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  1. Every now and then since December 2004, a good number of us have been getting together at the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off. Click here for the Cook-Off index. For our fifteenth Cook-Off, we're making chili. I'll admit that most cook-off dishes are inspired by compelling tales from eGulleteers, or particularly memorable dishes, or somesuch. This time around, it was the What is wrong with this chili thread that did it. In that thread lurks a recipe so utterly defiling that it forced me to do a cook-off to erase the Frankenchili from memory. Click, ye who dare. But chili seems a good cook-off dish for a lot of reasons. There's lots of secret tricks (peanut butter, cinnamon, baby arugula and fig jam ) to share; cuts of meat must be discussed; the great bean debate can be commenced, as can those devoted to rice, cheese, onions, sour cream, chocolate chips (I'm not kidding), and other toppings. Who knows: someone might actually post a vegetarian chili and risk ridicule from a Lone Star Stater! Finally and as always, the eGullet Society is boiling over with experts ready to share ideas and recipes for this dish. Start by clicking here,here,here,and here.We've also got RecipeGullet recipes here,here,here,here (purists beware),here (ditto),and here (double ditto). You got a beef about how chili must be made? Let's hear it! Get out the dutch ovens and crock pots, people! And if anyone wants to take a crack at the Frankenchili, we're all dying to know!
  2. Every now and then since December 2004, a good number of us have been getting together at the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off. Click here for the Cook-Off index. For our seventeenth Cook-Off, we're making sausages. Wait! Come back!! I think sausages get a lousy rap. There are many, many bad sausages around, ones that include animal body parts that even Fergus Henderson won't eat, and as a result a lot of folks here probably don't incorporate them into their diet regularly. But they're perfect for a cook-off, and here's why. Your effort is rewarded amply, because you can make a huge batch of sausages in roughly the same amount of time it takes to make a small batch, and most sausages freeze with ease. You don't really need any fancy equipment; indeed, you can make patties instead of links and "grind" the meat with a chef's knife or cleaver. Of course, there are more kinds of sausages than you can shake a link at. If you look at the list below, you'll see that there's a wide variety of pork-based European (and some Chinese) sausages explored in the eGullet Society forums. However, there are many kinds of sausages that aren't made with pork and that come from other cuisines. For example, I'm looking forward to making a new batch of sai oua, Thai sausage, in the next week or two, and I might take a crack at lobster sausages for a new years eve treat. Finally, sausages are one of the world's great foods. The snap of the casing, the flavor of the meat, the aroma of the seasonings, the lovely coating of fat on your tongue... once you start making your own, you'll begin to realize that there really is not limit to what you can make into sausages. Sausage fans should certainly check out Klink's sausage diary, days one, two, three, four, five, and (no typo) twenty four. There's also a great newer thread devoted mainly to cured European sausages here. There are other threads devoted to fat ratios in sausage, fresh Chinese pork sausages, a boudin making, equipment, sweet Italian sausage recipes, Nullo Modo's sausage-making party, and homemade sausage. There's even a previous sausage cook-off in the China forum. Finally, folks are cooking from eGullet's own Michael Ruhlman's new Charcuterie book here. So, all you sausage-phobes out there, remember that the purpose of a cook-off is to try to make something that you've never made before. As far as I can tell, sausage making is a bit precarious, but all the more fun because of that; I stress out about air pockets, while the gang curing their own get to worry about maggots and botulism. It's all part of what makes a cook-off great, though, imposing your anxieties on willing chums, right? Trust me: if you take a crack at making sausages from scratch, you'll never look back. Of course, we then need to discuss dishes in which to use them, so if you'd rather start on the bunny slope using storebought sausages, have at it! Let's get to grindin' and stuffin', folks!
  3. Every now and then since December 2004, a good number of us have been getting together at the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off. Click here for the Cook-Off index. For our sweet sixteenth Cook-Off, we're making potato pancakes. Sure, many of you make potato pancakes now and then, and you may be thinking that this is not a very special dish. Allow me to disagree! First, let's admit that we haven't had any Jewish cooking here in the cook-off before, and as Chanukah approaches (Dec. 25, 2005 to Jan. 2, 2006 this year) we have a natural opportunity to share latke recipes for that holiday staple. In addition, many folks get out the grater for holiday brunches and New Years Eve parties, since the potato pancake is a great party food as well. Finally, there are many versions of the potato pancake to be found throughout the spud-eating world, including Belarusian draniki, Boxti Irish pancakes, Swedish potato lefse, Polish kartoflane placki... the list goes on and on! Finally and as always, the eGullet Society has some folks ready to share ideas and recipes for this dish. Start by clicking here for a titanic latke thread, started by our own Steven Shaw, who has in fact been crowned as a latke king. You can also click here for a controversial discussion about whether latkes require potatoes. Truth be told, I'm not finding much on the others -- so we've got some work to do! Get your graters, skillets, and fats out, people!
