Category Archives: Savory

Pared-Down Porchetta

Pared-Down PorchettaWhen I was allowed to take the reins on planning Christmas dinner last month, I knew immediately what I wanted to make: Porchetta. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, Porchetta is a slow-roasted Italian herbed pork dish that is traditionally made with whole pigs, but most home cooks use a center-cut pork loin wrapped in a sheet of pork belly.Pared-Down PorchettaPared-Down PorchettaI spent weeks planning this meal, going so far as to make a 1/4-sized tester in the days before Christmas. After that, I called Central Market (think Texas-specific Whole Foods…but way better than Whole Foods) and ordered all the meat. I packed my favorite knife, a sharpener, my largest meat cutting board, trussing string and an apron in my checked luggage and hightailed it to Fort Worth.Pared-Down PorchettaOver the next several days, my mom, sister and I obtained the special-ordered pork and made a great fuss over preparing it…except that it wasn’t actually that much fuss. Once the herb mix was prepared, I butterflied the center-cut pork loin and scattered it over the top. Then I rolled it up jelly-roll-style, rolled that in the sheet of pork belly and tied it all up with trussing string. Afterward, I let it sit uncovered in the refrigerator (“dry brining”) until Christmas Day, on which it was brought to room temperature and then roasted until golden and crisp and pretty irresistible.Pared-Down PorchettaPared-Down PorchettaI was (am) very proud of myself and posted it to all my social media outlets, where I was promptly asked when I’d be posting a recipe. This was something I hadn’t even considered because while the Porchetta I made for Christmas is not particularly difficult to put together, but it *is* pricey.Pared-Down PorchettaThe meat had to be special-ordered for quantity and quality—a 5 pound sheet of skin-on pork belly is not an easy find—and came out to about $60. That’s $60 in Texas, so I’d guess it’s more like $80-$100 in New York, and that’s before the herbs. I love y’all, but not quite enough to spend hundreds testing one lone recipe.Pared-Down PorchettaBut. But! I had it in my head that I could give my beloved Slow-Roasted Pulled Pork recipe the Porchetta treatment, and Porchetta Queen Sara Jenkins (formerly of the Lower East Side, now of Maine) agrees. And so, with those recipes and the herb mixture I used at Christmas as guides, I set to work making this: the Pared-Down Porchetta. It’s got all the fatty, herby, meaty, crispy magic you love in traditional Porchetta, but it’s a little rough and tumble.Pared-Down PorchettaYes, it still has to sit in your fridge for a day or two, but it is made from just one piece of meat (a boneless pork butt AKA pork shoulder), is mostly hands-off, and won’t cost you an obscene-ish amount of money.Pared-Down PorchettaPared-Down PorchettaLet’s start with the meat. This pork butt? It weighed in at 4.5 pounds and cost a cool $14–pretty reasonable compared to $60+! You’ll want it to have a layer of skin or a good, thick fat cap (pictured here) for both flavor and texture. If you can’t find a pork butt that fits either of those descriptions, you can purchase a piece of pork belly or pork skin and tie it onto the butt with trussing string. You want that fatty lid so it can keep the meat moist during roasting and then get crispy at the end. Cracklings are life, am I right?!Pared-Down PorchettaYour pork butt is unlikely to be in one seamless piece due to its heavy marbling and having had a bone cut out of it. This spot (or cavity or whatever you want to call it)? This is where the herb mixture will go. I used my knife to extend that opening down the length of the roast, while making sure to keep one edge intact.Pared-Down PorchettaPared-Down PorchettaPared-Down PorchettaPared-Down PorchettaAnother thing you want? Kosher salt—about 1/2 teaspoon per pound. Don’t be tempted to skimp, or all the days of dry brining and the herbs and the money you spent will be for nothing. Salt is critical for both flavor and texture (it draws out moisture), and if used in proper amounts, will not leave your meat particularly salty, just flavorful. You’ll blitz most of it with toasted fennel seeds, sage, rosemary, thyme, garlic, lemon zest and crushed red pepper flakes to make the herb mixture. The rest will be rubbed into the crosshatched skin/fat cap.Pared-Down PorchettaPared-Down PorchettaPared-Down PorchettaYou will have to truss your pork butt, which is really no trouble. Just tie it at short intervals and then anywhere else it isn’t holding together as one cohesive unit. You want all those good herbs to stay put! Then stick the whole thing in a dish and put in the refrigerator and forget about it for 24-48 hours until it’s dry to the touch and the color has changed.Pared-Down PorchettaPared-Down PorchettaPared-Down PorchettaAnd then roast it looooow and slooooow before crisping up that fat cap, and slicing and serving it on rolls or crusty bread that you’ve given the slightest dip in the rendered fat. You can also serve it alongside garlicky greens or roasted vegetables. Really, you can’t go wrong.Pared-Down PorchettaI feel like this Pared-Down Porchetta would be a wonderful main for Super Bowl Sunday, Oscar Night, Easter, or any old night. I mean, you could certainly hold onto this recipe until next Christmas, but that seems like an awfully long time from now, don’t you think?Pared-Down Porchetta

