(First published in Finesse, Thomas Keller’s superb magazine, earlier this year.) In the 1970s, the egg was bad-for-you food in America. After being a mainstay of the human diet for millennia, doctors here decreed that the cholesterol-laden yolk clogged arteries and resulted in heart attacks. Eat an egg if you must, nutritionists warned, but only in limited quantities. And after 30 years of telling us to avoid eggs and order up those egg white omelettes, the American Heart Association changed its mind—oops!—and declared that eggs, like an unjustly punished child, could once again return to the dining table. As I began to write about the egg, I realized the egg fatwa was no isolated event. Indeed, it came to symbolize for me what was wrong with the way we think about food and how we let others decide what we eat. Read On »

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  It’s bacon time again! I don’t know why but I’ve been getting a lot of bacon questions in my email recently, so thought I’d address a few issues I haven’t before. Of course, I’ve long commented on the fact that curing your own bacon is no more difficult than marinating a steak. Mix all the ingredients together and put them in a plastic bag with the meat. Use the recipe below. The aromatics, the bay leaves and everything else below can be considered optional. But there are other strategies. You could make a brine if you feel more comfortable with that. For those of you concerned about reaching the right salt and pink salt levels, you could use a technique called equilibrium brining, which I first read about in Nathan Myhrvold’s Modernist Cuisine. To Read On »

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  Another dish I love from Ruhlman’s Twenty, is perfect for early spring when the nights (here at least) are still cool. I love it for its counter-intuitiveness—boiled beef tenderloin? Actual poached to rare and served in cooking liquid flavored by the root vegetables (celery and beef are always a great pair). But what makes this dish special is the lemon vinaigrette, seasoned with garlic, cracked coriander seeds (it’s fine to leave some seeds whole, as they give an intriguing crunch and flavor burst), and the amazing umami ingredient, fish sauce. I began making a version of this in the early 1990s after reading a similar recipe in The New York Times, but I can’t seem to find it. It’s important to use fresh beef stock; anything else would ruin the elegant flavor and texture of the Read On »

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Reposting this method because, well, just the name of the dish is inspiring: butter-poached shrimp. Butter-poached shrimp and grits. Mmmm. Butter-poached lobster, not uncommon in French haute cuisine, was popularized in America by Thomas Keller in The French Laundry Cookbook and at that restaurant. “Lobster loves gentle heat,” he told me then. It’s not much of a leap for the thrifty-minded cook to reason that shrimp, too, love gentle heat. That’s why, in the butter chapter of my book Ruhlman’s Twenty, I showed how to use butter as a cooking medium (one of the many amazing ways butter can be used as a tool). This dish is absolutely killer. The shrimp stay very tender, rich and tasty with the butter; the grits are then enriched with the shrimp butter. Leftover butter can be used to saute shrimp Read On »

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  This is one of my favorite bistro staples, which I feature in Ruhlman’s Twenty. The recipe uses a classic red wine vinaigrette. Pairing it with a member of the onion family, abundant shallots, results in a great bistro dish, the preparation showcases the power of red wine vinaigrette to illuminate cooked cold vegetables. The quality of the vinegar is critical, so its worth buying a good one. The vinaigrette can also be made with a good Spanish sherry vinegar.   Leeks Vinaigrette Serves 4 4 large leeks or 8 small leeks 1/4 cup/60 milliliters red wine vinegar 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 1 tablespoon honey Kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper 3/4 cup/180 milliliters canola oil 1/4 cup/170 grams minced shallots 4 hard-boiled eggs, yolks and whites finely chopped 1 tablespoon sliced fresh chives Trim the roots Read On »

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