  4. Every now and then since December 2004, a good number of us have been getting together at the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off. Click here for the Cook-Off index. For our thirteenth Cook-Off, we're making fresh and stuffed Italian pastas, including gnocchi. I would take a bit here and try to say some intelligent things about pasta in general, but I'm very happy to defer to my betters in the eGullet Society's Culinary Institute! Check out Adam Balic's Pasta around the Mediterranean course here, and click here for and the associated Q&A thread. In addition, Moby Pomerance has three eGCI courses: the first on stuffed pastas in general (Q&A here), and the other two on Tortelli, Ravioli & Cappelletti and Pansotti, Tortelloni and Raviolo. Of course, there are also lots of other related threads, including several on gnocchi like this one, this one, and this one; a few fresh pasta threads here, here and here; and a thread on pasta machines. So break out your Atlas hand-cranked machine (or, if you're like me, start to justify buying that KitchenAid mixer pasta attachment!), dice up a few heirloom tomatoes, and start cooking! No machine? Then you're on tap for gnocchi, my friend!
  5. Every now and then since December 2004, a good number of us have been getting together at the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off. Click here for the Cook-Off index. I think that T. S. Eliot was wrong: July, not April, is the cruelest month, at least when it comes to food. Many of us in the northern hemisphere are struggling with hot, humid conditions (conditions many of us in the southern hemisphere, especially those near the equator, tolerate year-round), and for folks in the U.S. the food-dreary holiday of Independence Day arrives soon. Who wants to be in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove, or out back, pushing lousy franks around a grill? (Of course, if you were in on the previous cook-off, you know the solution to lousy franks....) So, for our eleventh Cook-Off, we're going to chill out with ice cream, gelato, and sherbet. How you define those things -- dairy or no? egg custard or no? -- is entirely up to you. "But frozen treats require special equipment!" you say. Well, er... yes and no. If you're game, there are ways to make ice cream et al with buckets, ice, and salt; perhaps a few intrepid members will show us the way. However, a Donvier ice cream maker does a great job, is inexpensive retail, and is widely available on eBay and at your local thrift stores, flea markets, and yard sales. There's even a thread here devoted to inexpensive ice cream makers, as well as one devoted to machines that don't have those pesky frozen canisters. As you can see, those frosty eGulleteers have been doing some homework for us. We've got a thread devoted to ice cream recipes and tips, another concerning interesting ice cream recipes, the chocolate ice cream thread, another for sorting out ice cream making problems, one about sorbets and ice creams in general, even one on ice cream made from pig brains. There are also many, many sorbet threads and a few gelato threads, all of which you can find by clicking on the "Search" button in the top right of every window. So grab your cream or milk, fruit, chocolate, herbs, spices, and/or pig brains, and... Wait. On second thought, don't grab the pig brains. I don't even wanna know about that. So grab your cream or milk, fruit, chocolate, herbs, and/or spices and have at it!
  6. Every now and then since December 2004, a good number of us have been getting together at the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off. Click here for the Cook-Off index. For our twelfth Cook-Off, we're going to continue the cool food trend with composed salads. Ok, yes, another northern-hemisphere-centric cook-off: mea culpa. But even if you've been in the hazy, hot, and humid zone the last six or eight weeks, you surely can appreciate the pleasures of a good composed salad. Which is... what exactly? Well, Dave the Cook found this definition from The New Food Lover's Companion on the FoodTV website: That'll do for now -- but if you have a working definition of your own, please share! Unfortunately and unusually, our eGulleteer forebears haven't done too much research on our behalf. Save for a few threads on Waldorf salad, potato salad, and the like, there aren't too many topics devoted to our composed salad days. Whither Cobb? Nicoise? And what about the composed salad traditions in Thailand, Russia, and elsewhere? What should one drink with them? How should one serve them? Roll up your sleeves and get to steaming, whisking, chopping, and assembling!
