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Mar 23, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Ruhlman’

Behind the Scenes at Sauce: November 2014

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

A lot happens behind the scenes at Sauce HQ, from “tattoos” to Halloween costumes. Here’s a peek at some of our favorite moments at the office this month:


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By the Book: Michael Ruhlman’s Thanksgiving Turkey

Saturday, November 15th, 2014



I’m no stranger to roasting: leg of lamb, whole chickens, pot roasts, pork loins. But the one roast I’ve yet to tackle is arguably the one most Americans have made: the Thanksgiving turkey. That bird is my mom’s domain; she even has a separate roasting oven that makes an appearance once a year just for the task. So when I picked up a copy of Michael Ruhlman’s new book How to Roast, I immediately knew the recipe I was going to try. (And I hoped that, should questions arise, I could always ask Ruhlman in person at the next installment of the Sauce Celebrity Chef Series Nov. 19.)

Whereas his last cookbook, Egg, was dedicated to a single ingredient, How to Roast focuses on the versatility of a technique. He goes into great detail about what happens to different proteins while roasting at high, medium and low temperatures and explores specialty techniques like pan-roasting and spit-roasting. Compared to most cookbooks, How to Roast contains only a modest 20 recipes. However, once you’ve mastered the technique with dishes like the iconic roast chicken, rack of lamb or roasted root vegetables, you can apply it to an infinite number of proteins, veggies or even fruit.




Ruhlman’s turkey recipe largely follows that of his roast chicken. Stuff the cavity with aromatics, truss the bird, coat the skin in butter and salt and roast to burnished perfection. However, a larger bird means the breast often dries out before the legs are finished cooking, relegating white meat fans (allegedly they exist) to dry, flavorless morsels. Ruhlman aims to solve this annual Thanksgiving conundrum with an unusual solution: break down the turkey halfway through cooking. He removes the legs and returns them to the roasting pan to continue roasting while the breast rests. This, he says, prevents the breast from overcooking while the legs finish. Then, the meat is carved and returned to the roasting pan to rest in a pool of hot stock, thereby ensuring juicy turkey for all.




Of course, the recipe entails trussing and breaking down a 12-pound bird; thankfully, detailed illustrations show how to tackle both actions step by step. Except for one slightly mangled thigh, I kept both legs intact and returned them to the roasting pan to cook, noting how hilarious a partially carved turkey carcass looks.




While the legs rested, the roasting pan took a trip to the stovetop – not for making traditional gravy but a rich stock, almost like a turkey jus. I sliced up the meat and returned it all to the pan, where Ruhlman says it can remain in a warm oven up to four hours. By this time the smell of roast turkey had filled the house, and no one was going to wait that long.

As promised, the recipe delivered juicy, succulent white meat, though the skin lacked that tasty brown crispness that develops with more time in the oven. Meanwhile, the gorgeous-looking legs seemed a tad dry, possibly from carving them from the bird without letting it rest longer than a few minutes. Still, the turkey jus added moisture and there was plenty leftover to make a fine gravy, which will be my contribution to our real Thanksgiving meal. After all, Mom has already prepped her turkey oven.




Michael Ruhlman’s Thanksgiving Turkey
10 servings

1 (10- to 12-lb./4.5- to 5.5-kg.) turkey
Kosher salt
2 celery ribs, cut into large chunks
½ Spanish onion, quartered
½ lemon, halved again
1 bunch thyme (optional)
1 bunch sage (optional)
½ cup (110 g.) butter, melted
1 cup (240 ml.) dry white wine
2 cups (480 ml.) turkey or chicken stock, preferably homemade

