The Secret Ingredient (Chipotle) Part 2: Smoky Chipotle BBQ Oven Ribs

RECIPE: Smoky Chipotle BBQ Oven Ribs
Chipotle Oven Ribs

Chipotle Oven Ribs

Ribs. When I think about them, my eyes roll back, and my mouth starts to water. The way the meat falls off the bone; so sweet, so savory, so smoky. Few things are as simple but complex as the well-cooked rib.

So discovering that I can make ribs at home was a revelation. It’s a simple technique. Marinating, followed by a couple of hours covered in a low oven, and then just a few more minutes uncovered to get those burnt edges. And they are tender, and delicious, and you made them all yourself without so much as a barbecue.

Chipotles are the perfect secret ingredient in the ultimate rib barbecue sauce because they themselves are already smoky. So, if you love the smoky flavor of barbecue, but want to make ribs in your kitchen, this is the recipe for you. I make a simple barbecue sauce from ketchup, onions, garlic, chipotles, and the adobo sauce in which they are packed. When you first taste the sauce, it’ll seem far too hot. But after the ribs soak in it overnight, and once the sauce roasts and cooks down, it is only mildly hot, smoky, tangy, sticky. The meat falls off the bone. The edges are black and crisp. This recipe is a keeper.

Excerpted from my weekly column The Secret Ingredient on Serious Eats.  Click HERE for this post.

Smoky Chipotle BBQ Oven Ribs
serves 4

Chipotle Oven RibsINGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 Spanish onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 14 ounces ketchup
  • 7.5 ounces chipotle in adobo
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 pounds baby back ribs, separated
  • Kosher salt


Heat the oil on medium-high, and add the onion and garlic.  Sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients, except the ribs, turn heat to low, and simmer uncovered for 25 minutes.  Cool to room temperature.

Put the ribs and the sauce in a large plastic sealable bag, and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 300°F.  Arrange the ribs on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet, season with salt, and cover tightly with foil.  Bake for 2 1/2 hours.  Meanwhile, bring the barbecue sauce to a boil in a pot on the stove.  Boil for 3 minutes, and set aside.

Uncover the ribs, turn them over, and bake an additional 30 minutes.  Brush with barbecue sauce on both sides, and serve hot.

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Categories: Cheap, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Meat, Recipes, Series, The Secret Ingredient

French in a Flash: Soft-Shell Crab Meunière

RECIPE: Soft-Shell Crab Meunière
Soft-Shell Crab Meunière

Soft-Shell Crab Meunière, with brown butter and lemon

Sole Meunière is one of the giants of deliciousness in French cuisine.  I think it’s the dish that Merrill Streep moons over rapturously in Julie and Julia.  And for good reason.  Thin, slightly crisped fillets of sole soaked in lemony brown butter.  What could be better?

Maybe, just maybe, soft-shell crabs can.  When I saw them at the store this week, and thought of how my mom always sautés them up in butter, I wonder if I couldn’t hybrid the two, and prepare the crabs à la Meunière.  Plunged in milk, lightly dredged in flour, seared, and then bathed in that brown butter with just a hint of lemon.  Nothing goes better with seafood than melted butter.  Lemon brown butter is just that bit more special.

I think I might finally have maman trumped!

Soft-Shell Crab Meunière
serves 2 to 4

Soft-Shell Crab MeunièreINGREDIENTS

  • 4 jumbo soft-shell crabs, prepared by your fishmonger
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 5/8-inch slice of lemon
  • Freshly chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)


Place the crabs in a bowl of milk.  Season the flour with the salt and pepper.  Lightly dredge the crabs in the seasoned flour.

In a wide skillet, melt two tablespoons of butter over medium heat.  Place the other two tablespoons of butter in a small saucepot over medium-low heat.  Melt the butter, and then continue to gently cook it until the butter solids turn golden brown.  Add in the lemon slice and remove from the heat.

