Rib-Eye Steak with Sauce Béarnaise

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A few months ago, when I first conceived of Sauce Week, I set out to make a dinner for myself that promised to be so outrageously decadent, I’d have to close my blinds before eating the first forkful. The premise was pretty basic–steak and potatoes–with one key difference. I was going to drench the whole thing in that most indulgent of French sauces, a sauce that contains more butter than most people eat in a month, yet a sauce so rich and sultry it’s pretty much the height of sophistication and elegance: I’m talking, of course, about Sauce Béarnaise.

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Salsa Verde via Mortar and Pestle

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I’ll let you in on a blogging secret. We bloggers want you to click all over our blogs because every time you click, we make $0.001 and, eventually, that adds up. (That’s why all successful food bloggers ride around in Porsches or, in my case, the subway.)

So it’s a fairly significant fact that in this post about salsa verde I am not going to link to the salsa verde in my archives, the one that I made in September 2010 (and that you can easily find by searching in the search box). That’s because, now that I’ve made that same recipe in a mortar and pestle, I disavow the old method. A mortar and pestle is the only way to do it.

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The Negroni

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At the bar of Michael Symons’s Lola in Cleveland, Ohio, I first encountered the Negroni.

Michael Ruhlman, who was there to participate in a segment we were shooting for Food Network online, ordered the drink and I asked him about it. “It has Campari,” he told me, “gin and sweet vermouth.” I ordered one too and when it came I assumed, because of the bright red color, that it would be sweet. I was very, very wrong.

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Baked “New” Garlic with Creamed Goat’s Cheese

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You’ve seen it at the farmer’s market, you’ve read about it on Ruhlman’s blog. It’s the tall, stalky plant that look like Beaker the muppet when held upside down.

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[Image assembled haphazardly in Photoshop with picture from Ruhlman’s blog and a stretched-out picture of Beaker.]

It’s new garlic, or Spring garlic, or green garlic (depending on who you talk to) and it’s prized in the food community for its subtlety, its nuance, and its unique, Springy flavor. I’d cooked with green garlic before (see green garlic soup) and yet I hadn’t been entirely won over.

But now I’m whistling a different tune, thanks to my new favorite cookbook: Roast Chicken And Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson. The recipe he offers is truly simple, and yet in its simplicity lies the key to unlocking the mystery and the beauty of new/green/Spring garlic.

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Tuesday Techniques: Cheese Soufflé

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We all remember those episodes of bad sitcoms where a character would be making a soufflé and insist that everyone stay quiet in the kitchen lest their precious prize collapse. Then, of course, an Urkel or a Punky would knock over a tray of pots and pans, the soufflé-maker would cry out and hilarity would ensue. This is how most Americans perceived soufflé, as a disaster waiting to happen. And most people, I’d wager, still think of it that way–which is why, perhaps, so many of you requested soufflé as the next technique I tackle in my Tuesday Techniques.

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Cassoulet in 10 Easy Steps

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When Anthony Bourdain cooks with Michael Ruhlman on the Cleveland episode of “No Reservations,” he layers meat and beans together in a giant drum, tops the whole thing off with breadcrumbs and produces a dish most of us aren’t used to seeing on Food TV (and I say that as someone who now works for Food TV): a classic French cassoulet that’d put Julia Child to shame.

Cassoulet is a dish that just makes sense. Why does it make sense? You take fatty, flavorful meat, put it in a big pot with moisture-hungry beans and bake the whole thing until the beans are infused with all that fat and flavor and the meat is cooked. It’s not meant to be a fancy dish–this is the kind of food French people make at home–and it’s infinitely variable, as evidenced by the infinite cassoulet recipes you will find in my infinite cookbook collection, recipes that vary the type of meat, the type of bean, even the amount of time it takes to make the dish (Bourdain’s recipe, in his “Les Halles Cookbook,” calls for three days). I didn’t have three days to spare on Friday night when I set out to make my very first cassoulet. So I turned to an under-praised, underused book in my collection: Daniel Boulud’s “Daniel’s Dish: Entertaining at Home with a Four-Star Chef”.

It’s a great recipe for its simplicity (it’s called “Casual Cassoulet”) and yet the recipe has a serious flaw: it’s meant to be cooked in a 15-Qt Dutch Oven. I completely missed that part when I shopped for my ingredients, so I prepped enough food for a pot 3X bigger than the one I had. Therefore, the recipe that follows is my adaptation of Daniel’s recipe for Dutch Ovens of a more realistic size. Daniel’s recipe calls for lamb shoulder, but I left that out too: sausage + duck + bacon = plenty of meat for one dish, thank you very much.

Since winter’s almost over, this is the perfect dish to make on one of our last cold winter’s nights. I promise it’s easy and I promise the pay-off is big. And so, without further ado, Cassoulet in 10 Easy Steps.

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