Our All-Time Best Recipes
Saveur|Winter 2019-20
Our All-Time Best Recipes
If anyone should know if a recipe’s a keeper, it’s the person tasked with making sense of the original instructions—from the far reaches of Sri Lanka, say, or a famous chef who measures nothing. This might explain why many test kitchen staffers named favorites that their predecessors had tested and recommended. (Though a couple put forth recipes they developed themselves.) And while Saveur never shies away from the oddball authentic ingredient, the fare on the following pages is the stuff we cook at home, over and over again. Consider it global comfort food.

Chilaquiles

SERVES 6 • Total: 1 hr. 25 min.

Vivian Jao and I tested this recipe with and without the chicken bouillon powder and decided that it definitely tasted so much more addictive with. We called it “crackquiles” and could not stop eating it. I have made this truly delicious, down-to-earth dish numerous times since for both upscale dinner parties and game-day snacking. It’s always a big hit.

2 cups corn or canola oil, divided Eighteen 6-in. corn tortillas, cut into sixths

1½ lb. (about 3 large) vine-ripened tomatoes

4 medium jalapeños

2 medium garlic cloves, peeled

1 medium white onion, peeled and coarsely chopped (2 cups)

½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, divided

2 Tbsp. chicken bouillon powder (optional)

2½ cups shredded boiled chicken (optional)

¾ cup Mexican crema or sour cream

4 oz. cotija cheese, crumbled

Pickled jalapeños, for topping (optional)

1 Line a large baking sheet with a few layers of dry paper towels and set it aside. To a large, heavy skillet over medium heat, add

1 cup oil; when the oil is hot, working in batches, fry the tortillas until crisp and golden, 3–4 minutes per batch. Using a slotted metal spoon or spider skimmer, transfer the chips to the lined baking sheet as you continue frying the rest. Discard the oil, wipe out the skillet, and set aside.

2 To a medium pot, add the tomatoes, jalapeños, and garlic. Measure ¼ cup of the onions for garnish and set them aside; add half of the remaining onions to the pot, as well as enough cold water to just cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, lower the heat to maintain a strong simmer, and cook until the tomatoes are very soft, 18–20 minutes. Add ¼ cup of the cilantro and continue cooking 1 minute more. Drain the vegetables, discarding the cooking liquid. Peel and core the tomatoes and stem the jalapeños (for a milder sauce, remove and discard the japaleño​ seeds). Transfer the vegetables to a blender and purée to make a smooth sauce, then set aside.

3 In the reserved skillet, heat the remaining oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add all but the reserved ¼ cup of onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they are softened and translucent, 7–9 minutes. Stir in the reserved vegetable sauce and chicken bouillon powder (if using), turn the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Add the fried tortillas and chicken (if using), stirring and turning to coat with the sauce. Simmer until the tortillas are tender but still chewy, 2–3 minutes. Transfer the chilaquiles to a warm platter, top with crema or sour cream, cotija cheese, and pickled jalapeños (if using), then garnish with the remaining cilantro and onions. Serve hot.

Gougères

MAKES 45 • Total: 1 hr. 15 min.

Melissa Hamilton, who was Saveur’s food editor when I ran the test kitchen, pointed me toward this old recipe, which predated both of our stints there. l still make these French cheese puffs often, especially if I’m having people over for dinner.

½ cup whole milk

8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut in small cubes

½ tsp. kosher salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 large eggs, at room temperature

6 oz. Gruyère cheese, coarsely grated (1½ cups)

1 Preheat the oven (with its 2 racks evenly spaced) to 425°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

2 To a medium pot, add the milk, butter, salt, and ½ cup water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the flour and use a wood spoon to beat the mixture until a soft dough forms. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pot as you stir, 2–3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, then use a hand mixer to beat in 1 egg until smooth. Repeat with the remaining eggs until all are incorporated, then stir in the cheese.

3 Using a 1-ounce scoop or medium spoon, portion 2- tablespoon-size scoops of batter onto the lined baking sheets, leaving at least 2 inches between each scoop. Quickly transfer the gougères to the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 375°F. Bake until firm and pale golden brown, 25–30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Roasted Mushrooms with Chile-Lemon Oil

SERVES 4 • Total: 45 min.

Skilled forager and cookbook author Tama Matsuoka Wong once brought us an insane mushroom haul, including many varieties I’d never seen before. (Google image “lion’s mane mushroom.”) The fungi are sponges for flavor, so I whipped up an infusion of herbs, garlic, chiles, and citrus to roast them in. It’s become my favorite side dish of all time!

¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 garlic cloves, smashed

1 medium shallot, peeled and halved

1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, plus more, for garnish

2 medium Fresno chiles (1 halved lengthwise; 1 thinly sliced crosswise, for garnish)

Zest of 1 lemon, removed with a vegetable peeler

1¼ lb. mixed wild mushrooms, such as maitake, enoki, lion’s mane, and oyster (8 cups, trimmed)

Kosher salt and freshly ground

black pepper

Flaky sea salt, for serving

1 In a small pot over medium heat, add the olive oil, garlic, and shallot, and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, then stir in the thyme, halved chile, and lemon zest. Set the oil aside to steep at room temperature for 15–20 minutes.

2 Preheat the oven to 450°F. Meanwhile, transfer the oil mixture to a blender, and blend until completely smooth. Set a fine mesh strainer over a large glass measuring cup and strain the oil, pressing on the solids with the back of a spoon or silicone spatula to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard any solids.

3 In a large bowl, toss the mushrooms and the oil mixture to combine. Season with kosher salt and black pepper, then spread the mushrooms out on a large rimmed baking sheet. Transfer to the oven, and bake, stirring every 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender and golden brown, 18–20 minutes.

4 Transfer the mushrooms to a large platter, and garnish with additional thyme leaves and chile slices. Lightly sprinkle with flaky sea salt, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Carter Rochelle’s Real Texas Chili

SERVES 6 • Total: 4 hr. 30 min.

I hadn’t started working in the test kitchen yet when this recipe was published, but it’s still the only chili I make. I love it for its purity; there aren’t any tomatoes or beans—just tender chunks of meaty deliciousness. The addition of suet and a sprinkling of instant masa give this hearty Texas chili its distinctive flavor and make it a recipe worth making time and again.

6 oz. suet, cut into 1-inch pieces

3 lb. boneless chuck, trimmed and cut into 1/-inch pieces

¼ cup plus

2 Tbsp. chili powder

4 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup masa harina

4 cups low-sodium beef broth, warm

3 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar Cayenne pepper Fresh cilantro or scallions, for garnish

Tabasco, for serving

Saltines, for serving Sour cream, for serving

1 To a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, add the suet and melt, stirring frequently. When the fat has rendered, 8–9 minutes, remove and discard any suet solids that remain. Add the chuck (in batches, if necessary) and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned all over, 8–10 minutes. Lower the heat to medium, and stir in the chili powder and garlic. Season lightly with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, add the masa harina and stir well to coat. Gradually stir in the broth, vinegar, and 4 cups water. Lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, partially covered, until the meat is tender and begins to break down into the sauce, stirring occasionally and adding additional water as needed if the chili seems dry or begins to stick to the bottom of the pot, about 4 hours.

2 Before serving, adjust the seasoning with additional salt, black pepper, and cayenne. To serve, ladle the chili into bowls, garnish with cilantro or scallions, and serve with Tabasco, saltines, and sour cream. Serve warm.

Martin Yan’s Scallion Pancakes

MAKES 6 • Total: 4 hr. 10 min.

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Winter 2019-20