Fried chicken, done right, is one of the best things to eat on earth. It’s all about the proportions—crunchiness: juiciness: chewiness: savoriness. And this ratio hits golden proportions with the wing, lots of crunchy peppery surface area and sweet succulent meat. The study of fried chicken began for me in 2007 during discussions, observations and eating with chef Dave Cruz at Ad Hoc in Yountville, CA, as we worked on the book Ad Hoc at Home. While Ad Hoc’s method of flour-buttermilk-flour is not unique, their trial and error experimentation with various methods (including sous vide), proved to them and to me, that this method is indeed superlative. That was 2007, and I’ve since fried a lot of chicken. My recipe is in Ruhlman’s Twenty. I think it’s better than the one in Ad Hoc (I Read On »

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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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One of hard things about writing books is that they are in constant flux and then they are permanent. Thanks to the organic nature of blogs, I can make amends. When I was at the Culinary Institute of America, one of my best and favorite teachers was Eve Felder, who taught Garde Manger. She was the Cheshire Cat of chefs, perched high on stacked stools, who taught us that “Cooking is alchemy, cooking is magic!” And she was right. Righter than I knew, in fact. I’m heading to her native city, Charleston, South Carolina, and so she’s been on my mind. When I wanted to do a butter-poached shrimp for Ruhlman’s Twenty, I naturally wanted to pair it with grits. Who did I call for grits finesse points? Chef Felder. In the editing process of Read On »

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I did two promotional videos for my new book, one a general description of the book (love that that one has a shot of Donna photographing, and one about an idea I thought people might call me out on. Even my recipe tester/organizer/overseer, Marlene Newell, had issues with this. Can food be a technique? I say it can. A technique is an action that has multiple applications. So while yes, an egg is an egg, it’s also an emulsifier, a leavener, a binder, and enricher. Therefore using an egg can be considered a core cooking technique. Knowing how to use salt, is one of the chef’s greatest assets. Learning how to think about these foods as tools makes you a better cook. Disagree? I’ve heard some gripes but nothing substantial. I’d love to read comments. Read On »

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Two years ago, Donna made a calendar of some of her favorite food shots. Last year she didn’t and several people complained. So this year she made one using some of her favorite shots from Ruhlman’s Twenty. I linked each one to one of the twenty techniques and also add some words about the technique and about the dish featured. The dates page includes process shots of the dish where there’s room. They’re printed on demand and shipped by Apple, so they’re a little on the pricey side. Sorry, but unless we wanted to print 10,000 of them they are what they are, $38 delivered. If you would like a copy of Donna’s Ruhlman’s Twenty Calendar, it works like her ratio chart. Here’s what to do: Go to paypal.com, an excellent and secure way to Read On »

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