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With all this talk about the home cooked meal with family—is it an elite foodie construct, a romantic ideal that make parents, moms in particular, guilty, or a source of spiritual calm and power in an increasingly busy and chaotic world—I offer this story from Cleveland about the most important meal ever, originally published in the magazine Finesse.–MR The last meal I shared with my dad, a little more than 12 hours before he breathed his last, was burgers on the grill. He loved them, and he’d been grilling them for me well into adulthood. He couldn’t have been hungry, but he dutifully ate two bites of a loaded-up rare burger. It must not have been easy, and we—grandkids, ex-wife and daughter-in-law—complimented him. Straining to keep his eyes open, he said the burger was good. Read On »

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Just a quick reminder that I sign and personalize all my books on request. Just go to my books page, scroll to what you want, and click the “Buy a signed copy” button. We can guarantee before-Xmas arrival only if you order by the end of the day Monday, December 16. In the spirit of the holidays, and because I hate shipping charges, I am now offering FREE SHIPPING. But please, and this is really important, tell me who you want the book signed to by clicking the WHAT THE NOTE INCLUDED SHOULD SAY button before you hit the “pay now” button. Also, I’d like to GIVE AWAY a signed copy of Ruhlman’s Twenty AND The Book of Schmaltz to the first person who can guess my favorite 5-digit number. [Update: The winner was Melissa Fujimoto, Read On »

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For her high school graduation lunch last week, my daughter asked for my fried chicken. Normally, I break down a chicken into 9 pieces and cook it and serve it. But we’d invited friends, bringing our total number to 20. Fried chicken for 20 is different from fried chicken for four. I had no intention of spending all that time frying while hosting the lunch. But it wasn’t until we were seated and one of the guests, while biting into a juicy drumstick, asked, “You can do this ahead of time?” did I realize that I must, must post on this subject, to deepen our understanding and encourage more cooking of one of the greatest dishes in the American repertoire. Yes, this can be done the day ahead. Follow all the steps below, though you Read On »

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I can already feel Donna rolling her eyes. I’m like that, um, ham, who runs out onto a Broadway stage and flings out his arms … and then silence. Well, it is my theater here, and I don’t exactly sell tickets, and at least it’s not a political ad! Brian Polcyn and I are very proud of our new book, Salumi: The Italian Craft of Dry Curing, about how to make your own pancetta, guanciale, coppa, and other dry-cured wonders in the grand and ancient tradition of Italy. There’s a reason one of the oldest examples of early civilization still exists. Because everyone can do it, and because it’s delicious. Granted, not everyone wants a piece of meat hanging from the chandelier for three weeks, but for those demented and wonderful souls who do, this book is Read On »

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A lot of friends emailed me last month asking what I thought about the stink bomb Julia Moskin dropped on the cookbook world in her bitter account of chefs not writing their own books (or sometimes not even reading them). Then there was the dustup that followed—Paltrow histrionic with the Times, Regina Schrambling (indefatigable NYTimes gadfly) calling bullshit on it all, time.com weighing in decorously. So this is for my friends who asked. In Michael Symon’s book, Live to Cook, he includes a recipe of mine (naturally fermented pickles), and I wrote the headnote in his voice. How meta! The above photograph is by Deborah Jones, a different version of which appears in Ad Hoc at Home, by Thomas Keller. But wait, that’s Deborah in the picture (I am in love with her), so how did Read On »

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