• About 4 hours before you plan to start roasting, remove the turkey from the refrigerator, rinse it, pat it dry and let it sit at room temperature.
• Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, or 400 degrees if you have convection.
• Liberally salt the interior and jam the celery, onion, lemon and herbs (if using) into the cavity of the bird. Truss the bird as you would a chicken. Rain salt evenly all over the bird. Put the bird in a low-sided pan (or elevated on a rack in a roasting pan; you want plenty of circulation around the bird) and put it in the oven.
• Roast at that high temperature for 20 minutes. Pour the melted butter evenly over the bird and lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees, or 350 degrees for convection. Continue to roast until the breast reaches 155 degrees, 60 to 90 minutes, depending on your oven and the size of the bird, basting as you wish.
• Remove the pan from the oven. Show off the bird to your guests. Bring it back to the kitchen. Slice through the skin between the legs and breast. The breast should still be pink, but if it looks cold and raw you can return the entire bird to the oven for 10 more minutes. Put the bird on a large cutting board (preferably with a channel or a depression to hold the bird). Remove each leg at the joint connecting it to the carcass. I reserve the wings for stock the following day rather than serving them, as they’re tough and not terribly meaty.
• Pour off the fat and juices from the roasting pan (I reserve the fat to make a roux to thicken stock for gravy, and I add the juice to the gravy or stock). Return the legs to the pan and return them to the oven. Roast the legs for at least an additional 45 to 60 minutes; if you intend to leave the legs for longer than an hour, turn the oven down to 200°F (95°C) (without convection). The legs will only get better with time and can be left in the over for up to 4 additional hours; don’t worry about the breast, as it will reheat in the stock at the end.
• Remove the legs from the roasting pan. Put the pan over high heat on the stovetop. Add the wine and bring it to a simmer, scraping up the stuck-on skin and browned juices. Add the broth and bring to a simmer, then turn the heat to low.
• Carve the dark meat from the drumstick and thighs and put it in the hot stock in the roasting pan. Remove each breast half from the turkey (be careful not to tear the skin.) Don’t worry if the breast is a little pink; this means it will be juicy as it finishes cooking in the hot stock. Cut the breast crosswise into ¼ to ½ inch (6 to 12 millimeter) slices. Transfer the pieces to the roasting pan with the stock. Turn the burner to high and bring the stock to a simmer. Simmer for a minute or two to ensure that everything is hot and then serve.

The finer points

Gravy, a critical part of the Thanksgiving meal, is nothing more than rich turkey stock thickened with flour. To make turkey stock, follow the instruction for Brown Veal Stock (recipe follows), using turkey wings and necks instead of veal bones. Make the stock ahead of time – several days or even a month in advance – and store it in the freezer. To make gravy, simply saute a diced onion in butter, add flour – 1½ tablespoon per cup stock, and cook the flour till it smells like pie crust. Whisk in the cold stock until it has thickened and begins to simmer.

I make a turkey dressing, in effect a savory bread pudding, using plenty of turkey stock for flavor. I call it dressing rather than a stuffing because I cook it separately from the turkey. But if you want to go classical, by all means do so. My recommendation is to roast the stuffed turkey as described above (it will take an additional 30 to 60 minutes), remove the stuffing to the roasting pan with the legs and finish cooking it along with the dark meat until it’s piping hot in the center.

When all have been served
Relax and enjoy this most special of American holidays.

And be sure to save the carcass for making more stock the next day. Just follow the steps for Brown Veal Stock, only there’s no need to roast the bones, as you’ve already done it. Simply break up the carcass, cover with water, heat gently for many hours (adding the vegetables and aromatics at the very end), and then strain.

Brown Veal Stock
1 4-lb./1.8-kg. veal breast or 4-lb./1.8-kg. meaty, cartilaginous veal bones
3 large carrots, cut into large dice
1 large Spanish onion, cut into large dice (if the papery brown skin is clean, include this as well)
5 to 10 garlic cloves
¼ cup/60 g. tomato paste
2 tsp. black peppercorns, lightly crushed in a mortar or beneath a saute pan
3 bay leaves

• Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (use convection if you have it).
• Cut the veal breast into 2-by-3-inch/5-by-7.5-centimeter pieces. On a baking sheet, arrange the pieces so that there’s plenty of space between them to allow for good circulation. Roast them until they are golden brown and look like they’d be delicious to eat (and they would be), 30 to 45 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees (without convection).
• Choose a pot that will hold the meat and bones snugly in two layers and cover with about 4 inches/10 centimeters of water. Place the pot, uncovered, in the oven for 10 to 12 hours. If possible, check the water level midway through the cooking to ensure that the bones are covered. If they aren’t, add more water.
• Remove the pot from the oven. Add more water to cover the bones by a couple of inches if it has cooked down. Add the carrots, onion and garlic (saute the vegetables until caramelized first, if you wish, adding the tomato paste toward the end and cooking that as well), along with the remaining ingredients. Add more water as necessary. Bring the pot just to a simmer over high heat, reduce the heat to low (the pot should be too hot to touch but the water should not be bubbling) and cook for 1 hour.
• Strain the stock through a colander, basket strainer or chinois. (If you intend to make a remouillage, discard the vegetables and put the bone back in the pot, cover them with water and cook them again in a 200-degree oven or over low heat on top of the stove for 6 hours and add this to your stock. Strain the stock again through cloth.)
• Chill the veal stock completely and lift the fat off the surface. The stock will keep refrigerated up to 1 week or frozen up to 3 months.

Reprinted with permission from Little Brown Publishing

What’s your worst Thanksgiving disaster story? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a (signed!) copy of Michael Ruhlman’s How to Roast.

By the Book: Michael Ruhlman’s Poached-in-a-Bag Egg Sandwich with Caramelized Onion and Roasted Red Pepper

Saturday, October 18th, 2014



I love eggs. In my opinion, few things can’t be improved with the addition of a golden runny yolk, no matter how tired the trend may be. It’s my go-to protein for breakfast (and often for dinner, too), yet Michael Ruhlman’s love for eggs makes mine look like pure indifference. In fact, the prolific culinary writer (who will visit St. Louis for a Celebrity Chef Series dinner Nov. 20) penned a cookbook entirely dedicated to this essential ingredient: Egg: A Culinary Exploration of the World’s Most Versatile Ingredient.

Enter the egg flowchart. To better document all the ways an egg could be used, Ruhlman created a massive diagram that breaks down its seemingly infinite preparations. Is it cooked whole or separated? In the shell or out? Are you making a batter or a dough? Whipping a meringue or binding meatballs? The flowchart is so large, it can’t even fit on a two-page spread of Egg. Instead, it comes as a 5-foot poster folded neatly in the back of the book. It’s so comprehensive (and beautiful), I wanted to frame and hang it in my kitchen for inspiration. With all the options presented in this book – from seafood roulade to marshmallows to an ale and rum flip – I chose one of my favorite egg presentations: a poached egg sandwich.

I know, egg sandwiches are not exactly earth-shattering. After all, nearly every fast-food joint around has some form of egg-sausage-cheese combo for breakfast. But few recipes highlight the natural flavor of an egg better than breakfast dishes, and the technique Ruhlman used to poach the eggs intrigued me.




Perhaps 25 percent of my poaching attempts succeed. Somehow, I manage to keep the whites tight, not puncture the yolk and transfer it to a plate with a semi-cooked center. Then, my next egg fails miserably. Ruhlman covers the traditional poaching technique, but he also shared a second, far simpler, method. Just pop the egg in a zip-close bag and let it poach without actually touching the simmering water. Though I’d heard of this method before, temperature and times varied wildly and I’d never actually attempted it. But if anyone could help me get it right, it’s Michael Ruhlman.




The process is simple enough. While the water comes to boil, add a few drops of olive oil to a sandwich-sized zip-top bag and smush the plastic to spread it around, making sure to get the oil into the corners. Then, crack the egg into a small bowl and gently slide it into the bag, working it into a corner so it looks like a mini pastry bag. Twist it closed and seal with a zip-tie (or if you happen to cook at the Sauce office, a paper clip). Plop the eggs into the simmering water, set your timer for 4 minutes and be patient. I found that occasionally turning the bags to rotate the eggs helped them poach more evenly.




