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The Drink of the Gods: An Introduction to Pulque

The Drink of the Gods: An Introduction to Pulque

[Photographs: Naomi Tomky] More Mexican Food Recetas deliciosas to transport your tastebuds south of the border. “What is more Mexican than pulque?” Arturo Garrido Aldana asks me this question over the din of the crowd at Pulqueria las Duelistas, his century-old pulqueria located in Mexico’s […]

Special Sauce: Doug Crowell and Ryan Angulo on the Importance of Kindness (and Salt)

Special Sauce: Doug Crowell and Ryan Angulo on the Importance of Kindness (and Salt)

[Photograph: Liz Barclay. Pancakes photograph: Vicky Wasik.] On this week’s Special Sauce, Doug Crowell and Ryan Angulo talk a lot about a lot of things, including their cookbook, the aptly titled Kindness and Salt: The Care and Feeding of Your Friends and Neighbors. I asked […]

Forget Winter With This Bright and Citrusy Chicory Salad

Forget Winter With This Bright and Citrusy Chicory Salad


Overhead shot of radicchio salad

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

Whenever people tell me they hate winter, I think of the argument about having a dark side from the opening scene of When Harry Met Sally. Most people dislike winter in a casual Sally Albright way. Then there are those of us in the Harry Burns camp who dread it constantly. I may not read the last page of a book first, but I do start complaining that the days are getting shorter on June 22. In the fall, when most people are enjoying the foliage and pumpkin-spiced-everything vibes, I am in full House Stark mode, warning anyone who will listen that winter is indeed coming. Once the fleeting joy of the holiday season comes and goes, things get very bleak, especially when it comes to cooking with fresh produce.

It’s easy to get lost, staring into the invernal abyss of beets and parsnips. There are, however, a couple of winter treats that can help pull us all back from the edge: chicories and citrus. Other than late-summer tomato season, this is my favorite time of year for salad-making. I love working with varieties of bitter radicchio and endive, pairing them with bright and acidic oranges, mandarins, or clementines.

The following salad is one that I recently made at home, and while it’s delicious as is, its ingredient list is adaptable rather than prescriptive. The main idea for this kind of winter salad is balancing bitter with sweet, while adding freshness, acid, a little heat, and some texture.

Ingredients for radicchio salad

When shopping for produce, I think it’s best to be flexible and go with whatever looks best at the market. The past couple of weeks my local supermarket has had some fantastic Trevisano in stock, so I used that. But conventional radicchio or red endive would work as well.

Removing pith from mandarin segments

It’s hard to beat the juiciness of satsuma mandarins, but if you can’t find them, any other mandarin orange will work here. I use satsumas twice in this dish—juice goes into the vinaigrette, and whole peeled segments are tossed into the salad to give bright pops of sweetness. I take a little extra time to scrape away the white pith from the mandarin segments with a paring knife for cleaner mouthfeel and a prettier look. This is obviously optional, but I think salads should be made with care.

Ingredients for vinaigrette

The only other ingredient that I went out of my way to pick up for this salad was a little ricotta salata cheese, but you could easily swap in a funky blue cheese or aged pecorino. The other ingredients I pilfered from my fridge and pantry. Adding fresh herbs to salads is a great way to use them up before they rot and liquify in the bottom of your crisper drawer. Toasted shelled pistachios bring some fat and crunch to the dish.

Whisking vinaigrette together

For the vinaigrette, I combine satsuma juice with red wine vinegar, minced shallot, and two slightly nonconventional pantry ingredients—Calabrian chilies and pomegranate molasses. Keeping your kitchen stocked with flavor-packed pantry items like these makes it easy to throw together a meal or spruce up a standard salad dressing. Whisk in some olive oil and you’re good to go.

Dressing salad with vinaigrette

Dressing and assembling the salad is a breeze. Always dress in a much bigger bowl than you think you need. I start with just the Trevisano in a large mixing bowl, and drizzle half of the vinaigrette along the sides of the bowl, rather than dousing the leaves themselves. This makes it easier to control the coating on your salad ingredients without drowning them in dressing.

Tossing salad

Use your hands (squeaky clean of course) to dress, toss, and coat rather than tongs or wooden salad utensils. After seasoning the radicchio with salt, I arrange half of the leaves in an even layer in a serving bowl. Push the remaining Trevisano to the side in the mixing bowl, and add the mandarin segments and parsley leaves. I lightly toss them in the residual vinaigrette at the bottom of the bowl before layering half of them on top of the radicchio in the serving bowl.

Close-up of finished radicchio salad

Keep the tarragon separate and undressed; it’s so delicate and wilts down quickly when coated in dressing and will just get stuck to the bottom of the mixing bowl. Scatter half of the pistachios, ricotta salata, and tarragon over top, before repeating this layering process once more with the remaining ingredients. Dig in and forget about winter, even if just for a moment.

