The 40 Best-Ever Recipes from Food & Wine
Grand Marnier Soufflé
In the inaugural issue of Food & Wine, legendary chef Jacques Pépin shared his recipe for the perfect soufflé. The accompanying text asked, “why their awesome mystique? Popular mythology has banished them to the thin-aired Olympus of personal valets and private jets. Why does the idea of making one turn fearless kitchen lions into cowering lambs?” Pépin, who had recently published his tome of French cooking, la technique, and would go on become one of Food & Wine’s greatest contributing editors, was the perfect candidate to teach readers about “towering, golden-roofed, steamily fragrant” soufflés, giving detailed directions on everything from preparing the mold and the collar to beating the eggs properly. This ethereal recipe is as good today as it was in 1978, showing that some dishes are simply timeless.
Potato And Egg Pie With Bacon And Crème Fraîche
In February 1979, Paula Wolfert penned an article about great Alsatian chefs cooking their mothers’ food. Included was André Soltner, then the chef at the legendary Lutèce in Manhattan. Soltner opted to recreate his mother’s outstanding potato pie, which Wolfert said was “a simple thing, yet elegant.” It consisted of a flaky pâte brisée filled with thinly sliced potatoes, bacon, hard-cooked eggs, herbs, and crème fraîche. Wolfert noted how strongly Soltner felt while preparing the tart, with “pleasure and nostalgia plainly visible on his face.” The secret to the flaky pâte brisée is the single turn made with the dough in step 2. This is home cooking at its best, from one of America’s most revered French chefs. Soltner described the food of his native alsace as based on ”very good dry white wines and wonderful regional produce.” This pie makes a simple, elegant, and satisfying weekend lunch paired with a chilled bottle of alsace wine and a green salad. In a pinch, use a store-bought pie crust.
Poulet au Vinaigre
One of the world’s most celebrated chefs and a leader of the French “nouvelle cuisine” movement, Paul Bocuse was an icon. Bocuse’s irresistible chicken, cooked with vinegar, represented two big trends of the times: big, bold flavor (from the vinegar) and a focus on overall lightness, which Bocuse championed. With just a handful of ingredients and simple directions, this is a dish we have never stopped making. This version swaps fresh tomatoes for tomato paste, uses lower-acid rice wine vinegar in place of red wine vinegar, and significantly reduces the amount of butter.
Soboro Donburi (Gingery Ground Beef with Peas over Rice)
Long before rice bowls were in vogue, cookbook author and Japanese expert Elizabeth Andoh taught readers how to make donburi—a casual, working-class dish of meat and vegetables served over rice as a complete meal. This version, made with a seasoned ground meat sauté known as soboro, features ground beef, peas, and fresh ginger spooned over perfectly steamed rice. This hearty Japanese rice bowl features soboro, finely ground beef simmered in a soy sauce, dashi, and sake mixture. To simplify the recipe, Elizabeth Andoh suggests use water instead of dashi.
Poached Eggs with Red Wine Sauce
In the early years, F&W had a distinct French bent to it, especially in the recipes. Anne Willan, founder of the prestigious École de Cuisine la Varenne in France, expounded the virtues of cooking with wine and shared a recipe for classic oeufs pochés en meurette, a Burgundian preparation reminiscent of eggs benedict, with egg-topped buttered toast rounds. Traditionally the eggs for this dish are poached in red wine; it adds a bit of flavor, but the eggs take on a grayish-purple color. This version calls for eggs that have been poached in water, then assembled with the red wine sauce at the end. In her version, Willan used red burgundy to make a rich, glossy sauce studded with bits of bacon, which she spooned over the runny eggs. She didn’t insist on using Burgundian wine, but she strongly advised the cook: “if it is not fit to drink, it is not fit for the pot.”