When the timer rang, the eggs slipped out of the plastic and came to rest gently on top of my English muffin. Granted, they weren’t as pretty as you’d find at brunch around town – the whites were a hilarious conical shape, like my sandwich wore a hat. Still, I’ll take perfectly cooked (if awkwardly shaped) over my pot of over-boiled egg whites any day. Bring on the Benedicts!




As for the rest of the sandwich, it’s a classic but perfect combination. Always use an English muffin over toast (“… the holey crumb helps catches the yolk when you bite into it,” Ruhlman said) and add a splash of white wine vinegar to make the caramelized onions and peppers sing. Forget the sausage, cheese and bacon. When you have a perfectly oozing golden yolk and sweet caramelized onions and peppers, you don’t need anything else.




Poached-in-a-Bag Egg Sandwich with Caramelized Onion and Roasted Red Pepper
4 servings

4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 eggs
1 tsp. butter, plus more for the English muffins
½ onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, charred black over a glam or under a broiler, then peeled and diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp. red or white wine vinegar
4 English muffins

• If you wish to cook your eggs ahead of time, bring a medium pot of water to a simmer over high heat, then reduce the heat so that water is gently simmering; prepare an ice bath (half ice, half water). Put 1 teaspoon olive oil into each of 4 small plastic bags, then crack an egg into each bag. Twist each bag closed and secure it with a twist-tie. Lower the bags into the simmering water and cook 4 minutes. Transfer the bags to the ice bath and put the whole thing in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve. At that point, return the bags to simmering water for 90 seconds to reheat before serving.
• When you’re ready to prepare the sandwiches, heat the butter over medium heat and saute the onion gently till nicely browned and caramelized, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the red bell pepper to reheat, season to taste with salt and pepper, and then add the vinegar.
• Toast and butter the English muffins.
• If you haven’t made the eggs ahead of time, cook them now as described above. Divide the onion-pepper mixture among the four muffin bottoms. Place a cooked egg on each – they will slip easily out of their oiled bags. Season the eggs with salt and pepper and top with the muffin tops. Serve immediately.

Reprinted with permission from Little Brown and Company

What’s your favorite way to use an egg and why? Whole and fried? Separated and baked or whipped into a meringue? Scrambled into an omelet? Tell us in the comment section below for a chance to win a copy of Egg.

By the Book: Michael Ruhlman’s Mac and Cheese with Soubise

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

“Only by reducing cooking to its core techniques can we begin to understand the infinite nuances that contribute to making something good, and what elevates the good to the great. Cooking can be broken down into these few parts, and doing so is enormously useful no matter what level you cook at – whether you’re a beginning cook or an accomplished one.”

In these two sentences, Michael Ruhlman summarizes the premise of his new cookbook Ruhlman’s Twenty. Ruhlman attended the Culinary Institute of America in order to “write a book about what you need to know to become a chef.” This cookbook lays bare the 20 techniques that he considers essential for operating in today’s kitchen. (Technique No. 1: Thinking.) While some skills – roasting, braising or poaching – are expected, others like egg, butter, sugar and acid are not. Ruhlman explains that while the latter are ingredients, they are also tools, and using tools is technique.

I opted to prepare Ruhlman’s recipe for Mac and Cheese with Soubise because 1) It is still winter coat weather, thus the time for hearty sustenance has not yet ended; 2) I wanted to pit Ruhlman’s version against my current mac-n-cheese fave (Thanks, Joe Bonwich.); and 3) Every home cook needs an onion tutorial every now and then.

Ruhlman devotes an entire chapter to the onion, which he considers to be “the chef’s secret weapon” and a “powerful flavoring device’ that “transforms food in many ways, in nearly every style of cuisine around the globe.” Caramelized onions are what transform the typical mac-n-cheese sauce, béchamel, to a soubise. Ruhlman reminds readers that caramelizing this root vegetable takes times; he also recommends an enameled cast-iron pan because it resists sticking, which leaves the caramelization on the onions instead of the pan.

