I Am... Secret Ingredient Pasta all’Amatriciana Recipe

Steph demands to cook pretty much all the time and is pretty damn good at it too, so the rare times when she is too sick or too lazy to cook are wonderful for me, because otherwise I’d never clock any time in the kitchen at all. I made this Amatriciana sauce way back last Christmas when we made a giant ham that we couldn’t finish and had leftover meat for days. Christmas time means many things, but mostly it means seeing a lot of friends and family in a very short amount of time, and without fail that means that Steph will get very, very sick around Christmas every year. So with Steph tucked into bed early with a hot bowl of instant chicken noodle soup and saltine crackers - her favorite - I was left to my own devices for dinner and spent the evening doing my favorite: cooking with leftovers. Leftovers, for me at least, really encourage you to push the boundaries of creativity in the kitchen. Over the week that Steph was sick, I found a ton of uses for our leftover Christmas ham, and this Amatriciana was the best of the bunch. Sugo all'Amatriciana is basically the national sauce of Italy (and Rome in particular), so I’m sure an Italian person would say I bastardized this version, because it’s true, I did. But it was phenomenally bastardized. Classically, Amatriciana sauce is guanciale, rendered fat from the guanciale, tomato sauce, and pecorino cheese. The fatty part of the (very high quality) leftover Christmas ham did a great job replacing guanciale. I also changed out the tomato sauce and used parmigiano reggiano instead of pecorino. So basically, I followed the formula but changed every ingredient. The secret ingredient though was quickly making an Egyptian tomato sauce. Steph made one for her Kosheri awhile back that I fell in love with. It contained a touch of vinegar and sugar and aleppo spice that I felt brightened up the Amatriciana considerably and added a ton of complex flavor notes. It smelled and sounded so good Steph even pushed herself out of bed to have a taste (though really, she couldn’t taste anything at the time). Making the sauce is optional, just use your favorite one, but the Egyptian tomato sauce was a welcome change from our standard San Marzano. It’s a little bit of extra effort that I felt was well worth the time.

Secret Ingredient Pasta all’Amatriciana Recipe Serves 2
  • 1 cup Egyptian tomato sauce (see below)
  • 1/2 cup guanciale or pancetta, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 200g pasta
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino or parmigiano reggiano
  • 1 tbsp chili flakes (optional)

Egyptian Tomato Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon crushed aleppo peppers
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • freshly ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
Set a large pot of salted water on high heat for the pasta. In a sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, cumin, coriander, aleppo and sugar. Cook, stirring until aromatic (1-2 minutes). Add the tomatoes and vinegar and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and season with freshly ground nutmeg, salt and pepper. In a large skillet, cook the guanciale or pancetta over medium heat until crispy and fat renders out, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute, then add 1 cup of the tomato sauce made in the previous step. Stir well and reduce heat to low, simmer. Cook the pasta according to package time minus 3 minutes. Reserve a cup of pasta water, then drain the pasta (don't rinse) and transfer to the skillet. Finish cooking pasta in the sauce, stirring gently for 3 minutes, adding pasta water if needed. Add cheese and mix until incorporated. Using tongs, transfer to plate and shave some extra cheese on top.

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I Am... Friday Finds: 5.18.18

It's Fri-YAY and I'm here with your weekly dose of interesting internet articles.

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I Am... The Ultimate Cheeseburger: the Juicy Lucy Burger

It's burger season! Time to break out the grill or cast iron pan, if that's what you make your burgers in, and get your burger on. If you're doing burgers I hope you get a chance to make a Juicy Lucy. I first heard about the infamous Juicy Lucy a couple of years ago. I was headed to Minneapolis for a quick trip and before I flew out, Mike did a quick search on what kind of foods Minneapolis is known for. The thing that came up again and again was a Juicy Lucy.

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I Am... Vegas Uncork’d is the Best Food Festival in the World

I'm 2 pounds heavier and a lot of dollars lighter than last week because we spent the last three days eating our faces off at the 12th annual Vegas Uncork'd. If you guys are fans of Bon Appetit (we definitely are) or Las Vegas, then you've probably heard about Uncork'd, the giant food and wine festival, held in Vegas every year. I have been drooling over this festival for what seems to be forever and this year we were lucky enough to go!

