Category Archives: 2pixfordinner

Cast-Iron Skillet Pizza with Italian Sausage and Hot Cherry Peppers

tonyr_cook_k  Tony writes: I’ve become slightly obsessed with cooking pizza in cast-ironWhy cast-iron? It retains heat well (think Chili’s fajitas), so the dough gets a crisp crust and a nice, puffy texture. Over the last while, I’ve been tinkering with the method for both a regular pie and deep-dish and each is relatively easy, This cast-iron technique entails two more steps than your basic pizza method: pre-heating the pan and blind-baking the crust (see below). After that, just top the pizza amply and bake until the cheese bubbles and browns: home pizza that looks and feels like a pizzerias’.

– “Blind-bake”Blind-baking, or pre-cooking a crust without its toppings, is standard procedure with pies (pie pies like blueberry pie or apple pie). I like to follow this technique with cast-iron pizza. I don’t full-on cook the dough through, just lightly brown it (about 8 minutes) to ensure the bottom crust doesn’t have a soft, doughy texture once the toppings get added. After this initial browning, I add the toppings to the browned shell and finish baking.

Photo Note: The recipe below is for my favorite deep-dish pizza pairing (sausage and cherry peppers), but the pictures are for my favorite photogenic pairing (broccoli, pepperoni, and mushrooms). Use the base recipe and then you do you with the toppings.


The recipe (Serves 4) 

1. Make the dough: Measure out 3/4 cup lukewarm water (technically, it should be 100F to 110F; if the water is warm-ish, you’re good) and mix in 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar and 1 tsp. active dry yeast (about half a packet). Let sit for 10 min to check that the yeast is alive and well (the top of the liquid will foam and thicken). Add 2 cups all-purpose flour (10 oz.) and 3/4 tsp. kosher salt to a food processor (or standmixer) and pulse (or whisk gently) to mix. Still pulsing (or whisking), pour in 2 Tbs. olive oil and the yeast mixture. Pulse (or whisk) until the mixture comes together into a uniform dough. Adjust with a splash of water or flour if the mixture is wet or crumbly and dry). On a lightly floured work surface, knead the dough for 2 or 3 min so it becomes uniform and elsasticky; it should spring back when pressed. Transfer to a large, lightly oiled bowl, top with a dish towel, and hold somewhere warm until it doubles in size, about 1 hour; or hold in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.



2. Organize the toppings: This is really up to you; far be it from me to tell you how to top your own pizza. I like 1/2 lb. roasted Italian sausage (cut in 1/2-inch pieces) 3/4 lb blend of cheeses (Parmigiano, mozzarella, and fontina), 2 cups tomato sauce (2 cups whole, peeled tomatoes, pureed in a food processor and seasoned with salt, pepper, and fresh basil, and 2 jarred hot cherry peppers.


3. Roll out and blind bake the dough: Heat the oven to 425F; give the oven at least 30 min to properly preheat. Set a 12-inch cast-iron skillet in the oven for 10 min to heat. Meanwhile, on a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out into an 18-inch round. Brush the top side with 2 Tbs. olive oil. Using an oven mitt, remove the skillet from the oven and set on a trivet or dish towel.  Using both hands (without the mitt now), transfer the dough (oiled sound down) into the skillet; use a small heatproof spatula (or carefully with your fingers) press the dough to fit the contours of the pan; against and up the sides. Use the tines of a fork to lightly mark the dough (this will prevent it from puffing), brush with some more olive oil (especially the edges) and transfer to the oven. Bake until the dough browns lightly, 8  to 10 min.


4. Top and bake: Sprinkle half of the cheese on the dough, top with half of the meat or vegetables, and half the sauce. Repeat, reserving the remaining sauce for after baking. Bake until the cheese bubbles and browns and the pie cooks through, about 20 min. Top with the remaining sauce and let cool for a couple of minutes; then cut into wedges and serve.



Broiled Ancho Flank Steak Tacos with Charred Chiles and Onions

Bill writes: I’ve grilled steaks and I’ve pan-seared steaks, but I’ve never broiled them. Any tricks to the process? I already have flank steak and peppers and was kind of hoping to make them into tacos. Thoughts?

