The first time I ate roasted baby bok choy I immediately thought, “What on earth took me so long?” Just like its roast-happy cruciferous cousins—cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli—baby bok choy reacts magically to a slick of oil, a showering of salt, and a quick visit to a hot oven. The plump base turns tender while retaining a bit of bite. And the delicate leaves soften into velvet with a hint of kale-chip crispness around the edges.I’m not exaggerating when I suggest I could make a meal out of roasted baby bok choy alone. But when I manage to hold back from snagging too many straight from the oven, they are delightful paired with steak. On particularly busy weekdays, I take 10 minutes in the morning (or occasionally the night before) to settle the steak in a quick, garlicky marinade before popping it in the fridge. Sometimes I also halve the bok choy and toss them in a large Tupperware so dinner time is simply a matter of preheating the oven and arranging everything on a sheet pan.In the few moments of downtime while everything is roasting and broiling away, well honestly, I pour a glass of wine. But recently, I also started stirring up a batch of lemony miso butter. The mix of softened butter, umami-packed miso, and bright lemon zest is exactly as delicious as the sum of its parts, and it transforms the already elevated weeknight meal (see: roasted baby bok choy) into a showstopper.You may notice that this recipe makes more miso butter than one could conceivably dollop onto a single dinner. That leftover butter stores well in the fridge and enhances everything it touches, from grilled fish and pasta to warm biscuits and popcorn. As for the baby bok choy, I can guarantee that leftovers won’t be an issue.
Pre-salting the lamb (the longer the better) will deepen its flavor and increase moisture and tenderness in the meat. Afterward, a simple sear then braise renders fork-tender shreds of meat. A spoonful of garlicky gremolata heightens those long-cooked flavors.
Loaded with pumpkin seed kernels, cashews, and sesame seeds, salsa de semillas is a lesser-known but beloved Mexican nut-based salsa.
Tart limoncello flavors and tenderizes the these standout wings from chef Jeffery Russell at the Louis M. Martini Winery in St. Helena, California. Try the addictive pepperoni sauce on pizzas, sandwiches, or as a dip.
At Beringer, chef Alex Hrabovsky leans on savory pork drippings and lush Merlot to balance the sweet-tart strawberries in this rich sauce for pork tenderloin. A gentle finish in the oven keeps the pan drippings from over-reducing.
Turns out, the secret isn't in the ingredients at all.
March is a tricky time of year for me, food-wise. By this point, I’m yearning for tender, mild spring vegetables and ready to say bye-for-now to hearty root veggies and brassicas, but the farmers markets are still pretty sparse. So as I wait for the season to fully turn over, I look for ways to bridge the gap between rib-sticking winter fare (it’s still chilly outside, after all) and lighter, fresher tastes. This easy whole-grain skillet hits that spot for me because it’s filling and satisfying, but the pops of fresh citrus make it bright and sunny, too.I include whole grains in a lot of my weeknight dinners because, sure, they’re nutritious, but more importantly they have such amazing textures and flavors. And there are more options available now than ever, such as sorghum, amaranth, millet, rye berries, teff, and more—way beyond the more-familiar brown rice, wheat berries, and quinoa. In this dish, I’m using freekeh, which is a type of wheat; it’s harvested when it’s young and green and then roasted, which gives it a smoky flavor. I opt for cracked freekeh because it cooks quickly. If you can’t find it, you can substitute bulgur, which is also cracked wheat (just not roasted).Another quick-cooking staple in my kitchen is boneless, skinless chicken thighs. They’re always meaty and juicy and nearly impossible to overcook. I sear them first, then nestle them into the half-cooked freekeh to finish cooking under a layer of lemon slices to cut through their richness.My favorite part of this dish, though, is the relish. It’s garlicky, a little spicy, herby, and full of surprises. First, it includes firm feta cheese that gently warms to the point that it becomes soft and almost gooey—which is the way I always want feta from now on. The relish also gets a brazen hit of citrus from chopped lemon sections, which offer tart, juicy bursts that are way more forward than lemon juice would be. The effect is an unsubtle finishing touch that balances out the nutty grains and meaty chicken.It’s an almost complete meal that my whole family loves, and it’s done from start to finish in just 35 minutes. I’ll serve a simple vegetable on the side—usually blanched broccoli or haricots verts tossed with browned butter—and daydream of sunnier days to come.
