• Favorite foods: Pizza, pizza, pizza. Fried chicken, burgers, steak, pasta, peanut butter anything. Ice cream, frozen custard, chocolate chip and molasses/ginger cookies, most anything with cinnamon (no tree nuts).

Latest Comments

The Food Lab: Maximize Flavor by Ultra-Smashing Your Burger

Smashed burgers are pretty common in the Midwest but aren't quite the same as these. These remind me of Central Illinois burgers - it's a regional style of *really* smashing the edges of an already smashed burger followed by a quick flip for the cheese. The griddled side is super-seared and tastes almost like meat frico. I guess there's nothing new under the sun as the style dates back to the 20s, but you'd have to really be lost in the booniest parts of Illinois to have ever eaten (or heard) of one.

The Food Lab's Complete Guide to Sous-Vide Chicken Breast

@Kenji - Just used this technique to make "poached" chicken for chicken salad. Delicious!

@BadgerSquirrel - Fahrenheit is actually a better temperature range for cooking - it's a finer scale, especially when degrees of doneness are separated by only 1-2 degrees Centigrade. I prefer metric for everything else -grams are a finer range than ounces. In any case, the Celsius temps are in the table.

The Food Lab: Foolproof Onion Rings

While it may not be the platonic ideal of an onion ring, I kind of like the split-shell onion ring - they are even crispier than normal and I like the caramelized note to the onion (although even I don't like it when it goes overboard and just burns).

Do you think a freeze but no demembraning version would work? The freezing would tenderize the onion so you wouldn't have to cook it very long after the split occurred. A consistent method for split, crispy, caramelized onion rings sounds good to me...

At $65, The Misen Chef's Knife is the Holy Grail of Knives

This looks like a great deal, but I'll stick to my overpriced Shuns for now. Once you get past blade geometry and type of steel, the thing that brings me back to Shun (and a few other Japanese knives) is the D-shaped handle. I've never liked the Western style handle - the hard edges always bite into my palm.

I've noticed that Japanese knives are moving toward the Western style handle more and more, so it must work for most people. Maybe I'm holding my knives wrong (although I do the pinch), but after a bunch of chopping, my hand aches if I used my Wustof but feels fine if I used any of the Shuns.

Crimes Against Pizza: An Opinionated Guide to Not Messing Up Your Pie

@Rice Bowl - Amen. Everything you said in your post was right on. I'm sorry my own tone got snippy earlier in the thread. Most of the pies I make myself use a modified no knead crust too (extra salt and some old dough if I have any). I have a Baking Steel, which I heartily recommend if you've got the cash + reason to buy something new. The crusts come out excellent on it. If money's tight, some of the old Slicers just went to a local metal fab shop and got a slab of steel for way less than half the cost.

@cpd007 - Hey buddy, long time, no see! Actually, I regret the tone of my post - I'd edit it if I could. I'm a pizza inclusivist - if it tastes good and is made with care, it's all good. I've had plenty of bad pizza, but I've had great pizza in every conceivable style out there.

Lomo al Trapo: The Colombian Technique That Will Change the Way You Grill Beef

@fwilger - Amazon has lots of similar products. Look for "cotton towel packs" or you can go to this Amazon link for a 12 pack of very similar towels. If those sell out too, here's another link for a 24 pack.

If those also fail, just look at the "Customers who viewed..." portion of the page - there are dozens of suppliers. You'll want to get woven/herringbone towels - I'd suspect that the terry cloth kind wouldn't hold up as well in fire.

Chengdu Taste is the Best Sichuan Restaurant in America. Here's What to Order.

I second the request for a Spring Onion Chicken recipe. It looks fantastic!

Crimes Against Pizza: An Opinionated Guide to Not Messing Up Your Pie

Man, the start and end of my post was overly harsh. Apologies for the tone.

Chengdu Taste is the Best Sichuan Restaurant in America. Here's What to Order.

The food at Lao Sze Chuan in Chicago is pretty darn good but I haven't been to Sichuan so I can't really say how accurate it is (although the clientele tends to be recent immigrants + foodies, so it's at least better than most).

