Pork sugo over pasta at Sepia, 123 N. Jefferson, one of our 10 best recipes of 2010. (Rich Hein/Sun-Times)
Updated: December 29, 2010 11:29AM
‘Extra steps in the kitchen are not only worth it, they are the point.”
That was 312 Chicago pastry chef Kim Schwenke, writing in our monthly guest chef column back in March about why she bothers to make ricotta — or anything — from scratch.
Why? Because it tastes better.
I have Schwenke and many other Chicago chefs to thank for their thoughtful writing and sound advice over these past 12 months. They’re the source of more than half of our 10 best recipes of 2010. There’s a reason they do what they do, and why we should listen to what they have to say. Making food taste better is a big part of that.
That said, making ricotta — or any of these 10 dishes — isn’t some drawn-out, massive production.
In these dishes, one or two ingredients, not necessarily active cooking time, make all the difference in flavor: roasted poblanos in Rick Bayless’ creamy chicken and greens; creme fraiche in pastry chef Sarah Kosikowski’s deviled eggs; cayenne and chili flakes in baking enthusiast Eli Malone’s showpiece brownies; fresh, juicy corn kernels to make blogger Heather Wetzel’s unusual “pesto” and to fold into pastry chef Toni Roberts’ blueberry muffins.
While we’re at it, a dab of mascarpone atop each muffin.
Schwenke’s ricotta recipe transforms just three ingredients — milk, cream and vinegar — into something memorable in 20 minutes. Takes longer to get through an episode of “Top Chef.”
You do have to let Sepia chef Andrew Zimmerman’s pork sugo do its thing in the oven for a couple of hours, and before you even get to that point, he urges that you take the time to get a good sear on the country ribs, the base for the sauce. But really, it doesn’t take that long. Make the time.
The time it takes come spring to seek out ramps, a local treasure that pairs so well with pork chops, the recipe from our debut “Low Mileage Kitchen” column — that counts.
The time it takes to wait until raspberries are in season, knowing they will be tastiest, in order to make Elizabeth Stegner’s raspberry-topped pie — that counts.
Time well-spent, whether in or out of the kitchen — isn’t that ideal?