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The great American philosopher, Homer Simpson, once said, “You don’t make friends with salad.” This cold, spicy, and addictively delicious chicken noodle salad might be the exception. You bring a big bowl of this to the next big cookout, and you’re going to make all sorts of friends. The only people who might not be huge fans are the folks who brought regular pasta salads, in which case the best you can hope for is frenemies.

While I also love more traditional pasta salads, there’s just something extra special about this combination of tastes, and textures, as well as the always exciting aspect of spicy food served cold. Besides that, this recipe is a perfect catchall for all those summer vegetables we're supposed to be eating more of. No matter what you add, if you can make this ahead, it will always come out a little better, since the noodles and chicken will have time to soak up all that flavorful dressing.

As I mentioned, this salad usually gets made because you have some possibly dry leftover grilled chicken around, or other meat for that matter, but if you do want to poach some like I did here, I would watch this video for the proper technique. Or, in a pinch, just pick up a rotisserie chicken from the store. Regardless of what you use, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 large portions:
8 ounces dry spaghetti, cooked al dente, rinsed in cold water, and drained
1 large cooked chicken breast, shredded
1 cup thinly grated carrots
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped roasted salted peanuts
1 cup packed mixture of chopped basil, mint, and cilantro

For the dressing (all amounts here are to taste, so add more if you want): 
3 garlic cloves, crushed 
1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar 
1 tablespoon brown sugar 
1 tablespoon soy sauce 
1 tablespoon fish sauce 
1 tablespoon sriracha 
1 tablespoon hoisin 
1 teaspoon sesame oil
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The great American philosopher, Homer Simpson, once said, “You don’t make friends with salad.” This cold, spicy, and addictively delicious chicken noodle salad might be the exception. You bring a big bowl of this to the next big cookout, and you’re going to make all sorts of friends. The only people who might not be huge fans are the folks who brought regular pasta salads, in which case the best you can hope for is frenemies.

While I also love more traditional pasta salads, there’s just something extra special about this combination of tastes, and textures, as well as the always exciting aspect of spicy food served cold. Besides that, this recipe is a perfect catchall for all those summer vegetables we're supposed to be eating more of. No matter what you add, if you can make this ahead, it will always come out a little better, since the noodles and chicken will have time to soak up all that flavorful dressing.

As I mentioned, this salad usually gets made because you have some possibly dry leftover grilled chicken around, or other meat for that matter, but if you do want to poach some like I did here, I would watch this video for the proper technique. Or, in a pinch, just pick up a rotisserie chicken from the store. Regardless of what you use, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 large portions:
8 ounces dry spaghetti, cooked al dente, rinsed in cold water, and drained
1 large cooked chicken breast, shredded
1 cup thinly grated carrots
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped roasted salted peanuts
1 cup packed mixture of chopped basil, mint, and cilantro

For the dressing (all amounts here are to taste, so add more if you want): 
3 garlic cloves, crushed 
1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar 
1 tablespoon brown sugar 
1 tablespoon soy sauce 
1 tablespoon fish sauce 
1 tablespoon sriracha 
1 tablespoon hoisin 
1 teaspoon sesame oil
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Chopping up perfectly good steaks to make burgers with is going to raise a few eyebrows, and that’s just one of the reasons to do it. The great taste and texture are a couple other ones, not to mention it’s always nice to know exactly what you’re eating. Besides, imagine the mileage your dad’s going to get out of the story about the time you hand-chopped a rib eye just to make him a burger for Father’s Day. That’s pure chatting with your buddies at the hardware store gold.

This will also work with cheaper cuts like chuck, or round, but there’s a certain luxuriousness starting out with meat that’s already tender before it’s even chopped. By the way, using premium cuts for burgers is nothing new, and steakhouses have been doing just that with their trimmings for decades, which reminds me, if you can find some extra flavorful dry-aged beef, this will be even more memorable.

Above and beyond the taste, as long as you’re using cuts with enough fat, hand chopping the meat to a course grind will produce a very tender burger. Most hamburger meat from the store is too finely ground, and horribly overworked, and by the time you form it into patties, it can’t help but be a little tough. That’s not a problem here. By using a sharp knife, and partially frozen meat, there will be little to no fat smearing, which is one of the things that makes for a chewy burger.

