Saturday, September 21, 2013

Recipe: Fish and Chips

Based on the recipe from the May 2006 Cook's Illustrated and the Cook's Illustrated Cookbook, 2011, page 440.  Read the story behind this dish in Sunday, Dinner for TwoServes 2.

In addition to cod you can also use another thick white fish such as hake or haddock. As both the fish and potatoes need to be fried this recipe includes both to help get the timing right so both arrive at the table hot and ready to eat.


2 quarts oil for frying
1 russet potato
¾ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika
⅛ teaspoon black pepper
Table salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ pounds 1-inch thick cod fillet 
¾ cups cold beer (6 ounces)


  1. Peel the potato or scrub it clean with a vegetable brush.
  2. Trim each end of the potato and cut it lengthwise into ½–inch slices then cut each slice into ½–inch sticks.
  3. In a microwave safe bowl, toss the fries with 2 tablespoons oil, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high until the fries are partially translucent and bendable but not fully cooked, 1 to 5 minutes.
  4. Carefully pour off the water, rinse the potatoes with cold running water, pat dry with a towel, and let the potatoes cool to room temperature.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, cayenne, paprika, pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt. 
  6. Transfer a little less than ½ cup of the mixture to a baking sheet.
  7. Whisk the baking powder into the mixture in the bowl.
  8. In a heavy Dutch oven, heat oil on medium to 350°.
  9. Increase the heat to high,  add the pates to the oil, and cook with occasional stirring until the fries are light golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
  10. Transfer the fries to several layers of paper towels to drain.
  11. Reduce heat to medium and heat the oil to 375°.
  12. Pat the fish dry and cut it crosswise into four pieces.
  13. Dredge the fish in the flour mixture on the baking sheet, shake off the excess flour, and place the floured fish on a wire rack.
  14. Whisk beer into the flour mixture in the bowl and stir to just combine. The batter should fall from the whisk in a thin steady stream; add additional beer a few teaspoons at a time if the batter is too thick.  
  15. (Drink the leftover beer.)
  16. Using tongs. dip the fish one piece at a time in the batter, let the excess batter drain, then coat the fish with the flour mixture on the baking sheet.
  17. When the oil reaches 375° increase the heat to high and carefully add the fish, shaking off excess flour.
  18. Fry until golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes, then transfer the fish to several layers of paper towels to drain.
  19. When oil reaches 375° return the fries to the oil and cook until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
  20. Remove fries to paper towels to drain, season with salt, and serve with the fish.
Cut a russet potato into ½–inch sticks.
Cook in the microwave with oil until just floppy.
Whisk together coating for fish.
Cook the potatoes until light golden brown
Coat the fish in some of the flour mixture.

Add beer to the remaining flour mixture to make a batter.

Dip the fish in the batter and coat with the flour mixture.
Fry until golden brown.
Return the fries to the hot oil and cook until crispy and golden brown.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Recipe: Spaghetti Carbonara

Based on the recipe from the March 2013 Cook's Illustrated. Read the story behind this dish in Sunday, Dinner for TwoServes 6.


8 slices bacon
½ cup water
3 cloves garlic
2½ ounces Pecorino Romano 
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon table salt
1 pound spaghetti


