I have cooked French food my whole life. I trained in France, worked there and have as much experience in that style as any other, if not more. In 1992, I started work at a French bistro in Minneapolis that for the longest time served the best onion soup I ever tasted. Here is that recipe. It's redesigned for the home cook in only one way: the stock. In the restaurant we were able to make a 72-hour veal stock that provided a backbone like no other for this French classic. If you want to be super-ambitious and love the crafty part of cookery, go for it and make your own. If you have access to a butcher shop or specialty market that sells frozen homemade stock (beef or veal) the recipe below works superbly. If you are using stock from a box, it won't have the flavor, texture or collagen/gelatin needed to make this soup a home run. That being said, I have made it with Swanson chicken stock on a hunting trip and it's still pretty darn tasty. SEE RECIPE »
This is one of my favorite clam recipes, the more Spanish version of clams casino. I think of it as the most likely progenitor of that steak house and country club classic. I never heard of this as a Spanish dish until I started reading Penelope Casas's books when I got out of college. Anyone looking for some lusty, good old-school Spanish food should read her books. Anyway, I have made this dish for a long time, with much success. When poaching the clams I use a half bottle of a light, crisp white wine with some diced celery, carrot and onion. I bring it to a boil before loading in the cleaned and scrubbed clams. Pluck them out as soon as they open or you risk toughening the little beauties. Strain the broth and use it for soups and stews; it's fantastically oceanic and sweet-salty. SEE RECIPE »
This foolproof crumb cake is so easy to make that my eight year old has better success with it than I do. I think it's because he follows directions better than me. I use a great streusel topping, because I am obsessed with streusel and it tastes so great on this cake. We make this all through apple season, but make sure you use apples suitable for cooking and baking. Many types of apples (McIntosh, for example) will just fall apart when cooked. You don't want that. Trust me. SEE RECIPE »
I have been keeping recipes in a folder my whole life. At first they were handwritten; then in my professional days I kept them in a set of notebooks; and now, in the digital age, they are on my laptop. I have been pretty obsessive about this for about 40 years now. I wish I knew where I first got the recipe for this insanely cool veal and squash Bolognese. I do know I fell in love with this delicious combination on a trip to Bergamo, the hilltop city in Lombardy, just north of Milan. I was with my father on my first visit to Italy in 1974, and one night we stumbled into a small little trattoria after driving a considerable way south from Switzerland and we just couldn't keep going on to Milan without dinner. I had squash ravioli with a meaty, sage-spiked, creamy veal sauce that night as a pasta course. The combination of flavors, an Italian classic, began to sneak its way into Italian restaurants in the late '70s in New York. I remember a squash and veal risotto at La Colonna in the early 1980s that blew my mind, and by the late '80s I saw plenty of dishes pairing noodles and veal and squash. I love this one above all, which is low on tomato, providing just enough for acidic balance. I can't imagine this won't become an instant favorite for you. And yes, it freezes beautifully and makes enough sauce for four or five generous portions of pasta (1 pound dried before cooking). SEE RECIPE »
This end-of-summer salad takes care of the biggest problem in my kitchen as August turns to September: what to do with all of my tomatoes. I serve lamb chops or grilled chicken right on top of this all the time so the elements here are all multipurpose. I often use the grilled lettuce technique elsewhere, and the tomato vinaigrette is perfect with shellfish or as a kind of sauce for just about anything that benefits from the bright acidity. The trio of grilled radicchio (I prefer the long-leaf varietal for this recipe), goat cheese and tomato is about as essential as it gets, focusing heavily on sour-salty-bitter-sweet. The first time I saw this dish was during a press tour, I am guessing about 25 years ago, by Sir Terence Conran in support of one of his books or stores. I was part of the team in New York City, making the food for a massive dinner celebrating his incredible influence on the culinary world and I was assigned to prepare one of his chefs to make this dish as a small course. I have been cooking it ever since. Paired with crusty bread it stands on its own, thanks to the cheese pairing, but it's also killer with something off the grill as part of a meal. SEE RECIPE »
The TV star and F&W contributing editor shares the best places around the world to try every single part of the chicken—from the head to the feet.
Bird Land, Tokyo Chef Toshihiro Wada's Bird Land tops my list for yakitori in Tokyo. Every part of the bird is served here, including the heart, a lean, tender organ that only takes a minute to cook over the superhot binchotan charcoal. Most people think of offal as too funky, but the heart is a great introduction to the odd bits: It's slightly chewy and takes on a nice char. ginza-birdland.sakura.ne.jp.
HEADS + NECKS
Va Villa, Mexico City At this stall in the Barrio Tepito district, heads and necks are fried in lard and then swaddled in salsa verde, queso blanco, shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes. Laid on top of crispy fried tortillas, they almost look like little chicks sleeping. Fray Bartolome de las Casas (West Of Aztecas), Barrio Tepito.
