Baked Salmon

Baked Salmon

SALMON RECIPESEASY
Posted February 17, 2021 by Stephanie
baked salmon recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Making baked salmon by slow roasting in a low oven ensures that it never over cooks, flakes apart perfectly and is just the best.

If you love juicy, tender, succulent salmon, this is the post for you! Slow roasted salmon in a sweet, savory, slightly spicy sauce, finished with caramelized limes, fresh scallions, and toasty sesame seeds.

I feel like everyone loves salmon. When it’s cooked properly, it’s so flavorful and satisfying. The finicky part with salmon is that when it’s over cooked, it’s a dry, crumbly travesty. Salmon is kind of mysterious but it’s really one of the easiest, healthiest, and tastiest proteins you could ever learn to make.

baked salmon | www.iamafoodblog.com

How to bake salmon

  1. Mix: Mix together a flavorful sweet and spicy gochujang honey sauce.
  2. Slow roast: Coat the salmon in the sauce and bake in a low oven to ensure tender, juicy, perfectly cooked salmon.
  3. Flake: Use a spoon to gently flake the salmon into perfectly imperfect pieces to present on a plate or platter.
  4. Enjoy: Finish with some scallions and toasted sesame seeds and enjoy!

slow baked salmon | www.iamafoodblog.com

The best baked salmon recipe

This oven baked salmon is spicy, sweet, savory, and so addictive. The gochujang honey glaze is AMAZING. If you’ve ever had Korean fried chicken, the glaze is very similar to that sticky, bright red, deeply delicious sauce you get on the spicy wings.

Best salmon for baked salmon

Go for a larger cut of salmon instead of individual fillets: a larger piece of fish means it won’t dry out as much in the oven; a large piece of fish is much more forgiving than smaller fillets. You can either go for skin on or skinless. I went with skin on because the skin provides an extra layer of protection against over baking.

Since we’re going to flake the salmon in pieces and present it on another platter, I recommend skin on so the salmon stays a bit juicer. Either way, make sure you remove the pin bones, if there are any. Run your fingers lightly across the surface of the fillet, near the middle. If you feel any pin bones, use a pair of kitchen tweezers to pluck them out.

salmon fillet | www.iamafoodblog.com

What is gochujang ?

A savory, sweet, spicy fermented paste made from chili powder and sticky rice. It adds sweet and heat and a ton of flavor to your favorite Korean dishes. We use it for Korean fried chickenoven roasted chicken, and Korean BBQ. Traditionally it comes in tubs, but these days you can find it in squeeze bottles in the Asian aisle of literally any grocery store (or online, as always).

gochujang | www.iamafoodblog.com

How long to bake salmon

Slow roasting salmon at a low temp ensures that your salmon is moist and tender and never dry. Instead of cooking at high heat, which has the tendency to dry out salmon, a low oven will gently surround your salmon and bring it up to temp. Plus it gives the salmon time to absorb the flavors of the marinade!

The best baked salmon temp

Slow roasted salmon works best at 275°F

baked salmon and salad | www.iamafoodblog.com

How to tell if salmon is cooked

The best and easiest way to tell if salmon is cooked is to gently press it with the back of a spoon, when it’s cooked properly it will flake. Perfectly done salmon will be tender, barely opaque, and juicy. Over cooked salmon will flake too but it will be dry, lighter in color, and tough.

Wild salmon vs farmed salmon

Wild salmon is always going to be less fatty than farmed salmon because they have to work to find their food. Since wild salmon have less fat, it’s best to cook them to a lower finished temp so they remain silky, firm and juicy. If you want to be precise, use an instant read thermometer.

baked salmon | www.iamafoodblog.com

What internal temperature should I cook salmon to?

For wild salmon, aim for 120°F internal temperature
For farmed salmon, aim for 125°F internal temperature

Note: the FDA recommends 145°F.

baked salmon | www.iamafoodblog.com

How to serve salmon

Our favorite way of serving salmon is not in individually portioned filets. Instead, a whole side of salmon is oven baked, then gently flaked into large perfectly imperfect pieces onto a platter. We were inspired by a Bon Appétit recipe and the salmon looked so pretty on the platter that we have never gone back. Presenting salmon like this is nice because you (or guests, if we’re ever in a time when you can have guests again) can custom portion out how much salmon you want to eat.

Another bonus of cooking a side of salmon and flaking it is that cooking a larger piece of salmon ensures that it doesn’t dry out while cooking because it has more mass. And, when you serve salmon not in the dish you’ve baked it in, you can go ahead and buy skin-on salmon (the skin protects the fish from over cooking) and easily serve it without the skin.

harissa salmon | www.iamafoodblog.com

Above: Harissa Salmon

Here are some of my other favorite oven baked salmon flavors

Garlicky tomato with vine cherry tomatoes: toss 2 pints cherry tomatoes with 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil and 4-6 cloves minced garlic. Bake as directed below.

Harissa: mix together 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup harissa paste, 1 clove minced garlic. Bake as directed below.

