The Real Deal With White Chocolate, Dessert's Delicious Underdog

@sak14saj If you want to float by US government standards they I guess you don't consider any whiskey that isn't aged in brand new, charred, oak barrels (excepting clear corn whiskey) to be whiskey. So nothing made in Canada, Japan, Ireland, or Scotland is technically whiskey.

How to Trim a Whole Beef Tenderloin for Roasting

@andreustalyn I'm not sure how it would effect sous vide. Maybe a higher chance of spoilage with very long cooks (which you wouldn't want to do for tenderloin anyway)?

But whole primals from Costco tend to cryopaked packages straight from the slaughter house just like everywhere else (and that many butchers start off with). Same brands too (swift, ibp a few others). So provided you're getting the whole primal, in its original vacuum bag I don't see how Costco could have blade tenderized it, unless it was done by the packer. Anyway it seems like Costco labels what's been tenderized so it should be easy to avoid.

How to Trim a Whole Beef Tenderloin for Roasting

Just as a note, if you've never done this before but have some experience with simple butchery tasks at home, definitely use a knife to cut away the membrane. With a lot of other cuts (I'm thinking especially of spare ribs) you can either carefully peal the membrane off with the finger tips, or more often grip it firmly and tear it away to get a smoother/cleaner piece of meat with less lose. Doesn't work very well here. The tenderloin is tender enough that the meat will tear if you try to pull the membrane rather than cutting it. I made some very ugly tenderloins trying to grip and rip once.

The Food Lab's Definitive Guide to Buying and Cooking Hams

@TomvanHalen Not typically for brined city hams. I've seen them, but they're kind on a specialty product and can be expensive. I've also seen butcher's (often British or Irish expat butchers) that make them at a reasonable price. But in general in the US if its a raw ham its the dry cured sort.

The Food Lab's Definitive Guide to Buying and Cooking Hams

@etuoo1 Compared to a city ham its much dryer, chewier, and incredibly salty with a funky fermented flavor to it. I don't think I can stress the salty bit enough. Country hams are typically aged longer and salted more than Prosciutto or Spanish hams. So raw I'd describe them as more leathery and the flavor is stronger and gamier. Last time I cooked one up we served it to a party of 14. 3 people (including myself) loved it and the rest seemed to consider it inedible. I would recommend picking up a small package of sliced country ham to try before you invest in a whole one. See if you like it first. Kenji isn't lying when he says they aren't for everyone.

Benton's out of Tennessee are broadly considered the best but they cost like they are the best. I typically get Broadbent hams from Kentucky which are very nice, or buy at the farmer's market where my Grandmother lives in North Carolina and smuggle back to NY. Most producers these days seem to make hams labeled "younger" or "milder". Seem to be hams aged only 6 months, less salty, less funky, less dry/chewy. Honestly even loving country ham I'll probably get one of those the next time I roast a whole one. Though I have yet to try any of them. Some of these younger hams actually cite Prosciutto as a comparison point so I'd assume they'd also work better as a raw ham (the traditional older ones are rock hard, difficult to slice and chew).

Link for the ham I usually buy:

Vitamix vs. BlendTec vs. Breville: Who Makes the Best High End Blender?

@Kenji as far as I can tell you've mostly worked at the more respectable end of fine dining? I bartended in one or two places like that. One place had a Vitamix and a Waring in the kitchen. Most of the other places I've worked have been either more casual, or just generally more scum baggy. And it was Waring at all of those places. From what I can gather the Warings are more generally available, parts are easier to find, and often work with aftermarket and "store brand" carafes that are significantly cheaper. Like I said most of my blender use has been as a bartender (last time a cooked was high school and it was a dinner, so 20 year old warring with dodgy wiring), and if you're sharing a blender with the kitchen or need to have multiple clean carafes on hand its a lot cheaper to use off brand ones. At the bar you also don't necessarily need the same level of finesse, so you can make do with the less expensive Warings that are less capable. If parts and carafes are interchangeable from bar to kitchen it just makes life simple. I'd assume that'd be why I see so many Warings around.

