The Food Lab

Unraveling the mysteries of home cooking through science.

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The Food Lab: Make Your Own Just-Add-Hot-Water Instant Noodles (and Make Your Coworkers Jealous)

Despite all of the pleasures of instant noodles—the salty, MSG-packed broth, the little freeze-dried nubs of vegetables, the slippery, way-too-soft noodles—wouldn't it be great if you could get all of that same convenience and pleasure—the portability, the just-add-water cooking, the lunch-sized portions—but pack it full of fresh vegetables and real, honest-to-goodness flavor? Here's a secret: you can, and it's easier than you think. More

The Food Lab: For the Best Chicken Parmesan, Take a Lesson From the South

Even at its worst, classic Italian-American chicken parmesan is pretty darn good. So how do you go about perfecting it? Our recipe has a buttermilk-based brine for maximum juiciness and tenderness. Tons of Parmesan cheese in our breading—along with a small drizzle of buttermilk—improves its flavor and texture. Our sauce is a slow-cooked, rich red sauce, and a mixture of fresh mozzarella and real Parmigiano-Reggiano top it off. More

The Best Chicken Parmesan

Even at its worst, classic Italian-American chicken parmesan is pretty darn good. So how do you go about perfecting it? Our recipe has a buttermilk-based brine for maximum juiciness and tenderness. Tons of Parmesan cheese in our breading—along with a small drizzle of buttermilk— improves its flavor and texture. Our sauce is a slow-cooked, rich red sauce, and a mixture of fresh mozzarella and real Parmigiano-Reggiano top it off. More

American Chop Suey: The Cheesy, Beefy, Misnamed Stovetop Casserole That Deserves a Comeback

Beefaroni, macaroni and beef, chili mac, Johnny Marzetti, or American chop suey, call it what you will, but whatever its origins, there's one thing for sure: the stuff is delicious. Tender pasta with a rich tomato and beef sauce flavored with garlic and oregano, cooked together with onions and peppers, and finished with cheese, this is Italian-American comfort food at its finest. Not only that, but it's a ridiculously easy dish to put together, cooked 100% on the stovetop, and requiring nothing more than a pot, a bowl, and about half an hour of your time. More

American Chop Suey (Macaroni, Beef, and Cheese Skillet Casserole)

Beefaroni, macaroni and beef, chili mac, Johnny Marzetti, or American chop suey, call it what you will, but whatever its origins, there's one thing for sure: the stuff is delicious. Tender pasta with a rich tomato and beef sauce flavored with garlic and oregano, cooked together with onions and peppers, and finished with cheese, this is Italian-American comfort food at its finest. Not only that, but it's a ridiculously easy dish to put together, cooked 100% on the stovetop, and requiring nothing more than a pot, a bowl, and about half an hour of your time. More

How to Make Rich and Creamy Fettuccine Alfredo That Won't Weigh You Down

Don't get me wrong—I'm not a health nut or calorie counter. But let's face it: the feeling you get after downing a bowl of creamy, cheesy Fettuccine Alfredo ain't the best. Wouldn't it be great to have a quick and easy version that has all the flavor of the cream-packed original, but with a cleaner flavor that doesn't leave you in a food coma? More

Lighter Fettuccine Alfredo

Don't get me wrong—I'm not a health nut or calorie counter. But let's face it: the feeling you get after downing a bowl of creamy, cheesy Fettuccine Alfredo ain't the best. Wouldn't it be great to have a quick and easy version that has all the flavor of the cream-packed original, but with a cleaner flavor that doesn't leave you in a food coma? More

The Food Lab: Use the Oven to Make the Best Darned Italian American Red Sauce You've Ever Tasted

This is red sauce. The slow-cooked, rib-sticking Italian-American stew designed to fill you up with equal parts flavor and pride. It's the kind of sauce for which you open up the windows while you're cooking just to make sure that everyone else in the neighborhood knows what you're up to. It's the kind of sauce you want your meatballs swimming in, your chicken parm bathed in, and the sauce that you want not just tossed with your spaghetti, but spooned on top in quantities that'd make a true Italian cry out in distress. The kind of sauce that tastes like it took all day to make, because it really took all day to make. And the best part? This version is worth every minute. More

The Best Slow-Cooked Tomato Sauce

This rich and hearty red sauce tastes like it's been cooked for hours, because it has. The secret to rich, naturally sweet, complex flavors is to cook the sauce in the oven, allowing the surface to brown while the sauce slowly concentrates. The resultant sauce is great on pasta, with meatballs, on your chicken parm, or scooped right out of the pan with a spoon on its own. More

Cast Iron Cooking: The Easy Pull-Apart Pepperoni Garlic Knots That Will Forever Change How You Entertain

Who doesn't like knotted bites of tender, chewy, golden-brown pizza dough that are tossed in butter with flecks of garlic and herbs clinging to the nooks and crannies? Now imagine those same garlic knots, but with flecks of crisp, spicy pepperoni worked in, along with the kind of golden brown, crusty bottom that only a cast iron skillet can impart. And let's throw in the wafting steam and moist, tender center that pull-apart breads come with, and oh, how about two different cheeses? Sound good to you? More

Easy Pull-Apart Pepperoni Garlic Knots

These pull-apart garlic knots are baked in a cast iron skillet for a crisp, golden brown bottom. They are intensely flavored with pepperoni, red pepper flakes, garlic, and two types of cheeses, and have a moist, buttery crumb. It's the kind of recipe that your guests will demand you make time and time again because they're that damn good. Good thing they're easy as well. More

So You Like Flavor? Don't Soak Your Black Beans!

I've spent my whole life soaking black beans before cooking them just like every other bean around. But Russ Parsons of the L.A. Times recently chastised me for it, claiming that un-soaked black beans are better in almost every way. I put it to the test, comparing soaked and un-soaked beans for flavor, texture, color, ease of preparation, and, er, digestibility. Guess which method came out on top? More

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