'Good Cooking Is For Everyone': Why Samin Nosrat Wants To Honor All Chefs
With Meghna Chakrabarti
Award-winning chef and writer Samin Nosrat, on the fundamentals of great food. She wants her Netflix series to change the face of cooking shows.
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Samin Nosrat, chef, writer and food columnist for New York Times Magazine. Author of “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking,” and host of the Netflix series of the same name. (@CiaoSamin)
Soy-Braised Short Ribs
- 5 pounds meaty short ribs on the bone, 2-3 inches thick
- Neutral tasting oil, such as canola or grapeseed
- ¼ cup (60 grams) soy sauce
- ¼ cup (55 grams) dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup (58 grams) mirin (rice wine)
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
- 4 garlic cloves, finely grated or pounded with a pinch of salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- About 1 cup (228 grams) dashi
- 1⁄4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems
- 4 scallions, green and white parts slivered
- Prep the ribs the day before you want to cook. Season the meat lightly with salt and let it sit for 30 minutes. Keep in mind that the marinade consists mostly of soy sauce, which is salty, so use only about half as much salt as you otherwise would.
- In the meantime, whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, mirin, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and cayenne. Place the meat in a resealable plastic bag and pour in the marinade. Seal the bag and squish the marinade around so all the meat is evenly coated. Refrigerate overnight.
- A few hours before you want to cook the ribs, pull them out of the fridge to come up to room temperature. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 400°F.
- Set a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat to preheat. When pan is hot, drop the temperature to medium-low, add just enough oil to coat the bottom. Working in batches so as not to crowd pan, brown a few short ribs at a time on all three meaty sides, adding more oil if necessary before each batch. Reduce heat as necessary to achieve browning gradually; it may take 4 to 5 minutes per side for well-browned ribs.
- Transfer the ribs, bone-side down, to a large Dutch oven or a large, deep ceramic or pyrex roasting dish, then pour the marinade over the meat. It’s fine if the ribs are snug, but they should all fit in a single layer. Add enough dashi to go about ¾-inch up the sides of the ribs, then cover with lid or parchment and aluminum foil. Slide into the oven and cook until the liquid simmers, about 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 325°F and cook until meat is very tender and falling off the bone, 3 to 4 hours more.
- Uncover pot or dish and crank oven to 450°F. Brush ribs with the braising juices and cook for about until shiny and brown, about 8 to 12 minutes.
- Serve warm, garnished with cilantro and slivered scallions.
- Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days.
This is my ragù recipe, adapted from years of cooking Benedetta’s ragù, so while it’s a little bit different than what you’ll see on the show, it’s well-tested and beloved by me.
- Approximately 1 cup (200 grams) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound (450 grams) coarsely ground beef chuck
- 1 pound (450 grams) coarsely ground pork shoulder 2 medium yellow onions, minced
- 1 large carrot, minced
- 2 large celery stalks, minced
- 11⁄2 cups (340 grams) dry red wine
- 2 cups (450 grams) Chicken or Beef Stock or water
- 2 cups (450 grams) whole milk
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 1- by 3-inch (3- by- 7 centimeter) strip of lemon zest
- 1 1- by 3-inch (3- by- 7 centimeter) strip of orange zest
- 1⁄2-inch (1 1/2 centimeter) piece cinnamon stick
- 5 tablespoons (80 grams) tomato paste
- Parmesan rind
- Whole nutmeg
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 portions Pasta all’Uovo or 1 pound dried pasta
- 4 tablespoons (60 grams) unsalted butter
- Freshly grated Parmesan
- Set a large Dutch oven or similar pot over high heat and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Crumble the beef into the pot in walnut-size pieces. Cook, stirring and breaking up the meat with a slotted spoon until it sizzles and turns golden brown, 6 to 7 minutes. Do not season the meat yet—salt will draw out water and delay browning. Use the slotted spoon to transfer the meat to a large bowl, leaving the rendered fat in the pot. Brown the pork in the same way.
