J.W. Hamner

Engineer by day and amateur home cook/food photographer by night.

  • Website
  • Location: Cambridge, MA
  • Favorite foods: Cassoulet, kimchi, Neapolitan pizza

Use Your Pressure Cooker to Make the World's Fastest, Easiest Chicken Enchiladas

As great as the enchiladas look, I think I am going to take you up on your suggestion to stop halfway and just make tacos... sounds great!

Use the Pressure Cooker to Make Full-Flavored Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup) In 30 Minutes

Yeah, I've made your beef pho recipe in the pressure cooker and it was great, and it's not a stretch to see how chicken pho would be even easier.

I don't like bone-in pieces of meat in my soup though (how do you eat a drumstick with chopsticks?), and drumsticks seem a pain to peel all the meat off of with the tendons and whatnot... maybe I'll go bone-in chicken thighs instead. Should preserve flavor/body but be easier to pull out and shred.

The Truth About Cast Iron Pans: 7 Myths That Need To Go Away

Honestly, why not just get enameled cast iron? Nowadays you can these type pans nearly as cheaply as a regular cast iron pan, and enamel is as "non-stick" as a seasoned cast iron pan in my experience (I imagine people will dispute this). I understand people have emotional/aesthetic attachments to cast iron pans from their grand mammy or whatever, but I just don't see the point of dealing with all of the negatives. I have used a lot of cast iron over the years thanks to advice from the cast iron zealots like Kenji, and they provide no increase in performance over enameled while being significantly more laborious to care for.

Pizza Hack: Is Copper Better Than the Baking Steel?

I appreciate that you published a "negative result" here. I'd like to see more of this... attempted kitchen hacks that sounded good but didn't ultimately work. Can be much more interesting reading than the "Even More Perfect Than The Last BEST Version of This Recipe" thing that so often happens.

Extra-Crispy Bar-Style Tortilla Pizza

I have a crappy under the oven broiler that is a pain to use, but luckily my Searzall had just arrived in the mail (it's an attachment for a blowtorch that makes it like a hand held broiler). This is only relevant for the minority of us that own such things, but it worked really great... heat was enough to even get the tortilla to bubble up and by the time the top was brown the bottom was too (left it on the stove on low heat). So more like 3-5 minutes total and done.

How to Make Traditional Cassoulet (And Why You Should Put Chicken in It!)

I don't buy your statement that fresh duck tastes better than confit in cassoulet. I've made cassoulet with fresh duck, chicken thighs, and duck confit and always found the duck confit version to be vastly superior. The confit would only be dry if you overcooked it when you were making the confit in the first place.

That said I have no problem with making cassoulet with chicken... no everbody wants to spend a week making it like I do.

Doritos Migas With Pepper Jack Will Rock Your Morning, Hangover or Not

@joy see:

Nobody is stopping you from putting in $10 artisanal smoked pink sea salt tortilla chips in your version.

Doritos Migas With Pepper Jack Will Rock Your Morning, Hangover or Not

I like the concept here a lot... reminds me of when I tried making walking tacos with Doritos instead of Fritos. Worked great with chili, why not with migas?

The Wok Mon Converts Your Home Burner Into a Wok Range. For Real.

@J. Kenji López-Alt:

All you are doing is asserting that a wok beat a skillet in a blind taste test... but for all I know it was 51 to 49 and if you ran the test again it would be the opposite. Why not just put the numbers out in one of these articles instead of just assuring us to take your word for it that the wok is superior?

Regardless, hopefully this piece of hardware will make the question moot.

The Wok Mon Converts Your Home Burner Into a Wok Range. For Real.

@J. Kenji López-Alt:

I'll ask again: do you have a citation? If you haven't published evidence of a difference between a wok and a skillet on a western stove then I have no reason to believe your assertion. You can't be all high and mighty about how scientific you are and then not actually have any data to back you up.

The Wok Mon Converts Your Home Burner Into a Wok Range. For Real.

I'd like to see a citation on the blind taste tests mentioned regarding wok vs. skillet on a western burner, as I quite frankly don't believe the 10 to 15 degree difference you are showing on that graph is enough to be detectable. I've never agreed with your advice to new cooks to buy a wok primarily because of the burner issue.

The Fresh Ramen Kits From Sun Noodle Will Knock Your Socks Off

I've always just discarded the base when I've used these noodles, but it sounds like they are generally better than I had given them credit for. However if you are making homemade tonkotsu or miso I don't see why you wouldn't consider splurging on the Sun Noodles. I might be mis-remembering, but I thought they were on the order of $3-4 for a pack of 2 servings which is ridiculously expensive relative to instant ramen noodles but not so bad in a general home cooking sense.

