Month: July 2018

Special Sauce: Author Rick Bragg on His Mom, the Best Cook in the World

Special Sauce: Author Rick Bragg on His Mom, the Best Cook in the World

[Photograph: Michael Lionstar. Cornbread photograph: Vicky Wasik] We don’t often get a chance to have a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist on Special Sauce—Jonathan Gold was the first—so I jumped at the chance to have Rick Bragg, one of my favorite writers of all time, on the […]

Why You Should Keep Instant Dashi in Your Pantry

Why You Should Keep Instant Dashi in Your Pantry

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik] One of the biggest stumbling blocks home cooks encounter as they try to diversify their culinary repertoire isn’t acquiring the unfamiliar ingredients they need—it’s figuring out how to get the most use out of them. This is one of the reasons we […]

Got Leftover Grilled Meats? These 8 Recipes Will Help You Use ‘Em Up

Got Leftover Grilled Meats? These 8 Recipes Will Help You Use ‘Em Up


[Photographs: J. Kenji López-Alt, Morgan Eisenberg]

I don’t fire up the grill all that often, so when I do I try to make it count. That means cooking up mountains of beef, pork, chicken, and just about anything else I can get my hands on. As a result, I usually end up with leftovers, and a grilled steak just isn’t the same the next day, but with a little know-how, yesterday’s feast can taste just as good today. From a Japanese-inspired cold steak salad and smoky barbecue beans to pork fried rice, keep reading for eight of our favorite recipes to make the most of leftover grilled meat.

Steak and Corn Salad With Salsa Verde

[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

You can try to reheat leftover steak, but you’re just going to end up overcooking it. A better option is to thinly slice and serve it cold, in this case with grilled or broiled corn and a Spanish-style salsa verde made with pickles, capers, anchovies, fresh parsley and mint, and lots of olive oil.

Get the recipe for Steak and Corn Salad With Salsa Verde »

Cold Steak Salad With Cucumber and Ponzu-Mustard Vinaigrette

[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

This cold steak salad is inspired by tataki, a Japanese dish of thinly sliced seared beef served with shoyu ponzu, a soy- and citrus-based dipping sauce. Our recipe takes rare or medium-rare steak and pairs it with thinly sliced Japanese cucumbers, scallions, and a ponzu vinaigrette. The yuzu juice used in a traditional ponzu is pricey, so we cut ours with lemon and lime juice.

Get the recipe for Cold Steak Salad With Cucumber and Ponzu-Mustard Vinaigrette »

Steak Carpaccio Salad

[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Carpaccio is traditionally made with raw beef, but rare leftovers make a delicious version too. As with Niçoise salad, serving carpaccio as a composed salad makes for a pretty presentation but a subpar eating experience—we prefer to toss the arugula and red onion in a caper-studded vinaigrette before topping with beef and Parmesan so that every bite is perfectly balanced.

Get the recipe for Steak Carpaccio Salad »

Grilled Chicken and Cabbage Salad With Creamy Tahini Dressing

[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

With the right technique, grilled chicken breast can be remarkably juicy when served fresh, but even perfectly grilled chicken will be pretty dry the next day. To breathe new life into the meat we massage it with olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic and toss it with a tahini-based dressing. Shredded red cabbage and tons of fresh herbs add crunch and brightness to further revitalize the leftovers.

Get the recipe for Grilled Chicken and Cabbage Salad With Creamy Tahini Dressing »

Smoky Barbecue Beans

[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

You can make a great pot of barbecue beans with bacon, but it will be even better if you used leftover smoked meat (beef, pork, and turkey all work wonderfully). These aren’t sweet, molasses-laden beans—we lean to the savory side with onion, celery, garlic, paprika, cumin, and dried red chilies. The most time-consuming part of the recipe is letting the beans soak overnight, but if you have a pressure cooker you can skip that step and make the dish in two hours, from start to finish.

Get the recipe for Smoky Barbecue Beans »

Cornbread-Coated Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese Wedges

[Photograph: Morgan Eisenberg]

Even a relatively small pork shoulder can feed a dozen people, so any time I make pulled pork I end up with enough leftovers for several days. When I’m feeling lazy I’ll crisp it up carnitas-style, but if I’m in the mood for a project I turn to these over-the-top mac-and-cheese and pulled pork wedges. To make them we layer cold macaroni with pulled pork, jalapeños, and extra cheese, cut it all into triangles, dip in cornbread batter, and fry until golden brown.