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Trevisano Radicchio Salad With Satsumas, Pistachios, and Calabrian Chili Vinaigrette Recipe

Trevisano Radicchio Salad With Satsumas, Pistachios, and Calabrian Chili Vinaigrette Recipe

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik] Winter is generally a bleak period for produce, but there are a couple of seasonal outliers that aren’t root vegetables and are worth celebrating: citrus and Italian chicories. This salad balances the bitterness of Trevisano radicchio with sweet satsuma mandarins, ricotta salata, […]

Vicky and Stella: A Serious (Eats) Love Story

Vicky and Stella: A Serious (Eats) Love Story

[Videos: The Serious Eats Team, Photographs: Vicky Wasik] At the Serious Eats office, there’s one thing we all know: Vicky and Stella are platonic soulmates. Can it feel a little exclusive? Sure. Are they the office cool girls? Pretty much. Do some of us wish […]

Stock Up On Your Meats: D’Artagnan Is Having a 40% Off Flash Sale Today

Stock Up On Your Meats: D’Artagnan Is Having a 40% Off Flash Sale Today


Few things make us happier than a fridge (and freezer) full of meat. Several months ago we stumbled across a sale over at D’Artagnan and did some serious stocking up. This particular writer has been feeling a bit stressed that her sausage, steak, and venison piles are starting to dwindle. Luckily, an email came in this morning letting us know that there’s another flash sale—a whopping 40% discount on a wide selection of fresh and frozen products—happening today only, and it ends at 9 pm.

So what should you get with this sweet, sweet discount? Might we recommend some gorgeous Moulard duck breasts (to make this) or tasty charcuterie to mix up your cheese board? There’s also a lovely porcelet rib rack—and if you want to get something totally out of the ordinary, go for a whole suckling pig. Then roast it and send us a picture.

Happy shopping and meat-stockpiling! And be sure to check out all of our recipes to help you tackle your proteins like a pro.

Take me to meat heaven »

This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Serious Eats. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.



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Easy, Peasy, Japanese-y: Benihana and the Question of Cultural Appropriation

Easy, Peasy, Japanese-y: Benihana and the Question of Cultural Appropriation

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik] I love Benihana. It isn’t the food that does it for me; not the USDA Choice steak and certainly not the chicken (though I’ll admit I’m a sucker for shrimp of any kind, for Benihana’s bad dipping sauces, for the mushrooms that […]

26 Chocolate Dessert Recipes for a Sweet Valentine’s Day

26 Chocolate Dessert Recipes for a Sweet Valentine’s Day

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik] I don’t usually put a lot of time into dessert, but Valentine’s Day is an exception—the holiday just isn’t complete without something sweet. And when it comes to Valentine’s desserts, nothing beats chocolate (some on our staff even claim it has aphrodisiac […]

Potatoes Cooked in Brown Butter: So French and So Clean

Potatoes Cooked in Brown Butter: So French and So Clean


Overhead view of bowl of brown butter new potatoes with a ramekin of crème fraîche.

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

Almost every Christmas, my fiancée and future in-laws travel to France for a week to visit family friends, eat some good food, and exchange New York’s “I’m walkin’ here” charm for Parisian eye rolls and ennui. This past December I got to tag along for the first time. My last visit to the City of Lights was in the summer of 1998, right after Les Bleus won their first World Cup. Over the past two decades, I’ve tried to stay in peak croissant and foie gras–eating condition, but it’s not easy when you’re not in the thick of it. I was excited to get back to the big leagues.

I spent the weeks leading up to the trip putting together a dining itinerary that my fiancée described as “aggressive.” I prefer to think my plan to fit in as many meals as possible was enthusiastic. Between boulangerie runs, neo-bistro prix-fixe lunches, wine-bar cheese snacks, and a couple tasting-menu dinners, we ate a lot. Someone has to make sure restaurants and charcuterie shops stay in business during the Whole30 time of year, right?

One of the best things I ate didn’t come out of a professional kitchen or cheese case, though. It was a simple side dish prepared and served by the family friends who hosted us—impossibly small new potatoes cooked in brown butter, sprinkled with sea salt, and served with a dollop of crème fraîche. Before I go any further, I’d like to say that I am always skeptical of travel pieces that romanticize some home-cooked meal the writer was served by a kind, old nonna who took them in and taught them how to make tortellini. I promise this isn’t that kind of deal; these potatoes are just ridiculously tasty.

Close-up of brown butter new potatoes with chives.

I couldn’t stop eating them. Despite being bathed in brown butter, they weren’t greasy and didn’t induce an instant food coma like Robuchon-style pomme purée—another French potato and butter concoction. I wouldn’t go as far as to agree with the Parisians at the table who kept saying that this was a très léger (very light) meal—especially not after a whole wheel of Vacherin was brought out for pre-dessert—but I guess everything is relative. As with my favorite kind of roasted potatoes, these “light” ones were overcooked in just the right way and had that same creamy softness when you bit through their crinkly, butter-coated skins, complemented by the crunch of fleur de sel.