Pared-Down Porchetta
makes 8 (or so) servings

1 4-4.5 lb. boneless pork butt with skin or a thick fat cap*
3 tablespoons fennel seeds
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest (about 1 medium-large lemon)
1-1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2-2 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt, divided

Special Equipment:
trussing string
a dutch oven or roasting dish

For serving:
rolls (I used Trader Joe’s Ciabatta Rolls)
crusty bread

Read this recipe carefully before proceeding. While the majority of it is hands-off, it will take a minimum of two days to prepare.

If your pork butt was trussed when you purchased it, cut off the trussing string and discard. Blot pork butt to remove excess moisture. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife (or razor blade) to crosshatch the skin.

Toast fennel seeds in a dry pan over low heat until fragrant. Remove to a bowl to cool.

Make the herb mixture. Combine sage, rosemary, thyme, garlic lemon zest, red pepper flakes,1 1/2-2 teaspoons* Kosher salt. and fennel seeds in a food processor and pulse to combine (alternatively, mince with a large, sharp chef’s knife).

Look at your pork butt. It is unlikely to be one stable piece, so take a look and see a natural spot to butterfly it. I chose an area that was already open, and used my knife to further the opening a bit more, leaving one edge still intact (see photos).

Fill opening with herb mixture and then fold back together. Some herb mixture will fall out—this is okay. Use trussing string/kitchen twine to truss the meat. Tie it together at 2-inch intervals and then any other directions necessary to hold it together as a cohesive unit. Rub the herb mixture that fell out of the butterflied section over the outside of the meat. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt over the crosshatched skin and lightly massage in. Place pork in a small dish (I used a 9-inch square pan) and refrigerate uncovered for 24-48 hours.

Remove pork from the refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature for an hour. Place pork in a clean, dry oven-safe pot (I use my dutch oven).

Preheat oven to 250F. Place pork in the oven and let cook for 4.5-5.5 hours, until it registers 180F on a meat thermometer and is tender.

Remove pork from oven. Turn temperature up to 500F.

Return pork to the oven and let cook, turning the pot every 5 minutes, until the skin is golden and crispy. (Mine was done for 15 minutes, but I probably should have gone to 20.)

Let pork cool for 20 minutes before carefully, removing trussing string, slicing and serving with rolls or crusty bread.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days.

Note:

1. If you cannot find a boneless pork butt with skin or a fat cap, purchase a piece of pork belly or skin to tie on with trussing string. I’ve seen pork belly for sale at Whole Foods, Whole Foods 365, Costco and some regular supermarkets.

2. You’ll need 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt per pound of meat, so 2 teaspoons for 4 lbs or 2 1/2 teaspoons for 4.5 lbs. With that knowledge, set aside 1/2 teaspoon of the salt for the skin/fat cap and add the rest to the herb mixture.Pared-Down PorchettaPared-Down PorchettaPared-Down Porchetta

Chicken with Lemon & Olives

Chicken with Lemon & OlivesUnsurprisingly, the way to my heart is through my stomach. I mean, I’m a food blogger–of course it is.