  7. Every now and then since December 2004, a good number of us have been getting together at the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off. Click here for the Cook-Off index. Over the last few weeks, there are been two camps vying for particular cook-off dishes. On the one hand, those people in the northern hemisphere who are heralding the arrival of grilling weather are eager to have a cook-off on that grilling favorite, the burger. On the other hand, several people have been pushing meatloaf for the next cook-off, against the objections of the burger grillers, who don't want to heat up their kitchens with their ovens. (While I haven't heard from those in the southern hemisphere, I can imagine that a toasty kitchen might be just the thing as the days grow colder.) I hate such dilemmas between well-meaning, kind-hearted food folk, and I've been stalling about the tenth cook-off for a while now. But this past weekend, as I was grinding a chuck roast for burgers and had a couple of pounds left over, I heard a voice in my head.... Yes, as with many of my life dilemmas, I was freed from the blur of misunderstanding when I read Jinmyo's post in the Don't Make Fun of My Sandwich! thread. And I thought: what a brilliant idea! So! For our tenth Cook-Off, we're going to pick up Jinmyo's gauntlet and battle burgers versus meat loaf. Let's face it: both involve ground meat of some sort mixed with other ingredients (or none) and cooked until done (whatever that means). As we know from the sandwich thread above, many meatloaf acolytes enjoy a slab of their terrine between two slices of bread -- practically a burger, when you think of it. Of course, one of these versions of ground meat is clearly better than the other, and you must surely be in possession of a string of rigorously logical criteria that demonstrates the superiority of your own opinion. So make your case, not only in words but in pictures, through which you can show us all why burgers are best -- or, conversely, why meatloaf is most excellent! As always, we can thank our eGulleteer forebears, who have been struggling with this existential dilemma for some time. For burgers, there's the The Perfect Burger thread, a slew of threads in the regional forums on burger hunts, the Turkey Burger thread, and the How to Cook a Burger at Home thread. For meatloaf expertise, we have one meatloaf thread, another meatloaf thread, a Meat Loaf Sandwich thread, the best of the several Terrine threads, and the aforementioned "Don't Make Fun!" thread, in which both burgers and meat loaf are discussed.
  8. Every now and then since December 2004, a good number of us have been getting together at the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off. Click here for the Cook-Off index. For our ninth Cook-Off, we're going to be making Mole Poblano de Guajolote. If you're like me, you can't get decent mole poblano where you live; instead, you get the "Mexican" equivalent of Hershey's chocolate syrup, which is sure to make you wonder what the fuss is all about. But if you've ever had the rich, piquant, incredibly complex sauce made from dried chiles, spices vegetables, nuts, seeds, lard, stock, and chocolate... well, you're in for a treat. You're also in for an absurdly long list of ingredients and a substantial simmering time. But it's worth it, trust me -- and what other dish might get you seriously thinking about how delicious turkey is in May? As usual, our eGulleteer forebears have done a lot of good work for us. Here's a thread on mole poblano, a great tamale thread with Abra's mole photo essay, and a more expansive, and a bit older, mole thread. Starting researching recipes and sourcing ingredients people!
  9. Welcome back to our eGullet Cook-off Series. Recent Cook-Offs challenged our skills with Grilled Chicken, Gratins, Shrimp & Grits and Savory-Filled Pastries. (Click here for the Cook-Off Index). Today we’ll be launching eGullet Cook-Off 57: Bolognese Sauce. We've discussed Bolognese in the past here, but let's revist this classic dish and get into the heart,(with lots of discussion and photos), of one of the most traditional of all Italian sauces. Bolognese Sauce, (often called “Ragu” Bolognese), dates back literally hundreds of years to the 5th century when the Romans were in power. Yet the historical records as to who actually created Bolognese Sauce are somewhat sketchy. Even more unclear is the question as to what is the “definitive” Bolognese Sauce. The argument over the ingredients that go into a Bolognese is probably as deep as the complex, rich flavors of this classic sauce. As with many legendary recipes, there are literally thousands of variations of Bolognese-the meat, the vegetables, the spices, the “tomato” element and the pasta are all points for heated discussion and that’s exactly why we’ve chosen Bolognese sauce for our latest Cook-off. Along the way, I’ll be sharing a few suggestions for Bolognese from a James Beard Award-Winning Chef known for his expertise in Italian cuisine. Start scribing your shopping list and assembling your ingredients and let's get in the kitchen and cook some Bolognese Sauce.