Miso baked salmon: mix together 2 tbsp neutral oil, 2 tbsp miso paste, 1 tbsp sake, 1 tbsp mirin, and 1 tbsp soy sauce. Bake as directed below.

baked salmon recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

What to serve with salmon:

Chinese Cucumber Avocado Salad | www.iamafoodblog.com

baked salmon recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Baked Salmon Recipe

Perfectly soft and tender slow roasted baked salmon in a sweet, savory, slightly spicy honey gochujang sauce.
Serves 
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time40 mins

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp neutral oil
  • 3 tbsp gochujang
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 tbsp ginger grated
  • 1.5 lb boneless salmon fillet
  • 1 lime thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds to serve
  • 1 stalk green onion sliced, to serve

Instructions

  • Temper the salmon. Let the salmon rest at room temp for 20-30 minutes while you heat up the oven and prep the marinade and garnish.
    salmon fillet | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Heat the oven to 275°F. Whisk the oil, gochujang, honey, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger in a bowl.
    honey gochujang sauce | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Spread half of the gochujang mix to the bottom of a large baking dish. Lightly pat the salmon dry and season with salt and pepper on both sides then place in the baking dish (skin side down if your salmon has skin). Spread the remaining gochujang mix on top. Arrange the limes on top and place in the oven for 30 minutes (see notes).
    slow baked salmon | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • When 30 minutes is up, remove the salmon from the oven and take a spoon and try to flake the salmon to see if it flakes and is cooked through, barely opaque and tender. If needed, return to the oven for another 5 minutes.
    baked salmon | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Flake the salmon into 2-3” irregular sized pieces. Arrange the salmon and lime on a platter, spoon on any remaining sauce on top. Finish with scallions and toasted sesame seeds and serve immediately.
    flaked baked salmon | www.iamafoodblog.com

Notes

Depending on the thickness of your salmon and how done you like it, it may take up to 45 mins in the oven. 30 mins should cook a 1″ fillet to rare, 45 min should cook a 1.5″ fillet to medium.

Vodka Sauce Recipe

The perfect not-so-fancy but still a little fancy weeknight dinner of your dreams featuring vodka, pasta, and cheese.

Best Vodka Sauce Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Do you love noodles? Do you love vodka? Do you want to drink vodka and eat it too? If the answer is yes to any of the above, this penne alla vodka is for you.

Let’s back up a bit. Just what exactly is penne alla vodka? It’s pink, it’s pretty, and it really does have vodka in it. It’s little bit retro (it was super popular in the 70s and 80s) and something you almost always see at classic old school Italian American pasta places. Vodka sauce is rich, luscious, and is one of the best homemade pasta sauces you’ll ever learn to make. If you’ve only ever had Bertolli vodka sauce, you’re in for a treat.

Vodka sauce, like so many beloved foods, has somewhat of a murky beginning. Some people say that it’s completely Italian American and some say it originated in Bologna, Italy. From what I can tell, according to the internet anyway, penne alla vodka became peak popular in America, and in fact, it’s kind of trending right now, with Gigi Hadid’s vodka sauce being all over Instagram. I love vodka sauce, so I’m here for it!

What is vodka sauce?

Vodka sauce is a tomato based cream sauce that is made with vodka. The vodka adds a distinctly sharp, bright flavor and helps emulsify the cream and tomatoes together. It’s a super comforting sauce that comes together quickly and pairs perfectly with pasta.

What does vodka sauce taste like?

Vodka sauce is creamy and rich. It’s luxurious and silky on the tongue thanks to the cream and sweet with a bit of acid from the tomato. As the sauce cooks over a low flame, the tomatoes caramelize and turn jammy, melding and combining with the vodka. The vodka flavor is in the background, with a hint of brightness and herbaceous pepperiness. In this version, tiny bites of crisped up pancetta add pops of savory saltiness too. Vodka sauce is creamy, comforting, and utterly delicious.

Vodka sauce | www.iamafoodblog.com

Is there vodka in vodka sauce?

Yes, there is vodka in vodka sauce. Lots of sauces have alcohol added to them: the alcohol bonds with fat and water, so food become smells and tastes better. Simply said, food cooked with alcohol becomes more aromatic and flavorful. Most authentic Italian sauces have wine and in this case, we switch out wine for vodka, thus vodka sauce.

Can you make vodka sauce without vodka?

Yes, you can absolutely make vodka sauce without vodka. Will it still technically be vodka sauce? No, but it will still taste pretty close. To substitute vodka in vodka sauce, add a squeeze of lemon and some extra pepper.

Is vodka sauce vegetarian?

Most vodka sauce recipes out there are vegetarian. This recipe has pancetta (Italian cured pork belly) in it but you can leave it out to make a vegetarian vodka sauce.

Can you make vodka sauce with meat?

You can definitely make vodka sauce with meat. Actually, this vodka sauce already has meat in it: pancetta. Pancetta is cured pork belly and it is absolutely delicious (and by far the best meat for vodka sauce). It adds smokiness, saltiness, and umami to the vodka sauce. The pancetta gets crisped up and when you get a bite with a little nugget of salty, porky goodness it’s like winning the lottery. Pork and tomatoes are a classic Italian combination because they compliment each other perfectly. Vodka sauce with pancetta is a good thing. If you don’t have pancetta, you can substitute it with bacon. You can also do vodka sauce with ground pork, vodka sauce with ground beef, and especially, vodka sauce with chicken, which is probably the second best option.

Vodka sauce recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

How to make spicy vodka sauce

If you love spicy pasta, this vodka sauce is the perfect vehicle. Just add a generous pinch of crushed red pepper flakes in when you’re cooking the garlic and onions – adding the pepper flakes to hot oil blooms them and releases and amplifies their spicy flavor.

