A Tale of Two Portuguese Stuffings

When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was part holiday, part carnival. We’d gather around the table and all the women (that’s not as sexist a remark as it may seem; it was the ’60s, after all) would become carnie barkers. Right after my grandfather finished grace, the air would explode with their babble—Hey, you, young man! How about you, little lady!—trying to coax you to step up and try their kale soup, sausage stuffing, or meringue cookies. Sides were heavily drawn along immediate family lines, until that first brave (read: foolish) cousin dared dip his fork into an aunt’s paprika-and-chouriço-roasted potatoes, and all hell broke lose. Matrilineal allegiances would drop like canaries in a mine shaft and the annual holiday season had begun. Read more “A Tale of Two Portuguese Stuffings” »

The Secret Behind Milk Mayonnaise

Milk Mayonnaise

It’s the unlikeliest of couples. One thin and popular, the other fat and shunned. Each repelled by the other. But when senselessly beaten into a frenzied submission, oh, how they cave! These two frenemies suddenly give in and embrace one other, creating a more perfect union.

Sound like a bad episode of The Marriage Ref? Not surprising. When these culinary opposites—milk and oil—are thrown together, they act a lot like warring spouses, which makes their participation in the creation of Portuguese maionese de leite (may-o-NEZ duh late), or milk mayonnaise, all the more amazing. Read more “The Secret Behind Milk Mayonnaise” »

A Better Brine for Chicken

There comes a time when even the most beloved and closely held adages need to be challenged. Take Plato’s “necessity is the mother of invention.” Centuries ago, for example, long before refrigeration, people had to figure out how to preserve food for long periods, especially fallow times, and — boom — salting food, either by packing it in salt (think bacalao) or adding it to a brine (think pickles), was born. I submit that necessity isn’t the only path to invention. Laziness can be just as effective and infinitely less work.

At least in our kitchen. Read more “A Better Brine for Chicken” »