Hakka Salt-Baked Chicken
Scholar of Chinese culture and cookbook author Barbara Tropp introduced F&W readers to the rich variety of China’s gastronomic regions, including that of the Hakka of southeast China. This is the most famous of Hakka dishes, a whole chicken that is baked in hot salt and emerges exceedingly juicy and not at all salty. Tropp explained that Hakka cooks have one hand in the north and one in the south; the northern hand reaches for garlic, ginger, and an extra shot of rice wine, while the southern hand opts for light-colored sauces and favors steaming over stir-frying. This chicken, while subtle, is served with bold dipping sauces, including a northern-style one made with plenty of fresh ginger. The quality of the bird is what makes or breaks this dish—seek out the best you can find. (Rose-scented rose dew liqueur, mei kuei lu chiew, is available in Chinese liquor stores, but the dish can be made without it.)
Ultimate Chocolate Mousse
To celebrate chocolate in its most delectable guises, we asked some of the best cooks—Julia Child, James Beard, Maida Heatter, and more—to share their favorite chocolate recipes. Craig Claiborne, who was the New York Times restaurant critic and one of the top food journalists at the time, shared his remarkable chocolate mousse, which could be reliably whipped up without tremendous effort. In his original headnote for the recipe, Claiborne says, “once in a rare while, I discover a formula for a dish that seems the ultimate, the definitive, the ne plus ultra. I am convinced that the finest chocolate mousse creation ever whipped up in my kitchen is the one printed here. As if you didn’t know, mousse means foam in French. This mousse is the foamiest.” The key to this recipe is to use the very best semisweet dark chocolate you can find—we like Valrhona. The better the chocolate, the better the mousse.
Before he was a television food mega-star, Emeril Lagasse made a name for himself as the chef at the legendary Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, arguably the city’s best restaurant at the time. Lagasse was a master of “haute Creole” cooking, a complex blend of Creole and Cajun with signature dishes such as baked redfish en papillote and bread pudding soufflé. (The soufflé is still on the Commander’s Palace menu today.) On a visit to New York City in 1984, Lagasse visited the F&W test kitchen and shared several recipes, including his shrimp Creole, a dish that stands proudly on its own when served over steamed rice, but which Lagasse used as an accompaniment to chicken-and-shrimp jambalaya. The spicy Creole sauce has layers of flavor built on a foundation of the Cajun flavor trinity— onion, celery, and green bell pepper—mixed with garlic and sautéed in butter until tender. The Creole sauce can be made through step 4 and chilled for up to 4 days, or can be frozen for up to a month.
Garlicky Braised Lamb Shanks with Sweet Peppers
Legendary chef Jeremiah Tower has been called the father of California cuisine, both as the chef at Chez Panisse in the 1970s then at his own magnificent San Francisco restaurant, Stars, where this lamb shank dish was first served. Rich, mellow, saucy, and supremely satisfying, it was a dish that caught diners’ eyes as it passed by their table, inspiring them to immediately order it for themselves. At Stars, Tower served the shanks with an aioli flavored with rosemary and mint, but we like to devour them as they are. Tower also advises using a heavy dutch oven just big enough to hold the shanks. The lamb can be braised a day ahead, making the meat extra tender and flavorful. The last-minute addition of fresh bell peppers injects a bright finish to the rich dish.
Deep-Dish All-American Cinnamon Apple Pie
Of the dozens of apple pie recipes published in the past 40 years, this is hands-down the best. It comes as no surprise that it’s the creative genius of pastry queen Rose Levy Beranbaum, who penned some of the most reliable baking books still on shelves today. This pie gets its intensely apple-y flavor from macerating the apples in sugar for an hour. The liquid drained from the apples is simmered with a hit of butter until a syrup forms. That rich syrup is mixed with the apples, piled into the crust, and baked until tender and delicious. The pie is excellent the day it’s made, but even better the next day. Interestingly, this pie was developed to be “slimmer, trimmer, but just as tasty” as its double-crusted counterpart. “bigger is not necessarily better, and neither is sweeter,” said Beranbaum. Not convinced? Try a slice. You’ll see.