Tony’s take: Thanks for writing, Bill! Broiling’s quick searing heat is kinda like indoor grilling, especially when you’re house-bound and desperate in the dead of winter (It’s -1F in Boston today). There are a couple of tricks to broiling meat – like making sure the steak is completely dry so it properly browns and positioning the broil pan relatively close to the broiler – about 4 inches – so it sears quickly), but these steps are easy enough. And your plan is perfect: hit the steak with a spice rub before broiling and then thinly slice the seared beef and roll it up with browned peppers and onion in tortillas with some guacamole or salsa (or both). Here’s how:


The Recipe: Serves 4; Prep time: 15 minutes  Cook time: 15 minutes

What you need: Ingredients: Steak (either flank or skirt works; about 1 1/2 lb for 4 people), spices (ancho chile powder, cumin, garlic powder, chipotle powder or pimenton de la Vera), granulated sugar, olive oil, bell peppers (2 or 3; whatever colors you got or like), onion (preferably a large Spanish or red onion); corn tortillas, salsa, cheese, etc… for serving.


1. Get prepped:  Heat the broiler to high and position an oven rack about 4 inches away from the heating element. Make a spice rub and prep the vegetables: In a small bowl, mix 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt with about 1 tsp. each granulated sugar, ancho chili powder (or regular), black pepper, and cumin, and 1/4 tsp. each garlic powder and chipotle powder. Pat the steak dry with paper towels and then rub the spice mix all over the steak along with a drizzle of olive oil, about 1 Tbs. Transfer to a broiler pan or a large rimmed baking sheet topped with a rack and let sit at room temperature while the broiler heats. Quarter, core, and seed the peppers and set on another baking sheet along with a Spanish or red onion, cored and cut in 1/2-inch wedges. Toss the vegetables with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper, about 3/4 tsp. and 1/2 tsp. each.


2. Broil the steak and then vegetables: Set the broil pan with the steak under the broiler and cook without touching until the top of the steak browns, about 2 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook the other side of the steak until it, too, browns and the steak starts to firm up to your desired level of doneness (make a nick into a thicker piece to check its level of pinkness – pull out the rack a bit while you’re doing so, so you don’t singe your arm hairs ), 2 to 4 more minutes. If the steak is browned on both sides but still not cooked through, transfer it to a lower rack and continue broiling and flipping until done. Once cooked, transfer the steak to a carving board to cool for 5 minutes before slicing. Meanwhile, broil the vegetables, flipping every couple of minutes until they brown on both sides and start to become tender (the tips of the onions may char a bit – this is fine), about 5 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a cutting board.


3. Slice and serve: Thinly slice the steak (once it’s cooled – the cooling allows the juices a chance to recirculate) and coarsely chop the vegetables. Serve in warm corn tortillas with guacamole, salsa, and a squirt of fresh lime juice.


Garlicky Braised Meatballs with Rosemary and Tuscan Kale

tonyr_cook_k Tony writes: Meatballs and greens are my version of having vegetables and (actually) eating them (because of the meatballs), too. The pairing had me at Italian wedding soup, but I’ve found it also adapts nicely to other global flavors (see this Vietnamese soup). As we come to the end of the cold weather (loudly knocking on table top), I couldn’t resist the urge to get in one last braise… and have another go at meatball and greens. For this effort, I wanted to return to my first love, Italian wedding soup, and make it bigger, more rustic: in my vision, the meatballs would be largish and seasoned the way you do for sauce (breadcrumbs, Parmigiano, herbs, etc…). And the greens would be hardier: slowly braised kale. And the result was actually pretty wonderful, definitely worth a try. Here’s how:

– Tuscan kale:  Lost in the kale craze is that this green can be more than just frill. I’ve long been a fan of Tuscan kale (aka “lacinato kale” or “dinosaur kale”). This varietal, traditional in ribolita and minestrone, boasts flat, dimpled leaves with the same kind of nutritional power as the frilly stuff. But it’s more delicate in both flavor and texture and goes perfectly in this quick braise. soup.4 – The meatballs and method: One of my pet peeves regarding meatballs is when they’re packed with raw garlic, a certain recipe for indigestion. I like adding garlic from the outside in and keeping the seasoning relatively delicate: fresh rosemary and grated Parmigiano, an egg to help bind the meat together, and a light sprinkling of Panko breadcrumbs. After forming and searing the meatballs, I reserved them and then slowly browned smashed garlic cloves to serve as the aromatic base for the braise.soup.5 The Recipe: Serves 4