Feel free to use no cheese, or a different variety, but the sharp, slightly salty funkiness of the blue cheese really works perfectly here. And the glorious crust we get as our meat sears in that melted fat is a wonder to behold. Homemade buns will also add to the experience, and here’s the link for making your own, but even if you’re going to serve this on a store-bought bun, and really do hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients to make 4 normal, or 3 giant Black & Blue Steak Burgers:
3/4 pound fatty rib eye steak
3/4 pound top sirloin steak
2 ounces (about 1/2 cup not packed) crumbled blue cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
-Sear about 3 minutes per side in a dry, very hot cast iron pan set over medium-high heat.

For the red onions:
1 red onion, sliced
big pinch of salt
enough red wine vinegar to cover
- Combine ingredients and let sit in fridge overnight, or until the onions turn color and soften slightly.
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When I heard there was a recipe called million dollar dip, I knew it was something I had try, especially since it was invented by a fellow upstate New Yorker, named Helen Corbitt. Apparently, the original name was Neiman Marcus dip, which at some point evolved into million dollar dip, although I’m not exactly sure when, or why. I’m guessing Pinterest had something to do with it.

Whatever the reason, I do like the new name better, and not just because recipes shouldn’t be named for department stores, but also because million dollar dip is so darn accurate. I’ve had more than a few cheese-based dips in my day, but this is, by far, the richest one I’ve ever enjoyed. I mostly credit the semi surprising addition of almonds, which makes sense, since that’s the best part of any holiday cheese ball. Yes, I’m that guy at the party who whittles off all the crushed nuts it was rolled in.

By the way, I wanted to expand on a cryptic tip I gave during the video, when I said to use a sharp knife for the green onions, so they taste better. The reason is, if you use a dull knife to slice or chop onions, you’ll be crushing instead of cutting, which releases volatile sulfuric compounds, and makes the flavor much harsher.

In fact, I have a theory that most people who don’t like onions, had parents who used dull knives to cut onions when they were kids. If that’s you, go buy sharp knife, and give them another try. That aside, this dip is extremely simple to make, profoundly satisfying, extremely additive, and sure to be a huge hit at your next party, which is why really do hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for about 3 cups of Million Dollar Dip:
1/2 cup chopped crisp-cooked bacon (6 to 8 slices)
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup slivered almonds, very lightly toasted
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
pinch of cayenne
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I don’t really watch a lot of television, but one series I’m hooked on is Killing Eve. If you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil anything, but I can safely tell you that it’s not a cooking show. Despite that, a recent episode set in Rome inspired this Italian “crema” ice cream video, which isn’t exceptionally delicious because of what’s in it, but rather what isn’t.

Gelato alla crema is the answer to the question, “What would vanilla ice cream taste like without any vanilla?” Without any other flavors to get in the way, all you taste is the sweet goodness of milk, and cream, which I think is a revelation. Most gelato alla crema recipes say you can add an optional spoon of vanilla, but I’m not making that same offer, and really think you should keep this pure “crema.”

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can still produce a decent version using one of the many alternative methods, or “hacks” as the kids call them, available online. If you do a web search you’ll see lots of different approaches, most involving ice, salt, and a few plastic freezer bags. Here’s one that outlines that process from Instructables; but my favorite is probably the ice cube tray method from Serious Eats, which is covered in this post. But regardless of how you make it, I really hope you give this less-is-more, Italian crema ice cream a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for about 3 1/2 cups of Italian Crema Ice Cream:
2 cups whole milk
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon white sugar
5 egg yolks
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream
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Yes, I’ve had a McRib sandwich, and no, I didn’t know it contained 70 ingredients, with baby back ribs not necessarily being one of them. I assumed they weren’t made from pristine pieces of succulent, heritage pork, but had no idea just how un-rib the McRib really was. Although, in fairness, the idea of a boneless baby back rib sandwich is brilliant, and for that I’ll tip my cap, and say thanks to a certain fast food franchise.