- Add the onions, carrots, and celery—the soffritto—to the same pot and cook over medium-high heat. The amount of fat should be sufficient to nearly cover the soffritto, so add more olive oil as needed, at least another 3⁄4 cup (150 grams). Cook, stirring regularly, until the vegetables are tender and the soffritto is a deep brown, 25 to 30 minutes. (You can cook the soffritto in olive oil a day or two in advance, if you like, to break up the time-intensive steps in the recipe. Soffritto also freezes well for up to 2 months!)
- Return the meat to the pot, increase the heat to high, and add the wine. Scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to release any browned bits into the sauce.
- Add stock or water, milk, the bay leaves, zests, cinnamon, tomato paste, and Parmesan rind, if using. Add 10 zips of fresh nutmeg by grating it on a nutmeg grinder or other fine grater. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
- Let the sauce continue to simmer, stirring occasionally. Once the milk breaks down and the sauce starts to look appetizing, between 30 to 40 minutes, start tasting the mixture and adjusting salt, acid, sweetness, richness, and body. If it needs some acid, add a secret splash of wine. If it seems bland, add tomato paste to bring it to life and lend sweetness. If it needs to be richer, add a little milk. If the ragù seems thin, add a gener- ous splash of stock. It’ll reduce as it simmers, leaving behind its gelatin to help thicken the sauce.
- Simmer over the lowest possible heat, skimming off the fat from time to time and stirring often, until the meat is tender and the flavors have melded, about 11⁄2 to 2 hours. When you are satisfied that the ragù is done, use a spoon or ladle to skim off the fat that has risen to the surface and remove the Parmesan rinds, bay leaves, citrus peels, and cinnamon. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper again.
- To serve: Bring a large pot filled with at least 5 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Season generously with salt until it tastes like the summer sea. Don’t worry too much about how much salt it takes to season the water properly: Most of it will go down the drain. You just need to create a salty cooking environment that will season the pasta in the few minutes it spends in the pot.
- Add 4 portions fresh pasta or 1 pound dried pasta to water and cook until al dente. While pasta cooks, bring 2 cups ragù to a boil in a large skillet. Add cooked pasta to sauce and toss to coat along with butter and a little pasta cooking water. Serve with ample freshly grated Parmesan.
- Cover and store remaining ragù in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Return to a boil before using.
Pavo en Escabeche
For the recado:
- 6 cloves, lightly toasted
- 3 allspice berries, lightly toasted
- 10 black peppercorns, lightly toasted
- 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
- ¾ teaspoon of cumin seed, lightly toasted
- 1 2-inch piece of stick cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 8 garlic cloves, whole peeled
- 20 mint leaves
- 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon powder
- ¾ cup sour orange juice
- For the turkey:
- ½ small turkey (5-6 pound), at room temperature (or equivalent bone-in pieces)
- 4 fresh Anaheim chiles
- 4 bay leaves
For the but (meatballs):
- 4 9-minute eggs, peeled
- 1 pound ground pork
- ½ small red onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely grated or pounded
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped mint
- 6 green olives, such as picholine, pitted and chopped
- 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Neutral oil
For the onion curtido (pickle):
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup sour orange juice
- Warm corn tortillas for serving
- Make the recado: Place cloves, allspice, peppercorns, oregano, cumin seed, cinnamon and salt in a mortar or blender and grind finely. Add garlic, mint, bouillon powder and orange juice and continue blending until you have a smooth, watery paste. Taste and adjust salt as needed.
- Use your hands to rub recado over turkey. Place in a stock pot or large (at least 6 quart) Dutch oven and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Doing your best to keep the egg yolks whole, separate the whites from the yolks. Set yolks aside and roughly chop whites.
- Make the but: In a large bowl, use your hands to combine pork, onion, garlic, mint, olives, capers, salt, and pepper. Add egg whites and continue mixing until mixture is tacky. Set a small frying pan over medium-high heat and add a teaspoon of oil. When it shimmers, cook off a quarter-sized piece of sausage mixture and taste. Adjust salt and pepper as needed, then cook and taste again.