Ingredients for vodka sauce

  1. Pancetta. Pancetta is Italian smoked pork belly. It adds smokiness, salt, and umami to the sauce. If you don’t have pancetta, you can sub in bacon in a pinch. Or you could even leave it out entirely for a vegetarian vodka sauce.
  2. Onion. The onion is going to add a bit of sweetness. I like to chop my onions pretty fine so the sauce is on the smoother side. If you want a really smooth and pretty sauce you can leave the onions out entirely (but it won’t taste as good).
  3. Garlic. Don’t skip out on the garlic though. It adds a mellow sweetness and smells amazing when you’re making this sauce.
  4. Red pepper flakes. Red pepper flakes are what gives spicy vodka sauce its heat. Bloom the red pepper flakes in oil to maximize their flavor.
  5. Vodka. The quality of the vodka isn’t so important here, so if you aren’t a drinker and don’t have a usual brand of vodka, just buy the cheapest one you can find. Sobieski or Stolichnaya are both good bets.
  6. Whole tomatoes. We love Mutti peeled whole tomatoes, but whatever brand you like will work. Switch out for canned cherry tomatoes for a sauce on the sweeter side, or switch out for fresh tomatoes to get a really bright poppy sauce.
  7. Tomato paste. We like the kind that you squeeze out of a tube (doppio concentrato) because no recipe ever calls for a whole can of tomato paste, including this one.
  8. Heavy cream. The cream is what gives the sauce body. You can’t switch it out for milk or broth because you’ll end up with a runny sauce.

Penne vodka sauce | www.iamafoodblog.com

Which pasta shape is best for vodka sauce?

This creamy, spicy, delicious vodka sauce will pair well with any pasta, but we especially love it with short pasta. Penne alla vodka is the classic but you could use any short pasta you love.

  • Farfalle: Bow ties for the win! Some say bow ties (or butterflies, depending on who you are) are for kids but I say they’re for everyone! Farfalle actually traditionally go with a cream or tomato sauces so they’re perfect with vodka sauce, which is a combo of both.
  • Fusilli: Fusilli are curly twirly corkscrews that is perfect for cream sauce. The grooves grape the sauce and they’re just a fun shape.
  • Rigatoni: These tubes have nice ridges that the creamy vodka sauce can cling to. They look almost like penne but are bigger and have straight instead of diagonal edges. I really like vodka sauce with rigatoni. Pictured below are calamarata, which are like a distant cousin of rigatoni.
  • Shells: Um, shells might be the perfect shape for vodka sauce because of the little scoop inside where the sauce can snuggle up. More sauce equals more life, amiright?

Vodka sauce pasta | www.iamafoodblog.com

How to make vodka sauce

  1. Render the pancetta. Cut the pancetta into cubes. Add a drizzle of olive oil into a large deep sauté pan over medium heat and render out the fat in the pancetta, stirring occasionally. You want the pancetta to be slightly crispy.
  2. Add your aromatics. Add the onion and garlic and cook until slightly soft. Add the crushed red pepper flakes too, if you’re making spicy vodka sauce.
  3. Add the vodka. This is the fun part! Add the vodka, stir to deglaze the pan and let it cook down and reduce by half.
  4. Add the tomatoes. Add the tomatoes (crush them as you go) and tomato sauce then let everything come to a simmer. Cover and cook to reduce and concentrate the flavors.
  5. Add the cream. Stir in the cream until the sauce emulsifies and becomes a beautiful rosy pink. Taste and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. It’s ready for pasta!

Why you should make homemade vodka sauce

  • You love Italian food
  • You’re a noodle lover
  • You have a bottle of vodka that you have no idea what to do with
  • You want to impress someone you love
  • You’ve been spending too much money on store-bought vodka sauce
  • You love rose sauce and want to up your cooking game

This is going to be the best vodka sauce recipe you’ll ever make. If you’ve only had jarred vodka sauce, you need this vodka sauce recipe in your life. The pancetta is a game changer – that classic combination of pork and tomatoes (much like in amatriciana) is out of this world delicious. Please make this! You will fall into a happy pasta coma and realize that everything is right with the world.

Retro pasta dishes forever!
xoxo steph

Instructions

  • Make the sauce. In a large deep sauté or frying pan, heat up the oil over medium heat. Add the cubed pancetta and cook, rendering the fat out of the pancetta, until it is crisp. Skip this step if you’re making vegetarian vodka sauce.
    What meat goes with vodka sauce | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally for 1-2 minutes. If you’re making spicy vodka sauce, here is where you add the red pepper flakes so they can bloom and release their flavor.
    How to make vodka sauce | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Add the vodka and bring the heat up to medium high and cook until the vodka is reduced by half.
    Does vodka sauce have vodka in it | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Stir in the tomato paste, then the canned tomatoes, crushing them with the back of a wooden spoon. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook on low for 30 minutes to reduce and concentrate the flavors.
    How to make vodka sauce | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Mix in the cream and 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water and let bubble, stirring occasionally. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Keep on very low heat while you cook the pasta.
    Vodka cream sauce | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Cook your pasta of choice 1-2 minutes shy of al dente in a large pot of salted water over high heat. Save 3/4 cup pasta water and drain well. The pasta will continue to cook in the sauce. Bring the sauce up to a simmer over medium high heat to reduce slightly. When reduced, add the drained pasta and cook, stirring, until the pasta is al dente and the sauce is very velvety and clings to the pasta, 1-2 minutes. Add extra pasta water by the tablespoon if the sauce gets too thick. Enjoy immediately with crushed red pepper flakes, freshly cracked black pepper, fresh basil, and parmesan cheese, if desired.
    Penne vodka sauce | www.iamafoodblog.com

Estimated Nutrition

Turkey Wontons in Turkey Mapo Sauce

When you want turkey but don’t want to roast a whole bird, make these ground turkey wonton in mapo turkey sauce and satisfy that turkey craving, because turkey!

turkey wontons in turkey mapo sauce | www.iamafoodblog.com

It’s almost Thanksgiving and that means…TURKEY! I love a good classic roast turkey, especially spatchcocked or sheet-panned, but I also love turkey as turkey. Seriously, these turkey wontons are one of the best things you can do with ground turkey.