Get the recipe for Cornbread-Coated Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese Wedges »

Leftover-Lamb Sandwiches With Tapenade Mayo, Watercress, and Caciocavallo Cheese

[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Who doesn’t love a good leftovers sandwich? This one takes leg of lamb and layers it with tangy caciocavallo cheese, briny tapenade-spiked mayo, and spicy watercress on crusty toasted bread. We developed this sandwich to be made with roast lamb, but grilled lamb will work just as well.

Get the recipe for Leftover-Lamb Sandwiches With Tapenade Mayo, Watercress, and Caciocavallo Cheese »

Quick and Easy Pork Fried Rice With Corn and Shishito Peppers

[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Fried rice is my favorite way to use up leftovers—just about anything in the fridge can find a home in this versatile dish. This version is made with corn, shishito peppers, and whatever pork you have around (our coke- and pineapple-glazed ham would be perfect). As with all fried rice, be sure to cook in batches to keep the wok as hot as possible.

Get the recipe for Quick and Easy Pork Fried Rice With Corn and Shishito Peppers »



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The Shrimp Industry Is Dirty. Can New Farming Technology Clean It Up?

The Shrimp Industry Is Dirty. Can New Farming Technology Clean It Up?

[Photographs: Emily Dryden, unless otherwise noted] America has a shrimp problem. We eat more shrimp than any other kind of seafood, and, for many of us, it’s the only seafood we consume. It’s easy to understand why: Shrimp is sweet, versatile, and, thanks to massive […]

Pesto alla Trapanese (Sicilian Pesto With Almonds and Tomatoes) Recipe

Pesto alla Trapanese (Sicilian Pesto With Almonds and Tomatoes) Recipe

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik] Pesto alla trapanese is Sicily’s answer to Liguria’s more famous basil-rich pesto sauce. They have a lot in common, as both are full of fresh basil, nuts, garlic, olive oil, and cheese. But where Ligurian pesto uses pine nuts, this one uses […]

How to Make Pesto alla Trapanese, Italy’s Tomatoey Pesto

How to Make Pesto alla Trapanese, Italy’s Tomatoey Pesto


A bowl of pasta with pesto alla trapanese, topped with Parmesan cheese

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

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Pasta

Essential techniques, recipes, and more!

Everyone knows pesto, the bright-green basil and pine nut sauce from the Liguria region of Italy. But what many don’t realize is that pesto comes from the word for “crushed” in Italian—as in, crushed to a paste with a mortar and pestle—and there are other pesto sauces out there. The second most famous pesto sauce in Italy? It’s arguably pesto alla trapanese, the version made in the Sicilian city of Trapani. It has a lot in common with the Ligurian pesto—it’s rich with nuts, basil, olive oil, garlic, and cheese. But the nuts are almonds, not pine nuts, and there’s an additional ingredient that transforms the sauce into something even lighter and more refreshing: tomatoes.

It’s quite possible that the similarities between the deep-green pesto of Liguria and this creamy Sicilian one with a pinkish tinge aren’t accidental. Most accounts claim that centuries ago, sailors from Genoa, the capital city of Liguria, would stop in port cities like Trapani during their voyages, and share their recipes while there. The sauces indeed have enough in common to make this story more than plausible.

But it’s still important to remember that sauces pounded with a mortar and pestle predate recorded history, so there’s a good chance the Sicilians were already making something at least somewhat similar before the sailors of Genoa ever landed there. After all, they had the garlic, the cheese, the basil, and the almonds; surely those ingredients had been pounded together in some combination at one point or another. Once tomatoes arrived from the New World in the late 15th century, it was only natural they’d get tossed into the mortar as well.

Like Genoese pesto, pesto alla trapanese is a fresh pasta sauce, and you want to keep it that way. That means that instead of finishing the pasta in the sauce over heat, as we do with most pasta dishes, these pestos need to be tossed with the pasta (and some of the starchy pasta water) off the heat. This coats the pasta in the sauce and forms a creamy emulsion, but avoids giving it a cooked flavor.

As mentioned above, this sauce is traditionally made using a mortar and pestle, and, as my own pesto tests have shown, that really is the superior tool to use for such sauces—crushing the ingredients, instead of chopping them, creates a sauce with better texture and flavor. That’s the ideal, but, of course, our lives don’t always allow for that. Sometimes we’re short on time. Sometimes we’re tired. Sometimes our arm is in a cast for six weeks (or maybe that’s just me?). When we can’t put in the elbow grease, blitzing everything in a food processor is just fine.