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I Am... Turkey Menchi Katsu Burger Recipe

Have you guys ever had menchi katsu? It's kind of tonkatsu's (that oh so crunchy panko-crusted deep-fried pork cutlet that is a must eat Japanese dish) cheaper, younger, more chill vibes cousin. It's true Japanese B-cuisine: laid back, casual food that doesn't cost and arm and a leg. When you're in Japan, you can usually find menchi katsu at grocery stores or food halls, where they sell them for people to take home for dinner. There's also a very famous meat shop in Kichijoji called Satou that sells a very famous beef menchi katsu. Satou is a steak house as well as a butcher so they happen to have a lot of extra cuts of meat that they use for minced meat. Their menchi katsu is incredibly juicy  – to the point of juice dripping down your hands if you're not careful. The crunchy panko outsides are a delicious foil to the piping hot, soft and juicy insides. They're worth the long line up! But, of course, if you're not in Tokyo and you have a menchi katsu craving, why not make your own? And why not use turkey in a tiny effort to be just the littlest bit healthy. Summer is coming after all. Gotta work on that summer body, am I right? Menchi katsu is pretty easy to make. All you need to do is mix up ground meat with onion, panko, egg, and a bit of milk, much like a meatball. Shape them up, do a classic breading station of flour, egg, and panko, a dip in hot oil for a deeply golden crust, and you're done. I paired the menchi patties with karashi mustard (Japan's version of yellow mustard), tonkatsu sauce, a toasted buttered brioche bun, and cheese because cheese makes everything even better. Cheese is like a VSCO filter, but for food. It was SO GOOD. Incredibly juicy, crunchy, and perfectly paired with the soft and fluffy brioche. Probably one of the best sandwiches I've ever made. PS - Please ignore the expired tonkatsu sauce >_< PPS - If you're looking for more Tokyo snack foods, be sure to check out our guide!

Turkey Menchi Katsu Burger Recipe makes 2 big burgers

Menchi Katsu

  • 1/2 lb ground turkey thighs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup panko
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Panko Coating

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 lightly beaten egg
  • 1 cup panko
  • canola or grapeseed oil for deep frying

Burger

  • sliced cheese
  • toasted brioche buns
  • mustard of choice
  • takoyaki/tonkatsu sauce
In a bowl, mix the ground turkey with the milk, onion, 1/4 cup panko, egg, salt, and pepper. The mixture will be very loose. At this point, it would be best to put them in the fridge to firm up. If you feel like the mix is still to difficult to shape, you can add more panko to the mix, but the more panko you add the more dense your menchi katsu will be. Loose filling equals juicer, looser patties. Divide the meat mixture into 2 equal portions and shape into patties. Dip into the flour, shaking off excess, then into the egg, then the panko, being sure to coat fully and evenly. Place the patties in the fridge while you heat up oil for deep frying. In a very deep heavy bottomed pot, heat up 2 inches of oil over medium high heat until 350°F. Carefully lower in a menchi katsu and cook, flipping as needed, until deeply golden, crunchy, and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oil and drain on a wire rack. Top with a slice of cheese. Deep fry the other patty then top with a slice of cheese. Spread mustard (I used Japanese mustard) on the bottom bun. Top with a cheesy menchi katsu patty and drizzle on sauce to taste. Top with the top bun and enjoy immediately!

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I Am... Camp Cooking: Claypot Chicken Rice Recipe

The weather has taken a turn for the best! It was GORGEOUS out today and the forecast is looking sunny which means, camping season! Last year we started camping in late May but maybe this year we'll be able to head out a bit early? Fingers crossed, anyway.

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I Am... Dreamy Prince Edward Island: The Perfect East Coast Getaway

I've been dreaming about PEI ever since one particular Christmas when I was a little girl. That year, my aunt gave me the classic children's novel, Anne of Green Gables. I think I spent the rest of the night hanging out by the tree, being completely anti-social, eating candy canes and reading. Hmm, now that I think about it, not much has changed. I still love reading, candy canes, and being somewhat anti-social. Anyway, quirky Anne made me fall in love with that tiny island she was lucky enough to call home.

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I Am... What to Cook in May

Spring is finally here! I'm ready for all the asparagus, avocado, and peas things! It's what's in season, after all. I'm so happy I don't have to wear a crazy big coat anymore – bring on the vegetables!

