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Michael Ruhlman

Translating the Chef’s Craft for Every Kitchen

Published: 2018-04-04T15:24:41Z


Bourbon Milk Punch(and the Maestro Scale)


When my wife Ann and I were in New Orleans in January, we felt the need, after a great Po Boys and beer at Parasol’s in the Garden District, for one more afternoon libation (as you do in NOLA). We stopped at bar someone recommended down the street. I believe I asked for a boulvardier. Bartender shook his head. I said, negroni. Bartender said, “We serve N drinks here.” “Excuse me?” “N drinks. Vodka ‘n,’ Gin ‘n,’ Scotch ‘n.'” That is, no fancy pants drinks. “We serve hahd likkah heah for men who want to get drunk fast.” #itsawonderfullife And those were the drinks I saw poured in 1960s-70s suburban Cleveland growing up. Gin n Tonic, Scotch n Soda. I knew four cocktails in my youth. The Martini (Dad), The Manhattan (Uncle Jon), The Bloody Mary Read On »



I put a pic on instagram of guacamole two weeks ago and got enough fervent responses about cilantro and garlic salt, lack of chili to realize that people really care about their guacamole. As we here in America, we who make enough of this creamy delicacy to fill a football stadium on Super Bowl Sunday, are engaged in a dish now nearly as national as Turkey on Thanksgiving, I thought I’d fire up the old blog again to pronounce my conviction: Guacamole = avocado + lime + shallot + salt. And that’s it. The lovely Elise Bauer goes even further, a simplifier after my own heart. Guacamole, she says, needn’t be anything more than avocado and salt. And when you know that, you also know how easy it is to make it a little better—a Read On »

Cyber Monday Offer On My Kitchen Tools


[For those who want to skip the post: promo code JINGLE—I forgot how to hyperlink the image!] Perhaps the worst feeling in the kitchen is approaching a task for which you don’t have the proper tools. Being asked to slice something without a proper knife, or being asked to follow a cake recipe without adequate measuring devices. I was once tasked with making popcorn on the stovetop though none of the lids fit any of the pans appropriate for popcorn. I banged around in the kitchen in frustration, irritating everyone. This is why I love my kitchen tools. They perform. They are elegant. They enhance the experience of cooking. My flat edged wood spoons, for instance, are perfect for stirring anything in a pot. My offset spoons are lovely to behold and a pleasure Read On »

Wherefore Thanksgiving?


If our most famous historical Republican’s claim that a nation divided against itself cannot stand, we should take heed of Thanksgiving more today than ever. Food brings us together, and hallelujah for it. Let us praise and honor the food that brings us together on this day. I have been writing and thinking about the meaning of cooking food and sharing it with people you love for 20 years now. Its fundamental importance to our health and happiness only grows more profound in my mind. The daily ritual of cooking and eating arguably gave our species the advantage it needed to triumph over the other upright and four-legged competitors to become the most successful species on the planet. If we can all, in our valuable differences, come together around food, perhaps we might retain that Read On »

Sweet Potato Confitw/Lime Peanuts Scallions


I need your help. I bought a sweet potato to force myself to cook it in a way that was exciting to me. I’m not a sweet potato fan unless they’re fried. Too mushy, too sweet. And yet, because I’ve come to appreciate how intensely nutritious they are, thanks Dr. Health Is On Your Plate, I wanted to cook it and like it, but …. It sat in the fridge for weeks. Until this morning. I was working on the new book, on Pâtés Confits and Rillettes, on some confit recipes. My partner in Charcuterie, Chef Brian, sent me a recipes for tasty morsels cooked slowly in fat, one of them a butternut squash. Of course! This would work beautifully with that neglected sweet potato I have to keep looking at every time I open the fridge. Read On »

The Turkey Club Sandwich


This proper Turkey Club at Gregg’s in Warwick, RI, counters a disturbing trend.   On a trip to an otherwise fine food town, Minneapolis, MN, the beloved Miss Scarlett and I ate several lunches. At each restaurant Scarlett ordered one of her favorite sandwiches, the Turkey Club. The sandwich generally is one of most commonly prepared dishes in America according to food market researcher, Harry Balzer. And the Turkey Club is in the pantheon of most popular American sandwiches. But we noticed a disturbing trend and I write here to call attention to it: the careless debasing of the Turkey Club. The first version we ordered was simply a turkey, lettuce and tomato sandwich. Another the same, but with bacon and the bread was not toasted. At another restaurant it was simply cut in half, not triangles. Read On »