When working with a mortar and pestle, the goal is to crush everything up, mashing the garlic, almonds, and basil to a paste. The almonds should be blanched, meaning their skins should be removed. You can buy already-blanched almonds and save yourself the trouble, or you can blanch them yourself at home. It’s an easy process that involves soaking the nuts for a few minutes in boiling water, then slipping off the skins. If you can find them, Sicilian almonds, such as the pizzuta d’Avola variety, are a great choice here. They have a more bitter and intense, fruity, cherry-pit flavor that lends a lot more character to the sauce.

Making pesto alla trapanese with a mortar and pestle: crushing first garlic, then blanched almonds, basil, and tomatoes

Once the base paste is made, you can begin to pound in the basil leaves. Almost every recipe I’ve seen, including many from Italian and Sicilian sources, call for basil, with the option of tossing in a mint leaf or two (either directly in the paste or as a garnish on top of the pasta). Strangely, Marcella Hazan, in her book Marcella Says…, writes that the correct herb in Trapanese pesto is mint, but she is the only source I’ve been able to find, in either English or Italian, to claim this. I’m sticking with basil (with a couple optional mint leaves tossed in), since that’s what everyone else uses, but if you want to try the sauce as she does, entirely with mint, there’s no harm in playing around.

Crushing tomato into pesto alla trapanese, drizzling olive oil into the pesto

After that, in go the tomatoes, which should be peeled and seeded first. The flesh alone adds quite a bit of moisture to the sauce, so seeds would make it downright watery. To finish the sauce, work in some olive oil and grated cheese. The cheese is traditionally a pecorino, but Pecorino Romano is really too salty and spicy for this sauce. Since that’s the most commonly available pecorino cheese, your next best option is to use a 50/50 blend of Romano and Parmigiano-Reggiano, the latter of which will help soften the pecorino’s sharp edges.

Saucing a bowl of pasta with pesto alla trapanese, mixing with tongs, adding pasta-cooking water, adding olive oil

To finish, cook the pasta, then toss it into a large serving bowl with most of the sauce, adding some of the starchy pasta water to help emulsify everything and prevent it from becoming too dry. You can always hit the pasta with more olive oil and fresh cheese, plus another spoonful or two of sauce on top.

Two bowls of pasta with pesto alla trapanese, topped with grated cheese

To be honest, between the classic Ligurian pesto and this one, I’d pick Trapanese pesto any day. It has all the same herbal and nutty flavors, but they’re tempered by the fresh and fruity tomato. This is my ideal summertime pesto, and maybe this summer it’ll become yours, too.

A bowl of pasta topped with pesto alla trapanese



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The Best Prime Day Deals on Cookware, Kitchen Tools, and Gadgets

The Best Prime Day Deals on Cookware, Kitchen Tools, and Gadgets

Amazon’s annual Prime Day is here—and with it comes a dizzying amount of deals. Which is why we’re here to help you sort, filter, and score some great discounts on our favorite kitchen essentials. That means we’ll only be featuring items that our culinary team […]

Peruvian Causa Is the Ultimate Potluck Casserole

Peruvian Causa Is the Ultimate Potluck Casserole

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik] If there’s one dish that most Americans really should know but don’t, it’s causa. It’s everything Americans love—mashed potatoes, tuna (or chicken, or some similar) salad, and potato salad—all compressed into one easy make-ahead casserole. It could be the ultimate all-American potluck […]

Causa (Peruvian Cold Mashed Potato Casserole With Tuna or Chicken) Recipe

Causa (Peruvian Cold Mashed Potato Casserole With Tuna or Chicken) Recipe


[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Causa is one of Peru’s most popular dishes, a cold casserole that’s part mashed potatoes, part potato salad, and part mayonnaise-y salad with a meat like tuna or chicken. It’d be the perfect American potluck dish, if Americans knew what it was. This recipe gives the option of using homemade or store-bought aji amarillo paste (made from a Peruvian chili pepper), and either tuna or chicken meat.



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Fresh Pineapple Syrup Recipe | Serious Eats

Fresh Pineapple Syrup Recipe | Serious Eats

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik] Fresh pineapple is a luxury of its own, so make the most of it by putting the core (and eyelets) to good use in this fresh, no-cook syrup. The acidic juice in the fruit scraps is more than enough to dissolve the […]