What Chefs Know Best: Lessons from the Pros
John Besh serves this lightly sweet, fruity white-wine sangria over plenty of ice cubes. "Use Viognier—it has a nice balance of fruit and acidity," he says.
Best Wines for Barbecue
"Wine is to barbecue what pickled ginger is to sushi—a palate cleanser," says Adam Perry Lang, author of the cookbook Serious Barbecue. "I like to drink crisp Riesling with my meat, like the 2007 Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica."
"I add lemon confit to so many dishes, from broiled fish to pork and beans," says Eric Ripert. He blends his lemon confit with butter to add a pleasantly pungent flavor to broiled snapper. Before broiling, he dots some of the lemon butter on the fish, then serves more lemon butter on the side. Lemon confit can be refrigerated for several months, but if you don't want to make your own, jarred Moroccan preserved lemons are a fine substitute.
Japanese Yuzu Paste
At New York City's Morimoto, Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto cooks with yuzu kosho, made with zest from the Asian citrus fruit yuzu, plus chiles and salt. It adds a spicy, nicely bitter accent to soups, salad dressings and even sashimi.
At Clio in Boston, Ken Oringer sprinkles Danish Viking Smoked Salt on cooked dishes for deep flavor and a little crunch. "A lot of smoked salts have hints of sulfur, but this one doesn't," he says.
Dried Seaweed Mix
David Chang of Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York City likes to sprinkle steamed fish with Wakame Chazuke furikake, a seasoning of dried seaweed and crispy rice. "It has all these crazy flavors and textures," he says.
Paul Virant of Vie in Western Springs, Illinois, uses his pickling liquid to flavor vinaigrettes. He also recommends the liquid from Rick's Picks Mean Beans: "It conveys the flavor of the beans as well as the pickling spices."
Panko-Coated Chicken Schnitzel
Thomas Keller of the French Laundry in Yountville, California uses panko bread crumbs to give chicken a crunchy crust. "Pounding chicken breasts to a uniform thickness cuts down on cooking time," he says.
Jessica Boncutter of Bar Jules in San Francisco considers eggs the ultimate convenience food: "Baking them with leftover braised meat or tomato sauce makes a great casserole."
Luxe Hors d'Oeuvres
To create a supersimple, ultra-indulgent party snack, Nancy Silverton of Los Angeles's Osteria Mozza spreads grissini (slim Italian breadsticks) with black-truffle butter, then wraps them in slices of prosciutto.
From Marc Vetri of Vetri in Philadelphia (left): Make a vinaigrette with olive oil, sherry vinegar, honey, chopped rosemary, salt and pepper. Drizzle the vinaigrette on sliced radicchio and top with shaved pecorino.
"My CookTek burners are quick to heat up, quick to cool down and very clean," says Tony Maws of Craigie on Main in Cambridge, Massachusetts." And they offer very consistent heat, so they're great for slow-cooked foods like stews." Maws uses the burners with metal pots by All-Clad.
"I treat soft-leafed herbs such as tarragon and basil like flowers," says Mark Sullivan of Spruce in San Francisco. "I trim the stalks and store them in vases at room temperature." Sullivan lays hard-leafed herbs like thyme in between barely moist kitchen towels and stores them in drawers.
Cheap Gadgets: Potato Masher
Andrew Carmellini, of Locanda Verde restaurant in NYC's Greenwich Hotel, uses his Oxo stainless steel potato masher to crush tomatoes as they simmer. "I call it 'grandma' because it gives a homey feeling to tomato sauces," he explains.
Juicy Buttermilk Pork Chops
"Berkshire pigs have the most wonderful flavor of all the pork I've ever tried," says Maria Hines of Tilth in Seattle. She buys her excellent, pasture-raised Berkshire pork from Skagit River Ranch in Sedro Woolley, Washington.
"I'm obsessed with artisanal ingredients, but for baking, it's hard to beat Quick Quaker Oats from the supermarket," says Matt Lewis of Baked in Brooklyn, New York. "No one has ever come out with a luxury oat that works more beautifully." Lewis mixes the oats into chocolate-chunk cookies and pie crusts.
At Sebo in San Francisco, Michael Black has a three-part test for determining whether a fish is fresh:
1. He looks at it to make sure it has clear, shiny eyes and bright red gills.
2. He pokes it to make sure the flesh is taut
3. He sniffs it to make sure there's no fishy odor.
Tarver King of the Goodstone Inn & Estate in Middleburg, Virginia, uses potato flakes by Idaho Spuds instead of bread crumbs for gratins, croquettes and baked oysters. "They're supercheap and make an incredible crust," he says.