Taste Test: The Best Supermarket Bacon

I'll add my recommend for Kirkland, and Farmland is my favorite supermarket brand.

If you're buying bulk from the butcher counter, it's very likely that you're getting Daily's brand, and that's some of the best bacon there is.

The Case for Loving Vintage Cookbooks

Meta Given's Encyclopedia of Modern Cooking (1949). That's the book that truly turned me on to cooking some 30-odd years ago, and I still rummage through it when I need inspiration or a sound reference.

The Art of the Perfect Grilled Cheese (Plus 20 Variations to Shake Things Up)

For those of you who say buttering the pan results in dry spots, it's because you're not using enough butter. A grilled cheese is not health food, live a little!

My favorite is American and sharp cheddar (gooey and tangy) on good sourdough. Tomato soup is a must. I like the recipe Kenji developed for Cook's Illustrated, but if I'm not down for all those steps, his 15-Minute Creamy Tomato Soup (Vegan) is quite nice (though I de-veganize it with butter and cream - remember, not health food). But Campbell's is fine too.

Dipping Into Queso, a Texas Potluck Classic

Just wanted to say that I enjoy these kinds of background pieces, they're a face of SE that I really appreciate.

Pump up the Party With Cheesy Poutine Poppers

I would like to recommend once again the Better Than Bouillon line of broth bases. The ingredient list for their beef base starts with "Roasted Beef with Concentrated Beef Stock". It's better than any prepared store-bought beef broth, and yes, it's better than bouillon cubes by far. (I have no stake, I'm just a huge fan.)

Know Your Chicken: What USDA Poultry Labels Actually Mean

@zorazen, I see. Well, aversion to cannibalism is mostly a human thing. Yard chickens take pieces out of each other now and then, mostly bits of comb/wattle, and an occasional eye if two of 'em got to feuding.

There's an odd thing. I'm not keen to eat the meat of a carnivore, but I have no problem eating a chicken that ate chicken meat. Is that paradoxical?

Know Your Chicken: What USDA Poultry Labels Actually Mean

What's the deal with this "vegetarian feed" thing? That's so wrong that it's not right at all. Growing up out in the sticks, our yard chickens loved to browse on bugs, worms, and mice. They made the best eggs I've ever known, and when the time came, they made the best chicken soup.

How I Built a Barbecue Restaurant in Brooklyn: What Happens When a Restaurant Dies

Sad, touching, and informative. You have a fantastic writing style, Uncle Ho. Always looking forward to reading your articles.

Sorry, New York; Why Los Angeles is the Best Pastrami City in America

The biggest problem with LA is that it's in California. The biggest problem with NY City is that it's in NY State. The politics in both places drive me to drink.

Well, to drink more, but you get my point.

A Song of Spice and Fire: The Real Deal With Hunan Cuisine

I came to say what just-eat-it said. A little place around the corner from me is Hunan Express, and they don't make anything like this, or anything with much heat at all for that matter. (At least the "express" is right, there's no tables and every order is takeout.)

Also, +1 for another well conceived background article. I enjoy these.

The Vegan Experience: Welcome to Year 4

All through January I suspected that Kenji was purposely overdosing on meat, getting himself good and sick of it to ease the slide into Vegan February.

I'm a confirmed omnivore, but I've come to look forward to reading about these vegan adventures. The exploitation of innocent potato starches to make a cheesy sauce, that was just plain genius. And to echo, it's not about good vegan food, it's just about good food. Those vegan baconized mushrooms have a place on my plate, even if it's next to a ribeye. Bring it!

Put Brown Butter to Use in This Moist and Tender Cornbread

@marais, what you do is, you brown the butter, then let it settle and scoop off the clear portion (the fat) and treat that like lard - clarified butterfat has a pretty high smoke point. The unclear portion, the milk solids, that's what smokes at low temps, so you just mix that into your batter.

Upgrade Your Tamale Pie With Braised Skirt Steak and a Brown Butter Cornbread Crust (Plus: A Quick and Easy 45-Minute Skillet Version!)

My mom used to make something like this by the name of Impossible Mexican Pie. Recipe right off the back of a Bisquick box. As childhood memories go, it's not one of my favorites. This version is much more appealing, but...yeah, I'm gonna put black olives in. What can I say, I actually like them!

Recipe Update: Check Out the Latest Versions of Our Chili Recipes

Having made a LOT of chili, I'll say using dried whole chiles is fun and rewarding, but very hit-or-miss. In my market, they don't move a lot, and it's often a challenge to find some that aren't well past their prime. A reasonably fresh chili powder off the shelf is often as good, or better, than what I can manage with whole chiles. Hopefully this will change after I retire and start spending my winters in the deep southwest.

The Food Lab: Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken Wings With Xi'an Flavors Bring the Heat

@Kenji, I apologize, my comment sounded accusatory when it wasn't meant that way. I'm just amused at how ideas propagate across the network as they do.