Turkey is one one of those proteins people don’t use much of but when I see it at the store, it calls to me. Our grocery store sells ground turkey thighs on the regular and the other day we picked up a package with the express intention to make these turkey wontons in turkey mapo sauce.

turkey wontons in turkey mapo sauce | www.iamafoodblog.com

These turkey wontons are the best thing for ground turkey ever.

Wonton are awesome because they are incredibly versatile little dumplings. You can put almost anything you want in those delicious slippery skins (I always go with store bought wonton skins for ease) and this time around I just used my usual wonton recipe, swapping out the pork for turkey. Green onions, ginger, soy, Shaoxing wine, and sesame oil give the filling some extra flavor.

And to boost the flavor even more I made mapo sauce: simply the meaty, spicy saucy part of mapo minus the tofu, minus the pork too, and with even more ground turkey. The result was tender little wontons in a ultra red turkey sauce that hugged the wontons in deliciousness.

What are turkey wontons?

Turkey wontons are the same wonton you know and love – a little meat filled dumpling wrapped in wonton skin – but made with turkey. I love playing around with different fillings in wonton and turkey (especially ground thighs) is perfect because it’s juicy and just a bit different from your regular pork and shrimp filling. Plus, I love making turkey things around Thanksgiving because, turkey!

turkey wontons in turkey mapo sauce | www.iamafoodblog.com

Turkey wonton ingredients

We’re going with some pretty standard wonton ingredients, but with turkey: ground turkey (I prefer thighs), scallions, ginger, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, toasted sesame oil, cornstarch, and white pepper.

  • Shaoxing wine: This is what will add extra oomph and flavor to your wontons. It adds a lightly sweet, nutty, earthy, and complex flavor. It’s worth it to get a bottle if you make a lot of Chinese food, read more about Shaoxing wine here.
  • Toasted sesame oil: Use this on EVERYTHING to add instant flavor. It’s toasty, nutty, and so good. Don’t sleep on this. We love Kadoya, which comes in that iconic yellow topped bottle.
  • White pepper: One of those things that if you don’t have it, don’t sweat it, but it’s used a lot in Chinese cooking to add a brighter and sharper peppery flavor with earthy, floral heat.

how to wrap wontons | www.iamafoodblog.com

How to make turkey wontons

  1. Mix up the filling. The key to a good wonton filling is a little bit of cornstarch to bind everything together so you get a tender juicy wonton. Mix all the filling ingredients together until they form a paste. It might look a little on the loose/wet side, this is what you want!
  2. Shape the wonton. You can do this any way you want: fancy or easy. The easiest way is to just put some filling in the middle of the wrapper and pull all the edges up and gently squish into a pouch shape. Otherwise, you can put some filling in the middle, fold the wrapper in half, then bring the opposite bottom edges together, wet, and pinch to seal.
  3. Cook. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and when it’s rapidly bubbling, gently add the wonton, stirring to stop them from sticking to the bottom. The wonton will sink down at first and then start to float as when they’re cooked through. Take one and cut it open to make sure, then scoop them all out.

turkey wontons | www.iamafoodblog.com

Bun Bo Hue: The Noodle Soup You Never Knew You Loved

The best spicy noodle soup out there, for real.

spicy vietnamese noodle soup: bun bo hue recipe - www.iamafoodblog.com

Bún Bò Huế is a spicy Vietnamese noodle soup that is absolutely addictive and one of the best noodle soups in the world. Unlike the ubiquitous, well-loved and well-known pho, bun bo hue is strangely not as popular. But those in the know, know: Bun bo hue is where it’s at.

Any good cook will tell you that homemade soups are a labour of love. They take time and a little bit of effort, but like any thing that is worth waiting for, they are absolutely heartwarming. Soups, especially noodle soups, are my go to bowl of comfort. I love the flavors and combination of textures (solid and liquid, squishy and firm), the slurping, the messiness, the fun, the satisfaction. And if you had to ask me what my all time favorite noodle soup was, I would probably say: bun bo hue.

bun bo hue | www.iamafoodblog.com

When we started going out, Mike told me that bun bo hue was one of his favorite soups growing up. He took us out for a couple of bowls of BBH (as Mike and I lovingly call it) and I was addicted. I’ve been wanting to make BBH ever since.

BBH isn’t quite as popular as pho and I’m not quite sure why. It might be because it’s from Central Vietnam or it might just be because it hasn’t yet made its way into the spotlight. But, if you look for it, you can find BBH specialists. There’s even a place down in San Diego that has a BYOP (bring your own pot) so you can bring home enough BBH for your whole family and then some.

Note: this recipe was first posted in 2014 and has been updated since to our most recent version, if you’re looking for the old version, leave us a note in the comments.

bun bo hue | www.iamafoodblog.com

But wait, what is bun bo hue?

If you’ve never had bun bo hue, think of all the things you love about pho and then increase them by 10. Bun bo hue is pho’s hotter, younger, spicier cousin. They share the same general bones: piping hot flavorful stock, slippery noodles, slices of tender beef, and fresh herbs to punch it up. But, while pho is made with just beef, BBH is made with beef and pork, as well as herbaceous lemongrass and a crazy addictive saté that turns the whole soup a gorgeous golden red.

Charcuterie Board

A grown up, fancy version of lunchables but for dinner aka the best kind of choose your own adventure, the kind you can eat!

charcuterie board | www.iamafoodblog.com

I love date-nights in. So cozy and romantic. You get to pick the music, or maybe a movie, light some candles and just chill with your boo. My favorite way to do an easy night in is a charcuterie board.