To get specific though, it’s through salty, briny, acidic foods. Dessert is a wonderful thing, but I will happily destroy a jar of pickles or smear dijon mustard on everything or give you a tour of my salt collection (nerd alert!) any day of the week. And then I will make you a batch of cookies, because of course I will. But that’s a post for another day.Chicken with Lemon & OlivesToday, we’re talking about Chicken with Lemon & Olives, which is a dream dinner for someone like me. It’s got crispy-skinned chicken thighs, briny roasted olives and a garlicky, herby, dijon-spiked lemon sauce, so…yeah, um, hi. Sign me up.Chicken with Lemon & OlivesChicken with Lemon & OlivesChicken with Lemon & OlivesThis dish, y’all. It’s so delicious. The sauce is tangy and acidic from the lemon and mustard, and rich (but not overly so) from the chicken and olive oil. And the olives—ohhhh, the olives. They’re cracked open before cooking so that all that tangy, schmaltzy sauce gets in there and gets a little briny and…well, it’s very good.Chicken with Lemon & OlivesSpeaking of olives, I prefer to make this with castelveltranos because they’re my favorite. More of a kalamata person? Want to try a mix? Do what makes you happy. I used olives that still have their pits because, frankly, they always taste better. If you want to use pitted olives though, I won’t stop you. Just make sure to skip the step when you give them a thwack with the bottom of a cast iron skillet—nobody wants to clean that mess.Chicken with Lemon & OlivesI should note that the sauce stays on the thin side. If you’d like it to be thicker, you can reduce the amount of stock a bit when you pour it in, or remove the chicken, etc., and thicken it with a cornstarch slurry after roasting. Truly, the consistency of the sauce was the only thing I had reservations about during testing, but I like it as written. It nestles perfectly into a pile of polenta or mashed potatoes. Next time I’m going to try serving it with slices of toasted baguette.Chicken with Lemon & OlivesCan we discuss how absurdly beautiful this is? I love the golden chicken in contrast with the vibrant olives and roasted lemon wedges. This is definitely one of those mains that works as well for a dinner party as it does for a weeknight. And on that note, if you’re having a dinner party and making this, please invite me.Chicken with Lemon & Olives

Chicken with Lemon & Olives
makes 6-8 servings

2 cups olives (with pits), brine discarded (I used castelveltrano)
8 chicken thighs
1/2-3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2-3 lemons, divided
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1/2-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (based on preference)
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 cup chicken stock
polenta or mashed potatoes, for serving
chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 450F. Grease a large casserole dish or 9×13-inch pan. Set aside.

Crack olives. On a sturdy surface, sandwich olives between two pieces of parchment. Use a heavy object (bottom of a cast iron skillet, meat tenderizer, large can) to give them a few whacks to crack the skin open a bit. You may also use a sharp knife to lightly score each olive.

Blot chicken thighs with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the chicken and season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Use your hands to lightly and quickly massage oil and salt into the meat for even distribution.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches (unless your pan is giant), place chicken thighs in the pan skin-side-down and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate.

Meanwhile, juice 1-2 lemons, until you have 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice. Slice remaining lemon into 8 wedges. Set aside.

Reduce heat to medium. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of rendered fat. Add garlic, thyme and rosemary, and saute until fragrant (about 1 minute). Stir in red pepper flakes and mustard, followed by stock. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add lemon juice and a pinch of salt.

Pour sauce into prepared dish. Place chicken in a single layer over the top. Arrange olives around chicken and tuck lemon wedges in between. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon olive oil. Bake 45-50 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

Let cool a few minutes until bubbling stops. Serve over polenta or mashed potatoes with a sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley, if desired.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.Chicken with Lemon & OlivesChicken with Lemon & OlivesChicken with Lemon & Olives

Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread

Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread {Gluten-Free}When I officially wore myself out baking a few weeks ago and took an extended break, I’d like to say I missed the kitchen immediately, but I didn’t. For five days, I didn’t think about baking (or cooking) at all, except when slapping together a grilled cheese or scrambling eggs so that I didn’t have to live on restaurant food for a week.Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread {Gluten-Free}But then, on the sixth day (Friday), I woke up thinking about Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread. I had all the ingredients (hi, I keep a weird bag of jalapeños in my crisper) and I wanted to make it so bad—the way only someone who obsessively bakes gets about a recipe, as though my body might just go into autopilot and start whisking together ingredients without permission from my brain.

Instead, my body and my brain went to see Uncut Gems, and baking stayed on the back burner for another three days.Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread {Gluten-Free}Then Monday came and lo,* there was Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread, and it was good. Still is good. Like really good. It’s got crisp edges and a brown lid, but the center is tender and almost custard-like from the additions of sour cream and eggs. As it’s made with only yellow cornmeal, there’s no way to overmix and make it tough—difficult to overdevelop the gluten when there is none!

*I guess I say “lo” now.Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread {Gluten-Free}Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread {Gluten-Free}Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread {Gluten-Free}As far as spice levels go, I like to live on the edge….but I used three jalapeños with seeds in the first round and sort of regretted it. This one (the second) is still almost too spicy for me, even after discarding half the seeds, but a bevy of shredded sharp cheddar and a few tablespoons of sugar offset all that intensity. If you’re sensitive to heat, maybe forgo seeds altogether, reduce the amount of jalapeño or try my Chorizo Cornbread instead. Or maybe just make 2020 the year you accidentally burned off all your tastebuds with cornbread and lived to tell the tale.

