Our Favorite Dishes of 2011

Another year gone by, another flurry of meals and plates licked clean. As all food lovers can attest, it’s not easy to single out a mere handful of dishes to top our year-end list of favorites, especially after a year that brought us plenty of promising chefs, gutsy cooking, and delicious food. With that in mind, here’s a look back at what we loved in 2011. Our tummies are already growling for next year.

 

polenta with marinara


Polenta with Marinara (Modernist Cuisine)
When we saw Nathan Myhrvold speak at ICE, we also got to sample dishes from his team’s kitchen laboratory. Our favorite: a bowl of homey grits that had been cooked at... Read more >

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Eye Candy: A Top Chef's Tortellini

tortellini When Mike Isabella came to the Beard House last month, he swiftly dashed away any doubts that he could cook incredible food beyond the judges' table. His menu was stunning from start to finish, but we especially loved these delicate veal-sweetbread tortellini, which were surrounded by perfectly salted country ham broth, cauliflower purée, and pickled baby vegetables. You can see more photos of Mike Isabella's Beard House dinner on our Facebook page.

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Eat this Word: Culatello

Culatello WHAT? Hamming it up. Just about everyone knows that Parma is famous for its raw, cured ham called prosciutto di Parma. But real pork-product purists prefer the region’s rarer and more delectable culatello. The best, most traditional culatello is labeled with the D.O.P. “Culatello di Zibello,” and it is made according to strict regulations enforced by the Consorzio del Culatello di Zibello in and around the town of Zibello, about 20 miles outside of Parma. Only the large muscles of the pigs’s hind legs and inner thigh, off the bone, are used (culatello means “little backside”). The meat is cured with salt, seasoned with a mixture of black pepper, wine, and herbs, and aged for a minimum of 12 months before it is sold. The characteristic pear shape is enhanced by intricate tying that produces an attractive rosette pattern when the culatello is cut crosswise into paper-thin slices. WHERE?

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Recipe: Mike Isabella's Rice Bean Arancini with Bacon and Cheddar

Rice Bean Arancini with Bacon and Cheddar Sicilians have been frying leftover risotto into golden, bread crumb-coated arancini for centuries (and it’s not hard to see why). Mike Isabella of Graffiato and Top Chef fame plays on this age-old recipe by crafting his arancini from rice beans, the tiny legumes that resemble grains of rice but boast a softer, creamier texture. For an added twist, he also stuffs his fritters with hunks of bacon and sharp cheddar cheese. Get the recipe here.

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