Sous-Vide, Deep-Fried Turkey Porchetta (Turchetta)

Made it this Thanksgiving and it's definitely 5 stars. Neither getting the skin nor the breast meat off were particularly hard though I was a little OCD about rolling it up (when nobody is checking to see if the skin makes it all the way around at the table). Made the turkey stock for the gravy in a pressure cooker the night before and Thanksgiving day was a snap.

Sous-Vide 101: Tacos de Lengua

I've never seen a beef tongue smaller than 3 lbs (cows are big!), so unless you can get veal tongue I'd plan on doubling it. The direction to "Bring to a simmer over high heat, reduce to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid is reduced and tongue has started to crisp" was confusing and fairly nonsensical since you can't crisp something in liquid. Otherwise a good and easy recipe that's perfect for a sous vide setup.

Taste Test: Fancy Pants Instant Ramen From Myojo Chukazanmai

How do these compare to Sun Ramen noodles? They cost more like $3-4 for a pack of two, are not dried (so have to be refrigerated and will go bad in a couple of weeks), but I can't imagine them being beat from a noodle taste perspective.

Portland, ME eats

Fore Street is really, really good but I actually think Duckfat is a tad overrated at this point. It's a good sandwich and fries place, but cooking things in duck fat doesn't automatically make it transcendent.

One of my favorite meals in Portland was at Bar Lola, where we got the tasting menu with wine pairings and the pace was so pleasant and leisurely that we missed our train back to Boston and didn't regret it.

Montreal Dining with a Vegetarian

Oh, the XO Le actually has a vegetarian tasting menu... that might be a good choice for Saturday night. We've also identified a couple of French restaurants in Old Montreal with good reviews that at least have a veg risotto: Chez L'Épicier and L'Auberge Saint-Gabriel. And of course there are options if we go for a different style of cuisine.

Sous Vide Chicken Wings

Ah yes, I should have consulted my Harold McGee. 140 is when it starts, but it's really slow... in another article Kenji says it would take 2 days for a pork shoulder to break down at 140 but obviously that's a huge chunk of meat. 8 hours at 148F plus overnight drying in the fridge might be worth a shot.

Sous Vide Chicken Wings

I'm no food scientist, but all I've read says that collagen doesn't break down until around 160 degrees F. As you say, with any slow cooked meat, including duck confit, the collagen breaks down into gelatin which makes the the meat moist even if it is overcooked from a muscle fibers perspective. I don't know how comparable chicken wings are to duck legs in regards to collagen content... if they are close, then I'd have no problem cooking them in the 160-170F range... however I suspect that they are lower and thus very well may dry out at that temp.

I've made the Modernist Cuisine wings (just this past week in fact) and found they were decently crispy as long as I air dried them on a rack in the fridge overnight... just a couple hours at room temp wasn't enough. I use a Thermapen and the stove to fry, so oil temperature was not a problem. Now I've never made Kenji's wings, so I don't know for a fact that they are significantly crispier, but if his theory about collagen in the skin is accurate then they should be.

How I Learned to Like Breakfast Tacos at Veracruz All Natural in Austin, TX

@AnnieNT: I doubt you're in the minority of people who post on Serious Eats, as I don't like or order scrambled eggs out for the same reason. But clearly somebody *must* like them that way if that's all we ever seem to see.

How I Learned to Like Breakfast Tacos at Veracruz All Natural in Austin, TX

@Lorenzo I was thinking the same thing. I mean how many restaurants actually make good scrambled eggs in the first place? Overcooked is how people like 'em. To condemn the breakfast taco for that is pretty mind boggling.

Fried Chicken Sandwiches with Cole Slaw

Reminiscent of your Chic-fil-A sandwich recipe (which I made a couple of months ago) but unburdened by expectations of replicating an existing sandwich. Not being a Chic-fil-A fan I imagine this will be my preferred fried chicken sandwich recipe.

Ask a Cicerone: What's Your Least Favorite Style of Beer?

This is an easy target, but American lagers do nothing for me in general and sometimes less than nothing. On a hot day I'd rather drink a hefeweizen or a witbeir than bother with a Bud.

Video: Making (and Messing up) Homemade Tofu

Awesome. I've got the Andrea Nguyen book on tofu and have been wanting to make my own tofu for ages... and had basically just been hemming and hawing over the fact that I don't know if I really want to own a tofu press, but your improvised version seemed to work great.

How To Make Mexican Street Corn (Elotes)

"This is the best way to serve corn, period."

On this we are in 100% agreement. Only ignorance can explain a preference for corn prepared in other ways. I will note for those of us without backyards that you can make elote perfectly well under the broiler.

