If you’ve read much of this blog you know that I NEVER follow a recipe. That’s not to say that I don’t use recipes- quite the contrary. Before cooking anything I review quite a few recipes for ideas and then build my perfect recipe.
This is the same idea that Tyler Florence uses on his show “Tyler’s Ultimate“. On this show, Tyler starts with a single dish he wants to perfect. Next he watches several people make variations on that dish to give him ideas and inspiration. He then takes the best ideas and puts them together into his “ultimate” recipe. I love this idea and do the same thing for almost everything I make.
If I already know the dish I want to make (let’s say, “cassoulet”), I start by searching Google for recipes. Google is the best place to search for recipes because it favors web pages that people link to. The better the recipe, the more links, the higher the ranking in Google.
I then start reading the recipes get an idea of what typically makes up the dish. I see what ingredients are common or unique. Common ingredients are probably must-haves, the unique ones could be optional. I then think about substitute ingredients and what I might have on hand. I ask myself:
- How do I make this something my family and I will love?
- How do I make this healthy?
- How do I make this in a way that won’t take me hours in the kitchen?
- How do I make this using ingredients I already have?
- How do I make this using inexpensive ingredients?
I now build my perfect recipe. As an example, here is what happened when I decided to make cassoulet:
I Googled cassoulet recipe and came up with this:
I read all three recipes and realized right away that I definitely needed white beans, pork, tomato, garlic, onion, and bay leaves. Mmmm… sounds good so far. From the remaining ingredients I decided to include bacon, carrots, celery, parsley, and thyme since we love all those. Duck confit was used often but it’s pretty expensive and I never have that on hand so left it out. My wife isn’t a huge sausage fan so I used boneless pork country style ribs instead. I had some plain white button mushrooms that needed to be used so in they went. The cooking technique was pretty much the same in all the recipes so I just followed one of them with my new list of ingredients. I’ll list the full recipe out in another post.
The resulting cassoulet was, as I expected, the best I ever had!
If you find this useful and make your own perfect recipe, post it in the comments so we can use it to build our own perfect recipe.