An Evening withRuth and Dan


I was enormously lucky to lead a discussion with Ruth Reichl, author and editor, and Dan Barber, chef-owner of the Blue Hill restaurants in New York and author, who came to the 92nd Street Y in New York City to talk about our food. The reason for the event was my new book Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food In America. But the discussion ranged from GMOs and organic food, to big A Ha! moments for both Ruth and Dan, Ruth’s in a small plane filled with the smells of strawberries from Chico farm, Dan’s on a Klaas Martens’s field, which grew cover crops, not wheat. I saved my favorite question from the audience to read last: “Is ice cream always bad for you?” Yes, ice cream has sugar in it, and sugar seems to be considerably Read On »

GroceryPre-Order and Events


The new book is one week away from publication so there’s still time to pre-order and get a nifty canvas tote from my publisher (fill out the form here, deal ends 5/15). Pre-orders really help a book’s launch. Very excited about this book. Lots of interest from the media so far, The New York Times, NPR, the WSJ and others. When you’re in the midst of the writing, you feel like you’re a colossal failure just about every other day. But then a book appears (with the help of an editor, a copy editor, a book designer, publicists) and it’s all rather surprising and not quite so dismal as you thought. I do care about this book. My father is threaded throughout. GROCERY: ON BUYING AND SELLING FOOD IN AMERICA describes how these stores, like no Read On »

In Short Measures:Out in the Paperback


In 1988, as a 25-year scholar at the Bread Loaf writers’ conference, I spotted one of the faculty, a pretty young novelist walking arm in arm with two other pretty young novelists (in fact, Jennifer Egan and Helen Schulman). But it was the one in the middle I called out to for reasons I don’t recall. She turned around. I introduced myself. She said hello and asked, “What do you want to do?” I said, “I want to write fiction.” She looked at me as if I were being silly and said, “You will.” She turned and walked away. I wouldn’t see her again for twenty years. I went on to write non-fiction and books about food and chefs. And then in the fall of 2015, I did indeed publish my first fiction. The book, In Read On »

I Carry Your Heart:Chicken Soup For a Friend


I knew I would be spending this afternoon with a dear friend, Laura, the girl I sat next to as we graduated from Duke in 1985. She’s in considerable anguish having lost her love to cancer, her soul, the man whose heart she carries in her heart, to use E.E. Cumming’s famous words. Harry, a lovely, brilliant, funny and delightful man, gone at 58. There are no words adequate to offer, only one’s presence. And soup. I roasted a chicken last night, ate some for dinner with mashed potatoes and broccoli, but saved most of it, and all the bones, to carry on the subway along with 4 carrots, 2 onions, celery, three tomatoes a bay leaf, to the upper east side. I set to work immediately, getting the bones boiling (I didn’t have much time, so with Read On »

Spaghetti and (Chili) Meatballs or a Fab Superbowl Snack


It was cold, windy night, dark by 5 pm, and I was in the mood for chili. I was also alone in my pajama pants and had no intention of leaving my toasty apartment for the tomatoes and onions I didn’t have. I knew I had a frozen pound of ground beef in the freezer, a box of pasta, a stalk of broccoli, though. So instead of putting the meat in the chili, I figured I’d put the chili in the meat, make chili meat balls, serve them on garlic pasta, with a side of good-for-you greenery. I keep a good stash of fresh spices in my freezer. I made the preparation hard on myself by cooking the spices and garlic in some olive oil before adding them to the meat—brings out the flavor in the Read On »

Travelin’ Man


When life is in disarray, travel! Which is what I’ve been doing nonstop for a month and a half, and more. The above is a salumi maker from Norcia, a town famed for its butchers and recently devastated by an earthquake. Happily he found a place in Rome to sell his goods. I have neglected my pledge to spend more time on this blog, but herewith is the reason why, a sort of photo essay of the lands and pigs and pork and salumi and chefs from the past six weeks. It began in Rhode Island, little old Rhode Island, where I made some mandatory holiday aged eggnog.   I was there to do a reading with Ruth Reichl at Matt and Kristin Jenkins lovely Chez Pascal, sponsored by Goat Hill, an organization like Boston’s Grub Street that Read On »

Cyber Monday 35% Off


  Finishing up an interview with Jean-Georges Vongerichten at his restaurant day before Thanksgiving, I asked if his long-time right hand man Greg Brianin and his ace executive chef Mark Lapico were around. I wanted to give them one of my offset spoons (middle of the top three, and my favorite all time spoon). I showed Jean-Georges and he said, “This is yours?” Yes. “I love it!” And then “Can I have one?” Bien sur. When we found Mark, buried in Thanksgiving prep, I gave a spoon to him he said, “You have your own spoon? Oh my god. Every time I would go on the meat station, I would take their Kunz spoon and bend it. they would say, ‘Why are you fucking up my tools.’ I’d say, ‘I’m telling you, it’s going to Read On »

