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Santé Et Nutrition

Master the Italian Hero and Be the Hero of Every Party

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Every Monday night, Bon Appétit editor in chief Adam Rapoport gives us a peek inside his brain by taking over our newsletter. He shares recipes he’s been cooking, restaurants he’s been eating at, and more. It gets better: If you sign up for our newsletter, you’ll get this letter before everyone else.

A hero, a hoagie, a grinder, a sub

Over the years, I’ve used the NFL playoffs as an excuse to turn my apartment into an Italian hero shop.

I run to a nearby Italian market for the meats—pistachio-flecked rounds of mortadella, fat-marbled discs of coppa, thinly shaved sheets of prosciutto cotta (cooked ham; the pricey prosciutto di Parma is too chewy for hoagies, IMHO), and maybe a dried finocchiona sausage for a bit of garlicky bite.

I then head to my local grocery store for the basics. First, a bunch of those simple sub rolls from the plastic bin—cottony soft in the middle, a little crackly on the outside.

Iceberg, which I slice into thin ribbons, or what we at BA refer to as shrettuce.

shrettucegif

A red onion that I slice super thin on a mandoline and then quick pickle them with some rice wine vinegar, a pinch of salt and sugar and a splash of water.

And then I set up shop and invite whoever is around.

The more I’ve done it, the more I’ve learned. When I first started assembling homemade heroes, I delicately stacked the meats and fixings like a deck of cards. And, don’t get me wrong, it was tasty. It allowed the ribbons of meat and confetti of shrettuce to breathe a bit.

lime-pickled-red-onion

Ted Cavanaugh

But a concerned, sub-obsessed reader DMed me after watching a video of me making these heros. He pointed out that the proper way to make an Italian hero was to employ what I’ll call the horseshoe method.

First, slice the roll, but not all the way through, so it lies flat. Then you lay the various, thinly sliced meats like you’re tiling a floor. Then comes equally thinly-sliced provolone cheese, layered with the meats. (Although, as one of my Instagram followers pointed out, I should place the cheese on the outside so it doesn’t get bunched up in the middle.) You pile on the shrettuce and shaved onions and douse them with some oil and red wine vinegar (don’t be stingy), and hit ‘em with a shake or two of dried oregano.

Then you fold the whole thing over onto itself so it creates a horseshoe shape, the fixings on the inside so they don’t make the bread all soggy, the meats on the outside so they don’t form into a dense ball in the interior. And, oh yeah, I do like a slick of mayo with some Calabrian chile spread or chopped pickled peppers on either side of the roll. I know, I know—mayo.

open sub adam

Photo by Adam Rapoport

Each time I make the heros, they turn out differently. Sometimes I feel like I should’ve splashed them with more vinegar. Sometimes I get the meat-to-bread ratio just right; sometimes I lean too carby.

However they turn out, they’re inevitably some degree of delicious. And, as a finishing touch, I’ll wrap each one in wax or parchment paper before slicing it and handing it to one of my “customers.” It’s a mostly-unnecessary step but it makes the sandwiches look great. And, really, what’s better than a good-looking Italian hero?

Get the recipe:

Party-Ready Italian Heros



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Santé Et Nutrition

These Well-Crafted Chile-Chicken Nachos Take Every Component Seriously

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There are impulse nachos—do I have chips? Do I have cheese?—and then there are Super Bowl nachos. Beautiful, loaded-up, fancy nachos with elaborate toppings, thoughtful construction, nay, architecture, and fresh cilantro sprigs dispersed just so. Just so… you can dive bomb into it with your greedy fingers.

When nacho expert Rick Martinez was assigned to develop a recipe that excels in every category (the stakes were high—it’s nachos), he delivered. And yes, he was wearing his signature Lucha Libre apron while doing so.

The Chile-Chicken Topping

The nachos hinge on this chile-chicken recipe that you can steal and use for tacos, burritos, rice bowls, salads, whatever. A maxed-out chile sauce (ancho and chipotle in adobo) that the shredded rotisserie chicken soaks up, transforming into something that Kroger rotisserie oven never saw comin’. Hot, sweet, and smoky chicken that stays juicy thanks to chicken stock, especially since it’s going into the oven next. It takes 30 minutes to make the chile chicken, which you can do ahead, FYI.

chicken nachos 2

Photo by Chelsie Craig, Food Styling by Kate Buckens

The chicken, ready for nachos (or whatever!).