After adhering to Ruhlman’s instructions on caramelizing onions in the recipe and even in the chapter introduction, the now browned, sweet and savory onions are stirred into the béchamel, which is then puréed. The sauce meets the Gruyere and then gets tossed with al dente pasta, poured into a pan, topped with more cheese and panko, and baked some 40 minutes until the cheese turns golden.

How does this souped-up sauce and its end result rate against my current fave? Soubise supersedes béchamel. But this version was over salted for my palate. I bow down to Ruhlman for prescribing fingered pinches instead of teaspoons of salt (Know thy salt, Ruhlman teaches you in Chapter Two.), so finger down on the salt, axe the fish sauce and this mac-n-cheese just might take top honors.

The takeaway on this book, however, is not whether Ruhlman gets a No. 1 ranking for this particular dish. “If you know these fundamentals, there’s very little you won’t be able to do in the kitchen,” Ruhlman writes in the introduction. Those words – and this book – should be met with open arms by any cook who seeks a personal trainer to help tone and condition her culinary muscles.

Mac and Cheese with Soubise
6 Servings

9 Tbsp. butter, separated
1 medium onion, sliced
Kosher salt
1 shallot, roughly chopped
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1½ cups milk
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
3 Tbsp. sherry
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 to 2 tsp. dry mustard
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
6 or 7 gratings fresh nutmeg
¼ tsp. cayenne (optional)
¼ tsp. smoked paprika (optional, substitute cayenne if you wish)
12 oz. macaroni, penne or cellentani
1 lb. Comté, Gruyere, Emmenthaller, cheddar or a combination of these cheeses, grated
¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)
½ cup panko breadcrumbs

• Make the soubise: Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium pan over medium heat and add the onion and a four-fingered pinch of salt. Cook, stirring until the onion is nicely caramelized.
• In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 more tablespoons of butter. Add the shallot and a three-fingered pinch of salt, and cook until some of the water has cooked out of the butter, about 1 minute. Add the flour; stir to mix it with the butter, and cook until the mixture has taken on a toasted aroma, a few minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk and stir with a flat-edged wooden spoon or spatula, to make sure the flour doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan, until the sauce comes up to a simmer and thickens, a few minutes more.
• Stir in a three-fingered pinch of salt, the white wine vinegar, sherry, fish sauce, dry mustard, black pepper, nutmeg, cayenne and smoked paprika (if using). Add the onion to the sauce and stir until heated through.
• Transfer the sauce to a blender and process until puréed, or purée in the pan with a hand blender. Keep the sauce warm over low heat. You should have 2 cups.
• Cook the pasta al dente, drain, then return it to the pot. Use 1 tablespoon of melted butter to spread on a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or another appropriately sized, ovenproof vessel.
• Sprinkle half of the Comté cheese into the soubise and stir until melted. Remove from the heat and pour over the pasta. Toss the pasta and pour it into the baking dish. Top with the remaining Comté. The pasta can be baked immediately or later in the day, or it can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days before baking.
• Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
• If using the Parmigiano-Reggiano, toss it with 2 tablespoons of melted butter.
• Sprinkle the pasta with the Parmigiano-Reggiano. In a small bowl, toss the panko with the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter and spread this over the top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes (longer if it has been chilled in the refrigerator). Remove the foil and bake until the cheese is nicely browned, or turn on the broiler/grill and broil/grill until the top is browned, 15 to 20 more minutes.
• Serve immediately.

Reprinted with permission from Chronicle Books.

What is the cooking technique you most want to master and why? Tell us about it in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of Ruhlman’s Twenty. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column.

And now, we’d like to congratulate Lizzie, whose comment on last week’s By the Book has won her a copy of Rook Cooks. Lizzie, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew. 

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