1. Form the meatballs: Add 1 1/2 lb ground meat (I used 3/4 lb each of pork and beef) to a large bowl. Gently mix with 1/2 cup Parmigiano, 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs, 1 egg (beaten), 1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary1 tsp. kosher salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Form into 1-inch meatballs, dampening your hands occasionally with cold water to help form. soup.6 2. Sear the meatballs: Heat a large Dutch oven (or heavy-based pot) over medium-high heat for 1 1/2 min. Add 1 Tbs. olive oil (you don’t need a bunch of oil; the meatballs should render plenty of fat). Once the oil is shimmering hot, add half of the meatballs evenly spaced, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, undisturbed, until they brown nicely and easily release when you lift up a piece, about 2 min. Roll the meatballs over and cook the other sides until browned, about 2 more min. Transfer to a large plate and cook the remaining meatballs in the same manner, reserving on the same plate after searing.


3. Greens and braise: Add another splash of olive oil (as needed) as well as 3 garlic cloves (smashed) and cook, stirring, until the garlic becomes fragrant and lightly browned, about 30 seconds. Add 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes and 1 tsp. fresh rosemary and swirl around the pan for 15 seconds. Add 1 bunch Tuscan kale (about 1 1/2 lb; stemmed, washed, and cut in 1-inch strips), sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, raise the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring, until the kale starts to soften and wilt, about 3 minutes. Add 3 cups chicken broth (homemade or low-salt canned) and bring to a boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer (medium-low), return the meatballs to the pot, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meatballs completely cook through and the greens become tender, 45 min to 1 hr.soup.34. Season and serve: Spoon off and discard any fat on the surface of the broth (if you like).  Stir in 1 Tbs. lemon juice, season with S+P to taste, and serve sprinkled with 3/4 cup Parmigiano. (Note: stir 1 tsp. sugar into the broth to balance out the slight bitterness of the greens if you like).

Asian Pork “Carnitas” with Sesame-Shiitake Slaw

 Tony writes: What would “carnitas” be like if reimagined with an Asian pantry? Kogi has kinda already  answered this question, but  the technique is relatively intuitive, so you can trail-blaze your way through the method even without a trip to the West Cost (though  do, if it’s an option; I included a visit to Kogi on a recent L.A. tour and it was well worth the wait!!). Slow-cook a tough cut (pork shoulder is the thing for carnitas, but any hardy cut will do – even boneless chicken thighs) until falling-apart tender. Then shred, pair with an intense sauce and other interesting textures and flavors, and tuck into some sort of wrap. The whole thing, though slow cooking, is easy and hands-free and the best part is you get plenty of leftovers which keep in the fridge for 4 or 5 days and go well in rice, pastas, salads, or even vegetable-heavy re-braises. Here’s the basic set-up:

-Pork butt actually has nothing to do with the animal’s posterior; rather, it’s the front shoulder, a marbled, tough cut that’s traditional to braising (and shredding) in Southern pulled pork or Mexican carnitas. A full boneless butt weighs about 9 lb. (and feeds 12 to 14); for this method, a half butt suffices.

Balanced flavors: As tender as pork butt becomes with slow cooking, it’s got a slightly gamey flavor which you’ll want to match through a two-pronged effort. The first is a spice rub, a relatively simple one at that: a sprinling of salt, pepper, sugar, and 5-spice powder. The longer you let this mixture marinate the meat, the better (it will almost cure the pork the way you would with bacon). The second step is to create an aromatic – ie: really intense – braising broth: here, garlic, ginger, Sichuan peppercorns (if you have), fermented black beans, and a good splash of vinegar become the Asian heavies, mimicking what chiles and spices do with Mexican carnitas.

