Good morning. I made a quesadilla the other day: ham and Swiss cheese with some mango salsa I had in the fridge, with sour cream and Jamaican hot sauce. I took my time making it, too, cooking the tortillas slowly in butter so they crisped and pillowed, flipping them back and forth a few times before I fished the package out of the pan to rest for a moment, then cut it in eighths. My wife grew impatient and asked: “What is that, a slow-food quesadilla?”
Maybe? (Give it a try yourself.) I like the process of cooking as much as I do the culture of serving food and the joy of consuming it. I like watching flavors develop as the colors and textures of ingredients change, the way butter goes brown and nutty, how cheese melts, how fat renders. I like how that takes time.
You could make these garlicky chicken thighs with scallion and lime (above) in a little more than 30 minutes. But I can stretch the endeavor to nearly an hour and often do, cooking the chicken carefully to create burnished, golden-brown skin, then lingering with the garlic for longer than the recipe calls for, so it softens and softens, and imparts its scent into the sauce.
Not that you always want to operate on a slow bell, of course. You don’t want to lollygag when you’re making an omelet, or this amazing dish we call shrimp in purgatory. You don’t want to overcook anything. But do take the time, always, to observe what’s happening in your pans or pots, on your stovetop or in your oven, cooking by feel and sound and scent. It’s my argument that you’ll have a better time in the kitchen and put better food on the table as well.
Recipes to experiment with, then, in this vein: a vegetable paella with chorizo; Swedish cardamom buns; fish larb; and taktouka with burrata, a Moroccan cooked salad of bell peppers in a spiced tomato sauce, here with a cheesy topping. Also: tinga de pollo, pan-roasted pork chops with apple fritters, and caramelized-scallion noodles.
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Now, it’s precious little to do with tempering chocolate or cutting parsnips into dice, but James Dolan on “My Father, the Hitman,” in D Magazine? Oh, boy. You’ll want to read that.