As it turns out, making a “real” one is quite easy to do, and the only real challenge was feeling around the edges of the racks after pulling out the bones, to check for any small bone fragments, and/or pieces of cartilage. Be sure to take your time, grab your reading glasses if you’re my age, and carefully examine every inch. Other than that, just be sure not to overcook the ribs in the oven, since falling apart meat will not be a lot of fun to grill.

I found 2 hours and 45 minutes to be perfect, but that will depend on the exact size of your baby backs. They can range from 1.5 to 3 pounds each, although most are around 2 pounds, like the ones seen here. As far as sauce goes, I’m a big fan of SFQ, and not just because it’s made by Micheleand me, but also because it’s really good. Like I mentioned in the video, I usually mix up a different dry rub every time I do ribs, but I did list my basic recipe below, just in case you’re interested.

Above and beyond just any old cookout, I was thinking this would make a great Father’s Day menu item, or maybe you have a friend with a McRib fetish, and you want to blow their minds with what that particular Frankenfood is actually supposed to look and taste like. Either way, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


For 4 Boneless Baby Back Rib Sandwiches:
2 racks baby back pork ribs (not the larger St. Louis style)
1 cup barbecue sauce, or as needed
4 toasted sesame seed rolls (I used our famous hamburger bun recipe, and made 6 rectangles instead of 8 round buns)
1 cup coleslaw (I used our hot & sweet mustard slaw)

For the Dry Rub (this makes extra):
1/3 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

- Season racks generously with a dry rub. Wrap in foil, and roast at 325 F. for 2 hours and 45 minutes. Pull bones, refrigerate until cold, cut, sauce, and grill to finish.
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I’m not particularly picky about my coleslaws, and as long as they’re properly made, I enjoy a wide variety of flavors and combinations, but this mustard slaw may be my fav. The combo of hot and sweet has a proven track record in palate pleasing, and that’s especially true when we’re talking about a cold salad.

Of course, how sweet, and how hot will be up to your personal tastes, as well as what you’re going to serve this with. If I’m going to toss this next too some spicy grilled sausages, then I will tone down the punch, whereas if I’m topping a sweet, smoky pulled pork sandwich, I might be a little more aggressive, like I was here.

Regardless of what exactly you put in yours, the key here is salting, and massaging your cut cabbage first (aka “cassage”). This not only draws out water, which actually sweetens up the flavor, but it also produces a flexible, yet still crunchy texture, which I think is lacking in many other “chop and mix” recipes.

I realize we’ve done coleslaws where we skip this step, which is fine if you slice your cabbage thin, and serve it relatively quickly, but for what I refer to as “real” coleslaw, the extra ten minutes is well worth it. Plus, once preserved in this way, your coleslaw will not only last days, but maybe get even better.

By the time I’d topped my soon to premiere boneless baby back rib sandwich, this slaw had been in the fridge for almost two days, and had developed even more flavor, while still retaining it’s raw crispness. So, stay tuned for that video, but in the meantime, I really do hope you give this great, hot and sweet mustard slaw a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 portions:
1 pound cabbage, cut in 1/2 inch slices
1 tablespoon kosher salt

For the dressing:
1/4 cup mayo
2 tablespoons Dijon
1 tablespoon grain mustard
1 to 2 tablespoons honey, or to taste
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
fresh chives to garnish
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I’m not particularly picky about my coleslaws, and as long as they’re properly made, I enjoy a wide variety of flavors and combinations, but this mustard slaw may be my fav. The combo of hot and sweet has a proven track record in palate pleasing, and that’s especially true when we’re talking about a cold salad.

Of course, how sweet, and how hot will be up to your personal tastes, as well as what you’re going to serve this with. If I’m going to toss this next too some spicy grilled sausages, then I will tone down the punch, whereas if I’m topping a sweet, smoky pulled pork sandwich, I might be a little more aggressive, like I was here.

Regardless of what exactly you put in yours, the key here is salting, and massaging your cut cabbage first (aka “cassage”). This not only draws out water, which actually sweetens up the flavor, but it also produces a flexible, yet still crunchy texture, which I think is lacking in many other “chop and mix” recipes.

