Every good cook has a favorite, foolproof dish. Here, some of TV's top food stars share their most popular, fail-safe recipes, tested by millions of viewers, and tell the secret to their success.
Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Bravo
Allen says, "This recipe is for people who are afraid to cook fish. You just can’t ruin this dish: As long as you buy salmon fillets that are all about the same size, use a decent oven and pay attention, you’re going to be fine."
Nigella Feasts, Food Network
One-Pan Chicken, Sausage and Sage Bake
Lawson loves the flexibility of this recipe: "If you haven’t got time to properly marinate the chicken overnight in the fridge, then just let it steep in the roasting pan for a couple of hours at room temperature."
Emeril Live, Food Network
I make some of my best recipes with a simple homemade stock," Lagasse says. "Keep shrimp shells stored in a plastic bag in the freezer. When you have almost a gallon-bag full, you can make a stock in 30 minutes that you can use in soups and sauces. You can then freeze the stock in ice-cube trays and pop out what you need."
Great Food, PBS
Green Curry Chicken
This Thai curry is fragrant and spicy. The recipe makes an extra bit of the curry paste, which has a hit of Asian fish sauce for an unusual sweet-salty bite; it’s great for stirring into soups or simple stews.
Ciao America, Food Network
The best way to cook a big cut of meat like this T-bone is to bring it to room temperature first. That way, the beef cooks more evenly and the center won’t be cold if you cook the steak very rare.
Giada de Laurentiis
Everyday Italian, Food Network
The easiest, tidiest way to make these skewers is to lay out the chunks of fish and pancetta in a neat line on a cutting board. After soaking the skewers in water, push them through the pieces.
Barefoot Contessa, Food Network
When Garten demonstrated this recipe on television, her live audience was so happy with it that she describes them as "face down on the cake." The secret is coffee in the batter as well in the frosting, which brings out the chocolate flavor and keeps the cake from being too sweet.
Paula’s Party, Food Network
The Lady’s Mac and Cheese
I have a lot of secret uses for sour cream, which is the magic ingredient in my mac and cheese," Deen reveals. "It’s an old-timey, Southern version, and the sour cream makes it that much creamier. Oh, it’s so good!"
Simply Magic, Discovery Home
Day-old rice that has dried out a bit in the refrigerator is ideal for this dish by Kylie Kwong. When the rice gets stir-fried with the other ingredients, it absorbs all of the delicious flavors and becomes appealingly sticky.
Jewish Cooking in America, PBS
To make the stuffing for her Cornish hens, Nathan says, "Just sauté the vegetables briefly: You want them a little bit crisp, but not too crisp. And you could use matzo instead of challah."
Roker on the Road, Food Network
Spicy Beef Chili
People don’t think to make chili in the summer but I make it to put on top of hot dogs," Roker says. "That’s the secret to a good chili—its versatility. In fact, you want to make it ahead of time and let it sit in the refrigerator for a day because that helps the flavors in the chili meld."
Mexico One Plate at a Time, PBS
Chilaquiles are corn tortilla chips in a simple, brothy tomato sauce with a little chile in there for heat," Bayless says. "But play around with the recipe for some variety. Add chicken or red onions—all the different things can easily dress it up."
Web Exclusive: Martin Yan
Martin Yan’s Chinatowns, PBS
"I always tell people to plan ahead. If you spend time getting ready, then when you’re actually cooking, boom! You can do things fast. But for most people, the ratio of preparation time to cooking time is only about one to five. You have to prepare," says Martin Yan.