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The Food Lab: The Best Way to Bake Bacon for a Crowd

@pgsky - the water bath is a really nice method, especially for sandwiches. The only problem is that it requires a little pre-planning.

I tend to only do it when I know we'll have sandwiches or burgers for dinner since for the most part our bacon consumption is usually a spur of the moment type thing.

The Food Lab: The Best Way to Bake Bacon for a Crowd

My problem with bacon is that it's hard to cook in bulk. The baking sheet methods above will cook maybe 8 or 9 pieces at a time according to the picture? Assuming that most people will eat 3-4 pieces of bacon and that an oven can hold two sheets per batch, you only get enough for 4-5 people. That's a family, not a crowd.

When I need to feed 5 or more people, I'll generally default to a water bath method per ChefSteps. Cook in the bath at about 140F overnight (directly in the package) and then give it a quick ~5 minute one-sided sear in a pan before serving. In about 30 minutes, you can produce two full packages of well-cooked bacon. Less if you get more than one frying pan working.

21 Smashing Pumpkin Recipes to Try Tonight (Tonight)

Ha! Title is funny because I'm 40.

How about "21 Smashing Pumpkin recipes featuring Mayonnaise"? or "21 Smashing Pumpkin Recipes That Will Disarm Even the Most Ardent of Haters"?

Ask The Food Lab: Do I Need to Use Kosher Salt?

Has SE always posted old articles to the lead section? Just noticed that this one was from 2013 according to the age of the comments.

Japanese Marinated Soft Boiled Egg for Ramen (Ajitsuke Tamago)

My eggs came out way underdone with a 6 and a half minute cooking time. The whites were too soft to peel so I ended up just cracking the yolk into my ramen.

I'd err on the side of overcooking to make sure you can actually get the shell off the eggs. I'd go at least 7 minutes but more likely 8 instead (and then shock immediately afterward to stop the cooking).

The Food Lab's BLT Manifesto

BLTs (and sandwiches in general) are where sous vide bacon shines. Nice and tender - a great combination between crispy and chewy.

The Food Lab's BLT Manifesto

Great article and just the other day I was pondering how underrated iceberg lettuce is as a sandwich topping. The crunch and subtle sweetness is absolutely perfect.

Layering & overfilling BLTs is my problem. It's prime tomato season here in NJ and while awesome tomatoes make for awesome sandwiches, they also make for sloppy eating.

Sous Vide Smoked Brisket

@sarah...since your results sound very similar to mine, I'd guess that yes, a minimum amount of marbling (or at least thickness) is needed for the 24 hour cook at 155F. My brisket was slightly under 6lbs but it was select grade, pre-trimmed (only a small layer of fat cap), and relatively thin across it's entirety.

I'm guessing that smaller/thinner, lean, or pre-trimmed briskets can only get by with a lower temperature cook or with a shorter cook at the higher temps. To be honest though, the results of my first try were so bad that I'll wait to see if anybody else can provide some specific guidelines before trying this one again.

Japanese Oyakodon: Chicken + Egg + 15 Minutes = Dinner

Awesome recipe...serving with togarashi is key though. It really helps to balance out the sweetness of the broth. Lacking that, I'd probably look to finishing salt or a maybe a splash of vinegar.

The Food Lab's Complete Guide to Sous Vide Smoked Brisket

@Bigfoot - I've cooked enough meat via sous vide, smoking, and traditional roasts/braises that I can tell when a tough piece of meat just needs to be cooked more and when it's been cooked far past done. This was by all means the latter.

@maztec - I totally agree but that's my point. The write up and recipe give no mention of or qualification for time/temp relative to meat quality. In fact, the write up implies if not explicitly states that this recipe will cook any flat close to perfection. This is clearly not the case for the type of cut that the bulk of the readership would have readily available (smaller, trimmed flats of select grade) and I think it might be a good idea to retest this one with a few new variables thrown in or at least to caveat with a recommedation to stick to the lower temps or shorter cook times for really lean or smaller cuts.

@fireandsharp - my brisket was of similar quality to yours. I'd love to hear results from lower temp and/or shorter cook.

Sous Vide Smoked Brisket

I wrote a larger comment with the article, but I cooked this one over the past weekend. 155F for 27 hours with a 2 hour finish in a 275F convection oven. Started with a ~6lb. flat from my local grocery store.

Recipe fail. Meat was sawdust dry and crumbly though flavor, tenderness, and bark appearance were dead-on.

If you don't have a source for thicker/larger flats, can't get your hands on a point cut, or can't get prime grade meat, I'd skip this one.

Whether sous vide or traditional smoking, I just don't think there's any saving those smaller & leaner briskets traditionally available at chain grocers.

The Food Lab's Complete Guide to Sous Vide Smoked Brisket

Cooked this over the weekend. 155F for 27 hours, cooled/rested in fridge overnight, and finished in a 275F convection oven for 2 hours. I used a small 6lb. flat from my local grocery store.