My youngest son got the jellyfish last time - mostly to gross out his older brother. He ate most of it - I have to say it was good assuming you like that texture, which takes some getting used to. The hot beef soup that my oldest son got, though, was amazing - beefy with a good shot of heat and numbing but lots of depth of flavor too - plenty of other spices and condiments were in that broth.

Lomo al Trapo: The Colombian Technique That Will Change the Way You Grill Beef

Now I just need to figure out if the kids in my son's Boy Scout troop have the dexterity to do the salt wrap correctly. Throwing a tenderloin in the fire and getting back perfectly cooked meat? Beats a hobo pack any day of the week! Kenji may make me the most popular scout dad in the troop...

Crimes Against Pizza: An Opinionated Guide to Not Messing Up Your Pie

@Kenji - Sorry, but that's just B.S. The "casserole" term is purely a snobby NYC epithet because, even if you don't want to call various Chicago baked goods "pizza", they don't resemble casseroles in any way. A casserole is a baked stew or sauce with some sort of starch floating or embedded within it. In the American vernacular, it is almost always a baked noodle dish - tuna casserole, mac and cheese - or occasionally beans or potatoes, as in green bean casserole or funeral potatoes .

There are three distinct types of Chicago "deep dish pizza". One of them, pan pizza as served by Pequod's or Burt's Place, is simply a thick crust, Sicilian style pizza baked in a round pan instead of a square one. Even in NYC, this would be called "pizza".

The second style, the corn oil/butter crust pan pizza, does have a shorter crust but is still either not that thick (Pizano's or Malnati's) or retains something of a bready nature (Pizzeria Uno/Gino's East). The thinner ones are thinner than a typical grandma or Sicilian pizza, while the Uno/Gino's style does get fairly (1.5") thick. At the absolute worst, you could call this a "pie" and given the pizza toppings and flavor profile involved, "pizza pie" is an appropriate name. This style is native to Chicago - created in the 1940s.

The third style, the stuffed style associated with Giordano's, Nancy's and Edwardo's, is even more pie-like and I believe the style you liked/tolerated the most on your trip to Chicago. The catch here is that this is a spin on an actual Italian dish called... Pizza Rustica. Also called "Easter Pie". The main difference in the Chicago version is that it uses typical American pizza ingredients and leaves out the egg. Considering that Italians from Italy call this dish "pizza", you don't have much of a leg to stand on.

The fact that NYC and American-style pizzas are based mostly on pizza neapolitano and pizza al taglio does not negate the fact that Italians call many different things "pizza" and Americans do to.

It's fine not to like Chicago pizza (there are plenty of them I don't like), but stop it with the casserole thing. It's childish and churlish.

Crimes Against Pizza: An Opinionated Guide to Not Messing Up Your Pie

I will grant that the rest of the article speaks truth - especially about sausage and pepperoni, an area where the standard NYC slice is often subpar. Pepperoni, in the immortal words popularized by Adam Kuban, should be little chalices of grease. And sausage should be placed raw in little nobs to cook with the pie. How people ever came to accept (or even prefer!) sliced, pre-cooked sausage on their pies is a mystery to me...

Crimes Against Pizza: An Opinionated Guide to Not Messing Up Your Pie

Niki running at Troll Level 10 today ("Casserole"). Disappointed by the previous editor of Slice. Fortunately, SE has driven off its pizza readership, so the old time Chicago Slicers can live in blissful ignorance.

The Food Lab: These Fried Chicken Sandwiches Take Only 5 Ingredients to Make

This is pretty much the old Chick-Fil-A recipe - the one they did on-site. Now, they get pre-brined chicken breasts that don't use pickle juice. As I'm not a huge fan of pickles (love vinegar, hate pickles), I'm happy they've lost the vague pickle flavor. A local fast food chain called Meatheads still does the pickle brine on their chicken - you can definitely taste it.

The Food Lab: Four Secrets to Improving Any Fried Chicken Recipe

@PAC13 - You can just add a little corn or potato starch to the flour instead of vodka. Kenji noted that cake flour was too weak, so we want something between cake and AP flour. One tablespoon per cup of AP flour will give you a blend that is about half way between AP flour and cake flour.

I'm a big fan of the Ad Hoc recipe for fried chicken - made it for 4th of July - but I definitely think I'm going to do a double fry next time. I've been doing the flour drizzle for years and it definitely leads to a craggier crust.

