Kenji’s Favorite Recipes of 2015


It’s been a fun year in revenue for me. Sure, there were the deep dive and weekend projects (hello, vegan ramen!), But I also spent a lot of time developing recipes for cooks in a hurry on weeknights that have less time. ‘an hour to spend in the kitchen but want something that tastes better than take out. Oh, and I used the pressure cooker. Many. You can expect this trend to continue into the New Year.

Here are some of my favorite recipes from the past year, in no particular order.

30-minute pressure cooker Pho Ga

In many ways, this was the year of the pressure cooker for me. I’ve owned a stovetop model for years, but in 2015 I upgraded it to an electric countertop version and convenience revolutionized weekday dining for me. Take this vietnamese pho ga. Classic Chicken Rice Noodle Soup typically takes several hours to simmer carefully on the stovetop to extract flavor and body from the chicken, vegetables, and hot spices. With a pressure cooker, we get the same flavor in just half an hour.

Get the Pho Ga 30 Minute Pressure Cooker Recipe or learn about the science!

30-minute pressure cooker chicken, lentil and bacon stew with carrots

What is that? Want another reason to buy a pressure cooker? How about a 30-minute chicken stew that only requires five minutes of active cooking? You have it here. Flavored with bacon, onions and sherry vinegar, the lentils take on a creamy yet light texture and end up being filled with an intense flavor. Bonus: the chicken becomes soft and sappy at the same time it takes to cook the lentils.

PS Here is a whole series of pressure cooker recipes to keep you and your counter busy!

Get the Recipe for 30 Minute Pressure Cooker Chicken, Lentil & Bacon Stew with Carrots or learn the science!

The Ultimate Beef Stroganoff

I really like this recipe. Not only is it delicious, but it was a lot of fun researching the history of this classic dish and how it has changed over the years. What originally started as tender chunks of beef quickly sautéed in a light creamy sauce eventually turned into a casserole dish in a thickened, mushroom-enriched sauce. My recipe takes the best parts of the original dish and the modern cafeteria version and blends them into a delicious weekday meal (yes, the beef is served just right!)

Get The Ultimate Beef Stroganoff Recipe or Learn About The Science!

Shake with dried olives and miso

I stick to a strict vegan diet one month out of the year and try to pack a lot of plant-based meals into the other 11. Although I have no difficulty living without meat, I tend to crave dairy products – and cheese in particular – when I abstain from animal products. This recipe for dried olives and miso powder was my attempt to create a long-life, ready-to-apply condiment for pasta and pizza that would have many of the same flavor notes and grated Parma: hazelnut, savory, salty, spicy and a bit awesome. The end result is one of the tastiest things to come out of my kitchen all year round.

No, it’s not a parmesan substitute, but if you keep a stock handy, I guarantee you’ll be looking for it as often as you go for cheese.

Get the Dried Olive Miso Shake Recipe or learn the science!

Soft and tender brown butter cornbread

There is very little in this world that cannot be made better by a little browned butter. May be Star wars and pizzas. Even my wife would be a little better if she deigned to dip her delicate fingers in a dish of brown butter. Slightly.

Cornbread is more than slightly improved, that is radically best if you brown the butter before adding it to the dough. Extra browning means extra flavor, and extra flavor means fewer crumbs left in the pan at the end of the meal.

Get the Soft and Soft Brown Butter Cornbread recipe or learn about the science!

Japanese Ravioli With Pork And Cabbage (Gyoza)

I’ve been filling and folding wrappers of dumplings into Japanese-style gyoza since I was old enough to work my fingers on my own. Filling our freezer with dumplings was a monthly family ritual. But it occurred to me earlier this year that I had never shared the ideas that 30 years of making dumplings had passed on. Of course, those 30 years were tempered by weeks of rigorous testing to make sure the recipes wouldn’t just work for my hands but for anybody hands. My wife sometimes complains when I try a food for too long (she still doesn’t want to eat another chocolate chip cookie in her life), but dumplings are her favorite food. I didn’t hear a word from her about this one.

Get the recipe for Japanese Pork and Cabbage Dumplings (Gyoza) or learn about the science!