Recipe fail. Meat was like sawdust. Flavor, tenderness, and bark quality were dead-on but the meat was the kind of dry that sucked moisture out of your mouth. In fact, the meat was so dry it crumbled apart towards the end where it was a little thinner.

I don't think it was a matter of finishing too long in the oven as the meat was already very firm coming out of the initial cook. I didn't weigh results, but did end up with something between 2-3 cups of liquid from a piece of meat that started slightly below 6 pounds (likely something around a 30% loss in weight).

I think the big variable is brisket quality/size and feel like the recipe/write-up should be retested/amended to reflect suggested time/temp changes accordingly. I'm guessing that smaller/thinner flats (less than 8 pounds) or those graded below prime should only be cooked at 135F (or perhaps 155F for a much shorter time). Prime graded or really thick flats can go for the entire 24-30 hours at 155F (as can point cuts).

I don't know if it's on the agenda but it'd be great to have this one revisited if time/inclination exists. Otherwise, maybe pull it down or revise the write-up to reflect that it's not necessarily the brisket panacea that we're all looking for.

Oh well, this is the first Food Lab overpromise I think I've ever seen. Still a great track record by the numbers!

The Food Lab's Complete Guide to Sous Vide Smoked Brisket

@ goatboay - why not seal the second half in a bag and freeze without cooking first? It'll keep just as long as any other raw cut of meat (that is, pretty long since its vacuum sealed).

The Food Lab's Complete Guide to Sous Vide Smoked Brisket

I'm from NJ and can honestly say that I've never had a smoked brisket that I would consider good. I'm not sure if it's because I don't favor the cut myself, or if it's because I've never encountered one that was cooked properly. Given my feelings towards smoked beef ribs, I have to assume that it's the latter.

I have tried a couple of briskets on my smoker but they generally come out a bit meh...enjoyable but nowhere near the effort/cost involved. Could be the fact that I can only get choice flats from my local grocery/Costco, nobody sells the point or higher quality flats.

In fact, I've stopped trying them altogether given how much work they are to do, and the low likelihood of ending up with a product I'm thrilled with.

This recipe could be the game changer! I guess I know what I'm doing this weekend!

New England's Greatest Contribution to the Hot Dog

I agree that NYC in general doesn't rate on the best hot dog scale. IMO

1.) Chicago
2.) Denmark

Haven't tried New England dogs so I can't opine but I have a feeling that they're probably one of those things you have to grow up with to appreciate.

The Best Spirits to Give Your Dad This Father's Day

Snow leopard vodka. 65% of the time it works every time...

How to Make a Parchment Paper Lid for Stews and Braises


So obvious and yet I've been doing this for a long time by only folding the sheet in half. Needless to say, my covers were pretty sad...deformed and uneven like a snowman on the first warm day after a snowstorm.

Vegan Meal Plan: A Week of Delicious Breakfasts, Lunches, and Dinners

Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is awesome! I think I'm going to try out the various menus next week.

That said, the tofu scramble recipe has been killing me since you first published it. It looks amazing. I don't think I'll be able to wait to Wednesday for it and will have to give it a go this weekend.

The Food Lab: Great Hummus and the Science of Smooth

Probably not the right place, but congratulations to Kenji on the James Beard nomination for The Food Lab.

Honestly, with all of the buzz the book has gotten thus far I would have been surprised had it not been nominated!

What to Eat With Chicken? Depends How You're Cooking It

My very guiltiest pleasure...roasted chicken goes best with Stove Top 'stuffing'.

Also, you can keep your stinkin' biscuits! Fried chicken demands macaroni and cheese and southern style greens.

The Vegan Experience: Welcome to Year 5

It may sound like I'm being terribly lazy but how about putting together an illustrative one week meal vegan plan for those of us who know nothing about how to switch over in a healthy way?

I love the notion of creating rich and flavorful vegan dishes but also know that I'm the type that will jump on pasta as the easy out and will likely not do a great job of making sure I'm getting adequate proteins, etc.

How I Fell for Amaro Montenegro

I used to date a girl named Allie until 2008 when she left me for some schlub she met while studying abroad in Italy...

I'm sure it's a different girl though.

The Food Lab: How to Make the Best Oven-Cooked Pulled Pork

Agreed that pulled pork generally doesn't hold more than a couple of days. I'll generally use leftovers to make an improvised Chinese bao filling by stir frying with onion, garlic and a little rice wine, hitting it with a good dose of hoisin, and finishing with chopped scallions. Delicious with homemade or store bought steamed buns. Hoisin has such a powerful flavor that it doesn't really matter if the pork is already mixed with a sauce or not. Vinegar or sweet sauce doesn't matter either, as they're both flavors that work in this context.

Best Eaten Alone Without Pants On: Pineapple and Bacon Nachos

You may want to keep your pants on while preparing this meal due to the potential for splattering bacon grease, errant melted cheese, and inadvertent contact with hot oven bits. Feel free to remove your pants prior to consumption.

Also, nachos for one? nachos eaten without pants? What is the SE team trying to imply about those of us who love nachos?


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