Potatoes cooking in foaming butter.

I began quizzing our host for her recipe while we were still at the dinner table. She was happy to give me the main plot points of the process, but she didn’t whisk me away to the kitchen to give me that travel-writing anecdotal moment. She explained the potatoes were cooked from raw, entirely in demi-sel (lightly salted) butter, uncovered, and on the stovetop. While the dish is simple, she warned me—in that impossibly French, I-just-woke-up-this-way manner—that many of her friends had tried to recreate these potatoes and failed. Paris is definitely the birthplace of the humblebrag.

A Few Good Ingredients

Side view of ingredients for brown butter new potatoes.

Quality of ingredients is the biggest challenge in recreating simple dishes like this one back here in the States. Sourcing high-quality produce, meats, and staple ingredients has become a lot easier over the past few years here, but it’s just a different ballgame compared to shopping in France. When I began working on this recipe, I wanted to see how much the quality of ingredients mattered, and tested potatoes cooked with different types of butter and salt.

Most butter here in the States has a fat content of 80%. In France, on the other hand, butter must have a minimum fat content of 82%. Some American dairy companies make butter with a higher fat content and label it “European style.” European-style butter is almost always more expensive. As Stella would tell you, these two can’t just be swapped out for one another in baking, and after testing with both styles for these potatoes, I would say the same applies here.

Three different kinds of butter.

I found European-style butter produced potatoes with richer, more complex flavor than versions cooked with commercial American butter. That said, the potatoes cooked in standard butter were still delicious, and for that reason, I chose not to call specifically for European-style butter in the recipe. Whichever type of butter you use, I recommend going with unsalted.

I tested with a few different kinds of salted and semisalted butter, and it’s much harder to control the salinity levels in the dish when using butter that is already seasoned. You are better off seasoning with salt yourself. I like using a slightly coarse sea salt like fleur de sel, which is fine enough to meld in with the butter while the potatoes are cooking, but it also has enough texture to provide crunch as a finishing salt. If you don’t have any of that around, kosher salt will work.

As for the potatoes, use the smallest new potatoes you can find. You are looking for uniform, bite-size spuds. If they are all over the board in terms of size, it’s trickier to cook them all at the same rate.

I like infusing the butter with standard aromatics like thyme sprigs and a couple of garlic cloves, but that’s totally optional. Other than that, all you will need are chives for garnishing and a little crème fraîche for dipping. Essentially, these are classic American baked potatoes that did a semester abroad in Paris. Fortunately, they won’t drone on about their favorite arrondissement, and you get to eat them.

Trust the Process

Swirling a saucepan with potatoes and butter.

The cooking process itself is incredibly simple. I start by melting a stick of butter (very light, remember?) over medium heat in a saucepan. Rather than letting the butter brown first, I immediately add the potatoes. They need to cook, and the butter will have plenty of time to brown.

As the butter begins to sputter and foam, I swirl and stir the potatoes, making sure they are arranged in a single layer in the pan for even cooking. Once the butter turns golden brown, I turn the heat down so that the milk solids in the butter don’t scorch, and I add the aromatics to the pan. This is butter-basted steak for vegetarians.

Process shots of cooking new potatoes in butter on the stovetop.

The butter just needs to be gently bubbling. From there, it’s just about going low and slow, gently cooking the potatoes and turning them occasionally, so that they cook and brown evenly on all sides. While the potatoes cook, you’re free to work on the rest of your meal. This would be a great dish to pair with a steak or a seared piece of fish, as you can use the brown butter as a sauce for your protein as well as the potatoes. Just balance everything out with a bright salad.

Testing potatoes for doneness with a paring knife.

Once the potatoes are completely tender (they should offer no resistance when you test them with a paring knife), take them off the heat but keep them in the saucepan. I found that if I pulled the potatoes right out of the butter when they were tender, they hardened up at the center. Allowing them to cool in the brown butter kept them soft all the way through.

Drizzling brown butter over cooked new potatoes.

Once they have cooled slightly, I use a slotted spoon to transfer them over to a serving bowl. This way, you can divvy up the brown butter as you wish. Use it as a sauce for your main course (feel free to brighten it up with fresh lemon juice), or just pour it all over the potatoes before sprinkling them with sea salt and chives. This is léger fare, after all.

This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Serious Eats. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.





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French-Style Brown Butter New Potatoes Recipe

French-Style Brown Butter New Potatoes Recipe

1. In medium (3-quart) saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add potatoes, a healthy pinch of salt, and pepper to taste. Cook, swirling saucepan and stirring frequently with a heat-resistant spatula while butter hisses and pops. Make sure potatoes remain in a single even layer […]