Mike and I first discovered our love for charcuterie together. Way back in the day, years and years ago, a hot new restaurant opened in a literal alley in a very sketchy part of town. It was hipster before being hipster was a thing. They offered flights of meat and cheese for an insane amount of money (to us, back then) and we fell in love.

After our fourth visit there in 2 weeks, we wised up to the fact that we were spending an absurd amount of money on something that we could easily do at home. After all, the restaurant literally told us where they sourced their charcuterie from. This was way before made-in-house was a thing. So, we went right to the source, bought a bunch of our favorites, which we handily already knew, and went to town.

Ever since, we’ve always made charcuterie and cheese boards at home. The best part is coming up with fun little accompaniments, because stuff that makes everything prettier makes things tastier too, right?

What is charcuterie, anyway?

Charcuterie is the french term for prepared meat products like hams, sausages, terrines, and pâtés. While traditionally that was more or less it, these days a charcuterie board implies a big spread of cured meats, cheeses, fresh fruits, spreads, crackers, and breads.

Part of the fun of charcuterie is that everything is prepared and all you have to do is pick out your favorites and make everything look pretty. It’s easy and delicious and can feel fancy or casual, but always luxurious. You can go from grocery store pâtés to local artisanal cheeses and everything in between.

charcuterie board | www.iamafoodblog.com

Why are charcuterie boards so popular?

I think it’s because people like choice and abundance. Place a charcuterie board down in front of people and they get to pick and choose what they like, making flavor combinations appeal to them – kind of like a food version of choose-your-own-adventure. With one or two items, it’s a low key appetizer or light meal, perfect for pairing with drinks. If you go all out, it’s also super easy for fancy entertaining or for a casual date night in. We’ve used charcuterie boards as easy-yet-fancy appetizers for dinner parties that can be quickly thrown together more times than I can remember.

You don’t have to go fancy though. Sometimes the best thing to do is to stick to one kind of meat, a really good mustard, and some olives. Keep it simple, keep it crazy, keep it you. It’s delicious no matter how you slice it (pun intended).

charcuterie | www.iamafoodblog.com

How to make a charcuterie board

First off, don’t feel like you have to go crazy. I love a simple charcuterie board. You can do just one meat and one cheese and have some mustard and good bread and call it a day. Or you could also go crazy and make a huge impressive platter! You do you. You are after all, the star of your meat and cheese bar.

  1. Grab your board. Just in case you’re wondering, do you need a fancy marble and wood charcuterie board? The answer is nope, you can use any old cutting board or plate you have at home! In these photos we used a baking sheet.
  2. Little bowls. Put down a couple of small bowls for things like olives, rillettes, mustards, jams, dips, nuts, anything that you don’t want spreading all over the board. The bowls add height to your board and also give you more space because you can lean/stack things against them. How many bowls depends on the size of your board or plate.
  3. Meats and cheeses. After the bowls are on the platter, add the sliced meats, either in neat rows or in a organic pile. Add the cheese. While the exact combination is up to you, a little further below we have suggested amounts, varieties, and mixes.
  4. Breads and crackers. Stack or lay out the carbs in little piles, keeping the crackers with the crackers and the breads with the breads.
  5. Spreads. We like to use a couple of different mustards (usually 1 English and 1 stone ground French) as well as whatever jelly we have sitting around.
  6. Fruit and garnish. Add some seasonal fruit and herbs for color and freshness! In the photos we use a little trick we learned from Cassia in Santa Monica: pairing charcuterie with Vietnamese herbs. It’s genius!

I also made some little flags, for fun, and plated the pâté in a restaurant-like fashion. Sometimes when we hit up restaurants, we notice that they smear pâté onto a plate to the edge like this. It’s super easy to do at home and we really love it.

salami for charcuterie board | www.iamafoodblog.com

How much charcuterie per person?

It’s nice to get a mix of meats and cheeses but the ratio is up to you! We base everything on a minimum order of 2oz.

  • For an appetizer, get 2 different meats/cheeses per person (4oz total per person)
  • As a main, get 4 different meats/cheeses per person (8oz total per person).

This is a rough estimate that’s dependent on how much (or little) you eat, but since its better to have too much food instead of running out (especially if its a dinner party), we usually get  4oz per item, so for the two of us as a main, we get 32oz of stuff and have enough for two nights of charcuterie.

individual charcuterie board | www.iamafoodblog.com

What to put on a charcuterie board?

If you want to go all out and make the perfect charcuterie board, this is our formula:

  • Something machine-sliced: These are your cured meats like prosciutto, sliced thin for a salty, savory hit. Since you probably don’t have a meat slicer, if they don’t already come sliced, get these from the deli and ask them to slice them as thin as they recommend (different meats require different thicknesses).
  • Something hand-sliced: These are the cured meats that you want with a little bit of a heartier/heftier bite, sausages and the like that you can slice yourself at home.
  • Something spreadable: These are the squishy spreadable things that add a bit of fat and are smooth and rich on the tongue. We like to go for a couple pâtés or terrines, and always add a small scoop of rillettes too.
  • Cheese. Not all charcuterie boards include cheese, but the best ones do, in my opinion! You can just add one as an accent or do a combination that highlight contrasting flavors and textures. We like to go about 70/30 meats vs cheese, usually one brie and one harder cheese like gouda (more on this below).
  • Carbs. Carbs are the base upon which your (probably pretty expensive) meats and cheeses are enjoyed. Crusty bread, untoasted and toasted, crisp rye crackers, homemade sourdough crackers, water crackers – the list goes on. While the point of the carbs on a charcuterie board is a blank canvas for the flavors of the meats and cheeses, a really good selection of crusty toasted baguettes and crispy crunchy crackers can turn an ordinary grocery store meat and cheese board into something extraordinary.
  • Bright Notes. These are your fruits, olives, mustards, pickles, herbs, and jellies. They shouldn’t be an afterthought, actually, they should be the star of the show! These guys are what people really find themselves enjoying after the first couple of bites, because they offset the richness of the meats and cheeses with complex flavors and mix-and-match combinations. We like to go crazy with different mustards and always include some nice cornichons and olives.