Season, sear, simmer, shred: Alliteration makes me happy; that and pun-y names for hairdressing salon’s.  Though the actual cooking in this recipe takes about 3 hours, each step in this process is relatively simple and hands-free. The further ahead you can season the meat, the better (shoot for 1 day). Sear the meat in a heavy pot (I use my Le Crueset) to get good color which, in turn, creates a rich, caramelized base for the broth. After adding some liquid (water, sherry, soy, and vinegar), cover and simmer gently until the meat becomes completely – and I mean COMPLETELY – tender. Let the meat rest for a bit and then shred using forks or tongs or whatever.

Recipe (Serves 8)

1. Season: Unfurl a boneless half pork butt (about 4 lb; Boston butt). In a small bowl, mix 5 tsp. kosher salt, 2 tsp. granulated sugar, 1 tsp. black pepper, and 1 tsp. 5-spice powder. Sprinkle all over the pork and let sit at room temp for 15 minutes or up to 2 days in the refrigerator; the longer it “marinates”, the more uniform its spiced flavor.



2. Sear and simmer:  Set a heavy-based Dutch oven over medium-high heat until a droplet of water instantly evaporates on its surface, about 1 1/2 minutes. Pat the pork dry (to remove any excess moisture that the salt rub might have pulled out), add 2 Tbs. canola oil to the pot, carefully set the pork in the pot, and cook without touching until an edge easily releases when lifted with tongs and the underside is nicely browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip, reduce the heat to medium, and brown the other side in the same manner. Transfer the pork to a large plate. Add 1 Tbs. canola oil, 3 dried chiles (broken up), 3 garlic cloves (smashed), a 1-inch knob ginger (thinly sliced), 1 Tbs. fermented black beans (chopped), and 1/2 tsp. Szechuan peppercorns (if you have, or are interested in making a trip to the Asian market). Cook, stirring, until the garlic browns lightly and all the aromatics become fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 3/4 cup  dry sherry (or Shaoxing wine) and cook, stirring to incorporate any browned bits on the bottom of the pot, until it almost completely cooks off, 1 minute. Add 1 cup water (or chicken broth if you have), 2 Tbs. white vinegar, 1 Tbs. light brown sugar, and 1 Tbs. sesame oil. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer (about medium low). Add the pork, cover, and cook, flipping the meat every 30 minutes or so, until it’s completely tender (you should be able to easily break apart and shred off pieces of the meat), about 2 1/2 hours.


3. Shred and slaw: Transfer the braised pork to a large platter and let cool for 10 minutes. Spoon off and discard the top layer of fat from the braising liquid. Then strain the braising liquid (through a fine-mesh sieve) and return to the pot; season to taste with salt, pepper, soy, vinegar, etc…. Using tongs or a fork, shred the meat and transfer to its braising liquid in the pot to keep warm. Meanwhile, make the slaw: Heat 1 Tbs. canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add  1/2 green cabbage (cored and thinly sliced, about 5 cups), 1 pack shiitakes (3 1/2 oz, stemmed and thinly sliced) and 1 tsp. each kosher salt, granulated sugarsesame oil, and toasted sesame seeds. Cook, tossing, until the mixture wilts and browns in places, 2 to 3 minutes.



4. Serve: Heat 8-inch flour tortillas in foil in the oven. Serve by topping the tortillas with a drizzle of hoisin sauce and sriracha and then the shredded meat and slaw. Have plenty of napkins on hand at the dinner table.


Spicy Fried Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon

Alison writes: I have always wanted to know how to make fried chicken for the occasional craving, but the only time I’ve tried, the thighs and drumsticks  were greasy and undercooked. I’m thinking I should try boneless breasts instead. Suggestions?

Tony’s take: Fried chicken is the Everest of home-cooking… or, at least, that really long family camping trip you’ve debated taking for years: if it’s successful, it’s monumentally triumphant. But if it goes bad, it’s a real mess and leaves the whole house smelling fried. You’re right to distinguish between chicken parts and breasts. Frying bone-in pieces is closer to the Everest end of the equation. You need to keep the oil at a consistently high temperature (above 350F) for a long period of time  so the chicken cooks through, but doesn’t get greasy (which is what happens when the temp drops well below 350F) – and in this scenario, avoiding the whole fried-house smell is a near impossibility. Breasts are quicker to cook through. And if you cut them into manageable chunks (about 1 inch), the whole process isn’t much more demanding than a saute.