Grilled Korean-Style Short Ribs
Twenty years ago, way before Korean food was mega-trendy, Los Angeles food writers Linda Burum and Linda Merinoff were singing the praises of kalbi, the flanken-cut beef short ribs typical of Korean barbecue. The short ribs are marinated overnight in a simple mix of sake, soy, sugar, garlic, and sesame oil. Cooked quickly on a hot grill, the juicy meat is tender with a satisfying chew. They make a stunning main course served alongside kimchi, lettuce leaves, and steamed rice. For the best results, ask your butcher to slice three or four ribs across the bone into 1/2-inch-thick pieces, and plan to marinate the meat overnight. The marinade is also delicious with chicken or pork.
In 1989, Binh Duong, a Vietnamese refugee turned chef, owned one of the buzziest Vietnamese restaurants in America, Truc Orient Express in Hartford, Connecticut. Jacques Pépin was a fan. So was F&W’s associate test kitchen director Marcia Kiesel, who wrote that Duong’s dishes had “a balance that appeals to the shyest or most cosmopolitan palate.” Exhibit A: His bánh xèo, crisp and lacy rice crêpes colored with turmeric and studded with caramelized onions, shrimp, pork, and bean sprouts. The Vietnamese name of the dish translates to “sizzling cake”—so called for the sizzling sound the batter makes when it hits the pan.
Baked Goat Cheese Salad
Alice Waters used to say that she would rather make salads than almost anything else, which explains how she is responsible for one of the most iconic dishes of the decade, her baked goat cheese salad. In its essence, it’s a harmonious blend of lettuces combined with softly baked thyme-and-breadcrumb-coated goat cheese, served alongside crunchy garlic croutons. As with so much of Alice Waters’ seasonal, ingredient-driven cooking, this simple dish is all about the quality of the raw materials. Waters once said, “Only the best is good enough.” So use the very best you can find.
Mom’s Citrus Meringue Pie
Legendary culinary historian, teacher, and author Jessica B. Harris has spent years documenting the foodways of the African diaspora. Harris contributed several articles to F&W in the 1980s and 1990s, including a piece on her Southern family’s traditions and heirloom recipes, inspired by her mother and two grandmothers. Of the three women, Harris said, “Each was representative of the major African-American culinary traditions that have marked America.” Her mother’s influence included a spectacular citrus meringue pie that uses fresh lemon and lime juices baked into a pastry shell made with fresh orange juice.
Seared Salmon with Summer Vegetables
No one will contest that Union Square Cafe was one of the defining restaurants of the early ’90s. Critics and diners were delighted by Danny Meyer’s devout attention to hospitality and couldn’t get enough of chef Michael Romano’s remarkable greenmarket-centric American-Italian food. Certain dishes defined the restaurant, including Romano’s seared salmon, which was one of the most popular items on the menu and one of the best recipes we ever published. The myriad vegetables in the recipe—corn, spinach, shiitakes, and tomato—sing of late summer. This recipe serves three to four as a main course and can easily be doubled.
The late, legendary cookbook author Marcella Hazan joined F&W as a contributing editor in 1992. Former Executive Food Editor Tina Ujlaki remembers that although technique mattered to Hazan, “taste trumped all.” Of all the wonderful recipes she created, our all-time favorite is this quick-cooking swordfish, where an oregano-infused sauce imparts bright flavor to hot-off-the-grill steaks. The secret is pricking holes in the fish so the lemony dressing seeps in.