Zucchini Is a Terrible Pizza Topping! (Unless You Treat It Right)

Hmm... On the plus side - pizza post. On the minus side - zucchini pizza. Even Kenji says it's one of the blandest vegetables known to mankind. Methinks it was the onion, lemon and feta that was good.

What next? Jicama pizza? ;)

Chicago's Harold's is the Best Bad Fried Chicken on Earth

@tdp312 - I worked at CBOT back in the 90s and we called it Prison Chicken too. To differentiate it from "Chicken Planet" (the charbroiled place on Jackson) which was called Immigration Chicken as it was across from the INS/ICE/DHS building.

Chicago's Harold's is the Best Bad Fried Chicken on Earth

You didn't even mention the pseudo-random numbering of the locations. There is no rhyme or reason - #7 did not necessarily open after #6 or before #8 and it's not geographic. The only given is that no two franchisees will have the same number.

I've mostly been in the Loop, where Harold's is very hit-or-miss (as you say, it doesn't hold well and they precook there) and that's caused a number of them to close. My so-bad-its-good chicken place was Mickey's, across from the Cook County Correctional building. It's on a weirdly bad block (OK, across from a prison, but a block from the financial district) full of pawn shops, flop houses and fried food emporiums (fried fish and shrimp is further down the block). Mickey's is famous for their wings and their chicken fingers - you can eat like a (grease-loving) king for nothing.

So go to Mickey's, where the the owner is/was a Lebanese guy named "Mike".

The Best Lobster Rolls in Boston

The Kelly's lobster roll was the best one in Boston when I did my epic lobster roll crawl thru Massachusetts a few years back. There were better ones on the Cape, but Kelly's was a damned fine roll. Of the Boston rolls, it easily had the most meat, was dressed simply and had an excellently griddled, buttery roll. Neptune might have had a slightly better quality of lobster, but it wasn't night and day.

And, you can just go to Kelly's, walk up, order and walk across the street to eat on the beach. 5 minutes from walk-up to eating!

Hugh Acheson on the Best Southern Cookbooks and How to Cope With Your CSA

When I saw "advice on the best Southern Cookbook" and "CSA", my immediate thoughts were "really, a Confederacy reference"? :D

Serious Eats and The Food Lab Have Teamed Up With Anova to Bring You the Best Sous-Vide Guides On the Planet

So, if we have a non-Anova sous vide machine, will the app be useful or is the content so well integrated into the Anova infrastructure that it would be pointless to use it for the recipes?

How to Make Cemita Rolls, The Ultimate Sandwich Bun

@Kenji - So are these a hybrid of the Pueblan style (crunchy exterior, soft interior, slightly sweet) and the New York style (hamburger buns with sesame seeds)?

The Rise and Fall of the Lime Rickey, the Soda Fountain Comeback Kid

I picked up a craving for raspberry lime rickeys when I vacationed in Cape Cod 15 years ago - that and Sundae School/Four Seas ice cream. Funny that Serious Eats has managed to stories on both in the past week.

I used to do a traditionalist take on the raspberry lime rickey (seltzer, lime juice, raspberry coulis/sweetener or Torani if I got lazy). Now, I tend to use ginger ale for the seltzer - I always have it around and it's pre-sweetened.

My shake-my-head-in-shame but it's oh-so-good-and-easy version uses diet products - Diet Canada Dry, Torani sugar-free raspberry and lots of lime juice. Except for the petrochemicals, it's good for me! :D

Why Sherry Vinegar Deserves to Be Your One True Vinegar

I love having various vinegars. I've always been partial to sherry vinegar - it's an upgrade to most wine vinegars. I've been using a lot of chinkiang vinegar in non-Asian recipes too - it's cheap *and* delicious.

How to Clean Out Your Spice Cabinet and Organize it—for Good

I am fortunate to live about 5 minutes from The Spice House, so I've got a cabinet full of their little glass jars. They put on labels that explain the spice (or spice blend) and how its used (helpful for those oddball spices you linger over and buy on a whim).

The one thing they don't carry (to my chagrin) is long pepper. Max must have another source for that...