I’ll never forget the lecture and meticulous demonstration our instructor gave on the “proper” way to cook a duck breast during the last week of culinary labs before my fellow classmates and I were turned loose to operate our school’s restaurant. With all the pomp and circumstance afforded a chef in a 2-foot-high toque, he went through a completely overwhelming tutorial devised to scare us into thinking duck breast is too challenging for the average human to cook.While the method I learned in culinary school did deliver a beautiful medium-rare breast with a crisp, golden brown crust, achieving that same outcome doesn’t have to be so complicated or intimidating. Pan-searing duck breast, it turns out, is actually a relatively simple process, as long as you follow a few key steps.It’s important to score the skin and fat with a sharp knife before cooking the duck breast. Scoring provides more surface area for the fat to render so the skin crisps and develops a gorgeous deep golden color and crisp texture. It’s also key to let the breast come to room temperature and to start cooking the breast skin side down in a cold pan, both of which help the fat render at just the right pace.Once the fat is mostly rendered and that enviable crust forms, I flip the breast to finish cooking the meat to medium-rare briefly on the other side. What’s left in the pan after the meat is set aside is liquid gold—in the form of duck fat. In this recipe, you’ll use that liquid gold to finish fluffy couscous that’s steamed with orange juice and turmeric, then tossed with dates, almonds and fresh herbs. Consider this a Moroccan twist on duck a l’orange. The duck is seasoned with ras el hanout, a bold spice blend that complements the full-flavored meat. Duck breast may not be your typical weeknight fare, but with this recipe it can be.I often think of a bold yet refined Bordeaux for pairing with duck, but here the Moroccan spices seem to lean toward a more rustic, wild red. I poured an aged Tempranillo from Spain’s Ribera del Duero region—understudy to the more celebrated Rioja—and found the concentrated red-fruit notes balanced by the decent acidity of wines from this region partner nicely.
The first “fancy” meal I cooked for my husband Charlie way back in 1981 was from Craig Claiborne’s cookbook, and I’ve been cooking it ever since. It’s a beautiful French-style chicken breast poached in a wildly flavorful and decadent tarragon cream sauce. Definitely not everyday fare, but for those special occasions ... wow. I’ve made a few small revisions over the years, but the spirit of the recipe remains the same.In 1986, Charlie’s Mother was turning 70, and it had been a tough few years for her. Therefore, a big surprise celebration was in order. I offered to cook as delicious a meal as I could come up with. Now, realize I had never cooked for the woman who would become my mother-in-law. She was a proud North Carolina farm woman while I was, and remain, an urban Yankee actor. Needless to say, there was a lot riding on this meal. As the date approached, I was cast in a show and so couldn’t travel to North Carolina to cook.These days Charlie is a decent cook, but in 1986 his skills were ... limited. So we devised an emergency improvised cooking school. I gathered all of the ingredients, and he watched like a hawk as I made the dish. Then a few days later, we did the same again. And then he cooked it, with me standing over him, offering gentle hints. It was not bad. For the fourth try, I went to the other room of our two-room apartment, put on my headphones, and pretended not to worry as he made the dish entirely on his own. It was good! I was quite proud of both the teacher and the student.Fast forward to the dinner. By all accounts, Charlie’s rendition of the main course was stellar, and his mother was thrilled with her boys for going to all that trouble for her. (And yes, she came to consider me one of her boys, and it meant the world to me.) So, thank you, Mr. Claiborne, for both the dish and what it meant to my relationship with Harriet Otelia Browder.This version is my current update of my go-to recipe. Here, dried morels get a quick soak in hot water, which renders a super-flavorful broth that adds another layer of richness to the cream sauce. It’s classic, comforting, and just as good, if not better, than a warm hug on a cold day. I’m pretty sure Harriet would approve.
Frenching and trimming the bone-in pork loin at home gives you fatty, flavorful scraps to season the aromatics and renders luscious pan juices. Finishing the pork on a slow roast gives it time to cook through without drying out and gently caramelizes the tender fennel, onion, and shallots.
The natural juices from the lamb and onion create steam that bastes the meat as it cooks over a low flame. The gentle heat ensures that the environment inside the tagine remains moist and does not dry out or burn. Savory lamb, salty olives, and ras el hanout (a North African spice blend of coriander, cumin, and warming spices) are balanced by sweet butternut squash, apricots, and a touch of honey.