BUTTS (POPE'S NOSES)
Shilin Night Market; Taipei, Taiwan Walking through this market, you will bump into vendors grilling skewers of unusual chicken parts: unlaid eggs, feet and chicken butts, the flappy bit at the end of the animal where a huge nugget of fat holds the massive plume of feathers. Try any vendor; grilled hard, these chewy nuggets become a crispy, delicious bite and are my single favorite part of the chicken. Jihe Rd, Shilin District.
Chez Georges, Paris
My grandmother's chopped chicken liver has no equal, but Chez Georges's chicken liver terrine is close. Smooth, rich, fatty, minerally and dense, it has all the qualities I love in liver. Get extra bread. 1 Rue du Mail; 33-1-42-60-07-11.
New Lane; Penang, Malaysia
New Lane is the greatest street-food stroll in the world, partly because it's the only place to get these chicken wings—glazed with a sticky sauce of sugar, soy, rice wine, cinnamon and star anise. Look for a stall with the longest line of locals. Lorong Baru, Georgetown.
Kokekokko, Los Angeles The chefs at Little Tokyo's Kokekokko have yakitori down to a science. They also nail the art. Try skewers of non-traditional parts, like keel bones, the rubbery wedge between the chicken breasts. It has great smoky flavor and the perfect crunchy, yielding feel. 203 S. Central Ave.; 213-687-0690.
Bukhara, New Delhi One of the best restaurants in India, Bukhara serves richly seasoned, tandoor-cooked red-gold chicken thighs that are buttery, spicy and crisp in all the right places. Diplomatic Enclave, Sardar Patel Margs; 91-11-26112233.
Willie Mae's Scotch House, New Orleans Located in the Treme neighborhood, the restaurant is run by Willie Mae's granddaughter, who serves some of the best fried chicken. It's the only place where I ever order breasts, because frankly, it's one of the few spots that knows how to cook them. 2401 Saint Ann St.; 504-822-9503.
Husk; Charleston, SC Southern chefs aren't afraid of fat, so it makes sense that chicken skin shows up in a few different incarnations at Sean Brock's Husk (as a salad garnish or with pimento cheese). The absolute best use of the skin, however, is as an appetizer, where it's buttermilk-marinated and deep-fried. huskrestaurant.com
Scotchies Restaurant; St. Ann, Jamaica The chicken is bathed in a flaming-hot seasoning of Scotch bonnet peppers and spices. After a day in the rub, the birds are smoke-roasted on stacks of pimento wood. I ask for piles of legs and a coconut water. N. Coast Hwy., Drax Hall.
M. Wells Dinette; Long Island City, NY Inside the Museum of Modern Art's PS 1 outpost, this spot is renowned for Hugue Dufour's fat-on-fat Quebecois food. I always order the crispy and chewy buffalo-style chicken feet—drenched in hot sauce and, of course, maple syrup. momaps1.org
Eating noodles is a regular part of my kitchen life, and not just pasta. Japanese noodle dishes, especially soba noodles, are one of my favorite treats. I love eating cool and refreshing zaru soba in the warm weather months, and I have included my favorite hot noodle recipe as well. Making them requires having a few pantry items like dashi, (bonito fish and kombu—seaweed—stock) on hand. Any of the specialty items can be obtained at your local Asian market. SEE RECIPE »
I love Colorado mountain peaches in August, and I buy cases of them. So the question of what to do with all of that fruit means some serious jam and pie work, come August at the Zimmern house. I am not a baker, not a pastry dude at all, but this "from scratch" pie is simple and easy, and the dough is very forgiving for the first-time pie maker. After you make this once, it's a foolproof experience. Last piece of salesmanship: Let me add my favorite pie noun—streusel. Once again in case you were daydreaming: streusel. It just says it all. SEE RECIPE »
This is my weekend barbecue chicken go-to meal. It's got it all, and there is nothing better than grilled chicken, juicy and robust, with char where you want it, bursting with herbed intensity. The combination of methods (marinating, platform grilling, sauce on the side, etc.) layers flavor in a way that is hard to beat. SEE RECIPE »
This is one of my favorite dishes, made easy for the home cook. If you like a bolder, funkier flavor just add a little more toban djan (chile bean sauce). This superb all-in-one meal is a great way to use a small amount of meat to accent a vegetable. I adore eggplant and I make this dish all the time as part of a multicourse Asian spread or just by itself alongside a bowl of steamed white rice. The eggplants can be roasted, grilled or sautéed on one side. The idea is simply to cook them through and pour the sauce over them...and enjoy. SEE RECIPE »