The Food Lab

Unraveling the mysteries of home cooking through science.

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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

The Food Lab Turbo: How to Make Lighter Tuna Noodle Casserole With Just One Pan (and No Knives!)

Pasta with a light and creamy sauce, tender chunks of tuna, and peas, in about 15 minutes start to finish. This is the kind of recipe that I wish I'd known in college. All it takes is a single large skillet or pot, one burner or hot plate, a bowl, and a fork. That's it. And on top of that, it turns out a dish that's not just good-given-the-constraints, but legitimately good-enough-that-I-would've-made-it-for-that-girl-I-was-trying-to-impress-in-college or even good-enough-for-a-mildly-romantic-weeknight-dinner-with-the-wife. More

The Food Lab Turbo: Why You Should Really Be Grilling Your Cabbage

Every year, when fall vegetables begin dominating the farmers markets, I have the same though process: charred brussels sprouts are so damn awesome, I wonder if there are other similar vegetables that I can char to get the same effect? It turns out the answer is yes: pretty much any brassica will get nice and sweet and nutty when exposed to extreme high heat, and the simplest of them all, the basic green cabbage, is no exception. More

The Food Lab Turbo: Make This Smoky Eggplant Topping to Upgrade Your Ramen

I spend an awful lot of time experimenting with ramen toppings. And of all the toppings I've created, this smoky eggplant is the one. Whether you're making ramen from scratch, or just want to improve a store-bought kit, look no further than this chunky puree of eggplant meat infused with the Japanese flavors of bonito flakes, mirin, and soy sauce. More

The Food Lab: How to Make Adana Kebabs (Turkish Ground Lamb Kebabs)

I ate a lot of good things when I was in Istanbul last winter—eggs scrambled with tomatoes and chilies, flatbreads topped with cheese and eggs, teeny tiny dumplings served with yogurt and sumac—but kebabs, made with juicy lamb meat molded around flat metal skewers and grilled over live coals were the kind of thing that even at their worst, were still pretty freaking awesome. Here's how to make them at their best. More

Adana Kebabs (Ground Lamb Kebabs)

I ate a lot of good things when I was in Istanbul last winter—eggs scrambled with tomatoes and chilies, flatbreads topped with cheese and eggs, teeny tiny dumplings served with yogurt and sumac—but kebabs, made with juicy lamb meat molded around flat metal skewers and grilled over live coals were the kind of thing that even at their worst, were still pretty freaking awesome. Here's how to make them at their best. More

The Food Lab: How to Make Thai-Style Grilled Chicken (Gai Yang)

Thai cooks are experts at grilling all manner of meats, but nowhere does that proficiency shine more brightly than with chicken. Crisp, golden skin, coated in a richly charred marinade of toasted spices and herbs seasoned with fish sauce and sugar, the chicken is butterflied, flattened, and threaded onto bamboo skewers before being slowly grilled over charcoal. It's tasty enough on its own, but dipped into a sweet and spicy chili sauce, it becomes mind-blowingly delicious. More

Thai-Style Grilled Chicken (Gai Yang)

Thai-style grilled chicken coated in a marinade flavored with cilantro, white pepper, and fish sauce is one of the tastiest things you'll ever pull off of your grill. There's a reason you can't walk more than a few blocks in Bangkok without catching a whiff of its intense aroma. Here's how to make it in your own backyard. More

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