The Cheesy Corn Topping

This is the sneaky best part. A corn salad with salty-crumbly cotija cheese, onion, and a poblano chile (or jalapeño). It brings a pop of sweet and acts as a sort of unexpected salsa that isn’t wet, and therefore won’t sog up your chips. Since it’s not corn season, you have Rick’s permission to use frozen corn, thawed and drained. Thanks, Rick!

chicken nachos

Photo by Chelsie Craig, Food Styling by Kate Buckens

The Construction Manual

This is a two-layer, two-sheet tray operation, as opposed to one tray of 50 layers. It’s easier to eat than the nacho mountain, and you can delay cooking so the second one goes in after the first tray is inhaled, ensuring “a hot, melty batch” right when you want it, which is the most sensual recipe instruction I’ve ever read. Riiiiick! You can assemble about an hour ahead and wrap the trays in Cling Wrap to really make sure you’ve concentrated all of your creative energy into the nachos before you. Now here’s the order you SHALL NOT STRAY FROM:

  1. Sturdy tortilla chips
  2. Chile chicken
  3. Corn salsa
  4. Shredded sharp cheddar
  5. Repeat
  6. After baking, fresh toppings like radishes, cilantro, pickled jalapeños, more cotija cheese

The cheddar (sharp to stand up to the spicy chicken) wilt melt and envelop everything, holding it all together under a cheese roof. It’s also your indicator for when to take the nachos out of the oven, when the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown.

green-pico-de-gallo

Linda Xiao

Green pico de gallo!

The Side Salsa

Keep the salsa on the side (I repeat: NO SOGGY NACHOS). And sour cream, if you’re my dad and have never missed a sour cream opportunity. We have amazing recipes for smoky cashew salsa, pico de gallo, tomatillo-avocado salsa. Make ‘em ahead!

Then Serve Move

When we tasted these in the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen (yeah, somebody’s gotta do it), we served them with tongs because too many people had colds and this was our attempt to not spread germs. It works great, though! So if you’re having a ton of germy people over, use this technique and give everyone their own little party plate of nachos. Aww!

Get the recipe:

chicken-nachos-1.jpg



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Santé Et Nutrition

Chile Chicken Nachos Recipe | Bon Appetit

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Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high until shimmering. Cook garlic and half of onion, stirring occasionally, until tender and beginning to brown, 6–8 minutes. Stir in achiote paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until brick red, about 1 minute. Add ancho chiles, chipotle chile, stock, cumin, and 2 tsp. salt and bring to a boil. Cover, remove from heat, and let sit until chiles are very soft, about 30 minutes.



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Santé Et Nutrition

You’re Probably Using Too Much Black Pepper

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Can somebody please tell me when salt and black pepper became automatically, inevitably linked together? At what point in the long history of cooking did someone taste a peppercorn and think to themselves, “Hey, this reminds me a lot of that salt stuff we harvest from the sea and have come to know and love. Maybe we should henceforth use them in tandem in everything we cook! Never again shall a salt crystal stand alone. Salt AND pepper, forever and always! »

I mean, that sounds nuts, right? When you think about what these two seasonings actually do to food, they could not be more different. In a nutshell: Salt makes food taste more like itself; black pepper makes food taste like black pepper. So why do so many people automatically follow a pinch of salt with a couple of cranks of the pepper mill?

Learning how to season food effectively is one of the cornerstones of good cooking. When novice cooks ask me why their food doesn’t taste as good as they want it to taste, the answer is almost always that they aren’t using enough salt. I recommend the following exercise: Make a bowl of buttered pasta using no salt at all. Taste it straight out of the pot. Then add a good pinch of salt to it, toss it, and taste it again. Repeat. Taste again. Repeat that process until suddenly the flavor pops, your mouth beings to water, and things start to get really friggin’ tasty. THAT is the power of salt. It makes food—any food, every food—taste more.

But that isn’t the case with black pepper. If you were to repeat that same challenge using pepper, you’d add and add and add and never experience that magical, ah-HA moment. That bowl of pasta will start tasting spicier, and more floral, but it will never start tasting like the platonic ideal of noodles and butter. And that’s because pepper does not possess the same magical flavor-enhancing qualities that salt does—it makes food taste like it was seasoned with black pepper.

Don’t get me wrong—that isn’t always a bad thing! Black pepper is delicious, and brings a whole range of different flavors to the table that can be truly bangin’ when applied to the right dish (a properly salted one, of course). I love freshly ground black pepper. Like, love-love it. It brings a subtle background heat to some of my favorite dishes (helllloooo cae sal!). On a blank canvas, like a plate of scrambled eggs, you can really taste the floral, earthy notes that good pepper has to offer, and a big bowl of cacio e pepe just wouldn’t be the same without it. I have zero hate and nothing but R-E-S-P-E-C-T for the humble yet mighty peppercorn. But please please please, people, let’s start to honor it for what it is—an incredible and versatile spice—and use it when it’s really going to get a chance to shine.

Let’s let salt be salt, and pepper be pepper. When you stop putting the latter on everything you cook, you’ll learn to love it even more. You know what old people are always saying: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

You want a recipe that really wants some black pepper? How about these wings:

basically-crispy-peppercorn-wings.jpg



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