The tricks: The first trick in this method is to eschew bone-in chicken and think smaller. Shrinking fried chicken down to small chunks has a bunch of advantages. The cook time is quick (about 3 minutes) and the process easy (you can use a small pot and just work in a couple of batches); this also means less oil used and dumped… and less fried house smell! Perhaps best of all, these fried chunks are the perfect vehicle for big, bright flavors. And this is the second trick to this technique: after frying, you can toss the chicken pieces with intense, pantry ingredients – citrus, aromatics like garlic or ginger, fresh herbs, chiles, etc… The battered coating will soak up the flavors and become nuanced and dressy, but still wonderfully fried. Here’s how:

Serves 4. Prep time: 15 min. Cook time: 10 min.

1. Season: You can season fried chicken before and/or after cooking. For the boneless chunks approach, I prefer to do much of the flavoring after cooking (step 5). Before cooking, I keep it simple – just salt and pepper – so the chicken tastes like chicken.  Cut up 1 1/4 lb. chicken breasts into 1-inch pieces. Toss with 1 tsp. kosher salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper and 1/4 tsp garlic powder if you like – I know, it sounds hacky, but the garlic powder will add a little nuance.

2. Heat the oil: I like to fry with flavor-neutral oils that have a high smoke point – like canola oil or peanut oil – though you can certainly go with olive oil or grapeseed oil if you’re feeling flush. Fill a large saucepan or medium pot with canola or peanut oil so it’s somewhere between 1 and 2 inches deep (about 3 cups). Heat the oil over medium heat until it hits 350F (use a candy thermometer to check; if you don’t have a thermometer, test the oil’s heat with a piece of chicken – when you drop it in, it should start aggressively bubbling). Adjust the heat so it maintains this 350F and doesn’t keep climbing; on my stovetop, this means holding at around medium heat.


3. Batter: The advantage of battering (or dipping the chicken in a sticky paste) instead of breadcrumbs is that the chicken picks up a light uniform coating with a lot less work than the flour-egg-breadcrumb practice. Battering also produces a coating perfect for meshing with other flavorings (it kind of sponges them up). To make the batter, mix 1 cup corn starch with 1 egg and 1/4 cup water using a heavy whisk until the mixture becomes uniform but thick – almost as thick as pancake batter. Add a splash of water as needed to loosen the mixture – and plan on whisking before dunking each batch of chicken.


4. Shallow-Fry: There is not much to this. The chicken pieces are small enough that by the time they brown lightly, they should be cooked through. You don’t want to crowd the pot (which would cause the oil temp to drop precipitously or the oil, itself, to boil over); work in batches, so there’s a single layer. Add 1/3 to 1/2 of the chicken to the oil one piece at a time using tongs; if you add them in clumps, they’ll form little rafts of chicken that are tough to break up. Cook, flipping the pieces, until they’re lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Cut into a thicker piece to check. Drain on a plate lined with paper towel, then toss with the flavorings below. Repeat with the remaining chicken.

5. Toss with Flavorings: There is a moment, just after you’ve fried food where it’s steaming hot and open to take on other flavors. This is the time to season it with salt and a handful of intense pantry flavorings: the crisp chicken steams/heats the flavorings, soaking up their essence. Here are two of my favorite combinations.

Lemon, Rosemary, and Hot Chiles: Add to a large bowl 1 garlic clove (thinly sliced), 1 sprig rosemary (peel off the leaves), 1 dried chile (like a chile de Arbol, coarsely chopped) and the zest of 1 lemon (shave it into 1-inch strips using a peeler). Toss well with the fried chicken and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing.


Chinese Black Beans, Ginger, and Scallions: Add to a large bowl 1 Tbs fermented black beans (coarsely chopped; saute them with a little peanut oil for 1 minute to smooth out their flavor if you like), 1 Tbs. chopped fresh ginger, 1 jalapeno (thinly sliced) and 3 scallions (thinly sliced). Toss well with the fried chicken.

