J.W. Hamner

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

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

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.

I Made A Spanish Tortilla Out Of Salt and Vinegar Potato Chips

What's interesting about the Adria recipe is that he specifically calls for thin chips like Lay's, not kettle style. Has anyone tried making it with both styles of chip?

Sautéed Asparagus with Chorizo, Fried Eggs, and Smoked Paprika Allioli

Look's simple and flavorful... I'm in. I would also like to note that it appears we have moved from putting a poached egg on everything to putting a fried egg on everything, which I count as progress.

The Best Bloody Marys in Boston

Well, it looks like everyone apparently has their own favorite... and apparently we all live in Cambridge... but I will nominate the Atomic Bloody from the Westside Lounge as my personal fave. Jalepeno infused vodka + habenero hot sauce FTW.

Fast Food: Waffle Taco from Taco Bell

Despite the sausage not reaching the edge I thought it actually looked remarkably close to it's beauty shot... certainly more than the average hamburger. On the other hand that mainly means that the beauty shot looks just as unappetizing as the real thing.

Best New Italian in Boston Area: Giulia in Cambridge, MA

@yoadrienne1 Well I don't know about her, but I have and agree it's great. I walked by Guilia recently, noticed that it was finally open, and looked at the menu but haven't eaten there yet... perhaps this post will spur us to action.

The Ramen Rater's Top 10 Instant Noodles of 2013

I've only had #8 and #6 on this list, so I'm not sure I'm qualified to judge... but Sun Noodle's ramen is my favorite. Granted, they need to be refrigerated and only last a couple of weeks but the noodle quality is vastly superior to any dried ramen I've tasted and it takes the same amount of time to cook.

Sauced: Ancho-Raisin Sauce

I'd call it a mole, but I guess there is no thickener like nuts or tortillas.

Portland, ME: The Healthier Side of Duckfat

I know it sort of defeats the purpose of a restaurant called Duckfat but I wish they offered vegetarian fries too... else it's a bit of a challenge to convince my vegetarian wife that it's worth a visit even though they have other veggie options when we are visiting Portland.

The Food Lab: The Crabbiest Crab Cakes


I would not denigrate a dungeness crab cake since I have never had one (nor dungeness crab at all - I am in fact very curious about them), but it seems you are dismissing the Maryland style without ever having tried it (correct me if I'm wrong). I will, however, freely and vehemently denigrate the crab croquettes that get labeled as crab cakes in East Coast restaurants north of Maryland. I have had a ton of these and feel quite able to judge them as inherently lacking. Are there people who have had both a traditional Maryland style crab cake and a breaded crab heresy and still prefer the croquette presentation? I suppose it is possible, but I have yet to meet that person.

@J. Kenji-Lopez Alt:

You make a fair point about the hyper-localization... but fresh picked crab meat is hard to get most places, regardless as to whether you want jumbo lump or are ok with just lump backfin. Making a true Maryland style crab cake simply requires you to accept jumbo lump or nothing.

Obviously we are talking about matters of opinion... I was just using hyperbole (which I believe you are well and familiar with) to state that I firmly believe that no breaded crab cake (even just on one side) would ever beat a Faidley's/G&M crab cake in any fair taste test. Clearly awards given by Marylanders to people who make Maryland crab cakes is not a definitive answer to this, but the fact that nobody will ever ask you "Where is the best place in town to get one of those wonderful breaded New England style crab patties?" is telling I think. People who visit Maryland pretty much universally want to have a crab cake while they are there... this suggests some competence in making the dish. Of course people can like whatever they want, but if somebody tells you that McDonald's makes the best hamburger (especially without having another kind - which I suspect is analogous to the amount of experience many commenters have with a Maryland style crab cake) you might suggest this is objectively not true and point to taste tests or restaurant ratings or whatever. Or maybe you wouldn't care that they were missing a wider world of hamburger enjoyment and accept that taste is a subjective thing. To each their own I guess.

As to the crab cake... I agree with your seasoning preferences, but I like a little filler (specifically crushed saltines) in my crab cakes to help hold things together. As long as you are using jumbo lump the crab flavor should shine through quite well.

The Food Lab: The Crabbiest Crab Cakes


People from Philly don't know how to make a crab cake any better than those from NYC or Boston. You will however find good examples at the Delaware beaches, which is pretty close geographically speaking.

The Food Lab: The Crabbiest Crab Cakes

@Hammy: Calling someone childish is more insulting than anything anyone else has said here. You should look in the mirror in regards to your own rhetoric.

The Food Lab: The Crabbiest Crab Cakes

OK, you want constructive and less aggressive. Here is an example of what my vision as to what a true Maryland (and yes, therefore "best") crab cake should look like:

Though I would use saltines instead of panko (though I've never tried panko so that might be worth a shot) and put an egg in to help it bind. Also wouldn't use tarragon mayo, and would probably go with Worcestershire, Dijon, and Tabasco as the seasoning. Melted butter is brushed on and then they are broiled.

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 Thanksgiving Special: 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

Sous-Vide 101: Tacos de Lengua

It's an incredible dish, and one that'll make a believer out of anyone who's ever been afraid to try tongue. Not only does cooking a tongue sous-vide make for complete set-it-and-forget-it ease (as it does with any braised or confit dish), it also creates a more flavorful finished product as the tongue slowly stews in its own juices. 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

The Food Lab: 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