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I Am... Bon Appetit’s Harissa Salmon is the Perfect Dinner Party Main

We recently had a Moroccan themed dinner party and Steph and I were chatting about the main dish. The friends of ours who were coming weren't big on Asian food, and it was too cold to grill - our usual go-tos for dinner parties. Suddenly Steph had a moment of genius: "What about oven roasted salmon? I saw this one on BA the other day and it looked great!" she said. I wasn't convinced at first. Fish can be polarizing for people. But when we got home that night, I looked up her salmon and she was right as usual, the salmon looked fantastic and perfect for a dinner party. What really appealed to me in this dish is that it only has 5 ingredients, plus seasoning and garnish, and that it scales well. So, following my cardinal rule for dinner parties (never try anything for the first time at a dinner party that you are cooking), out we went to buy a tiny salmon fillet. Here's what I discovered: 1. The recipe suggests you use skinless fillets, and I agree - it's worth it to take the skin off in this case, though I usually love salmon skin. 2. It's definitely worth it to buy a pair of fish tweezers (if you have strong hands you can use your fingers too) and remove the pin bones. 3. The brand of harissa and olive oil you use are super important, being that they are the two main flavor components, I've tried this again recently (4th time) with an off brand oil/harissa and it didn't come close to what it tasted like the first three times. 4. The recipe suggests basting, I don't think you need to though - our sauce never moved off the top of the salmon.   It came out perfectly each time (except #4). The salmon was perfectly cooked, the presentation - flaking the salmon into large chunks with a spoon before serving - was a hit, and most importantly, it tasted incredible: spicy, sweet, savory, sour, this dish had it all. This is definitely a dish I'm coming back to again and again, both for dinner parties and weeknight lazy-fests.

Slow-Roasted Harissa Salmon Recipe Serves 4
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (recommended: lemon-infused olive oil)
  • 1/4 cup harissa paste
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1.5lb skinless wild salmon fillet
  • salt
  • dill
Preheat your oven to 275ºF Whisk together your olive oil, harissa, and crushed garlic until it becomes a paste. Spread half the paste in your roasting pan. Season your salmon generously with salt on both sides, then place in the roasting pan. Spread the remaining paste on top. Arrange lemons over top and place in the center of your oven. At the 30 minute mark, try to flake the salmon with a spoon, if you can't easily do so, leave it in for another 5 minutes, otherwise, remove. Flake the salmon into 2" chunks with a spoon, then transfer to your serving plate and pour any remaining sauce over top. Sprinkle the dill on top and serve immediately. adapted from Bon Appetit

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I Am... The Difference between Light and Dark Soy Sauce and a Soy Sauce Chow Mein Recipe

Give me a plate of noodles and I'm happy. I'm not sure what it is, but there are definitely noodle people, rice people, and bread people out there. I'm am a noodle person all the way. They just fill me up with so much joy. Literally, I'm filled with noodles right now and there's just something about the fact that noodles did it to me that makes me feel safe.

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I Am... Friday Finds: 4.20.18

Happy Friday! The weather has been getting increasingly nicer and as a result, my mood has been getting increasingly more and more positive. I'm forever affected by light levels so I'm so incredibly happy that it's getting sunnier and springier! We are STILL in the process of moving, which is good and bad. It's pretty luxurious to not have to move everything in one day or a matter of hours, but at the same time our place is a mess with boxes and things everywhere. I've moved most of the kitchen over so that means we've been eating a lot of noodles, which is not a bad thing :)

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I Am... The best way to roast chicken is Thomas Keller’s perfect 3 ingredient roast chicken recipe

If you are into bare bones minimalism, this is the easiest and most elegant roast chicken you could ever make. Crisp golden skin, super juicy insides, and a blank canvas for any flavors you might want to add - not that it needs any. This is chicken pared down to its bare essentials. For something simple like roast chicken with salt and pepper, you would think that there would not be a lot of variations possible, but even the tiniest details can matter. Thomas Keller's roast chicken recipe is as famous as Gordon Ramsay's scrambled eggs, yet recently I realized I'd never made it, so I went out and bought a chicken. How did it turn out? It was really, really, unbelievably good. As always, jump to the recipe and get started, or read on for some roast chicken geekery and tips for a perfect roast chicken.

Tip #1: Temper your chicken

This goes for all meats, but especially chicken. Bringing your chicken to room temperature before you roast it can seem like a scary proposition, but it's worth it. Bacteria doesn't grow fast enough for this to matter. You will get a better end result if you bring your chicken to room temp, because the oven will need less time to warm up the inside of your chicken, meaning the outside will stay juicy and not burnt.