In that one kitchen with both the Vitamix only got used for specific things, like incredibly smooth soups. The sous chef told me they all like the Waring better, but the cheap carafes they had for it didn't work as well as the Vitamix with the proper carafe. That and the fact that you could get Waring parts on an hours notice if it went down meant it stuck around as the work horse. So I gather that depending on the model your using there really isn't much of a practical difference between the two.

I think its the bit about available parts that makes me interested in them. Knowing I can easily (and sometimes cheaply) fix the thing myself instead of mailing to the manufacturer is nice. But I don't really need a blender, so unless another $50 commercial grade one wanders my way I won't be too concerned about it.

Vitamix vs. BlendTec vs. Breville: Who Makes the Best High End Blender?

I've used quite a few high powered blenders in restaurant work, mostly for making frozen cocktails lately though. 90% of what I've run into have been commercial grade Warings. I've only every seen one die once, and many of the ones I've worked with have been 10 years old or more. That would tend to make me want to look toward Waring, and particularly the commercial grade stuff if I was going to buy a wildly expensive blender (and many of Warings are incredibly expensive). I had an opportunity to snap up a new high end Waring for like $50 last winter when the restaurant I was working at went under. I should have done so, but I let the nice guys from the local Taco Shop take it because I don't do a lot of blending at home.

Gift Guide Spotlight: Gifts for the Geek Cook

@dtremit, mine has an attachment for such canisters, or use with Mason Jars. I think the bigger issue is that the clamp-type home sealers supposedly can't pull much of a vacuum. They only press the plastic down firmly against the meat, so I wonder how much a vacuum they can really pull on the jars. The proper vacuum is supposedly the way in which vacuum sealing accelerates marinading. Though I suppose it might be down to greater surface contact (which would require a bag). You can always freeze your marinade before bagging and sealing it though that kills the time savings.

I'm not sure how true any of that is, always a lot of poorly backed up claims in cooking. But I do have a pastry chef friend who uses his chamber sealer to aerate batters and chocolate in mason jars. Apparently it doesn't work at all with a clamp-style, jar attachment or no.

Gift Guide Spotlight: Gifts for the Geek Cook

I'm actually getting curious about that iwatani torch. I understand that in absolute terms butane can burn as hot if not hotter than propane. But as I understand it most butane torches (including supposedly the iwatani) actually don't put out nearly as much heat as a typical hardware store torch. But I keep seeing the damn thing recommended everywhere over the easier to find propane dealies. I probably wont switch any time soon. There's nowhere even remotely near me where I can find the butane cans for it, and my propane canisters come in handy for a bunch of other things (grills, camping stoves and lanterns, actual pluming work etc). But I have become extremely curious. What's the deal with that thing anyway? Is it just cheaper and smaller?

12 Festive Game and Lamb Recipes for Your Holiday Table

You guys kind of cheated here. Cornish Game Hens aren't game animals. They're nothing more than small/young domestic chickens of a particular breed. You can't now, not could you ever, head out and hunt for game hen. That's pretty much a defining feature of game as a class of foods.

The Best Cheesesteaks in Philadelphia

@hotdoglover I remember chicks being pretty decent, and my friend's father swore by it. But in that area of South Jersey I go with Gaetano's (might be spelling it wrong, tends to be pronounce "gitano's"). They've got a number of locations, but the one I always went to was just over the Ben Franklin somewhere. Still remains my favorite standby steak. Most of the steak joints that I was familiar with that I liked better either closed down or dropped in quality over the years. So when I'm in the area and I don't have time to seek out a place I haven't been I just look for Gaetano's.