terrine for charcuterie board | www.iamafoodblog.com

Best cured meats

These are our favorites:

  • Soppressata: a dry Italian salami made from pork that comes in different flavors like black pepper or spicy. Salty, rich, and flavorful. You can get this sliced thin at the deli or cut slightly thicker slices at home.
  • Saucisson sec: a thick dry cured French sausage usually made from pork, saucisson sec is similar to salami or summer sausage.  It’s meaty, mild, and comes in a variety of flavors like red wine or garlic. You can get this sliced thin at the deli or cut slightly thicker slices at home.
  • Calabrese: a spicy cured pork sausage from Calabria, Italy. Bright red, rich, and robust. You can get this sliced thin at the deli or cut slightly thicker slices at home.
  • Mortadella: a large Italian pork sausage studded with small cubes of pork fat, whole black pepper, and optionally pistachios or olives. Mortadella is soft and smooth and silky. It might remind you of baloney, but it’s nothing like baloney. Get this sliced thin.
  • Prosciutto: By now everyone and their grandma knows prosciutto and it’s no wonder why, it’s salty, rich, and just melts in your mouth. What’s not to love about thinly sliced cured ham?! Get this sliced thin at the deli.
  • Jamon (Serrano and Iberico): The Spanish version of dry cured ham. Sweet, nutty, and earthy, this delicate ham is cured longer than prosciutto and has a deeper, stronger flavor. Serrano is the more common jamon and Iberico is the more specialty, made from black Iberian pigs. Get this sliced thin at the deli.
  • Bresaloa: Air dry salted lean beef that’s been aged, made famous in the Lombardy region of Italy. It’s kind of like a beefy version of prosciutto, but less fatty and milder in flavor. Get it sliced thin at the deli.
  • Finocchiona: a Tuscan salami on the sweeter side flecked with fennel seeds. This is one of my favorites!

cured meats | www.iamafoodblog.com

Best pâtés, terrines, and rillettes

Head to a charcutier (a place where they make in house charcuterie) for a selection of spreadables to up your charcuterie game. Spreadable things are incredibly addictive, especially on crackers and bread.

  • Pâté: The most decadent and delicious of the pâté is foie gras but a more accessible pâté is probably chicken liver pâté or chicken liver mousse. It’s light, rich, and silky smooth. We also like a simple peppercorn pâté or a rustic country style pâté de campagne.
  • Terrine: Terrine mostly refers to the loaf-shaped pan that they’re cooked in. Sometimes they’re layered or baked in puff pastry. We love duck and pistachio terrine for its simple heartiness and amazing time tested flavors.
  • Rillettes: Rillettes are meat or fish that’s been chopped or shredded and confit/cooked own fat to make a thick spread. If you’ve had potted whitefish dip or potted salmon, it was probably a rillette. Rillettes are heartier than pâté and incredibly satisfying. Our favorite is pork rillettes.

rilettes | www.iamafoodblog.com

Best cheeses

The best cheese is a cheese you like! That being said, if you want to expand your cheese horizons, these are some of our favorites that aren’t the usual cheddar, brie, and mozzarella.

Epoisses de Bourgongne or Saint-Andre: These two are creamy, soft cheeses perfect for spreading. The Epoisses has a pretty pungent smell, but when you taste it, it’s creamy, salty, and sweet. At room temp it’s absolutely luscious. If you’re against stinky cheeses, you should go for the Saint Andre, a triple cream which is dense, buttery, and rich. It’s like brie, but better!

Kaasaggio Robusto Gouda: It’s our new favorite cheese obsession. Flavor wise, it’s a blend of parmesan and gouda, with the salty nuttiness of Parmesan and the sweet butterscotch-y flavors of an aged gouda. It has a an intense amount of those addictive little crunchy crystals that are only found in really good aged cheese.

Castello Double Creme Blue: I’m not a huge fan of blue cheese, but I have a deep respect for their sharp, deep flavors. I’m slowly liking blue cheese more and more and if you want a gateway blue cheese, this is the one to try. Castello is a Danish cheese, tender and mild compared to other blues while still having a delicate bitterness with a creamy finish. Kind of addictive to be honest!

Saint Paulin: This is one of those cheeses that everyone will love. It’s a semi-firm pressed cheese that has a pleasing edible yellow-orange rind and a velvety buttery smooth interior. It’s very similar to a harvarti – super subtle with a hint of sweetness and the taste of fresh milk.

cheeses | www.iamafoodblog.com

Bread and crackers

We like having a variety of breads and crunchy things too.

crackers | www.iamafoodblog.com

What are the best garnishes for a charcuterie board?

  • Spreads: jams and honey add a touch of sweetness. They’re perfect with cheese!
  • Nuts: walnuts, macadamias, marcona almonds, pecans, pistachios, all the nuts!
  • Seeds: this sounds funny, but seeds go exceptionally well sprinkled onto cheese, especially soft ones like goat cheese. Have little dishes of poppy seeds, toasted sesame seeds, toasted sunflower seeds, pepitas
  • Olives: Pick your favorite olives! We like picholine (small green French olives), Nicoise (small black French olives), and Manzanilla (firm smoky green Spanish olives).
  • Fruit: Any seasonal fruit will do, in the summer berries and stone fruits are nice and in the fall and winter things like pears and apples.
  • Mustards: whole grain, dijon, spicy brown, honey mustard, English; mustards add heat and acidity.
  • Pickles: cornichon (those cute little French pickles), picked onions or shallots, pickled vegetable such as beets, peppers, radishes, beans, etc.

candied walnuts | www.iamafoodblog.com

How do you say charcuterie?