Beyond Butter: 7 Popcorn Flavors to Upgrade Your Snacking

@Bill Woods, my air popper doesn't keep me from adding plenty of fat to my popcorn. Half a cup of kernels, half a stick of butter. That's a good ratio. I like the soy sauce idea, though.

The Food Lab: Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken Wings With Xi'an Flavors Bring the Heat

Now you tell me: When was the last time you saw a chicken wing this crispy, from the deep fryer or not?

Umm...that would be 11 days ago, when Chef John demonstrated pretty much the same baking powder trick on his blog. Not the first time that's happened. (John's also San Francico based, I half expect you two already know each other.)

The Food Lab: The Pressure Cooker Makes Short Work of This Authentic Texas Chile con Carne

@magtured, to my surprise, it's true. Beans (and pasta) strictly forbidden. Just as well, I prefer mine without. (Unlike someone I know who thinks chili is 3 cans of chili con carne with beans plus one can of baked beans. Ugh.)

@KMan94, I think the problem with smoked brisket is that it's already cooked, and re-cooking it as chili will leave it bland and dry. Maybe make a batch with half the called-for chuck, then stir in chopped brisket to warm through just before serving?

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

My request on the book is only that it be spiral-bound, or ring-bound, so it lays flat when open. I have some amazing cookbooks, but the ones with the traditional glued/sewn bindings are a pain to use.

Which are the Best Inexpensive Mandoline Slicers?

Hmm...maybe I like my Benriner because it's the only kind I've used. No injuries yet, but I try to use the finger guard whenever I can (like, break down most of a potato without, then use the guard for the last inch or so).

What I really like about it (or any mandoline) is that it's accidentally adaptive for disabled users. Having reduced or absent hand function makes a chef's knife much less fun to use. A mandoline goes a long way towards making up for that.

The Secrets of the Juiciest, Most Tender and Flavorful Italian-American Meatballs're trying to tell me that the 5-pound bag of frozen Italian meatballs I got from Costco might not be the best possible meatballs?

Almost joking. I buy them, they're fine for what they are. I also make scratch meatballs using my mom's recipe (less often of late, forming meatballs with one hand isn't so easy). A few years ago I was reviewing my recipe collection, I was amused to find that aside from the seasonings and cooking method, my meatloaf and meatball recipes are identical.

Why Diners Are More Important Than Ever

Bad hash browns are legion. Here in the mountain west, you're lucky if they even walk them past the flattop on the way from freezer to plate. I've had limited success in asking for hash browns well-done.

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

@Kenji - this is OT for this post, but while you are at 8,000MSL, do you have time to experiment with poached eggs? I've always had trouble with them here at 4,300ft, and I've thought that the difference in "barely simmering" water temperatures might be a factor.

Digging Into Chicken Fried Steak, A Texas Icon

There's nothing sadder than packet mix cream gravy. So easy to make from scratch. But I guess I understand...the real stuff does not improve with age.

@Jersey Mike - I don't think I've ever seen a greasy spoon that didn't serve chicken fried steak. Big chains like Village Inn, Dennys, IHOP, Waffle House. Any truck stop restaurant. Any 24-hour casino cafe. Truth is, you might need to leave The City to complete this quest. But having never been further east than Kansas, I might not be your best resource.

A Cookie a Day: The Porky Pleasure of Biscochitos

@CiciC, no, there's really not much to it. I keep bacon drippings in a Mason jar in the fridge. When I cook bacon, I just pour the (cooled) rendered fat right. Once in a while I'll put the jar in a cool oven to "clean" the fat by melting it and letting the meat bits settle to the bottom.

About those sponsored posts...

I'd like to make a couple comments about those sponsored posts that SE puts up every so often. Yes, I know the site has to bring in revenue, and I'm not here to talk about that. There are two changes I'd like to see.

First, I'd like to see the comment section left open. This is a community site, and the discussion below a post is at least as valuable, if not more so, than the post itself -- sometimes the number of comments is the only thing that gets me to click through to a post I might otherwise skip. This is equally true for sponsored posts. (Yes, I know SPs tend to draw criticism in the comments, which is why [I imagine] they're closed from the start, but c'mon! Let the mods do their job, kill off-topic comments, and ban commenters that do it habitually.)

Second, I keep seeing SPs floating near the top of the feed, even several days after they were posted, above newer content. Please stop doing that.

Pre-cooked bacon: Where's the fat gone?

Since being volunteered to help with my dad-in-law's new food trailer, I've been introduced firsthand to the phenomenon of pre-cooked bacon. It surely speeds the process of assembling BLTs and bacon cheeseburgers.

But there's one thing that bothers me: What happens to the drippings from that pre-cooked bacon?

When I cook bacon at home, the drippings are at least as important as the bacon itself, and I make sure to collect and preserve every last drop. It's my #1 preferred cooking fat for nearly everything.

Considering how widespread is the use of pre-cooked bacon in food service, the process of making the stuff must generate huge lakes of drippings each year. It's not being jarred and sold on grocery shelves, so where does it go?

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