Ham Steaks in Madeira Sauce
Julia Child was a longtime Food & Wine contributor—and a champion of ham. She feared most cooks outside of the South didn’t care much about the beautiful hunk of meat if it wasn’t breakfast, and she was determined to change that. For this recipe, she was inspired by a dish called jambon à la morvandelle, the signature dish of Alexandre Dumaine, one of France’s most famous chefs in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. “Although supermarket ham will do, real country ham will give you a dish more like Dumaine’s fabled creation,” wrote Child. Child called the dish, featuring ham steaks basted in a mushroom and Madeira sauce, one of her “fast entrées for fancy people.” She recommended serving them with steamed spinach and mashed potatoes.
There are as many takes on jerk chicken in Jamaica as there are cooks on the island, but most share the same method: Chicken is coated in a seasoning mixture dominated by spices and chiles, then grilled. This version comes from Paul Chung, a self-taught cook of Chinese-Jamaican descent who worked in the mail room at Food & Wine. It’s wonderfully spicy, smoky, and fragrant—everything you want jerk chicken to be. But what puts this one above all others? The key is including Chinese five-spice in the marinade: “This spark of cinnamon enhances the rich clove flavor imparted by the allspice berries,” Marcia Kiesel wrote. For best results, let the chicken marinate overnight, so the seasoning has time to thoroughly penetrate the meat. The chicken can also be roasted in the oven if desired.
Vegetable Hot-and-Sour Soup
Food & Wine often covered (and tried to debunk) diet trends, with columns on everything from avoiding carbohydrates in the 1970s to embracing healthy fats in the 2010s. In a regular column on low-fat cooking, chef and author Eileen Yin-Fei Lo shared her recipes for Chinese food and how to avoid hidden fat in marinades, sauces, and soups. Her Vegetable Hot-and-Sour Soup offers extraordinary depth of flavor from ginger, soy sauce, and sesame oil and layers of texture from lily buds, mushrooms, and bamboo shoots—you won’t miss the meat. Dried lily buds, also called tiger lily buds or golden needles, are nutritious and slightly sweet. In Chinese dishes, they are often used with the dried fungi known as tree ear, or wood ear, mushrooms. Although both add layers of chewy texture to this dish, they can be omitted.
Catalan Tomato Bread
The simple act of cutting a tomato and rubbing it on bread creates a magical bite. Pa amb tomàquet, a specialty of Barcelona that cookbook author Steven Raichlen shared, offers irrefutable proof that the best dishes are often the simplest. Assemble it in the kitchen, or provide your guests with garlic cloves, halved tomatoes, a cruet of oil, and a bowl of salt, and let them do the work.
Caramelized Black Pepper Chicken
Working with chefs and their recipes has always been inspiring, from the most challenging dishes to the simple ones that become instant home classics. We asked Charles Phan, executive chef and owner of The Slanted Door in San Francisco, what he liked to cook at home, and he shared this take on caramelized black pepper chicken, a sweet and hot Vietnamese dish. It comes together in just minutes using ingredients that are common kitchen staples.
Pizza with Smoked Salmon, Crème Fraîche and Caviar
Wolfgang Puck's insanely popular “designer” pies at Los Angeles’ Spago pioneered an anything-goes approach to toppings. One of his very first avant-garde creations, made with silky smoked salmon, crème fraîche, and caviar, changed pizza forever. In his original recipe, Puck called for black or golden caviar to top this delectable pizza. Today, sustainable, affordable caviar, like farmed sturgeon or salmon roe, makes Puck’s game-changing dish even easier to make at home.
Fried Chicken with Tomato Gravy
Chef Scott Peacock first met the venerable Edna Lewis when they cooked a fundraising dinner together in Georgia in 1990. The two shared a love for Southern cuisine and went on to forge a deep friendship, eventually publishing a book together called The Gift of Southern Cooking. Taste and authenticity were paramount for both cooks, and this spectacular fried chicken speaks to that. The bird is double brined; dredged in a mix of flour, cornstarch, and potato starch; and fried in a trinity of lard, butter, and bacon fat. Serve it with Lewis’ light, fluffy, irresistible biscuits.