Mega Thanksgiving Post


Last year my cousin Ryan, feeling overwhelmed by the task of hosting his first Thanksgiving dinner, wrote to me for advice. I’m reposting the advice I gave him here, along with the roast/braise method. The bottom line is this and it’s the mantra I want all anxious cooks out there to repeat continually: Everything will be fine. Really. Everything will be fine. Really. (Thank you @SamSifton.)  Below is a collection of posts that cover all the fundamental dishes. Nothing new here; the good stuff always stays the same. Remember, no one step is particularly hard, so it’s simply a matter of being organized. For last minute questions, I’ll be taking them online at the @Food52 hotline, Thanksgiving day from 2-3. Homemade Turkey Stock The Original Roasted/Braised Turkey Post with Illustrative Photos and Slide Show. If you want Read On »

Plan Ahead: 30-Day Eggnog


My trusted assistant, Emilia Juocys, emailed to say she was making her holiday eggnog and I said, “Take pix! I want to remind people to get their eggnog made!” She did, see above, then pointed me to this intriguing Food Lab article on aged eggnog: It seems intuitive to me that the longer anything ages, the more complex and funky it will be. But is it better? That was the case with two-year eggnog, which had turned a kind of dangerous-looking brown, but I enjoyed the deep funk. How can you keep dairy and eggs in your fridge for a year or three? The alcohol kills the bacteria that cause food to spoil (not to mention salmonella that might be in raw egg). This is a good thing to remember if you need to leave Read On »

Spicy Orange Chicken


Ideas of what you want to can get stuck in your head until you actually cook what your brain won’t let go of. This happened last week when I chanced on a recipe for spicy orange beef in The NYTimes cooking newsletter. I love this dish and often order it when I see it, and I’ve made variations throughout the years. But having the second half of an excellent chicken breast from butcherbox (boneless but happily with the skin left on), I decided that spicy orange would work with chicken perfectly well. And so it did, in under 30 minutes in a tiny Manhattan kitchen. It’s all about the sauce, but coating and frying the meat is also important for flavor and texture. I didn’t have any cornstarch on hand so used flour in the egg Read On »

Chicken Romano


Last week I turned in the final draft of my book about grocery stores in America, called GROCERY: THE BUYING AND SELLING OF FOOD IN AMERICA. One of the chapters discusses prepared foods in grocery stores, a category that’s growing but which is really hard to make money at if you’re the grocer. The narrative anchor of the book is small chain of stores in Cleveland and Chicago. And one of their most popular prepared dishes is this Chicken Romano. They sell 85,000 pounds of it each year, or about 1,700 pounds a week. I’d recently been sent some chicken breasts by a company called Butcherbox, a mail-order buisness offering grass-fed beef, organic chicken, and heritage pork. I’ve tried samples of all and the quality is excellent. While I still think that the fat of grass-fed beef is a Read On »

NYTimes Food Conference


Just returned from the New York Times Food For Tomorrow Conference (this post being in keeping with my goal of keeping a culinary web log), and I found it energizing and amazing, in large measure because it was held at Blue Hill Stone Barns in Westchester, New York, an amazing place, led by chef Dan Barber, about whom I will say this: He can be really fucking annoying. Which I’ll get to.     I was there because NYT food editor Sam Sifton, who knew I was working on (just finished in fact) a book about grocery stores in America. I would be on a panel with Rodney McMullen, CEO of the biggest traditional grocer in the country, Kroger, with 2,600 some stores, including those in about 30 chains that do not bear the Kroger name. McMullen Read On »

Rip’s Tarragon Butter Baste


  Today is my long gone father’s birthday. I want to say Hi to him, and to honor the Grace of this day. And I do so with food, which so often was the ultimate means of connection for us. He loved to grill, and he created what is still my favorite baste, for grilled chicken: a simple mustard-tarragon-butter sauce. I start it be squeezing lime into a pan and using the beurre monte technique, swirling cold butter into it. This keeps the butter homogenized and somewhat viscous so that it adheres to the chicken when you baste. It’s tart and piquant from the lime and mustard; the shallots give it sweetness and texture; and the tarragon adds its ineluctable ethereal grace notes. He shared a birthday with F. Scott Fitzgerald who wrote the book that matters Read On »

Cooking for One: Sesame Noodles


  When I began living in a 400-square-foot studio apartment in New York City’s West Village a year ago, I lost my cooking mojo. I had about three dishes I’d cook—stir-fried beef, curried chicken, steak or chop with sautéed potatoes and spinach—and the rest of the home meals were takeout form Mrs. Green’s on Hudson Street. But during a call with my therapist, she asked if I was cooking. I said, No, not much, though I used to cook all the time. She said, I think you might feel better if you spent more time cooking. She was right. So I have determined to cook more. And I’ve turned back to books to jumpstart my imagination. I looked first to Joe Yonan‘s Serve Yourself, a cooking-for-one book. Are these inherently unhappy books? No, but the book Vegan Cooking for One Read On »