…ten days into this year and I’m already maximum weird, y’all. Oh lord.Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread {Gluten-Free}

Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread
makes one 9-inch pan

1 cup milk (not skim or non-fat), room temperature
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons granulated sugar (optional)
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2-3/4 cup minced fresh jalapeños* (2-3 medium), with or without seeds
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)

Preheat oven to 400F. Place a 9-inch cast iron or other heavyish baking dish it in the oven to heat through. (See note* if you do not have that sort of dish.)

Combine milk, sour cream, and eggs in a measuring cup or small/medium bowl. Whisk together with a fork. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add minced jalapeños and grated cheddar, and toss to coat. Pour in milk mixture and fold together. Fold in butter.

Remove hot pan from oven and add oil. Carefully swirl to coat. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes before slicing and serving Warm.

Leftover cornbread will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days.

Note:

1. Some people prefer minced pickled jalapeño here, which adds a nice acidic flavor and will have less heat.
2. If using a regular 9-inch baking pan (round or square), grease it, line with parchment, and grease again. Do not preheat the empty pan. Skip the oiling step before adding batter to the pan.Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread {Gluten-Free}Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread {Gluten-Free}Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread {Gluten-Free}

How to Make Eggs 5 Ways

How to Make Eggs 5 WaysAaaaand we’re back! As is my January blogging tradition, this month will be less about dessert and more about savory foods and weeknight meals—the “normal” stuff. One cannot live on holiday cookies alone (but lord knows I’ve tried).

To start us off, something I make all the time: eggs! Nary a week goes by when I don’t slap an egg on something and call it breakfast, lunch or dinner. In addition to being power-lifters in baking, eggs are an inexpensive, versatile, quick-cooking protein. I always have a couple dozen around!

Today, I’m going to walk you through how to make eggs five ways: scrambled, fried, poached, hard-boiled and soft-boiled. Why so many methods? Because I like options! Sometimes I want a delicate poached egg, other times a creamy hard-boiled egg is the ticket. It’s nice to know how to make ‘em both.

I have written all the instructions and proportions based on large eggs, which are what I keep for both baking and eating. If you are using medium or extra-large eggs, you may need to adjust some cook times. I’ve also written each method to reflect using only two eggs (what I usually eat), but the recipes can be multiplied unless stated otherwise.

While I know there are approximately 742 ways to scramble, fry, poach, and hard- and soft-boil eggs, these are the methods that have consistently worked for me. If you have tips or methods that work for you, please let me know in the comments or on social media! Oh, and let me know your favorite thing to throw an egg on! #putaneggonit am I right?How to Make Eggs 5 WaysHow to Make Eggs 5 WaysHow to Make Eggs 5 WaysHow to Make Eggs 5 WaysScrambled Eggs

What they are
Eggs that have been beaten with cream, salt and pepper, until fully combined, then cooked low-and-slow, until fluffy, but not browned.

What you’ll need
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons heavy cream
pinch of salt (I use a scant 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt)
a few grinds of black pepper
1 tablespoon butter, for cooking

How to make them
In a small mixing bowl, combine eggs, heavy cream, salt and pepper. Use a fork to whisk together until combined and even in color.

Heat a small-medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add butter and swirl to melt. It may foam a bit; just wait for any dramatic bubbling to subside.

Pour in eggs. Using a spatula, start at the outer edge of the pan and push the runny egg toward the center of the pan. Repeat this motion, moving your way around the pan over and over until large curds form. I recommend pulling the eggs off the heat when they still look a tiny bit underdone, so as not to overcook them. They will finish cooking off the heat (“carryover cooking”). Serve.How to Make Eggs 5 WaysHow to Make Eggs 5 WaysSunny Side-Up Fried Eggs

What they are
Eggs with yolks and whites still intact that have been quickly fried in oil (or butter, although I don’t care for the appearance of cooked milk solids on my fried eggs). The edges get lacy while the yolks stays runny and golden. They are called sunny side-up because the yolk resembles a bright golden sun.

For those concerned, there is no need to worry about the dreaded uncooked egg whites here—they’re basted with hot oil so that they set before the yolk becomes hard.

What you’ll need
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons oil (I prefer olive or canola oil)
salt and pepper, for serving

How to make them
Crack eggs into small bowls (one bowl per egg).

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat, swirling to coat. Add eggs and let cook until whites are no longer transparent, but not set. They will sputter and pop quite a bit.