Tip #2: Season inside and out

Seasoning the inside of your chicken doubles the effective surface area you get for developing flavor. TK gets a lot of grief for sticking a pepper grinder right up inside the cavity; don't do this. I like to mix up a good blend of salt and pepper beforehand in a pinch bowl and go to town, it's far easier and you won't worry about future cross contamination. When seasoning the outside of your chicken, Chef Keller recommends salting from up high, so that you get a wide dispersed coverage. I say go one further and pull a #saltbae or a drakebae. Warning for us normal people who have to do our own cleanup: do this over a sink or a large work surface.

Tip #3: Don't bother with the prep

Tucking in the wings is an aesthetic thing; it prevents the relatively small and meatless wingtips from burning in the high heat of the oven. If you prefer to handle your chicken as little as possible, you can safely avoid this step. Similarly, Keller likes to remove the wishbone so you can do a very cool trick of slicing the chicken right down the middle. Caveats abound here: this is a step where it is super easy to hurt yourself, and you end up having to slice through the chicken's ribs anyway, so unless you have a durable, heavy chef's knife, there is no point. I like to remove the two bottom linkages and just break the wishbone, but honestly, I'd just as soon skip this step. The only benefit here is that you can literally cut a chicken in half to save for tomorrow (which is actually pretty cool).

Tip #4: Trussing the chicken isn't necessary

Keller is a huge proponent of trussing your chicken to create an equal density bird that cooks evenly. I disagree on this one, if you watch any of the videos of him making it, when he cuts the bird in half you will see that it's still quite rare in the middle, and that's partially because of his trussing. While I don't mind raw chicken, it can be offputting to many people. Dark meat can handle a higher internal temperature, so you have a lot of leeway to avoid this one. I prefer using a turkey roasting frame, and if using rosemary, I'll tie the chicken legs together with the rosemary twig for aesthetic reasons, but overall you want a fairly loose bird so that the nooks and crannies get some heat into them. Next time, I think I'll try his saute pan trick without trussing so that you are actually frying the bottom of the chicken in its own fat.

Tip #5: No fat needed

It's not necessary to oil or butter the chicken because chicken skin is naturally fatty. Avoiding the fat gives us a nice dry skin that comes out crispy and golden. Extra side benefit: It seems healthier!

Bonus tip: Choose for size and quality

Thomas Keller doesn't talk about this one, but I will: For a roast chicken the quality of the meat is front and center, so it's important to buy the highest quality chicken you are comfortable with. There's no need to buy a $30 chicken, but go one step above the $5 mystery-chicken if you can. The other secret to a great roast chicken is buying the smallest chicken you can find, because the surface area to meat ratio means the chicken will cook better, faster, and be a better tasting chicken (because more skin means more flavor, and you are able to season more of the chicken). A 3.5lb bird should feed 2-4, and if you need more, just buy (and roast) two birds - it's worth it.
Thomas Keller's 3 ingredient roast chicken recipe Serves 2-4
  • 2½ - 3½ pound high quality chicken
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste) + extra for the top
  • 1 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
  • Chopped rosemary, thyme, or other herbs (optional)
  • Vegetables to roast (optional)
An hour or two before roasting, take your chicken out of the fridge and rest on the countertop to come to room temperature. Mix 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper in a pinch bowl and set aside as well. Preheat oven to 400ºF, set your racks to allow a 10" space in the middle of the oven, and prepare a roasting tray with washed and cut vegetables (if desired). Oil a turkey rack if using and set it up on a setting small enough to hold your chicken snugly. While trying to handle the chicken with only one hand (so that the other hand stays clean to avoid excessive handwashing): unwrap your chicken and drain over the sink. Pat dry with a paper towel. Remove the gizzards and other offal if there are any (you can roast these or make soup out of them). Turn the chicken cavity up and season inside the chicken with your salt and pepper mixture. Place your chicken on the roasting tray or rack, tuck the wings underneath the body of the chicken, and tie the legs together if desired. Place the roasting tray in the sink or in the middle of your countertop and liberally salt the top of the chicken from a 12"-18" height. Pop the chicken in the center of a 400ºF oven for approx 55 minutes, or until the thickest part of the chicken thigh reads 155ºF/160ºF (the chicken will cook another 10 degrees while resting, use the higher temperature if you don't want to see any pink in the chicken). Rest your chicken uncovered for 5-10 minutes, then enjoy!  

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