Chicken that has been given an aggressive salting before roasting.

My new book, How to Roast, may have begun in Portland when a fellow scribe claimed that people no longer had time to cook and I called bullshit. And then at some point during my rant-cum-roast-chicken recipe I noted possible activities to while away the hour that the bird was in the oven. That was the beginning of this new book. But it was fueled by my conviction that the world doesn’t need more recipes, it needs deeper understanding of the fundamental techniques. Because when you know technique, you don’t need to rely on recipes and you don’t find yourself at 5 pm with hungry kids thinking, now what am I going to do? How to Roast is the first in a series of technique-based books. They’re short. They include only 25 recipes or so. Because we don’t Read On »

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A weeknight braise of chicken in red wine, coq au vin, photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

It was the simplest of observations. I’d never heard it made, but it crystalized for me yet another facet of America’s dysfunctional relationship to food. I was listening to a podcast of “This American Life,” maybe the greatest show on radio, one from the archives called “Americans In Paris,” and featuring still another American treasure, David Sedaris. One of the Americans interviewed by the show’s host, Ira Glass, noted the joy with which the French eat and said, “Americans treat their food like medicine.” Exactly! We eat what’s “good” for us. We avoid what’s “bad” for us without really knowing what is good or bad for us. We eat probiotic food, such as yogurt with active cultures because it may be good for our gut flora. We avoid gluten because that’s what’s trending now. Yes, trending, Read On »

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Pan fried chicken thighs. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

Two things of note here: the technique called pan-fry and the awesome chicken thigh. The latter should be your go-to chicken part. How and why chicken mongers can get away with selling the boneless, skinless chicken breast is beyond me. Then again, why anyone would buy skim milk is beyond me. I love bone-in, skin-on thighs but am delighted that the boned version is available as well. I recommend slicing it thinly for stir-fries, in chunks for chicken stews (curries, fricassee). It’s a well-worked muscle and therefore flavorful (and chewy); it’s also got some fat and is therefore juicy. Not long ago my son James, chewing on a fried chicken drumstick, wondered if we couldn’t have boneless fried chicken, so that he could, I imagine, revel in the unalloyed pleasure of fried chicken—crispy flavorful exterior, Read On »

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Here is an interesting recipe for a unpotpie pie, via White on Rice Couple.

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I was so delighted by the Kate Christensen recipe I’m making a version of it here that reflects my way of cooking. Is it a repeat? That’s part of the point—the best dishes in your repertoire are ones you do over and over. Indeed, Christensen wrote about it in a novel, and then wrote about it again in a memoir, and has made it for real herself, so it obviously bears repeating. As do all good recipes. And this one is not only supremely tasty and therefore a pleasure to eat, it’s also deeply nourishing, especially if you use your own stock. I was also intrigued by a few commenters who did not like the narrative recipe, a recipe without ingredient list and numbered steps, but with writerly flourishes—”fragrant brown spice puddle”—which of course I Read On »

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