Place the crabs in the skillet with the butter and sauté until golden brown, turning once, about 3 minutes per side.  Arrange on a platter, and pour the lemony butter sauce over the crabs.  Garnish with parsley and/or extra lemon wedges.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Easy, Eat, Fish, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Recipes, Series

The Secret Ingredient (Chipotle) Part 1: Red Hot Chipotle Slaw

RECIPE: Chipotle Slaw
Chipotle Slaw

Chipotle Slaw Tacos

I am having an addiction problem with this slaw. I just can’t get enough.

I’m already a sucker for any kind of Tex-Mex or California slaw. The stuff that’s piled on fish tacos. But this one is smoky, and super spicy. Chipotle peppers, this month’s secret ingredient (I don’t think I’ve EVER been so excited for a secret ingredient), are smoked jalapeños. The way I usually find them, and use them, is packed in a can with adobo, a sauce made from tomatoes, onion, vinegar, paprika, and garlic. The chiles and the sauce are both smoky, deep, rust red, and intensely flavorful. They have that zing from the vinegar in the adobo, the smokiness of the pepper, the richness of paprika and tomato. It’s one-stop shopping.

For this recipe, I took the inspiration of fish taco slaw, and turned up every dial. Starting with purple cabbage, I added fresh cilantro and scallions for freshness and crunch. Lime juice for a tart shot. And most importantly, both fresh jalapeños, and the chipotles with their adobo. The mixture of smoked and fresh chilies make this slaw complexly spicy, and the adobo just makes the whole thing taste south of the border. I serve this slaw instead of cole slaw, piled onto a fish sandwich, or by itself, in warm corn tortillas, as fresh, vegetarian tacos. Delicious.

Excerpted from my weekly column The Secret Ingredient at Serious Eats.  Click HERE for this post.

Chipotle Slaw
serves 6 to 8


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 4 chipotle peppers, finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons adobo, from the chipotle can
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 red cabbage, finely shredded
  • 6 thin scallions, finely sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced jalapeño (about 1)
  • 6 tablespoon coarsely chopped cilantro


In a very large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lime juice, chipotle peppers, adobo, sugar, salt, and pepper. Add the cabbage, scallions, jalapeño, and cilantro, and toss to combine. Either serve right away, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Cheap, Easy, Eat, Recipes, Salad, Series, Sides, Soup & Salad, The Secret Ingredient, Vegetables

Working Girl Dinner: Tuscan Steak with Rosemary White Bean Mash

RECIPE: Tuscan Steak with Rosemary White Beans

I got a bunch of requests this week for a steak recipe that doesn’t include a grill.  A good idea now that we’re seriously out of summer.  I love steak, but I won’t be braving the January snows for it.

This recipe could not be easier.  I use beef tenderloin tips, which have all the tenderness of filet mignon, with a much lower price.  I sear them with a little bit of olive oil and rosemary right on the stove, then finish them up in the oven, and slice.  To go with them, white bean mash, flavored with a touch of olive oil, garlic, and more rosemary.  So much healthier than mashed potatoes.  And, they’re really good, and different, and filling.  Consider this my convenient, healthy steak dinner, inspired but a night I spent in Tuscany, at a restaurant I stumbled into.  The steak was neared with rosemary, and the beans were cooked with garlic.  But you don’t need to book a flight to Italy or fire up a grill to have great Tuscan steak.  Trust me!

Tuscan Steak

Tuscan Steak with White Bean Mash

Tuscan Steak with Rosemary White Beans
serves 1 to 2


  • ½ pound beef tenderloin tip
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, plus ½ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons water


Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Take the meat out of the fridge 15 minutes before you want to use it.  Season it with salt and pepper.  Add 1 teaspoon olive oil to a sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add the rosemary sprig and the beef.  Sear the beef 2 minutes on each of the 4 sides.  Put the meat in the oven for 6 to 7 minutes, until the internal temperature is 135°F.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes on the cutting board, and cut into thick slices.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepot, add the remaining teaspoon of olive oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and chopped rosemary, and cook until just golden around the edges.  Add the beans and water, and season with salt and pepper.  Cover, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until soft.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Meat, Recipes, Series, Watch, Working Girl Dinners

French in a Flash: Easy Awesome Eggplant Tian

RECIPE: Easy Awesome Eggplant Tian
Easy Awesome Eggplant Tian

Easy Awesome Eggplant Tian

Discovering eggplant tian is like sending the man you love out for a makeover, and then having him return ten times more handsome than he was to begin with.  Eggplant Parm is wonderful.  I’ve been eating it since I was six years old.  It’s comfortable as flannel pajamas and a DVR on a Friday night.  But it’s fattening.  It doesn’t look so hot on the plate.  And after twenty-two years of devotion, it’s time to spice things up.