The Best Cheesesteaks in Philadelphia

@Doctor Memory as I understand it "whiz wit" is a pastiche of the South Philly Italian American accent, tacked onto the abbreviated lingo used by the guys actually cooking them. That seems to be the area that still embraced it most (when I was in Philly ~7 years ago), but its general popularity seems tied to marketing efforts by cheese steak joints in the area. Especially Pat's and Geno's. I actually got yelled at for pronouncing it "with" by a staffer at Geno's once.

I'm also confused (or perturbed?) by the number of commenters going on about how inauthentic/bad whiz is, and provolone is the only acceptable option. Its kind if an old hat argument. But if I'm remembering right the original steak sandwich had no cheese (though it supposedly had onions). American cheese was supposedly the first cheese invited to the party. Provolone popped up later due to it being South Philly and all this provolone is right here anyway. Then they invented whiz, and it was a better way to inject processed cheese goodness than sliced American. So ifin' that's true then the most authentic, classic version of the sandwich is no cheese or American cheese. I also know plenty of Philly natives who always go for whiz. And its the top selling cheese by a huge margin, and frankly Philly doesn't have nearly enough tourists for them to be solely responsible for that. In fact I was heartily mocked by most of my Philly native friends for NOT going with whiz, I was all about provolone. Apparently it was a terribly pretentious "New York" thing to do, then something about the Mets, and why doesn't New York stop shitting on Philly all the time, and so forth. Bear in mind these were male college students. I caved, tried the whiz, usually go for it these days (especially on sub par steaks), still like just about any cheese in there. You're "I grew up with it so its the only acceptable option" is not the other guys "I grew up with it so its the only acceptable option". So do what I did, take the other guy for a steak. Each order one the way you like it. Then go halfsies on them and talk about something else.

The Best Cheesesteaks in Philadelphia

@film_score A big hole in your argument is that none of the place you list are known for making particularly good cheese steaks. Tony Luke's had a good reputation when he started out, but that was in part down to the roast pork sandwich. And quality has (from what I've heard) hugely gone down as they've tried to expand into a chain with national ambitions. Jim's is just sad. As for Pat's and Geno's the arguement for a long time with them hasn't been "who makes the best cheese steak in Philly" but "which of the two makes the better cheese steak". There's a big difference there, because neither is very good and its rare to find some one who will genuinely argue one or the other is hands down best in the city. These are the famous places, largely sustained by their own brand, not the good places. They have their place though (am I drunk and nearby? Is my mom visiting and did she see it on Food Network?). And while they're not on a whole very good, they tend to be better than the steak at nearest street cart, pizza place, or chinese take out joint (yes, really).

How to Make 15 Minute Stovetop Roast Turkey and Mole Enchiladas

As far as I'm aware turkeys are not "from" Mexico in that they originated there and then were introduced else where. Though they are native to Mexico, they're also native to the rest of North America. And the fossil record for Turkey species in at least the US predates human arrival. Though Mexico does have 2 species of Turkey to our 1, and domesticated Turkeys apparently decent from Mexican populations.

In Praise of a Turkey-Free Thanksgiving

@Whitebrow there's been a number of all too brief articles on the subject the last few years (including the recent one hear from the Southern food history guy). If you poke around it shouldn't be too hard to find, but here's one of the better ones off the top of my head:

You're talking about game birds that aren't turkey, sea food, corn bread, venison, in the early offings. After that, from what I understand, it boils down to whatever's local to New England and seasonal (which would include wild turkeys).

In Praise of a Turkey-Free Thanksgiving

@CatrionaShadowleaf I think the price of duck is gonna vary by where you are, and it should be fairly stable year round. Its farmed/slaughtered year round and typically sold frozen. But technically speaking it is "in season" in fall at the same time as Turkey (particularly wild duck) so if its more less expensive at different times of the year I'd assume its now. In my experience price has more to do with where you're getting it. Its seems most expensive where its least popular, and fairly affordable where duck is common or raised. Like where I am on Long Island, a place that probably eats more duck than any other part of the US, a few miles from several active duck farms, etc it can be pretty cheap from time to time. The frozen supermarket ducks tend to be cheapest (goes on sale here for like its typically cheaper than the turkeys the guy sells.

