If you were to pick a president and el tigre numero uno of the ragù world, it'd be ragù Napoletano, a meaty stew with big chunks of beef, pork, and sausages simmered until fall-apart tender in a rich tomato sauce flavored with wine, onions, garlic, basil, and plenty of good Southern Italian olive oil. It's the precursor to Italian-American Sunday gravy: just add some meatballs, serve it with spaghetti, and you're there. It's also the perfect dish for a lazy Sunday with family or friends at home.
Tamale pie is a dish that screams for an update. I mean, it's cornbread and chili all rolled into one! This version uses tender, slow-cooked, shredded skirt steak flavored with layers and layers of aromatics and vegetables for a rich, complex, chili-based stew topped with corn bread flavored with browned butter.
Tamale pie is a dish that screams for an update. I mean, it's cornbread and chili all rolled into one! Just imagine how great it could be if we took the time to make a real, deeply flavored, meaty chili from scratch, eschewing the dump-and-stir approach and instead building up layers of spices and aromatics. Now imagine that chili topped with tender, moist, crisp-edged, buttery cornbread with those chili juices seeping up into it as it bakes in the oven. That's the kind of meal I'd love to come home to after a long day out in the cold. Wouldn't you?
Real Texas chile con carne is all about the beef and the chilies. In this version, we start with toasted whole dried chilies and puree them with broth and spices before adding beef chuck and cooking the whole thing down in a pressure cooker. 30 minutes later, you've got spoon tender chunks of beef in a rich, complex chili-based stew.
Whether you're making real Texas-style chile con carne, a quick weeknight ground beef and canned bean chili, or even a vegan or vegetarian version, the best thing you can do to up your chili game is to leave those jars of pre-ground chili powder on the shelf. Starting your chili with honest to goodness real whole dried chilies will save you money while adding layer upon layer of complex flavor that you never thought was possible.
The pressure cooker is an amazing device for making flavor-packed stews in very short order. In this version, canned chickpeas, roasted tomatoes, smoked paprika, and chorizo come together to form a flavorful base for fall-off-the-bone tender chicken legs. It all cooks in under half an hour start to finish.
The pressure cooker is an amazing device for making flavor-packed stews in very short order. In this version, black beans are stewed together with spicy Hatch chilies, smoky Andouille sausage, and fall-off-the-bone tender chicken legs. It all cooks in under an hour start-to-finish.
The pressure cooker is an amazing device for making flavor-packed stews in very short order. In this version, French lentils are flavored with big chunks of pancetta, chicken stock, carrots, onions, bay leaves, and fall-off-the-bone tender chicken legs. It all cooks in about 30 minutes start to finish.
Tender Italian-American meatballs made with beef and pork and flavored with garlic, buttermilk, and Parmesan cheese in a meaty, slow-cooked sauce. Your slow-cooker takes care of the tomato sauce, reducing it into a rich, meaty gravy.
Beef stroganoff is a dish of quick-cooked beef in a creamy sauce made flavored with mushrooms, onions, paprika, and sour cream. In our upgraded version, the beef is cooked as a whole steak to maintain a more tender, medium-rare center, while the sauce is carefully layered and constructed to optimize its rich, comforting, savory flavor.
Congee is nothing more than a simple rice porridge, but man can it be comforting! It's an Asian breakfast staple, a dim sum classic, and a blank canvas to add your own flavors. Traditionally white rice is used, but sometimes I like to use brown rice for a heartier, healthier porridge with a subtle nutty flavor. Heartier vegetables such as kale, escarole, shiitakes, leeks, and even Brussels sprouts are perfect in it. One of my favorite combos is this recipe: marinated strips of beef, dried shiitake mushrooms, and garlic chips.
This green chili recipe incorporates leftover turkey with a salsa verde base containing tomatillos, serrano peppers, onions and garlic that are blasted under the broiler. It's given backbone from ancho powder, smokiness courtesy of cumin, and aromatics by way of oregano. It's then thickened with cornmeal, bolstered by white beans, and finished with all of the fixings.
Slow cooker turkey and andouille gumbo starts with sautéed veggies and a simple roux that's cooked until toasty on the stove. After broth is added it's transferred for a long simmer, one where Worcestershire sauce provides umami and depth and Louisiana-style hot sauce offers heat and tang. Meanwhile, background notes come from bay leaves and thyme, and its signature flavor arrives courtesy of smoked sausage, Cajun seasoning, and cayenne.
This easy black eyed pea stew starts with andouille sausage and pork belly cooked until browned and crisped, then gets flavored with the Holy Trinity of Cajun cuisine: onions, celery, and green bell peppers, along with some leeks and garlic for extra flavor. Tender braised kale transform this into a full-on meal, while a shot of apple cider vinegar brightens up all the flavors.
To be frank, I'm not 100% certain where this dish of tender chicken and white beans bound in a creamy, fresh green-chili sauce topped with shredded cheese comes from. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the recipe actually originated on the back of a wrapper from a can chopped green chiles. But our version is better than that. Much, much better. Tender, creamy, spicy, and bright, this is the stuff even a dyed-in-the-wool chile con carne traditionalist will dip their finger into when they think nobody is watching.
This one-skillet chicken dish starts with thighs that are seared in the pan for super crispy skin and then get finished in the oven with a flavorful cooking liquid seasoned with saffron and lemon. Red potatoes are cooked alongside the chicken so that they soak up the lemon-saffron juice and soften.
The first time I had cassoulet in its home turf it was a revelation. This loose, almost soup-like stew of beans and meat was so far removed from all versions of cassoulet I'd had in the United States, or even in other parts of France. It was a large, bubbling vat of beans and meat, covered in a crust so dark that it was almost black. Rich, meaty, and overwhelmingly simple, the main flavor was just that of the cured meat, a good stock, and beans.
Eggplants have always been a difficult vegetable for me. They come in different shapes, sizes, colors, and stripes and are surrounded by dos and don'ts. But with enough delicious recipes under your belt, it's pretty easy to overlook the post-cooking appearance and realize that all those dos and don'ts are really more suggestions than hard-and-fast rules. This recipe, which combines small Italian eggplants cooked whole in olive oil along with harissa, chickpeas, and tomatoes, is one such preparation.
A staple for breakfast and lunch in many Asian countries, congee is rice and water (or broth) cooked down into a thick porridge. Everyone does it slightly different. It can be cooked using different grains of rice, different kinds and amounts of liquid, and different cooking times. Every choice can affect the final flavor and consistency. After much trial and error, I've arrived at the ideal recipe for a congee that's silky and comforting instead of sludgy or overly heavy.
A bowl of black beans with some rice, bread, or greens is a meal in itself, but it's also a side dish to round out about any meal. The trick, if you could call it that, is to stick to dried beans that can slowly release their starch into the cooking liquid, and use a balance of aromatics to enhance their flavor.