During quarantine, a lot of folks had to clear the shoes out of their ovens and, well, learn to cook. No judgment; we’ve all been a college student, high school kid or 40-something bachelor before! Some of us live for takeout or the corner deli, and we totally get it.
But now that you’ve achieved “beyond ramen” status, let us help ease you into a few projects that bridge “starter pasta” with “weekend project.” Each is as satisfying as you can imagine. (Anyone who has tasted homemade ice cream can attest to that!)
There’s a reason there’s always a line at the dairy creamery off that random country road. Homemade ice cream is just impossible to beat. This recipe is a knockout lesson in tempering (folding eggs and milk together so neither curdles). It’s also blissfully straightforward, requiring only five ingredients and the custard base ice cream purists insist upon. (For laypeople, that means there are eggs, and plenty of ’em!) You just need an ice cream machine and scoop, and you’re off to the races.
The best grilled burgers are beautifully simple: just salt, thanks. Grilling pork chops requires a touch more planning and a little more artistry. But look how beautiful the results are! According to expert Fred Thompson, brining (soaking the meat in a salt solution) in advance is key to the results you want. Pork doesn’t like high heat, he adds, so this is a lesson in using indirect heat successfully. And always buy thick chops when you’re grilling, never thin, so you end up with juicy results. (All our outdoor cookery gear is here!)
There is nothing in the world like homemade pasta. Even a novice cook or diner can distinguish it from the bagged stuff. You’ll need a pasta machine, of course, and some time on your hands. This is the project for the day when you want to eat well without getting out of your pajamas. We love this whole-wheat pasta recipe for its healthfulness and its precision. (When you’re doing all this work, you want the results to be awesome.)
As is true of homemade pasta, if you’re going to spend the time making risotto, you want a foolproof recipe (and great equipment). World-renowned chef Thomas Keller (The French Laundry; Per Se) gave us his risotto recipe. It calls for Carnaroli rice, which has a higher starch content than Arborio and lends a velvety quality to the finished product. We’d use a 5-quart saucepan, such as this one from the master himself. Everything else is straightforward and simple, featuring pantry staples aplenty. This is the sort of delectably creamy dish that’s tasty year-round.
Smoke ’em if you got ’em: What says “summer” more than a platter of smoked ribs? There are tricks to smoking them correctly, though. This myth-busting guide includes tips like not to wait for the meat to pull an inch back to the bone. On the BBQ competition circuit, these ribs are called “shiners.” Pros know they’re bound to be dry. So, too, is an all-hickory chip smoke not the way to go, because it could result in bitter meat. (Our everything guide to smoking gear is right here.)
Ready to improve your cooking chops? Give one of these five recipes a whirl, and let the compliments roll in.