Shrimp and Corn Chowder
We took a deep editorial dive into the islands, rain forests, and mountains of Ecuador in a 2001 article, and we asked chef and author Maricel Presilla of Zafra in New Jersey to give our readers the best examples of classic Ecuadoran food. Presilla shared her fantastic recipe for a coastal Ecuadoran shrimp soup made with grated plantain, which gives the soup a wonderfully light and creamy body.
Pasta with Sausage, Basil and Mustard
In matching spicy sausage with a creamy mustard sauce and fragrant basil, British cookbook author Nigel Slater created a quick pasta supper with warm, mildly spicy flavors, perfect for a cool fall or winter evening.
Chicken Tikka Masala
Big-flavored, creamy, and comforting, chicken tikka masala is the perfect gateway dish to Indian cooking. This version, from former F&W Senior Test Kitchen Associate Grace Parisi, is relatively easy to prepare— and highly addictive, thanks to the slightly spicy tomato cream sauce. (For many years, this was the most popular recipe on foodandwine.com!) The chicken does need to marinate overnight, so plan accordingly.
Breton Butter Cake
We got our first taste of kouign-amann, the irresistibly sweet and flaky pastry from Brittany in northwestern France, in 2004 from authors Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford, who traveled the world in pursuit of recipes. Making kouign-amann is not too different from making croissants, wherein butter is folded into a rich, yeasty dough, but here it melts and browns as it bakes, producing an aroma that’s both dreamy and homey. Kouign-amann also includes sugar, which creates crisp, golden caramelized bits that are truly impossible to resist. Duguid and Alford’s brilliant version is prepared with store-bought bread or pizza dough.
Antipasto Salad with Green Olive Tapenade
Nancy Silverton, the cofounder of Campanile and La Brea Bakery (for which she was named a F&W Best New Chef in 1990) and co-owner of Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles, is famous for her baking, but she’s also a master of Italian flavors. Case in point: this smart and delicious play on a classic antipasto plate. Shredded iceberg lettuce serves as the crunchy base for a salad made with creamy mozzarella balls (bocconcini), Genoa salami, peperoncini, and green olives. It’s one of those “Why didn’t I think of that?” dishes that hits all of the right notes.
Crispy Okra Salad
Is any other vegetable as polarizing as okra? Much maligned, it definitely falls into the love-it-or-hate-it category, and even the food-loving F&W team has some naysayers. But this method for preparing okra, where it’s sliced into thin strips and fried until crispy, sways even the biggest haters. Melissa Rubel Jacobson, former F&W Test Kitchen associate, says, “I hated okra, but I had never tried it like this before. It was a total eye-opener.” It’s the brainchild of Indian chef Suvir Saran, who first thought to cut the vegetable into strips and not rounds when he was just a kid. As an adult, he took it one step further and incorporated the crispy okra into a spiced salad with crunchy onions and fresh tomatoes.
Pan-Roasted Salmon with Tomato Vinaigrette
Whenever a recipe is tested at F&W, the team gathers round to sample and discuss it. This unassuming salmon didn’t really grab anyone’s attention while it sat on the table, but once it was tasted, everyone paused and quieted. It was disarmingly simple but perfect. To make it, Ted Allen, TV personality and host of Food Network’s Chopped, sautéed sweet grape tomatoes with capers, shallot, and cumin, then spooned the bright, chunky sauce over crisp salmon fillets. It’s easy and quick and makes the quintessential weeknight dinner.
Tiki Snack Mix
As the modern craft cocktail scene continued to blossom, tiki cocktails were especially popular, and it seemed only fitting that there should be the perfect cocktail mix to snack on while downing a mai tai or a Singapore Sling. Former F&W Senior Associate Recipe Developer Melissa Rubel put together this irresistible mix of soy-and-honey-glazed peanuts, bacon, and chewy pineapple, combining Polynesian flavors in every bite. The mix is an addictive complement to just about any drink—and the go-to snack mix for F&W parties.