This is the most delicious, juiciest roast chicken we’ve ever made in the F&W kitchen. The simply seasoned bird, nestled in a bed of vegetables and topped with the soaked, steam-creating Römertopf lid, starts in a cold oven, which guarantees slow-cooked flavor. Uncover the pot during the last 20 minutes of cooking for extra-crispy skin.
Venison: A Backwoods Love Story
The closest I’ve ever come to heaven is biting into my dad’s smoked venison tenderloin hot out of the smoker.
With whole pink peppercorns and fennel seeds, this simple braise is gently perfumed and aromatic with fresh spring flavors inspired by the braised fennel at Red Hook Tavern in Brooklyn, New York, from chef Allison Plumer. Use a fresh, spicy sausage here to complement the creamy bean puree and sweet fennel.
Briny olives and sweet raisins give this wild mash-up of picadillo and dolma glorious brightness, while cinnamon lends a warmth that makes it subtly wintry. Serve these steamed logs with herbed rice, black beans, and plenty of vinegary hot sauce.
This one-steamer meal is inspired by Thai tom kha gai (coconut chicken soup). Unsweetened coconut cream lends richness while the aromatics add punchy spice and heat. Once the chicken cools, you can remove the skin and bones, then shred the meat for an exciting chicken salad.
Although we’re more accustomed to seeing them in vases than on our plates, roses are often used in Middle Eastern cooking, from fragrant rose water in desserts to dried rose petals in spice blends. When my favorite boutique spice house, New York Shuk, developed their Rosey Harissa Spice, a dry version of harissa flecked with rose petals, it inspired me to develop this chicken recipe. I immediately envisioned a beautifully roasted bird showered with a flurry of rose petals in dusty hues of garnet and fuschia; the recipe nearly wrote itself! And while you could use paprika (sweet, hot, or smoked) instead of the specialty harissa, you won’t have a good excuse to sprinkle your chicken with rose petals—which is more than half the fun.This chicken becomes tender and juicy after a bath in a kefir marinade redolent with harissa paste, lemon, and garlic. It’s easy to prepare the day before you want to make it—you just have to think ahead a little. When I’m having people over, or honestly, when I’m just working a little late on a weeknight, I like to have dinner half-done before I even turn on the oven.Since the heat level of harissa pastes can vary quite widely, it’s a good idea to taste as you go when adding the additional harissa to the pan sauce at the end. But I recommend going a little hotter than you think. The juicy but mild chicken is best when dipped in the spicy jus thickened and enriched by the softened lemon, shallot, and garlic that are cooked alongside the chicken. It adds up to a perfect balance of heat, brightness, and comforting, slow-cooked flavor.For a version using a whole chicken, see my new book, Open Kitchen. For either version, serve with crusty bread or with plenty of Israeli couscous to sop up all the delicious sauce.
When I'm looking to put on the Ritz for a fancy dinner party, I often center the menu around a majestic lamb roast, either a whole bone-in leg of lamb or a rolled-and-stuffed shoulder. But when I crave lamb on a weeknight, it's lamb steaks all the way. Depending on where you shop, lamb steaks can be harder to find than other cuts, but their tender meatiness makes them worth seeking out. The best cuts for quick-cooking are sirloin and leg steaks (the sirloin, basically the upper leg or hip portion, will be boneless, while leg steaks contain a single round bone).The ideal thickness for lamb steaks is 3/4 to 1 inch, but thicker steaks are no problem, especially boneless sirloin ones. Just butterfly them by cutting the steaks almost in half horizontally and folding the meat open like a book to make thinner, quicker-cooking steaks. If the steaks have a thick cushion of fat around the edges, trim it down to a modest 1/4 inch, and, to keep leg steaks from curling during cooking, make shallow incisions every couple of inches around the perimeter to break up the membrane that will shrink and buckle in a hot skillet.Much of the excellence of lamb steaks comes from their natural tenderness, but if there's time, pre-seasoning the meat (anywhere from 1 to 8 hours ahead) will further enhance the texture and flavor. I keep the seasoning simple to allow the sweetness of the lamb shine through, but I do kick things up at the finish by slathering the hot steaks with a lusty anchovy butter. The flavored butter takes advantage of two things I learned about lamb long ago: lamb loves butter, and lamb loves anchovies. There's some magical alchemy that happens when the meaty lamb juices blend with the richness of the butter and the funky brine of the anchovy. A bit of fresh lemon zest and parsley provides the perfect counterpoint.Lamb steaks are best cooked to medium-rare, or medium, if you prefer; the most effective way to get it right is to brush the surface with olive oil and sear the steaks in a hot skillet or grill pan (cast iron works well). Once the surface develops a handsome crust, lower the heat and continue cooking until they reach the desired internal temperature (125°F to 130°F for medium-rare and 135°F to 140°F for medium). Transfer the steaks to plates or a carving board and immediately smear the tops with the flavored butter (the heat of the steaks melts the butter into an instant sauce), and let the steaks rest for 3 to 5 minutes before cutting into them. Of course, if it's grilling weather (or you’re one of those intrepid cooks who likes to grill no matter the forecast), by all means, cook them outdoors. A slight kiss of smoke will only make them better.
