With these last few posts on cooking for groups, it occurred to me that I should post one of my go-to, fabulously easy, always-gets-raves main course that serves a lot of people.  East Carolina barbecue, called pulled pork here up north. When I arrived at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, from Cleveland, Ohio, in the 1980s I knew the word barbecue to be a verb. You did it on a grill. As a noun, it meant a gathering to eat food cooked on a grill—it was something you had, something you invited neighbors to. But on the drive back from a place called Jugtown (to get there we’d gone through a town called Whynot, with a church named after the town; loved that), we stopped at what looked like an actual shack in the Read On »

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The mission was this. Make nine great dinners for a big group, but create menues simple enough so that I could get a morning’s worth of work in (ie justify 10 days in Key West) and not freak out at 4 pm. One of the first issues is what to cook food in, the vessels. So a valuable tool was the above Lexan tub which I borrowed from my friendly neighborhood restaurant, Fire (thanks Doug!); the immersion circulator was a huge help (I need to do a post on what lessons from this device that apply to home kitchens without one). I also had two huge pots for boiling green vegetables.  After making sure I’d have the right tools, I planned the main proteins, a few of which I either made in advance or ordered. Read On »

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Wow, what an amazing glimpse into what people are eating.  A lot of stir fries, a lot of curries, pastas, pot roasts, and eggs, American and international.  There are so many ideas in the previous post I feel like I should do something with them, make them more accessible. Of course, people who read this blog are people who care about food and who love to cook already. My goal has always been to encourage people who don’t cook, to know that cooking is not as difficult as people too often think it is.  All these great suggestions are more proof of this. Thank you all for reading and posting and sharing your meals. I’m currently in Key west cooking for a gang of sailors, big family meals, pots of beans and Carolina barbecue, a Read On »

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I’ve written about pastrami short ribs, and love them because they’ve got the perfect meat-to-fat ratio. But ever since the arrival of a Big Green Egg (planning a review soon), I’ve wanted to do a proper pastrami, which is essentially a corned beef brisket, coated with pepper and coriander and smoked (the result above was perfect—look at that awesome fat). While I’ve published the corned beef recipe from my book Charcuterie, I haven’t really talked about smoking strategies at home. I recommend two different methods: stove top and in a kettle grill. Stove-top smoking is easy with an inexpensive ($43) Cameron smoker. I bought one a few years ago and it works great for bacon and would work great for this brisket. Briskets require long low heat though, and this is tricky on a stove Read On »

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By far the best meal of the summer was our crab boil during our week in Ocracoke.  And like many “best” meals, it was unplanned, a surprise, a gift we were smart enough to take advantage of.  Donna has pals from her native Port Washington, NY, who have houses here, one of whom owns a popular restaurant on this lovely barrier island off the coast of North Carolina (a ferry-ride away from Cape Hatteras). So she found us a swank house on the water where we and friends and Donna’s sister and nieces could frolic. In the grass beside the house was an old crab pot. In the house was my sun-averse pal Lester. In the fridge, was a beef heart. As the sun set, Lester lowered the trap, stuffed with beef heart trim, into the Read On »

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