Eggplant Tian, my new and improved Eggplant Parm, comes from Provence, the land where eggplant is king.  Kind of like our New York-style Eggplant Parm, it is made with slices of eggplant, tomato sauce, and cheese.  But instead of being breaded and fried, the eggplant is sweet and softly roasted.  Instead of just mozzarella, the tian can be topped with Gruyère or Valbreso or any number of gooey, salty cheeses.  And most notably, tians are named for the dishes in which they are baked, round or oval porcelain gratin dishes.  Which adds a lot to the look of the dish, turning an Italian takeout classic to an elegant French dinner.

This version has a few steps, but is the easiest way I’ve ever found to make eggplant tian.  I roast the eggplant in a vinaigrette of olive oil and garlic (very Provençal) tempered with balsamic vinegar, which sweetens the eggplant as it roasts.  Then, into the tian dishes with bought tomato sauce, and a simple topping of fresh mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.  A drizzle of pesto or pistou over the top finishes this gorgeous vegetarian main course.  And no time is better for eggplant than right now, when they’re dark and sultry and so inviting.  Gather ye eggplants while ye may—there’s nothing worse than out-of-season eggplant.

Excerpted from my weekly column French in a Flash on Serious Eats.  Click HERE for this post.

Easy Awesome Eggplant Tian
serves 4

Easy Awesome Eggplant TianINGREDIENTS

  • 2 large eggplants
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 large clove garlic, grated
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce, divided
  • 9 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn in small chunks
  • 4 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 4 teaspoons pesto sauce or pistou


Slice the eggplant into 1/2-inch rounds.  Toss the eggplant with the salt in a large colander, and allow to sit and drain in the sink for 30 minutes.

Preheat the boiler.  In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and pepper.  Without rinsing the eggplant, toss them with the vinaigrette, and let marinate for 15 minutes.  Arrange the slices in a single layer on a large nonstick baking sheet (you may need to do this in batches).  Broil for 12 minutes.  Flip the eggplant slices over with a spatula.  Broil another 12 minutes.

Heat the oven to 425°F.  Place 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce in the bottom of each of 4 round au gratin dishes.  Divide the eggplant slices among the 4 dishes.  Top each dish with 1/4 cup of marinara sauce.  Then divide the mozzarella pieces among the 4 dishes, and finally the Parmigiano Reggiano.  Place the gratin dishes on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any spills, and bake for 30 minutes until the marinara sauce is bubbling, and the cheese is melted.  Let the tians rest for 10 minutes.  Drizzle with pesto sauce, and serve.

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Categories: Easy, Eat, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Recipes, Series, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian, Vegetarian

The Paul Macaron Frappé

Pistachio Macaron Frappé Up Close

There's a macaron in here. I'm serious!

I have loved macarons for a really long time.  And when I am in Paris, and get the chance to buy the really good ones, I guard them with my life until I get them home, so there are no chips or dents or cracks to mar that magnificent exterior.  I guess I feel the same way about my macarons as some people feel about their Bentleys.  I don’t want them damaged.  Precious goods!

So when I saw that Paul, the French bakery that seems to be suddenly cropping up all over the world, in London was making “macaron frappés,” I obviously had to find out what was going on.  Imagine your typical frappé–usually a coffee drink, blended up with ice.  Like a coffee slushy.  So, it’s kind of like that, but substitute a macaron for the coffee.

First, it starts with a choice.  Pistachio, raspberry, chocolate, or vanilla.  If that doesn’t slay you where you stand, then they make your frappé.  I chose pistachio.  So they took a large pistachio macaron and, horror of horrors, stuffed in into the blender!  With milk, cream, and tons of ice.  As it swirled together, the whole blender turned pale, Easter egg green, and as they poured my frappé into its cup, despite my shattered macaron, I was giddy with anticipation.

