We've had an epic year of cooking here at Serious Eats. We brought you themed weeks on everything from fried chicken to Mexican sandwiches, tackled another Vegan Experience, and went back to the basics with step-by-step guides to the most iconic holiday desserts. And a ton of you joined us along the way. Of the hundreds of new recipes and techniques we introduced in 2015, these are the 15 that you clicked on most.
The Art of the Perfect Grilled Cheese
Grilled cheese sandwiches are so straightforward that you don't exactly need a recipe to throw one together. But crafting a perfectly balanced, gooey, melty, buttery, crisp, straight-up transcendent grilled cheese? Well that's another matter entirely. From the ideal ingredients for the job to the most successful techniques (ahem, buttering and frying both sides of the bread, anyone?), we've put together the ultimate guide, and included a whopping 20 different flavor and ingredient combos to shake things up.
The Science of the Best Fresh Pasta
Having the tools to make great fresh egg noodles whenever you want is kind of a game-changer. This foolproof recipe makes a light, springy, and delicate pasta dough that can be used for everything from ravioli and tortellini to lasagna and linguine. And making it isn't nearly as hard as you might think. In fact, if you have flour, eggs, and a rolling pin, there's nothing stopping you from getting started right this minute.
Transform Your Microwave Popcorn Game
Don't care for pre-packaged popcorn (or its high price tag)? Wish making popcorn didn't involve a messy, oil-splattered stovetop? Fantasize about an easy way to create customized flavors for your favorite snack? Say hello to your new best friend: the brown paper bag. With a handful of kernels and your seasonings of choice, there's just a few minutes in the microwave between you and perfectly cooked, flavor-packed popcorn, whenever you damn well please.
Soft and Chewy Flour Tortillas
Sometimes, you want a paper-thin tortilla to eat with grilled meats and vegetables. But when it comes to the cheesy breakfast tacos and quesadillas of Tex-Mex glory, you want something a little more bready and substantial. You could compare these tortillas to the flour tortillas sold at most supermarkets, but that would be doing them a major disservice: these guys are thick and soft, tender with lard and chewy thanks to baking powder, and lightly blistered over a searingly hot skillet.
The Ultimate French Onion Soup
Settle in for a wait, because the key to this insanely rich and flavorful soup is caramelizing those onions low and oh-so-slow. We like to use a combination of different onion varieties for a more complex flavor, but what really sets this recipe apart is the addition of fish sauce, cider vinegar, and sherry for extra depth and brightness. Each bowl is broiled with a buttery-crisp crouton and a generous layer of Gruyère before it's finished with a dash of peppery chives.
Your Definitive Guide to Grilled Steak
If you've ever stood in the meat aisle of your supermarket wondering which kind of steak to buy for your next cookout, we feel you. There's a whole lot of beef out there, and exponentially more advice on which cuts to pick and how to cook them. Which is why we've put them all to the test, not to mention designed a few experiments of our own. From old wives' tales debunked to a complete breakdown of every cut, this exhaustive guide is designed to answer every steak grilling question you've ever had...and then some.
Fry Your Cheese in a Waffle Iron
Perhaps you've noticed that here at Serious Eats, we're rather fond of the waffle iron. But if you need some convincing that waffling anything other than, well, waffles, is worth it, then this recipe should do the trick. Lightly breaded mozzarella gets a quick pass in the waffle iron for a cross between deep-fried mozzarella sticks and queso frito: golden brown and crunchy on the inside, and perfectly melted and gooey on the inside.
Master Chinese Hot Pot at Home
A steaming bowl of simmering broth, a vast array of fresh meats and veggies, a table full of friends with chopsticks at the ready—sounds like a pretty great party to us. All that you need to host a hot pot feast is a few key pieces of equipment and all the ingredients prepped right. (Plus a quick lesson on hot pot etiquette.) Consider this your guide to making it happen.
The Best Scrambled Eggs, Your Way
Some people like their scrambled eggs fluffy, the way they're done in a diner, while other folks dream about fancy French-style eggs that have a custardy texture. What's the best way to get there? And does it matter if you salt your eggs before you start cooking? Should you add milk or cream? We tested all the variables to figure out what matters, and what doesn't, when you're making scrambled eggs.
Restaurant-Worthy Chicken With Pan Sauce
At a restaurant, your juicy chicken is served with a rich pan sauce; one that's smooth, glossy, and brightly flavored. What does a restaurant kitchen have that you're missing back home, and how can you get restaurant-worthy results the next time you're making chicken for dinner? It all comes down to two factors: gelatin and heat.
The Secrets of the Juiciest Italian-American Meatballs
These meatballs are a dream come true: light and flavorful, so tender a spoon can pass right through them with almost no resistance. To get there, you'll make a panade from tangy buttermilk-soaked fresh bread, and add minced pancetta to a mix of beef and pork. Really want 'em bursting with juice? The secret ingredient is a little gelled stock.
The Food Lab's 15-Minute Ultra-Gooey Stovetop Mac and Cheese
If you like the ease of boxed mac and cheese, but find yourself wishing for better flavor, Kenji's version is for you. Made with extra-sharp cheddar or other good melting cheese, it's emulsified with cornstarch, evaporated milk, eggs, and American cheese for an extra-gooey texture. Starting the pasta in cold water means it cooks faster and with less energy, and you don't even have to make a separate cheese sauce. Once the pasta is cooked, you can add all of your other ingredients directly to the pot and just stir over the burner until the sauce comes together on its own.
Great Grilled Beef Tenderloin, Colombian-Style
You don't need a fancy roasting pan or even a grill to make this impressive beef tenderloin. Literally translated as "beef tenderloin in a towel," lomo al trapo is made by wrapping a big chunk of beef tenderloin in a thick crust of salt swaddled in a towel, tying it up, and throwing it directly on a fire until it's cooked. It's one of the easiest, most foolproof, primally delicious, and downright impressive methods of cooking beef we've ever seen.
5 Steps to the Best Grilled Shrimp
What does it take to get grilled shrimp that are as tender and juicy as the most delicately poached versions? If you're looking for shrimp that burst with a decisive snap in your mouth, and still have a deep, sweet, crisply charred crust, start by tossing your shrimp with a bit of salt, sugar, and baking soda to help them brown just a touch faster and turn out plump, firm, and juicy. Skewer the shrimp so they're spooning—nice and cuddly—so heat takes a little longer to get to the center, buying you browning time. Let the surfaces of the shrimp air-dry and then cook on the highest possible heat.
Polenta Myths, Busted
There are a few things you hear over and over when people talk about making polenta, and not all of them are true. Some say the water must be boiling before you add the cornmeal. Others say you should add your polenta to your water in a thin stream while whisking constantly to prevent lumps. And you often hear that you have to stir the polenta non-stop until it's done. But it turns out that none of these rules hold true, and you can make great polenta ignoring all of them.