- When the sausage mixture tastes well-seasoned, form the meatballs.
To form meatballs, take half of sausage mixture into the palm of one hand and pat it into a ½-inch thick oval. Place two egg yolks in the center and wrap mixture around yolks to create a torpedo-shaped meatball. Repeat with remaining sausage and yolks.
From The Reading List
New York Times: “Delicious Doesn’t Always Mean Pretty” — “I’m still not sure precisely why, but a couple of months ago I decided I wanted to come up with a chicken recipe that would go viral on social media.
“O.K., fine. I do know why. I was just too embarrassed to admit it outright: I was jealous of the New Yorker food correspondent Helen Rosner’s blow-dryer roast chicken. And every recipe the Times food columnist Alison Roman has ever written. So I wanted to throw my hat into the ring. With a chicken recipe. Because everyone (besides vegetarians, I guess) likes chicken, right?
“I know that you can’t make magic on demand (or at least I can’t) and that it’s impossible to predict what will take a recipe viral on the internet, but there do seem to be a few cardinal rules. First, there needs to be a hook — something unexpected, or clever, like using a blow-dryer to dry out chicken skin so that the bird emerges from the oven with ‘shatteringly crispy skin.’ But also, ingredients can’t be too exotic or unfamiliar. Roman, for example, is widely known for her salted chocolate-chunk shortbread, a chocolate-chip-cookie variation now simply referred to as “the Cookie” by pretty much everyone who has ever been on Instagram. The last rule is pretty obvious: The recipe needs to yield photogenic food. In other words, nothing too brown or mushy. Bonus points for rainbow sprinkles, though probably not on chicken.”
Eater: “Samin Nosrat Turned Her TV Dream Into a Reality With Netflix’s ‘Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat’” — “After writing one of the seminal food books of the last decade, author Samin Nosrat is now expanding her quest to uncover the roots of deliciousness into a new Netflix series premiering this Thursday, October 11.
“Just like the book of the same name, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat explores the science behind essential cooking techniques, with information about how to apply these lessons in your home kitchen. Travel is also a key component of the new series, with Nosrat visiting some of the world’s greatest food destinations to learn from artisans, chefs, and home cooks. The fourth episode, ‘Heat,’ features a stopover at Chez Panisse, the Berkeley, California, institution where Nosrat started her cooking career. Although the San Diego-born, Iranian-American chef is a relative newcomer to the world of television — she appeared in one episode of the Michael Pollan docuseries Cooked — Nosrat quickly earned a reputation among the production crew for being a ‘natural’ on camera.
“Eater recently caught up with Nosrat to talk about the journey from page to screen and her thoughts on the future of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.”
The Guardian: “Messy kitchens and bada– ladies: how Samin Nosrat will change the face of TV cooking shows” — “Peanut butter and jam, an expensive alpaca jumpsuit, fruit trees and wooden spoons are just a few things on Samin Nosrat’s 12-page list of things she loves. The food writer and soon-to-be television star is talking about the process of making Salt Fat Acid Heat – the Netflix adaptation of her James Beard-award-winning cookbook of the same name, which airs next week – and tells me that the director set her the task of writing the list to capture Nosrat’s life as a kind of collage.
“‘She told me: “We want this show because of you, because you’re this lovable, imperfect person who wears Birkenstocks and overalls, who lives in a messy house, whose kitchen isn’t always clean.” They didn’t want me in spite of this stuff, they wanted me because of it,’ she says.
“We are sitting in a cafe in the so-called ‘gourmet ghetto’ of Berkeley, California – Nosrat’s adoptive home since she came here for college in the late 90s. The child of Iranian immigrants, she grew up in San Diego. Her objectives for the show, she says, were to build on those of her book: to arm anyone with the resources necessary to put together good, highly flavoured food.”
Madeleine D’Angelo produced this hour for broadcast.
This article was originally published on WBUR.org.
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