We’re back with another cooking lesson and Le Creuset giveaway! This time with my favorite cooking method: braising. Why is it my favorite? Because it so definitively expresses what real cooking is: transformation. Great cooking is about transforming something that would be unpleasant to eat into something exquisite. In my view, grilling a steak is not cooking, it’s heating. That’s not to diminish grilling steaks—one of my favorite activities and foods to eat. It can be done well or poorly, but it doesn’t transform food, which is what truly inspires me in the kitchen. To transform pork shoulder into a sausage is cooking. Whether caramelizing onions to develop their sweetness or toasting seasonings in a pan to grind and create a curry, that’s cooking. And braising, transforming tough cuts of meat into meltingly tender mouthfuls of Read On »

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  When I published Ruhlman’s Twenty last year, Rob Levitt, proprietor of an old-school butcher shop in the great meat city of Chicago called The Butcher & Larder, invited me to talk about technique while we made sausage and soup. It was so much fun and Rob, who happened also to be a graduate of the Chef Pardus school of kick-your-ass, was such a delight, I’m doing another Chicago event with him on Friday, October 19, at Floriole Cafe and Bakery, with my partner in Salumi, Brian Polcyn. (Details here on Rob’s site.) It’s a great pleasure to see people such as Rob and his wife, Allie, doing things the right and the good way. Making use of the whole animal, for instance (Rob, what the hell is a “chuck flap”? a “Paleron steak”? Want!). Read On »

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  I had an unstoppable hunger this past weekend for old-Chicago-style all-beef hotdogs from Vienna Beef, the best hotdog in the country in my opinion. I wanted that charred skin flavor of summer, the grill smoke from fat dripping on coals, the juicy snap when you bite into them. I decided to make buns. Why? Because, we were inviting friends (great food must be shared); I had a cool hot dog pan from American Pan; I had never made them before; and most important, the best hot dogs deserve special treatment. One of the great things about cooking is that you’re subliminally eating the entire time, a kind of calorie-free spiritual nourishment, and I was thinking about the hot dogs the whole time in the kitchen (with good mustard and minced sweet onion). Hot dog buns Read On »

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  My Dinner with Pardus Originally posted July 31, 2008 Do you have any veal hearts?” Pardus asked. The vendor, with happiness and surprise, said, “I do!” He pulled it out of the cooler and said, “How about five bucks?” “Sold!” What happens when a chef visits for the weekend? My old instructor and now close friend Mike Pardus (pronounced PAR-dus—some people think because he’s a chef, it’s pronounced par-DOO) visited recently. The main fact about Michael is that he is a cook in every fiber of his body, meaning, in part, that when he’s away from his work as a chef instructor at the CIA, when he can do anything he wants because he’s on holiday, he chooses to cook all day. Which is what we did. An impromptu meal, Cleveland style. The occasion Read On »

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In the same way you would never think to buy grocery store ground pork to make salami, why should you settle for grocery store ground beef—at least at times when you want to have a really great burger? I understand convenience, but I want to encourage people to grind their own meat. Read more below, in what is becoming an annual post Donna and I are on assignment in Italy and France. In the meantime, don’t forget that Salumi is coming out next month! —M.R. Originally posted on June 24, 2009 Hamburger Technique I published this post almost two years ago, at the end of summer—but a chance email thanking me for the technique dropped into my in-box today and I decided to put it up again at the start of grilling season. I’m not always real quick Read On »

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