  10. Welcome back to our popular eGullet Cook-Off Series. Our last Cook-Off, Hash, took us into a heated discussion of the meat of the matter--should it be chopped, hashed, sliced, diced, or chunked. Click here, for our Hash discussion, and the answers to all of your questions about this beloved diner staple. The complete eG Cook-Off Index can be found here. Today we’re launching eGullet Cook-Off 59: Cured, Brined, Smoked and Salted Fish. Drying fish is a method of preservation that dates back to Ancient times, but more recently, (let’s say a mere 500 years ago or so), salt mining became a major industry in Europe and salt was a fast and economical way of preserving fish. Curing agents like nitrates were introduced in the 19th century, furthering the safety and taste of preserved fish. Where I live in the Pacific Northwest, Native Americans have been preserving fish and seafood for millennia. While we are best known for our ruby-red, oily-rich, smoked salmon, other species of fish found in the Pacific and in our streams are delicious when cured and smoked including Halibut, Sablefish and Idaho Rainbow Trout. And don’t think that you can’t smoke shellfish, alder-smoked Dungeness Crab is a wondrous Pacific Northwest delicacy that evokes memories of crab roasting over a driftwood fire on the beach. Another method of preserving fish is to bath the beauties in a brine—a combination of water, sugar, salt and spices that adds flavor and moisture to fish before it is dried or smoked. And speaking of smoked fish, you can do it in a small pan on top of the stove, in a cast iron drum, a barbecue pit, an old woodshed or a fancy digital smoker. The methods and flavors produced by smoking fish are endless. Old-fashioned ways of preserving fish, (while adequate at the time), aren't always the best method today. Today's technology provides us with the tools to create cured fish that is moist, succulent, tender and with a hint of smoke. The Modernist movement has certainly played a role in bringing this age-old craft into the 21st century, so for the avant-garde in the crowd, show us your creative wizardry for preserving fish the "modern" way. Cured, Brined, Smoked or Salted, the art of preserving fish opens us up to limitless possibilities that transcend the boundaries of cuisine and culture. So let’s sew-up the holes in our fishnets, scrub the barnacles off the rowboat and set out to sea in search of some delectable fish to cure, brine, smoke and salt.
  11. Welcome to the 2013 kick-off of our popular eG Cook-Off Series. In 2012, our Cook-Offs ran the gamut from “Hash,” to “Cured, Brined, Smoked and Salted Fish,” onto “Banh Mi” and ending the 2012 season with a discussion of “Gels, Jell-O, Aspic.” (Click here http://forums.egullet.org/topic/143994-egullet-recipe-cook-off-index/ for the complet eG Cook-Off Index). I made a personal discovery during our “Gels, Jell-O, Aspic” Cook-off. I found a little metal Jell-O mold on a dark, back shelf in a kitchen cupboard. That little mold led to a cherished family memory and became the vessel that would hold one of the most delicious dishes I’ve ever crafted. (Click here http://forums.egullet.org/topic/143597-cook-off-61-gels-jell-o-and-aspic/ to read about the delicious jiggly dishes we created). Today we’re going to venture into the depths of a discussion about a sea-dweller that is so scary looking to some they refuse to eat the delicious little devils. The horrors of being presented with a steaming bowl of soup with little appendages peeking out. Join in and let’s put forth our very best “Squid, Calamari and Octopus” dishes. Knowing your passion for cuisine, I don’t expect to see squid rings coated in gummy batter and deep-fried to the point that they bounce on the floor like a rubber ball. No, I’m guessing we’ll plate some fabulous dishes that showcase the versatility of these unique creatures.
  12. We were wondering what a good next cook-off would be when Restaurants and Institutions posted this list of the Top 10 Most Googled Recipes of 2009. We compared it to our eG Cook-Off Index and realized that we'd hit most of those main dishes save one. So: Welcome to the latest eG Cook-Off 52, lasagna! We've had a few discussions on the dish (click here and here) but long ago. Given the poke from Restaurants and Institutions, it seemed an update was in order. I've often made both the bolognese & bechamel version as well as the Italian-American red sauce & ricotta, mozzarella, and parmiggiano version, and I love 'em both. I'm also a convert to using as many fresh ingredients as possible, most especially the pasta itself. With kids in the house, it's a fun dish to assemble, and they wolf it down. So is anyone up for some lasagna al forno?
