In preparation for Thanksgiving, America’s biggest home-cooking day, I’ll be addressing a few of the most common issues and frequently asked questions about the basics: roasting turkey and making gravy. Friday, I’ll be introducing an innovate and  in my opinion the best possible way to roast a whole turkey (it involves a dual method and resulted last year in Donna’s saying, “This is the best roasted turkey we’ve ever had.”) But first things first: make turkey stock now so that you have it on hand to make gravy. I don’t know where we got the idea that a roasting turkey results enough juices to make gravy. It doesn’t. And you certainly want to have way too much gravy on Thanksgiving so that you have leftovers. My favorite day-after meal is hot turkey sandwiches, smothered in Read On »

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When I introduced our offset basting tasting saucing spoons, we showed clips of my basting roast cauliflower (above, photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman), numerous people asked me how to I cooked the caulflower.  And just today, Ted Allen said in an email he’d roasted plenty of cauliflower but never thought to do it whole, loved the presentation it would make.  Indeed, it can be roasted cut or whole.  Cut cauliflower cooks faster and there’s a lot more surface that gets browned (it’s what I do when I forget to start the whole cauliflower in time).  But cooking it whole is easier, and it looks so cool while it’s roasting and does make a tantalizing presentation at the table.  Either way, roasted cauliflower is a great dish, either as a side dish to a bigger meal 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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  Even James, the guy who handed me a bag of 20 pig ears, gave me a funny look.  “What do you do with ‘em?” It’s not obvious, even to farmers, not in America. It wasn’t obvious to me till I had my first one several years ago at Michael Symon’s Lola, fried crispy on the outside, gelatinous and chewy on the inside, their richness offset by the sweet-sour heat of pickled chillis. Michael said he’d had a similar reaction when he’d first had one from Mario Batali. Where did Mario first have them? “The ears were a prized part of eating whole suckling pigs on weekend lunches in Segovia, Spain, near where we lived in Madrid throughout high school,” he said in an email yesterday. “I’ve  lived for ears and cheeks ever since!” How Read On »

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Last April, I wrote a post about leaving stock out on the stove top claiming that it would be safe to eat provided that you brought it to a simmer before eating. Indeed I’ve been doing this for a decade with no ill effects. On twitter and on the post itself, I received voluminous responses. One response, from a large-animal veterinarian, noted that it was entirely possible for heat-stable toxins, not bacteria, to persist, making the stock unsafe. I revised the post with the vet’s valid warnings with links to the CDC’s warnings on the particular bacteria. But the response was so strong, I suggested in an email to NYTimes food section editor Pete Wells, that this would be a great story.  I’ve left stock out on the stove top for up to three days Read On »

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