It’s shar-CUTE-er-ee!

charcuterie | www.iamafoodblog.com

Go forth and meat and cheese with abandon!

Instructions

  • Toast your baguettes in a 350ºF oven for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, slice your cheeses and salamis, if needed
    cured meats | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Arrange your mustards, olives, cornichons, and other spreads in small dishes.
    candied walnuts | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Smear your pâté, rillettes, and soft cheeses along the edges of deep plates.
    rilettes | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Remove baguette from oven and arrange in a large bowl or two. In a separate bowl, snap into small pieces (if homemade) and arrange your crackers.
    crackers | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Serve immediately with tongs, forks, or other serving utensils.
    charcut

Notes

As a main, either double the volume or variety of the proteins.

The meats and cheeses are just a base, you should add jams, jellies, herbs, and other fruits or veggies according to your taste.

Estimated nutrition is a good representation but will be highly variable based on your selections.

One Pan Creamy Dijon Mustard Mushroom Chicken

If you’re looking for a quick and easy dinner that’s full of flavor, this one pan creamy dijon mustard is for you! I made this for a quick dinner the other day after coming in from a walk where I basically stopped to talk to every dog we met. I get so excited when I see puppies and their owners are always so patient and friendly. I’m pretty sure when you get a dog, you know that you’re in for people randomly accosting you to talk to your pet. It’s hilarious because walking around our neighborhood, we’ve definitely gotten to know the dogs that go out on walks.

 

One Pan Creamy Dijon Mustard Mushroom Chicken | www.iamafoodblog.com

I remember all the dog’s names but I have honestly ever asked to know their human’s names. Hilarious, right? Anyway, this dish came together super quickly – the most time consuming thing is definitely slicing the mushrooms. If you’re tight on time, you can always get sliced mushrooms, but I always like slicing my own. I am obsessed with sautéed mushrooms. They’re so earthy, juicy, and full of umami. The best way to get them brown and seared on the outside while still being juicy on the inside is to make sure that you don’t get them wet.

One Pan Creamy Dijon Mustard Mushroom Chicken | www.iamafoodblog.com

Yup, that means you shouldn’t wash your mushrooms! My mom would probably die if she knew that I just gently brush my mushrooms off (if they’re really dirty I wipe them with a damp paper towel) but it’s the only way to do it. The best thing is to get mushrooms that are pretty pristine looking. These days there are a ton of fun different mushrooms out there: shiitakes, king mushrooms, oyster, enoki, and the list goes on. If you have an Asian grocery store nearby, definitely check out their mushroom selection – they’re typically grown with out dirt which makes cleaning them a non-event. Plus the different textures and flavors of mixed mushrooms make dishes so much more tasty.

One Pan Creamy Dijon Mustard Mushroom Chicken | www.iamafoodblog.com

In this case, I just used regular ol’ cremini mushrooms. They’re the base of flavor of this dish. Added to that is a bit of spicy Dijon, cream for richness, chicken for protein, and kale for greens. It’s the perfect little one pan dish that happens to be keto friendly! If you’re looking for more fat, use skin on chicken thighs. I went with boneless skinless chicken breast because we happened to have some in the fridge, which is kind of a rarity. We hardly ever eat chicken breasts, but we both agreed that these chicken breasts were delicious. The key is searing them quickly – because they’re halved, they cook very quickly but still take on some nice golden brown goodness.

Hope you get a chance to make this. It’s definitely been on repeat around here!

Instructions

  • Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise to make four thin cutlets. Season both sides with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  • Add the oil to a skillet over medium high-heat and sear the chicken until golden and cooked through, flipping once, 2-3 minutes per side. Remove and set aside.
  • Add the butter to the pan. When melted, add the mushrooms and sear until golden, flipping as needed.
  • Stir in the garlic and cook until soft. Add the chicken broth and cream. Bring to a boil until the sauce thickens.
  • Stir in the Dijon until smooth, then the greens until they wilt. Add the chicken back to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

 

 

 

The Easiest Ever Osso Buco

Osso Buco Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Osso Buco is one of those kind of fancy things that everyone kinda knows about but no one ever really orders.

How often do you make it past the pasta course at a good Italian restaurant? We usually never do. But if I see osso buco on the menu, I usually make room to order it. How can you not love a slow braised, melt in your mouth beef shank in a beefy, bone marrow-y tomato sauce? Sometimes you even get a little spoon for the bone marrow. It’s usually the best thing on the menu. Osso buco is even often served with pasta, so win-win!

But better yet, you can make it at home in an hour on the instant pot for 1/4 of the cost. It tastes like you slaved in the kitchen for hours. It’s perfect for special occasions but easy enough that you could have it on any given weeknight too.

Osso Buco Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

What is osso buco?

Osso buco is an Italian dish of veal shank braised for a really long time in a white wine bone marrow infused sauce originally from Lombard. The long braise time melts away the connective tissues in the shank and leaves you with melt-in-your-mouth fall apart meat. It tastes amazing because the shank cut is a complex muscle full of connective tissue that just falls apart. Because it’s slow braised on the bone (Osso Buco means bone with a hole), the bone marrow infuses the sauce and gives it an incredible richness and flavor.