  13. Welcome to eG Cook-Off 53, grilled chicken! (For previous Cook-Offs, check out the eG Cook-Off Index.) For such a ubiquitous summer protein, there have been few eG Forums topics on the subject. CDRFloppingham asked us to consider his grilled chicken dilemmas over in this topic, and there have been a few discussions about par-cooking chicken prior to grilling, a recent long one here and a brief excursion into the topic here (during the Cradle of Flavor topic). But parcooking is just the tip of the wing. Rubs or marinades? Gas or charcoal? Direct or indirect? Whole, spatchcocked, or parts? When do you add salt? Acid? Anyone want to drag the grill out and throw a few birds on it? Just keep your hands off the charred skin I "accidentally" pulled from that stray thigh....
  14. Welcome to the eGullet Cook-off 54: Gratins. Click here for the Cook-off index. Now that we're all battening down the hatches to wait out winter in our kitchens, it seems like a good time to consider the gratin. It's cold outside; the shops are filled with reasonably-priced root vegetables; and we can still kinda-sorta justify calorie-dense dishes that help us maintain our winter weights. Gratins are not something I knock out much in the kitchen, so I've had a look in my Larousse to get a starting point: Gratins have been discussed before, but we've never done a cook-off to properly get under the "skin" of this dish, if you will. RecipeGullet is full of recipes from our members: Fifi gave us Fifi's Favourite Eggplant Gratin; jackal10 contributed quick potato gratin a la dauphinois; Dave the Cook saw his quick potato gratin and raised it to a Really Simple potato gratin; and even Russ Parson's weighed in with his mushroom and spaghetti squash gratin. Shalmanese has asked about non-soupy cauliflower gratins; Chris Hennes has yearned to know why his gratin broke. Kim Shook just plain feels she's gratin-challenged. There's lots for us to discuss with regards to gratin: meat or vegetables? What kind of cheese? How about breadcrumbs? Do you use cream? Do you have a special gratin dish, or do you just use a casserole? Let's get layering. Allez gratin!
  15. Welcome back to our reknowned eGullet Cook-Off Series. Our last Cook-Off, Bolognese Sauce, led to a spirited discussion over the intricacies of the beloved Italian meat sauce. Click here for the complete eG Cook-Off Index. Today we’re launching eGullet Cook-Off 58: Hash, the classic American diner dish. Yet what appears as a humble, one-name dish is anything but ordinary. The difficulty in defining “Hash” is exactly why we’ve chosen it for a Cook-Off—simple definitions don’t apply when one considers that Hash is a dish that transcends regional and international boundaries. The ingredients one chooses to put into their version of Hash are limitless--we aren’t just talking cold meat and leftover potatoes folks. I for one, always thought Hash came out of a can from our friends at Hormel Foods, (as in "Mary Kitchen" Corned Beef Hash). It looks like Alpo when you scoop it out of the can, but it sure fries up nice and crispy. After a few weeks of research in the kitchen, I’ve experienced a new appreciation for Hash. So start putting together the fixins for your Hash and let’s start cooking. Hash, it’s what’s for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner.
  16. Welcome to the eGullet Cook-off 55: Shrimp & Grits. Click here for the Cook-off index. Let's just start with a shameful fact: until this moment, eG Forums has had no topic dedicated to making this classic southern dish. True, there's this rambly topic on the origins and particulars of shrimp & grits, and this one on a shrimp & cauliflower "grits" project by Chappie, and a couple dozen on grits basics. But nothing focused on preparing shrimp & grits. Perhaps this is because many think of it as a dish without need for specificity or even care. I mentioned to someone recently that I had to do some prep for a shrimp & grits dinner; he retorted, "How much prep is there?" I suppose you could toss some grits into boiling water, toss some shrimp into a skillet, dump B onto A and call it done. But that seems unfair, doesn't it? The grits below can be a simple foil for dolled-up shrimp, or they can be the luxurious star, creamy, cheese-y, and more. Additional ingredients, garnishes, and accompaniments vary widely, too. If you've had a top-notch version of the dish, you know it isn't just, well, shrimp & grits. Even this Yankee knows that it's good for what ail's you, late winter blues included. So let's see what your basic recipe is, and then you can show us what you do to kick things up a notch. So to speak.