Schnitzel has become a regular weeknight fix in my house. It’s quick and easy to prepare, but it also has a certain something extra. Not to mention how stress-relieving it can be to pound out a pork cutlet at the end of a long day.The idea for using crushed pretzels for the breadcrumb coating came to me years ago when I was working on my first cookbook, Pretzel Making at Home, and I had a surplus of homemade hard pretzels on my hands. I turned them into pie crust; I baked them into cookies; I used them as a calamari coating; I even retooled Austria’s national dish into a pretzel-crusted version. Pretzels deliver an extra crunch, and that curious alkaline flavor that can only be described as “pretzely.”On a trip to Germany many years ago, I had a thing with schnitzel. I ordered it at almost every restaurant I visited to try it with the various sauces and accompaniments. Potatoes and spaetzle are of course delicious, but my favorite pairing was the contrast of a bright green salad with the crispy, pan-fried cutlets. At home, that may be arugula, simply dressed with lemon and olive oil, but in winter, I find this heartier shaved brussels sprouts salad with mustard dressing and sharp pecorino cheese perfectly fits the bill.Let’s talk about pan-frying. It can be intimidating, but the simple thing to remember is to get the oil hot enough so that a few crumbs sizzle on contact. Be patient and wait for this to happen, and your crust will turn out crisp rather than oil-soaked and soggy. You also want to avoid getting it so hot that the oil starts to smoke, because that results in off flavors. Speaking of smoke points, it’s a good thing to fry in olive oil. It’s a myth that extra-virgin olive oil shouldn’t be used for frying, or cooked at all, for that matter. On the contrary, it’s a stable oil with a high-enough smoke point to make it ideal for pan-frying, and it’s better here than other oils for both taste and nutrition. A few pats of butter make it even better.As for what to drink with your Pretzel Schnitzel, an everyday-priced Grüner Veltliner from Austria is the ideal, if somewhat expected, choice for pairing, with its refreshing tartness and notes of fresh green herbs and citrus zest. It’s the perfect lift for a comfortingly crispy, just-rich-enough weeknight dish.
At a recent dinner showcasing kitchen sustainability, chef Jonathan Waxman taught us a new trick for using up leftover brine from a jar of olives—make it into a marinade. Here, we’ve combined it with sage and lemon to punch up your weeknight pork tenderloin.
Whole orange segments and freshly squeezed orange juice and zest give this hearty winter braise a burst of fresh citrus flavor. Creamy sweet potatoes and celery root along with tender beef chuck fill out this satisfyingly hearty meal.
Pre-seasoning these chicken legs with salt at least an hour before cooking ensures flavorful, juicy meat. Drizzle leftover hot honey on a cheese plate or pizza.
A simple glaze of dark stout and brown sugar develops a malty, caramel-like bittersweetness in the oven. Irish ham is a bit less salty than American ham and has a thin layer of fat, which absorbs the flavors of the glaze.
Mashama Bailey roasts these hefty beef shanks in a ginger- and spice-spiked tomato sauce which she finishes with a generous dollop of thick and creamy peanut butter. She garnishes with Microplane-grated coffee beans; toss them in a coffee grinder for a chunkier texture.
A hearty and sustaining dish, asopao is a Puerto Rican stew filled with rice and plenty of vegetables and topped with spiced ground chicken. Starchy potato can stand in for the yucca.