Historically, this recipe doesn’t include tomatoes because they’re a new world crop, but these days, pretty much everyone makes it with tomatoes. This version we’re making today takes it up another notch with fresher tasting passata tomato sauce instead of the classic canned tomatoes.

osso buco | www.iamafoodblog.com

How to make osso buco

  1. Brown your beef shanks well on both sides. I use the Instant Pot saute setting on high for 2-3 minutes on each side with a splatter shield on top, and honestly it works better than doing it on the stovetop. The high sides of the instant pot mean much less splatter and mess.
  2. Cook your aromatics. Transfer the beef shank to a plate or something else to catch the juices, then add the aromatics and cook until they are soft and translucent, about 2 minutes.
  3. Deglaze with wine. Add the wine and scrape all the brown bits off the bottom of the instant pot with a wooden spoon or spatula. Let the wine cook until it is reduced by half, at least 2 minutes.
  4. Braise. Add the beef shank, passata, and herbs to the instant pot and braise on high for 1 hour. You’ll be rewarded with the most tender, fall-apart meat ever.

deglazing | www.iamafoodblog.com

Instant pot osso buco

Osso buco is classically a braise-it-all-day affair, but, if there’s one thing the Instant Pot (or any pressure cooker) excels at, it’s crushing braise times for these kinds of dishes. It’s by far the best option, in my opinion. If you don’t have one, you can make this by  simmering until soft on the stove – it’ll just take longer, about 4-6 hours. You can also brown the meat and aromatics in an oven proof pan or dutch oven, then transferring to a 250-300ºF oven for 4-6 hours. If you go either stovetop or oven, check back every so often to make sure your liquid isn’t too low.

instant pot osso buco | www.iamafoodblog.com

The dinner and chill special

Traditionally there a lot more ingredients and steps to this dish, but here I’ve pared it down to the bare minimum and let the flavors speak for themselves. Before writing this recipe, Steph and I went to a really well regarded Italian restaurant. We tried their 24 hour osso buco made with veal shank and extra marrow bones. It was amazing, but this one compares favorably – and is way easier.

The biggest step I removed is the flour dredge. Usually people dredge the shank in flour and use that to both brown the meat and thicken the sauce. I don’t think this needs it, the bone marrow thickened sauce is more than enough, and flour is always messy. If you want to do that though, it will add a little extra body to both your meat and sauce.

osso buco recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Veal vs beef shank

The default meat choice for osso buco is veal, but I’ve found it’s pretty hard to find veal shank. It’s worth looking for if you want to stay true to the original. You should be able to find it at your neighborhood butcher shop or major supermarket. Beef tastes as good (if not better) though and is far easier to find. It’s even often cheaper, even though veal should technically be a lower-cost meat.

beef shank | www.iamafoodblog.com

Osso buco ingredients

  • Shank is an inexpensive cut that should be easy to find. If you can’t get it at your local grocery store, whole foods will carry beef (but not veal) shanks.
  • Herbs to make a bouquet garni. I just threw in a sprig of oregano because that’s what we had and it was great. If you have bay leaves, fresh thyme, fresh Italian parsley, etc on hand, feel free to throw a little in. If not, just skip – the recipe doesn’t need it.
  • Passata is an uncooked strained tomato puree. I chose passata because the fresh tomato flavor really brightens up the dish, but if you have a can of regular old crushed tomatoes around, feel free to use that.
  • White wine. Wine adds a complexity and authenticity to the dish that is impossible to replace. If you need to be alcohol-free, you can switch it out for sodium free chicken stock.

How do you serve it?

Osso Buco is typically served with risottognocchi, or pasta, but we like ours with bread or on its own. If you plan on eating this on its own, you might want to double the recipe to get enough meat for 2.

If you wanted to go really over the top (say for an at home Valentines dinner) a tiny bit of caviar makes this one of the most extra surf and turfs you could make at home.

osso buco with caviar | www.iamafoodblog.com

Instructions

  • Roughly chop your onion, carrots, and garlic.
    chopping aromatics | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Preheat your Instant Pot to saute high and add 1-2 tablespoons oil. Pat dry your shanks and season generously on both sides with salt and pepper.
    beef shank | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Brown your shank at least 1 minute per side.
    browning beef shank | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Remove the shank and add your onion, carrots, and garlic. Cook until soft – about 2 minutes.
    aromatics in Instant Pot | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Add the wine and deglaze, scraping the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Reduce until about half the wine is left – about 2 minutes.
    deglazing | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Add passata, herbs if using, and the shank to the pot. Set pressure to high and braise for 1 hour. Quick release when done and serve, garnish with grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, red pepper flakes, and flat leaf parsley as desired.
    instant pot osso buco | www.iamafoodblog.com

Risotto Recipe

I LOVE risotto. It’s kind of retro and not really popular at modern restaurants, but creamy, cheesy rice? Um, yes please! To me, it’s the perfect kind of fancy, kind of out of the ordinary dish I love making, either on weeknights or special occasions.

Risotto was one of the very first things I ever learned how to cook when I first moved out! I have to admit, the very first time was a disaster. I must’ve spent hours at the stove, stirring until I thought my arm was going to fall off. It was way back in the day when blogs or cooking wasn’t as popular as it is now and I didn’t have much to go on and I didn’t know that you’re supposed to heat the stock before you add it to the rice. Even after hours of stirring, the rice was still crunchy.

Mike ate it and said it was good, but I knew he was just being nice…Anyway, many, many pots of risotto and many risotto recipes later and lesson learned! I’m here to give you all the tips and tricks to making the perfect risotto with the best and coziest recipe out there!