Chopped Salad with Sesame-Miso Dressing

Kim writes:  I’m in love with that orange color dressing they put on salads in Japanese restaurants. I have no idea what goes into it, but I find myself wanting the dressing *EVERY* day, which is becoming a challenge logistically and economically. I’ve looked online for the recipe, but I don’t know if what I’m finding is the right thingf! How do I make this at home so I can start saving some money to send my kids to college?!?!?

Tony writes: Kim, every child should have a chance at college, so if a homemade vinaigrette helps get your kids there, I am going to do my part. What I believe you are referring to is a light sesame-miso vinaigrette, one that’s kinda sweet, kinda salty, mild and toasted. It’s pretty simple to make; a light emulsion of miso,  ginger, sesame and rice vinegar. Personalizing the sauce, tweaking it so each of the flavorings is just right, will be your own little journey (and an important one; rice vinegars and miso pastes can vary a bit). But here is my take along with a quick recipe for a chopped salad of cabbage, carrots and cukes. Nice spring eating. Enjoy!

My method: This is one of those times where you want to avoid olive oil; its sharpness would overpower. Instead, opt for mildly flavored grapeseed oil or canola or peanut oil. There are different options for miso paste (light or dark most notably). I am fond of South River Miso, though whatever you find should to do the trick (look for it in the produce area next to the tofu and fresh noodles).


Yields 1 1/4 cups dressing.


1. Make the vinaigrette: In a large blender using an immersi,on blender or in an upright blender, blend 2 Tbs. miso with 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, 2 Tbs. rice vinegar and 1 Tbs. lime juice (about 1/2 lime). While still blending add 1/2 cup peanut oil (or canola oil) in a thin steady stream so the mixture becomes thick and smooth. Thin with 2 to 3 Tbs. cold water. Blend in 1 Tbs. minced ginger and 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil and then stir in 2 Tbs. thinly sliced scallions and 1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds. Add 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar if the mixture is missing a little sweetness.


2. Make the salad: Thinly slice red cabbage, shave English cucumber into thick ribbons, and use a julienne peeler to slice long strips of carrot. Toss with 3 or 4 Tbs. of the dressing, sprinkle with more sesame seeds and sliced scallion and serve with grilled fish and brown rice.


Sauteed Shrimp and Peas with Prosciutto and Blistered Tomatoes

Sarah writes: I’m cleaning out my freezer and discovered that I have a heck of a lot of frozen peas (like 5 bags worth!). I also have  some frozen shrimp and I know those two go together. Ideas on the pairing?

Tony’s take: Sarah, thanks for writing! And good for you on the organizing; please, help me! As you suggested, shrimp and peas are an opportune combo to have in the freezer: you can saute the shrimp with high heat and fold in the peas along with any number of easy, accompanying flavors. Your peas’ plight inspired me, so I  went to the supermarket to gather for my own version, which was exceedingly simple: after browning (and reserving) the shrimp, I sauteed smashed garlic gloves and pierced cherry tomatoes in the same pan until both were lightly browned, then I added a splash of white wine  to deglaze the pan and tossed in the peas, some strips of prosciutto,  and a sprinkling of fresh mint. It was actually kinda dressy (and very unfreezer-like). Give it a try; serve with some sort of grain or vegetable or other overflowing-freezer-foodstuff (ice cream??).

THE RECIPE: Serves 4. Prep time: 10 to 15 minutes; Cook time: about 8 minutes.


1. Get prepped:  Thaw, peel and devein  1 lb. shrimp (preferably 16-20 ct). Rinse and pat dry, then sprinkle lightly with S+P (about 1/2 tsp. each). Thaw 2 cups frozen peas (about 8 oz.)- just leave them out at room temp for 15 min. Wash 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, pat dry, and then pierce with the tines of a fork (try to get a couple of holes in each, but don’t stress about it). Thinly slice the 4 slices prosciutto (about 2 oz.; the domestic stuff is fine) and chop any fresh herbs you have  (1 tsp. thyme, 2 Tbs. mint or 1 Tbs. tarragon).


2. Saute the shrimp: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for 1 1/2 min. Add 2 Tbs. olive oil and, once it’s shimmering hot, add the shrimp, evenly spaced. Cook, undisturbed,until the shrimp start to brown at the edges and easily release from the pan, 1 to 2 min. Flip and cook until the other side browns, too, and the shrimp starts to firm up, 1 minute.  Transfer to a large plate.


