'Ruhlman's Twenty' on Serious Eats
Even with all of the rich ingredients that goes into baked mac and cheese, more often than not, there is something about the final dish that is bland. Somehow the sharpness of the cheese gets buried in the bechamel base, resulting in a side that's rich in texture but lacking the rich flavor we're looking for. To counter this blandness, Ruhlman has turned the bechamel base into an oniony soubise for this Mac and Cheese with Soubise, a baked mac and cheese that is never wanting for deeply warm, cheesiness.
This recipe for Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes incorporates a few easy but game changing elements. First off is the potato cooking method. Instead of aggressively boiling, Ruhlman opts for a gentle simmer on medium-low heat; this way the exterior doesn't disintegrate into the cooking water. The potatoes are then drained and left aside for their steam to release, therefore drying out the potatoes slightly and making for a fluffier mash. The final element added to this amazing mash—and the one that sets it apart—is brown butter, with all its caramelly, nutty flavor. Incorporating brown butter into mashed potatoes gives them an added element of richness in a way that is both nearly effortless but totally elegant. This is of those recipes that will certainly change the way you think about humble mashed potatoes from here on out.
In his latest cookbook, Michael Ruhlman has included a dressing model that every home cook should try: Lemon-Pepper Vinaigrette, Two Ways. It's a tangy dressing made from lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, Parmigiano, and pepper that can be whisked up in just a few minutes or transformed into a stand up Caesar with the addition of an egg yolk and a few anchovies. It's the sort of light, lemony dressing that gently coats leaves of crisp romaine perfectly, making for a salad that acts at a simple, bright palate awakener, and of course, a brilliant accompaniment to Ruhlman's Perfect Roast Chicken.
Is this really the perfect roast chicken? I'm going with an overwhelming yes for a couple of reasons. It's the simplest roast chicken that's ever come out of my kitchen and as far as fantastic chicken flavor goes—juicy interior and cracklingly crisp skin—it's really spot on, and dare I say perfect. Not overly fancy, but with a chicken that tastes this good, extra add-ins like herbs and aromatics aren't really necessary.
The first technique that Michael Ruhlman introduces in his latest cookbook, Ruhlman's Twenty is simply titled Think because in his words, "Thinking in the kitchen is underrated." Ruhlman wants us to stop blindly following recipes, in an A plus B equals C, kitchen robot kind of way, and start thinking about the hows and whys that make recipe work. Enter to win a copy of his new cookbook here.