Use an oven mitt to lift/tilt the pan so that the hot oil collects at the edge of the pan, away from the eggs. Use a heatproof spoon to spoon oil over the eggs repeatedly until whites are set and the yolks are still jiggly. Edges should be turning golden.

Immediately remove eggs to plates and serve. I highly recommend garlic-rubbed toast as an accoutrement.How to Make Eggs 5 WaysHow to Make Eggs 5 WaysPoached Eggs

What they are
Eggs cooked in simmering (read: not boiling) water until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny, or otherwise cooked to your preference. Although it’s optional, I like to add a splash of vinegar to the water to help the whites set.

I do not recommend making more than 3 poached eggs at a time, as they are extremely time-sensitive. Nothing’s worse than chasing one around the pan with a slotted spoon, only to find that it’s over-cooked!

What you’ll need
water
2 large eggs
a splash (~1 teaspoon) white or apple cider vinegar (optional)
salt and pepper, for serving

How to make them
Fill a 4-quart pot 1/2-2/3 full of water and bring to a boil over high heat.

Crack egg(s) into small bowls (one bowl per egg). Line a small plate with paper towels.

Once water reaches a boil, reduce heat to medium or medium-low, so that it’s at a simmer. Add vinegar, if using.

Working quickly with one egg at a time, bring the bowl close to the surface of the water and pour it in. Immediately drag a slotted spoon under the egg to lift it slightly (this keeps it from sticking to the bottom and has the added benefit of helping the white wrap around the yolk in a pleasing way). Quickly repeat this process with remaining egg. Let simmer 3 minutes, until the whites are set but yolks are still runny. For harder cooked eggs, add 15-30 seconds to the cook time.

Use a slotted spoon to lift eggs out of the water and onto the paper towel-lined plate to drain. Remove eggs to serving plates and enjoy immediately.How to Make Eggs 5 WaysHow to Make Eggs 5 WaysHard-Boiled Eggs

What they are
Eggs that have been cooked in their shells until both the whites and yolks are just set. No green-ringed yolks here! These can be made ahead and refrigerated in their shells for up to three days, so they’re great for on-the-go breakfasts or snacks, and making deviled eggs and egg salad, of course.

It’s as quick and easy to make twelve hard-boiled eggs as it is to make two. You can make as many as will fit in your pan.

What you’ll need
2-12 large eggs in their shells (based on need and pan space)
cold tap water
ice

How to make them
Place eggs in a single layer on the bottom of a deep pan. Add cold water to cover by about an inch. Place over high heat and bring to a rolling boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat, but let eggs sit in water for 9 minutes.

While eggs are still in the hot water, fill a bowl with cold water and add lots of ice. When the 9 minutes are up, use a spoon to lift eggs out of the hot water and into the ice bath. Let sit about 10 minutes, or until cooled.

To peel an egg, tap each narrow end of the egg shell on a hard surface, and then gently roll it on the surface to encourage cracking all the way around. Use your fingers to pick the shell away. Rinse with cold water, if needed. Enjoy.

Leftover eggs may be kept in their shells in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.How to Make Eggs 5 WaysHow to Make Eggs 5 WaysHow to Make Eggs 5 WaysSoft-Boiled Eggs

What they are
Eggs that have been cooked in their shells in boiling water until the whites are just set, but the yolks are jammy. These can be made ahead and refrigerated in their shells for up to three days. These are great on toast, in salads or even in soup (think borscht and ramen).

As with hard-boiled eggs, it’s as quick and easy to make twelve soft-boiled eggs as it is to make two. You can make as many as will fit in your pan.

What you’ll need
2-12 large eggs in their shells (based on need and pan space)
water
ice

How to make them
Fill a deep pan 1/3-1/2 way (so that it’s deep enough to cover an egg). Bring to a boil over high heat. Carefully add eggs and boil for 6.5 minutes.

While eggs are boiling, fill a bowl with cold water and add lots of ice. When the 6.5 minutes are up, use a spoon to quickly and carefully move eggs from hot water to ice bath. Let cool 5-10 minutes, or until you can handle them, before removing from ice bath.

To peel an egg, tap each narrow end of the egg shell on a hard surface, and then gently roll it on the surface to encourage cracking all the way around. Use your fingers to pick the shell away. Rinse with cold water, if needed. Enjoy.

