Recipes for Big Things

A Very Grown Up Recipe that Children Love

August 8, 2016

We were a big group last night – 5 adults and 4 children – and I wracked my mind trying to come up with a recipe everyone would like.

Then I thought of the Venetian pork ribs I learned to make when I was shooting Adventures with Ruth.  Because you have the butcher cut baby backs in half – lengthwise down the middle – they make wonderfully child-sized ribs. (You can do this with a cleaver, but it’s much easier to ask the butcher to run them through the saw.)

I worried that the children wouldn’t like the rosemary and garlic, or that the faint lingering flavor of wine would put them off – but they ate like wolves.

I doubled this recipe, using 3 large pans.  Because I was cooking potatoes in the oven (this gratin – also a HUGE hit with the kids), I put one of the covered pans into  the oven (at 325 degrees) just to see how they’d come out.  Worked beautifully.

Venetian Pork

Ask your butcher to cut a couple of racks of spare ribs in half so that you have four racks measuring about 2 inches in width, or do it yourself with a cleaver. Then cut between each rib so you have a great many small, individual pieces.

Dry them as well as you can and sprinkle them all over with salt and pepper.

Coat the bottom of a skillet with olive oil and saute the ribs over high heat until each one has become crisp, brown and fragrant. You don’t want to crowd the pan so you will probably need to do this in two or three batches. Add a lot of thinly sliced garlic (4 or 5 cloves), and a bit of chopped rosemary and worry it around until it becomes really fragrant.  Put the ribs back in (a single layer is best, so you might need a couple of pans), add about a cup of white wine and a bit of water. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover the pot tightly and simmer over low heat for an hour and a quarter, or until the pork is entirely tender.

Just before serving, remove the lid and if there’s still a lot of liquid reduce the sauce to a lovely shiny glaze.

Ingredients for Four

2 pounds baby back spare ribs, preferably from a humanely raised pig, cut into 2 inch lengths, and individual ribs.

1 teaspoon sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil, separated

5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced


1 cup dry white wine

½ cup water

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The Perfect Father’s Day Dinner

June 19, 2016

046_Reic_9781400069989_art_r1 This recipe, an interpretation of my favorite dish at Lupa, is from the winter section of My Kitchen Year, but it could not be more perfect for this season.  Easy and spicy, it’s just the thing when you want crisply cooked chicken – but don’t feel like going to the trouble of firing up the grill.  And on this sunny Father’s Day – well, it really fits the bill. I have yet to meet the man who doesn’t like it.

Chicken Diavolo

Shopping list: 1 chicken, quartered, 2 large jalapeno chiles, 2 serrano chiles, 2 lemons.

Staples: olive oil, paprika, salt, pepper.

Serves 3-4.

Make chile oil by chopping the jalapeno and serrano chiles, and putting them in a small saucepan with ¾ cup of olive oil.  Add a couple of tablespoons of hot paprika.  Grind a fair amount of black pepper into the pot and steep over medium heat for about 15 minutes.  Let it sit overnight (or all day).  I prefer making my own, but if you’re in a hurry you can simply buy a bottle of chile oil.

Put a strainer over a large bowl and strain the chile oil. Slice a couple of lemons and add them to the bowl. Season with salt.  Submerge a small, quartered chicken in the oil and let it sit for at least 4 hours (and up to a day).

Heat a cast iron skillet until it’s quite hot (about 5 minutes). Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Meanwhile remove the chicken from the chile oil and pat it dry.  Sprinkle it with salt and shower it with freshly ground pepper; you need a lot. Slick the bottom of the pan with olive oil and put the chicken, skin side down, in the hot skillet. Cook until the skin is crisp and golden, which should take 8 to 10 minutes.  Turn the chicken over so it’s skin-side up.

Put the skillet in a pre-heated 500 degree oven and roast about 20 minutes, or until a thermometer registers 170 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh. 

Sprinkle with lemon juice, grind more pepper over the chicken and allow to rest 10 minutes before serving. 


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One Classy Capon

October 24, 2015


When I first picked up this issue, I was convinced a jolt of light went dancing across the image. I assumed I was hallucinating, opened the magazine, and began reading.

As I would soon find out, and maybe as some of you have guessed,  this covergirl capon is completely covered in gold leaf. This is a roasted and stuffed chicken – chicken Taj Majal – that has been literally turned to gold.

I’ve seen gold leaf used in fancy Indian restaurants, but never to quite this extent.  Some day I’m going to try it.



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A Recipe for a Cool Fall Day

September 10, 2015

It’s hard to believe that Gourmet ever published a recipe for blood sausage, especially one that casually begins, “For every four cups pork blood….” Perhaps in 1951 the average American could go next door and borrow a few pints of blood from the neighboring farmer?

Here, for your delectation, is the recipe.



And if you’re in the mood for those sausages, perhaps you’d like some of these as well?


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Three Swell Recipes

September 5, 2015


The January 1977 issue of Gourmet has three recipes I can’t wait to try. Two are for unusual pancakes. The first, from an article by Fanny Todd Mitchell on the pleasures of Auvergne, are for buckwheat pancakes. They’re served as dessert, usually with jam or honey, but I imagine them with slices of ripe peaches and a dollop of sour cream.

The next, a reader request for some pancakes sampled at the Buena Vista Hotel in Nassau, are an innocent version of crepes suzettes.



And finally, a recipe I could not resist, for a basil and fennel-scented chicken stew from La Mere Blanc. This sounds exactly like what I’ll want to eat in early autumn!




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