The ultimate rich and creamy vegan ramen

Ramen isn’t often vegetarian (or vegan, for that matter), but that doesn’t mean it can’t be. Some ramen shops even go so far as to slyly inform their customers that vegetarians are not welcome. They say ramen just isn’t vegetarian. I’m saying they just lack imagination (or good acceptance testing). I have written many ramen recipes in the past, but when people ask me which one to make, this is the one I recommend. Like any ramen, this is no walk in the park. You should be prepared to spend several hours in the kitchen making broths, infusing oils, roasting toppings, and flavoring sauces to build the final bowl. But you should also be ready to be blown away by the rich texture and flavor you can extract from your vegetables.

Get the recipe for the ultimate rich and creamy vegan ramen or learn about the science!

Morgan’s Pan-Fried Chicken Spanakopita Pie

Morgan eisenberg

This recipe makes an incredibly simple and delicious meal with a multitude of textures and flavors, all integrated into a single skillet, with minimal cleanup required. But the real reason I love it is because the concept has broadened my own weekday meal repertoire. Layering the phyllo dough in the traditional way – by carefully brushing each sheet with melted butter, then wrapping them around a wet filling or using them to line a pan – is time consuming and tedious. Morgan solves this problem by simply having you mash the dough in your hand and casually throw it over the filling. The end result is delightfully random in appearance and gives you all the same delicate crunch you would get from the classic method.

Get the Creamy Garlic Chicken Spanakopita Skillet Recipe or learn the science!

Easy vegan pressure cooker miso risotto

Whaddaya knows, yet another pressure cooker recipe! The risotto comes out wonderfully creamy in the pressure cooker and only takes five minutes to cook. In this recipe, I replace the typical white wine and Parmesan combo with dry sake, soy sauce, and miso paste. Does this sound strange to you? It might not be as strange as you might think. Like Parmesan, miso paste is an ingredient rich in glutamates, the amino acids that trigger our sense of flavor. At Serious Eats, we use miso paste in a wide variety of non-Japanese decors, from squash soup to my mushroom risotto. This recipe is quite simply the purest embodiment of that concept. It doesn’t have a particularly Asian taste (but to be fair, it doesn’t taste particularly Italian either). All I know is that it tastes delicious (and it’s 100% vegan too!).

Get the Easy Vegan Pressure Cooker Miso Risotto Recipe or learn the science!

Easy Seared Chicken Breasts in White Wine and Herb Sauce

This recipe was great to try because it answered one of the fundamental culinary questions I have had for ages: Why was it so easy for me to make a nice, tight and shiny pan sauce in a restaurant? but so much more difficult at home? The answer comes down to how good the stock used in restaurants is compared to what we typically make or buy at home, especially in its gelatin content. Gelatin is what thickens a sauce just enough that it can easily form an emulsion with butter, giving it that rich, enveloping texture that is the hallmark of good bistro cuisine. The secret to reproducing this texture at home? Easy: just add a little gelatin powder to your sauce base.

Since writing this recipe, we’ve found that gelatin powder has texture enhancer applications all over the place. It’s one of our not-so-secret secret techniques.

Get the Easy Pan Roasted Chicken Breasts with White Wine and Herb Pan Sauce recipe or learn the science!

Daniel’s juicy and tender meatballs

Vicky Wasik

I’m a fan of a good meatball, but a good meatball is hard to find. I want them full of flavor and offering enough structure to hold their shape when simmering in a sauce, yet tender enough that they practically melt in your mouth when you bite them. Daniel’s interpretation hits him out of the park in every way. The buttermilk used in the breadcrumbs gives them a great start, adds more flavor and helps create a tender texture, but the real secret is a combination of pancetta to give them more juiciness to start and gelatin to help them hold that juice. while they cook.

Get the Juicy Tender Italian-American Meatballs in Red Sauce recipe or learn about the science!

Quick and easy homemade ricotta gnocchi

What if I told you that not only is it easy to make fresh gnocchi at home, but you can make them from scratch in less time than it takes to bring a pot of water to boiling ? Do not believe me ? Looked to the video. I’ll wait. Okay, it might take a bit of practice to get to that speed, but all you need is in the recipe, all it takes is a little commitment on your part. And the cheese. You will also need cheese.

Get the Quick and Easy Homemade Ricotta Gnocchi Recipe or learn the science!


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