Leftover eggs may be kept in their shells in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.How to Make Eggs 5 WaysHow to Make Eggs 5 WaysHow to Make Eggs 5 WaysHow to Make Eggs 5 WaysHow to Make Eggs 5 WaysHow to Make Eggs 5 Ways

Baked Feta with Sautéed Dates

Baked Feta with Sautéed DatesI’ve been making Thanksgiving food since mid-October, and while that’s my idea of a good time, it’s a bit of a relief that I’m not going to be anywhere near an oven on Thursday. My family traditionally travels and makes reservations for this particular holiday, so all I have to do is pack that skirt I marked as my “Thanksgiving outfit” back in September, get on a bus to D.C., and leave the cooking to a bunch of chefs.Baked Feta with Sautéed DatesWe’ve been doing this routine in different cities since 1997, so it’s second nature now. In fact, the only issue I have with my family’s Thanksgiving tradition is that I’ll have to wait til Christmas to make them this Baked Feta with Sautéed Dates.Baked Feta with Sautéed DatesPoor them—they don’t know what they’re missing. I do, though, and so I am here to tell you that you absolutely, unequivocally should make this three days from now.Baked Feta with Sautéed DatesI know. I know! The menu’s set. You’ve made the list. But just go ahead and add a brick of feta and some dates to the tail end. I promise it’s worth the change in plans.Baked Feta with Sautéed DatesYou’ll only need five ingredients (plus something carby for serving) and fifteen minutes to put this appetizer together, and I would be utterly shocked if it lasts more than another fifteen minutes. I was alone when I made the feta and dates pictured here, and I had trouble keeping myself from eating half the brick in one go.Baked Feta with Sautéed DatesBaked Feta with Sautéed DatesBaked Feta with Sautéed DatesThe feta is baked for ten minutes and broiled for a couple more. It turns soft and salty with crispy edges and corners that slump in the most pleasing way. It’s brushed with olive oil all over and honey on top before going into the oven, so it gets brown and blistered and…seriously, good luck not hoarding this all to yourself.Baked Feta with Sautéed DatesIt won’t melt—feta doesn’t do that—but it will soften to the point where you can practically slice it with the edge of a cracker. Frankly, you could serve the feta by its lonesome and it’d disappear in minutes, but then you’d be denying yourself the magic of Sautéed Dates, and that’d be a real shame.Baked Feta with Sautéed DatesBaked Feta with Sautéed DatesI mean, if there’s anything in the world that can stand up to the wonder that is Baked Feta, it’s these dates. They’re sautéed in olive oil for a minute or two while the cheese is in the oven, just until the edges begin to caramelize. The results are mostly sweet and a little savory—they’re great with yogurt, labneh and hummus. Here, they’re spooned over the warm feta and sprinkled with finishing salt before being scooped up with crackers or baguette or whatever and shoveled into your mouth as quickly as possible because—oh my goodness—this stuff is delicious.Baked Feta with Sautéed DatesSalty, sweet, cheesy, savory, fruity, eyes-rolling-back-in-your-head good. You’re not going to want to share, but you should because…manners, I guess? But go ahead and plan to make this for every party between now and January 2nd, because if you can’t eat a brick of cheese during the holidays, when can you?!Baked Feta with Sautéed DatesHappy Thanksgiving, dear readers!Baked Feta with Sautéed Dates

Baked Feta with Sautéed Dates
dates adapted from Renee Erickson
makes about 8-10 servings

Baked Feta:
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 8-ounce brick feta cheese, blotted with paper towels
1 teaspoon honey (or maple syrup)

Sautéed Dates:
1 tablespoon olive oil
10-12 medjool dates, pits removed, sliced in half
coarse or flaky salt, for garnish

For serving:
water crackers
pita or pita chips
sliced baguette

Preheat oven to 400F.

Bake the feta. Use a pastry brush to apply 2 teaspoons olive oil to an 8-inch broiler-safe dish. Place gets brick in the center. Brush exposed feta with 2 teaspoons olive oil. Brush the top of the feta with a teaspoon of honey. Bake feta for 10 minutes or until soft and slumping. Feta will not melt.

Preheat broiler. Broil feta for 2-4 minutes, until the top is blistered.

Meanwhile, sauté dates. Heat 1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add halved dates and cook, flipping once or twice, until they have all been coated in a thin layer of oil and some are beginning to caramelize (about 2 minutes). Do not burn.

Spoon sautéed dates over baked feta. Sprinkle with coarse or flaky salt. Serve warm with crackers or bread of choice.

Baked feta will firm up as it cools. To rewarm, place in a 350-400F oven for 5 minutes or until soft again.Baked Feta with Sautéed DatesBaked Feta with Sautéed DatesBaked Feta with Sautéed Dates