I realize we’ve done coleslaws where we skip this step, which is fine if you slice your cabbage thin, and serve it relatively quickly, but for what I refer to as “real” coleslaw, the extra ten minutes is well worth it. Plus, once preserved in this way, your coleslaw will not only last days, but maybe get even better.

By the time I’d topped my soon to premiere boneless baby back rib sandwich, this slaw had been in the fridge for almost two days, and had developed even more flavor, while still retaining it’s raw crispness. So, stay tuned for that video, but in the meantime, I really do hope you give this great, hot and sweet mustard slaw a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 portions:
1 pound cabbage, cut in 1/2 inch slices
1 tablespoon kosher salt

For the dressing:
1/4 cup mayo
2 tablespoons Dijon
1 tablespoon grain mustard
1 to 2 tablespoons honey, or to taste
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
fresh chives to garnish
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There’s nothing very unusual, or interesting about serving a chicken or potato salad at a cookout, which is why this truly unique, Peruvian potato and chicken salad will cause such a stir. Or should I say, “causa” a stir, since in Peru that’s what this gorgeous dish is called. I’m told name comes from the Inca word for “giver of life,” which is exactly what this will do to your summer picnic table.

Above and beyond the bold, vibrant flavors, this is unlike any other potato-based salad, in that we’re using mashed potatoes instead of cubes, or chunks, but it really does work beautifully, and the smooth, silky texture makes this even more refreshing to eat. Keep all that in mind the next time a heat wave rolls through your area.

I went very minimal with the cherry tomato garnish, but my Peruvian friends are letting me know that olives are a very traditional garnish, as are hardboiled eggs. If you do an image search, you’ll see all kinds of elaborate presentations, and that’s half the fun of making something like this, so go nuts. Regardless of how you dress yours up, or what ends up in your salad, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 Appetizer-Sized Portions (in 6-oz ramekins):

For the potato mixture:
1 1/4 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, or russet
2 tablespoons Aji Amarillo chili paste, or to taste (see note below)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 or 2 limes, juiced, or to taste
salt and cayenne to taste

For the chicken salad:
1 large cooked chicken breast, diced or shredded
1/4 cup green peas
1/4 cup cooked diced carrots
2 tablespoons finely diced roasted red pepper
1 teaspoon minced shallot, or red onion
2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/4 to 1/3 cup mayo, or as needed
salt and cayenne to taste

For the sauce:
1/3 cup mayo
1 tablespoon sour cream, optional
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I’ve wanted to film a skewered version of our chicken teriyaki recipe for a while, but it was actually a karaage I recently enjoyed that pushed me into action. Michele and I were at Ramen Gaijin in Sebastopol, where they serve an amazing chicken karaage that comes with a miso ranch dipping sauce. The cool, tangy sauce is just perfect with the fried nuggets of chicken, and I assumed (correctly so, as it turns out) that it would be just as effective with these skewers.

None of the ingredients below are very hard to find, and any large grocery store should have Sake, and Mirin, as well as probably several kinds of miso. I used a “white miso,” which is actually gold in color, but apparently the “white” refers to the rice content, which is the other main ingredient besides soybeans. Feel free to make the dressing without it, but its fermented savoriness is such a great addition, I’d at least make some effort to track it down.

As far as the chicken goes, there’s not a lot that can go wrong, but I’d caution against an extra long marination. Especially if you’re skewering small chunks like we did here. The meat will “cure” in the sweet, salty mixture, which can make for an odd texture once cooked, as well as the meat is more likely to start falling apart. Personally, I think about four hours is ideal, which is perfect, since you can marinade in the morning, and then grill in the afternoon. Regardless of these variables, I really do hope you give both these incredible recipes a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients to make about 12 small skewers:
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 3 or 4 chunks each
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sake
1/3 cup mirin (Japanese sweet wine)
2 tablespoons finely minced green onions
2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For the Miso Ranch:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream or crème fraiche
1 generous tablespoon white miso paste, or to taste
1 tablespoon minced green onion
1 clove crushed garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
freshly ground black pepper and cayenne to taste
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authorI teach people how to cook. Don't let the chicken suit fool you. I have skills. Some skills.