I would caution against doing it for Thanksgiving the first time you ever cook it though. It takes a bit of practice to get the fat properly rendered and the skin properly crisped.

In Praise of a Turkey-Free Thanksgiving

I wish, I've never been fond of Turkey. And occasionally floated the idea of doing duck and a ton of seafood instead (actually more traditional for our area once upon a time). But the family threatens murder.

Try This Thanksgiving-Inspired Chicken Liver Pâté With Bourbon and Cranberry

We make a liver pate from the turkey's liver (and really any roasted bird that comes with giblets) every year. Apparently its an old family recipe from my mom's (French) side. There's a french name for the style of pate I can't ever remember, but its very similar to Jewish chopped liver. Typically we roast the livers along side the bird (which almost always makes for over cooked liver, but Mom won't let me change it), then it gets roughly mashed with a fork along with some Mayo, diced onion, yolk from a hard boiled egg, salt and pepper.

I definitely suggest anyone who's curious to try Daniel's recipe, pate goes great as an appetizer on Thanksgiving. I however have to cook with my insane mother who shouts loudly that the TV is WRONG every-time she sees some one making tourtiere and not using her grandmother's exact recipe. Even when they are 1. actually in Franco-phone Canada and 2. using THEIR grandmother's recipe. Because apparently they are some how lying or faking.

How Thanksgiving, the 'Yankee Abolitionist Holiday,' Won Over the South

@Ocean nothing wrong with a stuffed chicken. And Turkey with dressing/stuffing could not have been the handed down celebration food for the religious celebration as it came over from Europe because the religious celebration pre-dates the common use/availability of turkey in Europe. The Thanksgiving foods we think of are basically the common foods of the early North East (including New England and Eastern Canada) European community (though many had presidents in Native American cuisines). Which is the whole point of the article. The foods have no religious connotation because they weren't particularly associated with the holiday in the place where its modern American version arose. They were part of the general diet in the area and came to be associated with special meals regardless of if they were "Thanksgiving" or not. And in many places still carry heavy associations with Christmas as well (due to seasonality). Hell many of the very early Thanksgivings didn't have these associations at all. On the menu you had stuff like eel, duck and venison. Whatever was available/plentiful seasonally.

So sure the origins of the holiday are in a very particular period of English religious practice. But if we're talking about the traditional foods of the modern American holiday you're talking about a handful of dishes/foods from Jersey north through Canada getting spread nation wide.

How Thanksgiving, the 'Yankee Abolitionist Holiday,' Won Over the South

@Ocean While the idea of days of "thanksgiving" is certainly rooted in English protestant traditions, this article is about food. And the foods that are traditional to the American holiday called Thanksgiving are from New England. Turkeys, cranberries, pumpkins, etc are new world foods. They didn't exist in Europe during the time frame you mention. And they wouldn't see broad acceptance over there until well AFTER they were already established as standard New England holiday fair. You should also be aware that the holiday never caught on in Catholic countries over there, and died out in England a long time ago.

Hell even now cranberries are pretty much not a thing in Europe and whole turkey is hard to come by or over priced outside of Christmas. My cousins in Dublin who do an "American Thanksgiving" every year use a chicken.

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

@Recipephany That IS really strange. Aside from sealing the counter tops in some way I wouldn't know what to do there. But that likely wouldn't be good for the wood.

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

@Recipephany That's quite odd. We cook in almost nothing but cast iron, and never get markings of any kind on our (completely unsealed or finished) maple counter, or anywhere else for that matter. As with any pan (especially over gas) they get a fair bit of carbon buildup on the underside. And this will leave black marks wherever it touches, hand towels, counters etc. if you don't clean it off. We're you regularly oiling and season the exterior of the pan? Did you wipe it down till any black/carbon residue was gone? Generally speaking you don't need to regularly oil or season the exterior beyond the point that prevents rust. The only time I've gotten black marks on counters and cutting boards from pans was when I didn't regularly wash/de-carbonize the exterior. And it was with any pot or pan, not unique to cast iron.