I loved it.  I’m allergic to coffee, so this was that much more exciting to me.  It wasn’t too sweet–the only sweetness coming from the macaron.  There was the hint of almond-pistachio flavor, gentle, in a kind of milkshake, but not nearly so cloying or thick as a milkshake.  It was cold, and crunchy from the ice, and mild and delicious.  Most of all, refreshing.  And of course, I loved it all the more for knowing there was a macaron inside.

I just can’t believe I voluntarily crushed a macaron.  And loved it!

Pistachio Macaron Frappé

Macaron Frappé At Paul, London

At Paul, London

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Categories: Finds, London, Voyages

The Secret Ingredient (Dijon Mustard) Part 4: Moules Dijonnaise

RECIPE: Moules Dijonnaise
Moules Dijonnaise

Moules Dijonnaise

Usually, I only do three Secret Ingredient recipes per ingredient, but Dijon mustard is so up my alley, that I think I’m going to keep going. My apologies to those who have complained of a mustard allergy! I’m allergic to chicken and coffee, so I get where you’re coming from.

I know I’ve told this story before on French in a Flash, but it is worth repeating. When I was in Paris, I went to the Maille store, and it looks like something between a really nice pub bar, an apothecary shop, and a museum. Behind glass in lighted cases were kept the moutardiers, little mustard jars with prim little spoons, hand painted, and passed down through generations. From the bar, with taps, were different kinds of mustards you could buy or taste. And all along the walls, in neat little rows, were every conceivable kind of mustard: curry, piment d’Espelette, tarragon, walnut, cassis, blue cheese, clementine, garlic, shallot. Different colors, different textures. Each one screaming to be used in every conceivable recipe, especially vinaigrette. It was then that I fully began to understand the French love of mustard. Wow, I thought.

In my house, growing up, we really did put mustard on everything. My stepfather, from Normandy, puts it on the side of every dish he eats, methodically dipping meat, fish, even pasta into it–much like we complain some of us Americans do with ketchup. As for me, whenever I order fries, I ask for a side of Dijon mustard. Ketchup just wasn’t around for me to grow up with. When my mom went to Costco, she would buy industrial size jars of mustard. There was so much of it to use up, I began putting it in everything.

One of my favorite mustard recipes is Moules Dijonnaise: mussels in a creamy mustard sauce. I much prefer it to the traditional Marinière. I flavor the broth with shallots, leeks, and garlic, wine, and two mustards, and cream, and a garden full of fresh thyme. Hold on to your hats, and your baguettes. It’s so good.

Excerpted from my weekly column The Secret Ingredient on Serious Eats.  Click HERE for this post.

Moules Dijonnaise
serves 2 to 4

Moules DijonnaiseINGREDIENTS

  • 4 pounds mussels
  • 1 spoonful all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 1 skinny leek, finely sliced in halfmoons
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvingnon Blanc
  • A small bunch of fresh thyme (about .2 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup whole grain mustard
  • 1 cup heavy cream


Place the mussels and flour in a huge bowl, and cover with cold water.  Leave the mussels to soak while you prepare the rest of the ingredients, and they will disgorge any sand they might be saving up in their bellies.  Finally, drain and rinse the mussels.  Throw out any that are open.

In a large, wide braising pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  When the oil ripples, add the shallots and leek, and season with salt and pepper.  Sauté, stirring often, until the vegetables are soft and fragrant, but not golden: about 3 minutes.  Lower the heat, and add the garlic, stirring it around with the other vegetables for about 45 seconds.  Then add the wine, and the thyme, and season the mixture with salt and pepper.  Cover the pot, keep it over low heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the mussels, and raise the heat to medium-high.  Keep the pot covered.  The mussels are cooked when they’ve all opened.  It takes about 5 minutes.  Discard any that remain stubbornly closed.

Turn off the heat, and stir in the mustards and the cream, until well combined into the broth.  Taste the broth for seasoning, and adjust as needed.  Serve right away, with a big baguette to tear apart and dip into the broth.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Cheap, Easy, Eat, Fish, Main Courses, Recipes, Series, The Secret Ingredient