Montreal Dining with a Vegetarian

My wife and I are going up to Montreal for our anniversary this coming weekend (9/27-9/29) and somewhat irresponsibly I'm only now looking at restaurants for us to try and hit. We're staying on the edge of Old Montreal (LHotel), love to walk, and will have a car.

The issue is that she's a vegetarian, and French food tends not to be super friendly to those who don't eat meat/fish... well, unless all you want is a salad I guess. I know there are some good vegan/vegetarian places we can go to but I was hoping for more of an omnivore place that also has a good vegetarian main course.

Obviously any place that needs reservations weeks in advance is not going to work, but any other suggestions from breakfast to dinner are welcome!

Sous Vide Chicken Wings

On this site Kenji has a recipe for twice fried Buffalo wings. The first fry being low temperature (a la confit) and the second at a traditional 400 degrees F. The idea being that the first fry breaks down the collagen in the skin without overcooking the wings and thus the second fry makes them extra crispy but still tender. He makes a throw away statement in the recipe about how it could be done sous vide with duck fat, but never supplies a temperature.

Modernist Cuisine at Home has a recipe for sous vide chicken wings and they go for 148 F for an hour. However this is too low to break down any collagen (160-170 F), and indeed a brief Google search suggests that many did not find the wings crispy enough.

The temperature for duck confit is 170 F, so is that what we should use to replicate Kenji's recipe sous vide? If so, don't we have to worry that the wings will be overcooked? And if that is a problem does that mean sous vide just isn't the way to make chicken wings?

Really Awesome Black Bean Burgers

These black bean burgers have a complex, satisfying flavor and robustly meaty texture that even devout carnivores will love (seriously, try them with bacon on top). The mixture comes together in just 25 minutes and can be used to make patties for cooking either on the backyard grill or indoors in a skillet. More

The Food Lab: My Favorite Brussels Sprouts Recipes

It's cliché to talk about how much people hate brussels sprouts, and these days it's not particularly accurate. Brussels sprouts don't need to be the sulfurous, mushy, repulsive cabbages that you might have grown up eating. Charred, sweet, and nutty, when cooked properly, brussels sprouts are the star of the Thanksgiving spread. Here are my three favorite ways to get 'em there. More

The Food Lab: How to Make Parisian Gnocchi

We've all met gnocchi before. Those potato-based pasta pillows that at their best are light and bouncy, though more often then not come off as leaden and heavy. Well, those gnocchi are another story for another time. Today we're hear to talk about their even pillowier, and—most importantly—far easier-to-make cousins, gnocchi à la Parisienne. If you ask me, they're tastier, as well. More

The Food Lab Redux: How to Make the Perfect Bowl of Tonkotsu Ramen

There's no two ways about it: making ramen—and I'm talking tonkotsu, the rich, creamy pork broth of Japan's Kyushu region that leaves your lips sticky and your belly happy—is not an easy task. Each element takes time to prepare before they're ready to combine in the bowl just before serving, and some of those elements take hours or even days if you want to do it right. From the creamy pork broth to the soft-cooked egg to the meltingly-tender slices of pork belly chashu, we've painstakingly tested each and every variable to produce recipes that are guaranteed to deliver supremely slurpable bowls to your own table that will rival the best ramen-ya in the world. More

The Serious Eats Guide to Ramen Styles

With the amount of regional styles and specialities out there, we're not even going to pretend that a comprehensive style guide to all of the ramen in the world is possible. But we can dive deep into ramen broths, soup bases, noodles, seasonings, toppings and oh-so-much more to give you something to noodle over. More

How to Make Jerk Chicken at Home

Spicy, sweet, camphorous, and a little woodsy, jerk chicken is a wholly unique experience. The skin should be a burnished mahogany, crisp and redolent of warm spices like nutmeg and allspice, laced with thyme and ginger. I set out to find a way to bring jerk chicken to my own backyard. Turns out it's easier said than done. See our step-by-step directions in the slideshow. More

Lunch Box: Make-Ahead Peanut Soba Noodles with Tofu and Pickled Bean Sprouts

Unless you are a robot, allergic to nuts, or hate fun, chances are you, like me, have a giant soft spot for peanut noodles. The sauce is a balance of salty, sharp, sweet and rich, and just hovering between liquid and paste for the perfect amount of "noodle cling". I threw in some easy pickled bean sprouts for kick (and crunch) and some simply seared tofu. More

The Vegan Experience: Two Steamed Bun Variations To Knock Your Socks Off

Chinese-style steamed buns are not new by any stretch, but stuffing them with interesting, carefully-selected ingredients and turning them into little composed sandwiches suddenly became a thing about a decade ago when first Momofuku then shortly after everybody else started serving them as (overpriced) appetizers all over town. It's a great idea that I felt deserved a bit of vegan-ification. More