  17. Cold Soups--Cook-Off XL eGullet Recipe Cook-Off Series Welcome to the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off! Click here for the Cook-Off index. From avocado to zucchini, cold soups know no bounds. And, with summer quickly approaching in the northern hemisphere, we thought it might be a good time to take a look at all the wonderful varieties of cold soups that work so well in the warmer months. After all, who doesn't remember that wonderful first slurp of an icy, spicy gazpacho? Or mixing your side of sour cream into a shockingly red borscht for a dish that is so much more than the sum of its parts. Perhaps yours was fancier, the potato and leek wonder known by its French name, vichyssoise...(and which, by the way, is also known as potage parmentier when served hot, according to Bernard Clayton, in his great primer The Complete Book of Soups and Stews; Clayton's book has 29 cold soup recipes - not bad). Stepping back in time, if you'll allow me to poach a couple of cold ones that I made last year, there's ample room for sweet as well as the savory. Strawberries make an awesome soup, or so I'm told. Cherries do too - just take a look below...this sour cherry soup was quite tasty, as well as a great vehicle for ice cream and sorbet ... Perhaps something a little more savory is to your liking...everyone loved cacik, a Turkish yogurt and cucumber soup, redolent with dill and garlic...though I may have served portions a bit too large - So, bring it on eG'ers - get out your blenders, hand mixers, food processors, chopping blocks, ice cubes, etc. and show us what's keeping you cool, at least in the soup department, this coming summer.
  18. Welcome to the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off! Click here for the Cook-Off index. A couple of days ago, we were trying to figure out a good cook-off topic for late April/early May, and someone suggested tacos. Shortly thereafter, Mark Bittman of the New York Times decided to weigh in with this article, titled "Sunday Morning, Yucatán:" Bittman shares three recipes, as well, for Taco Filling With Poblano Strips and Potatoes, Mushroom Taco Filling, and Nopales Filling. Meanwhile, over at Bon Appetit, Steven Raichlen writes about the food of the Yucatan, including, naturally, tacos. Finally, someone pointed out that the 5th of May was coming -- you know, Cinco de Mayo. So tacos it is: soft or hard, corn or flour, meat, fish, or veg. As always, we've got a few topics to get us started, including these on tacos al pastor, how to create a DIY taco stand, cabbage in tacos, and fish tacos. There are also tortilla recipes here and a reheating tortillas discussion here. From cheap on the low-down to gussied-up, tacos run the gamut. What are your go-to recipes? Any that you've been dying to try? You can do better than a big fast food chain place, even if you want that ground beef Tex-Mex style of taco. Let's get cooking.
  19. Welcome to the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off! Click here for the Cook-Off index. Perhaps the most internationally well-known food from Jamaica involves the spicy dry-rub Jerk seasoning, cooked in a 55-gallon drum converted into a charcoal grill, and served screaming-hot as street food across the island. While most of us don't have 55-gallon drums in our backyards, jerk-style meats (and even tofu!) are perfect for outdoor grilling, and (in a pinch) roasting for those without access to a grill. The recipes in RecipeGullet have the common theme of Allspice and Scotch Bonnet peppers, in addition to the inclusion of scallions, garlic, nutmeg, cinnamon, etc. We have a recipe for Jerk Chicken and for Jamaican Jerk Paste which it seems can be readily adapted to nearly any protein, with pork, goat, and chicken being the best-known examples. In addition, entire cookbooks exist dedicated to the subject—Jerk from Jamaica: Barbecue Caribbean Style, for example. Here on the eGullet Forums we have topics devoted to Jerk Chicken, Jerk Sauce, Jerk Pork, a discussion on the authenticity of using Soy Sauce in Jerk, and even some advice on Oil Drum Cooking. What is your "house blend" of Jerk spices? Soy Sauce included, or sacrilege? Doin' your thing over gas, or burning Pimento Wood, or living in an apartment with no grill and winging it?