3. Make the saute:  Add another 1 Tbs. olive oil, garlic cloves (smashed) and the grape tomatoes, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, tossing, until the tomatoes and garlic brown lightly. Add a splash of white wine (about 1/4 cup ) and cook, stirring, to incorporate any of the caramelized crust on the bottom of the pan. Return the shrimp to the pan along with the peas and cook, stirring, until peas heats through and the shrimp is firm to the touch, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the prosciutto, 1 Tbs. butter (for a little richness) and the herbs and season with salt and pepper to taste; add a little lemon juice if the saute needs some bounce.


Spicy Chipotle-Glazed Turkey Meatloaf

Cindy writes: Bit of a divide in my house over meatloaf. My husband and kids love it. Me, not so much. Any suggestions for a healthy (but tasty!) take? Maybe turkey? That would win me over…

Tony’s take: Cindy, thanks for the question! The truth of the matter is that I don’t make meatloaf often, so, your predicament has been a good excuse for me to brush up on my technique. I like your idea to head in a healthy direction. Meatloaf always feels heavy. Subbing turkey in for beef is a nice way to lighten things up. I used this as the basic premise and tested a couple of variations (including trying to go really healthy and work some grains and greens into the mix). All were good, though the version I liked best consisted of ground dark meat turkey surrounded with plenty of other big flavors (chiles, cumin, and chorizo), baked gently with a smoky chipotle glaze. Here’s how:

Free-form bake: You can make meatloaf in a baking dish, though, through testing, I found I liked it best baked free-form; that is, set in the middle of a baking sheet (on foil) and formed into a loaf. This method allows the meatloaf to brown all over and get a pleasant crust as opposed to steaming in the tight quarters of a casserole dish; closer to a roast than baking.


The flavors: Go big. Though ground white meat turkey is well intentioned, for this preparation, you’ll want dark meat’s extra hit of fat and flavor. I added fresh jalapeno to some sauteed onions and pepper and then worked the smoked version of that chile into both the breadcrumbs and the finishing glaze. As with meatballs, the addition of breadcrumbs (softened with a splash of milk) breaks up the density of the meat and gives the overall meatloaf a lighter feel.

THE RECIPE: Serves 6 to 8

1. Saute the aromatics and spices: Heat 2 Tbs. olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 red onion (finely diced), 1 red pepper (finely diced) and 1 jalapeno (seeded if you like and then finely diced), sprinkle with 1 tsp. kosher salt, and cook, stirring, until the onion becomes tender and browns in places, about 5 min. Stir in 1 garlic clove (minced), 2 tsp. ground cumin and 1/2 tsp. ground chipotle powder and cook for 1 min so they become fragrant. Remove from the heat and let cool.


2. Make the chipotle crumbs and glaze: Tear 6 oz. whole wheat bread into small (1-inch) pieces (about 2 cups) and set in a medium bowl. Add 1 canned chipotle (chopped) and 1/2 cup whole milk and let sit for a couple of min so the bread absorbs the liquid. In a food processor or mini-chop, blend 1/2 cup honey with 1/2 cup ketchup, another 1 – 2 canned chipotles (chopped), and 1 Tbs. cider vinegar until uniform. meatloaf.2 3. Mix and form the meatloaf: Heat the oven to 375F (do this in step 1 if you’re not preparing ahead). Add 2 lb. ground turkey (dark meat) to a large bowl and gently mix with 1 link chorizo (about 4 oz., cut in 1/4-inch dice), the sauteed vegetables (use a spatula to get all that good stuff out of the pan), the chipotle crumbs, 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, and 1 tsp. black pepper until the mix is uniform. Transfer this mixture to the center of a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil (and lightly greased with nonstick spray) and form into a loaf shape (about 12 inches x 4). Spoon/brush the chipotle sauce over the top.meatloaf.1 4. Bake: Bake the meatloaf until it browns lightly and cooks through (an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part should register 165F), about 50 min. Remove from the oven, let rest for 5 min, then cut and serve.