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

@Dorek That's exactly what we do (or did pot is well broken in now). I was talking about the sort of seasoning a pan will pick up from regular use. Because of how deep the pot is the normal "heat it on a burner and oil it" method of slowly building season, or regular use on a burner is really only going to season the bottom portion of the pot. Basically just the cooking surface and a few inches up the wall. Like wise the lid really isn't going to pick up a season at all. So you need to be a little more careful about rust than you might be with a skillet, and give it more frequent regular seasons in the oven (or grill) as you describe. The lid also has this weird tendency to pick up thick carbon scale on the interior, so you need to clean that off if you want to keep moisture away and want to build up any level of season on the lid.

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

@The Petite Gourmet

My mother has the same dutch oven. Its a bit difficult to season because its so deep, the sides do not consistently get hot the way the bottom does or a skillet would during normal use. Also the lid doesn't really season from use, as its not on the burner. The "season" flaking off the top isn't season, its carbon build up scrape it off.

Just keep using it frequently. Oil the interior after each use. What I like to do is stick the wet pan on a burner after washing. Heat it up till the water boils off, then rub it down with whatever fat is handy. Let it cool and store it. Don't worry about the lid, it doesn't need to be seasoned the same way the pan does. If its rusty clean it off, oil it, or give it a quick season in the oven. Don't store or dry the pan with the lid on, it traps moisture in there and you'll get rust. It took quite a bit longer to get my mom's dutch oven in fighting shape than it does with skillets. Part of that is how big the damn thing is, part of it is that we live near the beach and all things rust out here at a phenomenal rate, and part of that is she likes to use it to cook tomato sauce. The tomato sauce is fine now, but it kind screwed up the pan when it wasn't fully seasoned. So maybe avoid acidic dishes until you've broken it in.

The Food Lab: How to Make Pull-Apart Stuffing-Flavored Rolls

@Kenji that's exactly the sage sausage I was referring to as well. But the more fat, more sage, better flavor was what I was getting at with "higher quality". They taste roughly the same, but the fat "sage sausage" is often just better. I've suspected for a long time that they're exactly the same sausage. Made with roughly the same stuff, in roughly the same way, from roughly the same tradition. The sage labeled stuff seems to be freshly made in house or regionally as opposed to a mass market packaged product. I'd be curious to find out if there is actually much difference. Like one is cured with nitrates (I think the smoked country sausage sometimes is) and the other isn't.

BUT anyway I've been making my own for stuffing and biscuits and gravy the last few years. Its pretty stupid simple if you want something better than Jimmy Dean.

Roasting a Pig

My brother an I will be doing a hog this coming Saturday 40-50lb range. We've done this 3 times before, and he's done several pigs and a few lambs on his own. We'll be butterflying the pig and cooking it on what's basically a catering style grill. Shallow fire tray with adjustable grill height and a massive barrel style cover, with an off set fire and some water pans it does pretty well for this sort of thing.

We've got a nice handle on how we're going about it. ~225F, skin down protected by foil initially, basting with apple juice/vinger and lard on the meat side. Depending when we pick up the hog we'll either inject or let it take a long sit with a heavy rub. No sugar outside the juice. Expecting 6-8 hours not including rest but planning for longer. Maintaining a consistent temp can be tough in this grill. Using charcoal and a bit of hardwood for smoke.

Anyone have additional tips or advice?

Thanksgiving: What's Your Stuffing Approach?

It can be a very personal question. Do you use a boxed mix? Stovetop? Semi-homemade? Totally from scratch? Dry out the bread overnight first? And where do you fall in the dressing vs. stuffing debate? To clarify, "stuffing" is when it actually cooks in the bird's cavity while "dressing" bakes in a separate pan. Please discuss. More