Is it Too Much?
One question we’re always asking around here is, “How much is too much for this recipe?” That can apply to cooking time, to butter or pork fat, or just to hassle. In the photo at right, you see Lan Lam making apple strudel the classic way. This involves rolling out the dough until it’s more than 4 feet long and so thin you can read a newspaper through it. Lan knew that would be too much work for most of us, but she had to find out what she would be striving to duplicate when she simplified the recipe. The lower photo shows Andrew Janjigian halfway through the process of developing his recipe for porchetta, the classic (and incredibly delicious) Italian street food. The traditional approach involves boning a whole pig, letting it sit overnight, and then spit-roasting it all day on a wood fire. Out of the question for the home cook. But was pork belly too fatty to make a decent substitute? That’s what Andrew was testing. Similarly, when Steve Dunn developed his version of pommes purée, he started with a recipe that called for a full pound of butter for every 2 pounds of potatoes, plus 10 minutes of armnumbing whisking. Way too much—but could Steve keep the rich, silky appeal of the dish while cutting down on fat and work? For each of our recipes, the cook’s task is to arrive at the precise point where the investment of time, effort, and calories is perfectly balanced with the flavor, texture, and all-around appeal that attracted us to the dish in the first place. It’s a balancing act worthy of the Flying Wallendas (remember them?), but it’s what we strive to achieve here every day.