  20. Welcome to the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off! Click here for the Cook-Off index. There was this rat, and he wanted to be a cook. When he finally made it into the kitchen of a Parisian restaurant, he needed some help coming up with a signature dish to impress the critics. So he sent his producer to stage a few days at the French Laundry, a little-known, out-of-the-way joint run by a guy named Thomas Keller. Keller had come up with a dish he called "byaldi," and with a bit of tweaking, handed over a recipe for Thomas Keller's "confit byaldi." Rat made it, critic was thrilled, everyone's happy. A little while later, this eGullet Society member, KarenM, prints out the recipe and makes this thing of beauty: Fortunately, there were many dozen grateful Heartlanders eager to devour the dish, which some of them called by its ancestral name: ratatouille. Ratatouille is the perfect late summer Cook-Off. Shockingly, we have only one topic dedicated to it, but it's a beaut. You'll find disagreements about whether ratatouille should be a jammy, stewy ratatouille or a discretely sautéed and layered dish. Advocates of Provencal authenticity face off against the fresh, clean, and bright brigade who know no region. And then there's that picky olive oil question. I'll admit that I've always hated ratatouille, which has been throughout my life the potluck dish I should avoid at all costs, so I'm game to figure out how to make something that doesn't suck. I also have no fear of the mandoline, if it comes to that. So where do you stand? Jammy goodness or definitive elements? Are you a Provencal stickler or a "what's ready in my garden" free spirit?
  21. Welcome to eG Cook-Off 46! Click here for the Cook-Off index. We spent the last Cook-Off perfecting french fries, delightful yet leaning toward the one-dimensional. This time we're shifting gears and making the multi-dimensional Mexican dish, enchiladas. The variations on enchiladas are endless-there doesn't seem to be one "definitive," classic, enchilada recipe. They can be filled with beef, pork, chicken, smoked duck, smoked turkey or steamed octopus. An enchilada might be slathered with melted cheese, sprinkled with queso fresco, or have no cheese at all. It seems as though the only thing that enchiladas have in common is that all versions are wrapped in some type of tortilla. There are lots of possibilities for saucing an enchilada, everything from what one finds in a can on the supermarket shelf to homemade salsas using dried chilies. And of course, the variety of dried chilies to use for the sauce -- from mild to devil hot -- is also endless. In her definitive Art of Mexican Cooking, Diana Kennedy describes the two methods for making enchiladas. In one, you lightly fry the tortilla before dipping it into sauce; the process is reversed in the other. For both versions, you then fill the sauced and fried tortilla and roll it up. Kennedy's enchiladas placeras are sauced with a garlic, serrano, and tomato salsa and then filled with shredded beef; her enchiladas de Santa Clara uses an ancho and garlic sauce and an egg and cheese filling (and sounds delicious). Enchiladas benefit from corny, lardy homemade tortillas but also can mask mediocre ones to good effect, and they are an excellent way to showcase a perfect salsa. The previous main enchilada topic can be found here. You can also find topics on making tortillas at home here and a pictorial topic on Making Mexican at home is here. I've eaten hundreds of enchiladas in restaurants, but I was never able to duplicate that "restaurant-quality" enchilada flavor at home. My tortillas were either mushy or were too cold and broke when I rolled them with the filling. I also didn't want to serve my enchiladas with the requisite mushy beans and marginal "Spanish rice." What would be a unique side dish for Enchiladas? And what tortilla recipes would best stand up to the abuse of enchilada manufacture?
  22. Welcome to eGullet Cook-Off XLIV! Click here for the Cook-Off index. We've just devoted a Cook-Off to braised brisket, and we're turning again to moist, well-cooked proteins for our next adventure: ossobuco. You will see it spelled a number of different ways out there, but Marcella Hazan refers to it as one word in her definitive Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, so I'm going with that spelling. No reason to argue with Marcella, after all. Ossobuco is braised veal shank, named after the "bone with a hole" that used to be attached to the hind shank of a calf. (Let's all agree to stick to veal, and not have, say, halibut ossobuco. ) The classic Milanese version includes vegetables, tomatoes, wine, and broth, and is served with risotto alla milanese, perfumed with saffron, and with gremolada. Some of the versions out there are a bit wacky. In particular, The Silver Spoon Cookbook simmers the 2" thick shanks for 30 minutes atop the stove. Given that Hazan has 1 1/2" shanks in a 350F oven for two hours, I'm pretty sure the SSC is a waste of good veal. Indeed, I'd think that a much lower oven for longer would work wonders. There are more things to talk about here than just braising temps and times! For example, many other versions of ossobuco depart from the Milanese approach. In her out-of-print More Classic Italian Cooking, Hazan provides the recipe for Ossobuchi in Bianco, the white referring to a sauce lacking tomato. In The Fine Art of Italian Cooking, Giuliano Bugialli offers ossobuco Florentine style, with peas and pancetta, and Lynne Rossetto Kasper's Italian Country Table offers a home-style version with mushrooms, favas or snap peas, and more intense flavors such as anchovy, sage, and rosemary. We have one short discussion of ossobuco here, and an even shorter one on wine pairings here. Indeed, as is often the case with Italian food, the best discussion is the one shepherded by Kevin72, the Cooking and Cuisine of Lombardia, which muses on on the dish's origins and execution throughout. I'm wondering a few things myself. Some folks say that braised veal cannot be reheated, unlike other dishes that benefit from a night in the fridge. I'm also wondering what other sorts of sides -- polenta, say, or the Italian mashed potatoes that Hazan suggests for the ossobuchi in bianco -- would work and/or are traditional. So who wants to welcome the new year with some bones with holes?
