are soft and charred, and the beans inside are just tender.

WARNING: Some people have an allergy to fava beans. Make sure you don't.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hilah’s Happy Hour featuring Chef John’s First Podcast

That’s right, I did a podcast! Which, come to find out, is a great way to learn what those are. It’s basically like listening to the radio, only more complicated. Anyway, I appeared on Hilah’s Happy Hour, with the lovely and talented Hilah Johnson.

As you’ll hear, she does most of the heavy lifting in this free-flowing interview, but you'll also get a few behind-the-scenes tidbits from me, as well. I had a lot of fun doing it, and invite you to follow this link to check it out on her blog, as well as check out her highly entertaining recipe videos. Enjoy!

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