  1. Cut the bacon into ½-inch pieces.
  2. Press the garlic through a garlic press or peel and mince it.
  3. Grate the Pecorino Romano, you should end up with about 1¼ cups of grated cheese.
  4. Break the eggs into a bowl, discarding the white of one of the eggs.
  5. In a skillet over medium heat, bring the bacon and water to a simmer.
  6. Cook until the water has evaporated, 5 to 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium low.
  7. Cook with occasional stirring until the fat has rendered from the bacon, 5 to 10 minutes.
  8. Add the garlic and stir, cooking until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  9. With a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl, strain the bacon; set aside the bacon.
  10. Put 1 tablespoon of bacon fat in a medium bowl and whisk in the Pecorino Romano, eggs, and pepper.
  11. In a Dutch oven or large sauce pan, bring 8 cups of water to boil.
  12. Add the spaghetti and salt and cook until al dente.
  13. Drain the spaghetti in a colander set in a large bowl.
  14. Set aside 1 cup of the cooking water, discard the rest, and add the spaghetti to the warm bowl. (You can use the leftover cooking water to warm the serving bowls.)
  15. Slowly whisk ½ cup of the cooking water into the cheese mixture.
  16. Pour the cheese mixture over the spaghetti and toss to coat the pasta.
  17. Add the bacon mixture and toss to combine.
  18. Let the spaghetti rest for a few minutes, with frequent tossing, until the sauce has thickened. If it is too thick, add some of the reserved cooking liquid.
  19. Serve immediately.
Assemble ingredients (clockwise): spaghetti, 3 eggs plus one yolk, water, black pepper, table salt, pressed garlic, grated Pecorino Romano, chopped bacon.
Cook bacon with water until evaporated, continue until fat is rendered, add garlic and cook until fragrant.
Strain the fat from the bacon and move one tablespoon of fat to a bowl.
Whisk the Pecorino, eggs, and pepper into the bacon fat.

Cook the pasta in two quarts water until al dente and strain, reserving the liquid.
Stir ½ cup of the reserved cooking water into the cheese mixture, then toss with the pasta and add the bacon mixture. Rest the spaghetti until the sauce thickens, adding more cooking liquid if needed.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Recipe: Sweet and Tangy Barbecued Chicken

Based on the recipe from the July 2013 Cook's Illustrated. Read the story behind this dish in Sunday, Dinner for Two.   Serves 6.


4 to 6 pounds bone-in chicken pieces
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
4½ teaspoons kosher salt
1½ teaspoons onion powder
1½ teaspoons garlic powder
1½ teaspoons paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 cup ketchup
5 tablespoons molasses
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
⅓ cup grated onion
1 minced garlic clove
1 teaspoon chili powder  
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)


  1. Trim the chicken pieces of excess fat and skin. Breasts should be split and, if they are large, cut in half.
  2. In a small bowl combine the brown sugar, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne.
  3. On a rimmed baking sheet, sprinkle both sides of the chicken with the spice mixture, cover with plastic, and refrigerate for 6 to 24 hours.
  4. In a bowl, whisk together the ketchup, molasses, vinegar, Worcestershire, mustard, and pepper.
  5. In a medium saucepan heat oil over medium heat until shimmering.
  6. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, 2 to 4 minutes.
  7. Stir in the chili powder and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  8. Whisk in the ketchup mixture and bring to a boil.
  9. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to cook the chicken.
  10. Place 1 or 2 (depending on the size of your grill) disposable pie plates directly on 1 burner of a gas grill and fill each with 1½ cups water.
  11. Light all burners, set to high, close the cover, and heat the grill for 15 minutes.
  12. Adjust primary burner (the burner away from the pie plates) to medium-high and adjust the other burners to low or off to maintain a temperature of 325°.
  13. Place the chicken skin-side down on the hot side of the grill and cook until browned, 2 to 5 minutes.
  14. Turn over the chicken and cook until the other side is browned, 4 to 6 minutes.
  15. Move the chicken to the cool side of the grill, skin side up, with the thicker pieces closer to the primary burner. Brush both sides using ⅓ cup of the sauce and cook for 25 minutes.
  16. Brush both sides of the chicken with another ⅓ cup of the sauce and cook until the temperature of the breasts is 160° and the dark meat is 175°, another 20 to 30 minutes.
  17. Remove chicken to a serving platter, cover loosely with foil, and rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Combine ingredients of the dry rub in a small bowl.

Sprinkle both sides of trimmed chicken with the spice rub and refrigerate for 6 to 24 hours.
Combine Worcestershire, vinegar, ketchup, molasses, pepper, and mustard in a small bowl.
Cook grated onion and garlic in oil until softened, bloom chili powder and cayenne, then add the ketchup mixture and simmer.

Brown both sides of the chicken on the hot side of the grill.
Move chicken to the cool side of the grill, baste with sauce, and cook until done.