  23. Welcome to the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off! Click here for the Cook-Off index. As many of us in North America slog through the last bit of winter, time for a hearty and warming dish -- Feijoada. Reseach indicates that this is a Brazilian and Portugese dish of black beans and various pork products, although an old issue of Saveur (the Jan/Feb 2005 Top 100 issue) refers to a Feijoada de Polvo, an octopus stew. There are a few topics on eG about feijoada -- one is here and another one here. And, johnnyd made some beautiful looking feijoada during his foodblog. Scroll down in his blog to see the feijoda-making in progress, as well as the accompanying salad and cocktails. Get out those pots, start sourcing the appropriate black beans and pork products and let's make feijoada!
  24. Welcome to the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off! Click here for the Cook-Off index. It's getting cold in some parts of the Northern Hemisphere, and with the cold weather comes the craving for comfort food. So this time, we're going to try our hands at stuffed cabbage rolls. This is one of those dishes that my grandmother would say takes a lot of 'patskying' -- playing around. But it's worth the effort. RecipeGullet offers two recipes -- Russian Stuffed Cabbage and Holishkes aka Stuffed Cabbage. And there's a Stuffed Cabbage topic here. So, if you've always wanted to make stuffed cabbage rolls, now is your chance. What do you stuff it with? Lots of ground beef or pork, or just a little to season the rice? I want to know whether you steam your cabbage or do you toss it in the freezer? Are you in favour of raisins in the sauce? What about gingersnaps? Canned tomato soup or crushed tomatoes? Let's get rolling!
  25. Welcome to the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off! Click here for the Cook-Off index. As the first cool weather manifests itself, the quality of the ambient light changes. It stops us as we slog through the everyday world. The air we breathe takes on that crisp clarity that signals the end of Summer, and there is a mist at sunset. We find ourselves instinctively putting a pot on the fire. In France you would say it very simply: "Pot-au-feu." The simple concept of boiled meat and vegetables has probably been with us as long as people have cooked over a heat source. Each time a parent loads a crockpot with beef and vegetables before leaving for work in the morning, they are paying homage to the Pot-au-feu. The Pot-au-feu nets a wonderful meal and then generously provides a complex, but delicate, consommé (see our eGCI course, "Consomme") to be utilized for sauces and soups throughout the week. Enjoy the boiled meat and vegetables on their own -- a simple, straightforward, way of eating. Then, have a toasted slice of rustic bread, spread with the marrow robbed from the bone, and a bowl of broth. The "Pot on the Fire" is apparent no matter what point on the compass you look. In a traditional restaurant in Spain, you will find a Cocido Madriliano. In Italy, you will perhaps run across a fine Bollito. In the United Kingdom, one signature dish is surely the Scotch Broth. Then, there's the very good, old fashioned Yankee Pot Roast. Wherever you find it, the results of a pot on the fire are invariably described as "good" and "solid." Recipes are plentiful and varied. Every French cookbook dating back to the 1800's includes a variation on the Pot-au-feu. Molly Stevens features a great recipe in her book "All About Braising" that we explored here. Food writers from Escoffier to Julia Child to James Beard to Thomas Keller - all pay tribute to the Pot-au-feu. The ingredients are variable enough that you could probably find one that would be suitable for cleaning out nearly any fridge and freezer. So, let's pull out the stockpot or marmite, brush up on our braising skills in eGullet's eGCI Course and Lab on Braising and put it on the fire!
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