Classic, Everyday Ingredients Get Taken to New Levels in the Home Cooked Cookbook

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Photography credit: Brown W. Cannon III © 2016

Anya Fernald’s new cookbook, Home Cooked, is here to rescue any home cook looking for new inspiration for classic, familiar ingredients. Fernald’s rustic and sustainable approach to putting food on the table for her family shines through with recipes that are light on extra work but vibrant and full of delightful flavors.

Whether you’re looking for something simple like buttery roast Asado Potatoes (pictured above, recipe below for you to savor at home), something sweet like a jam tartlet, or something hearty like a pork and beef ragu, Home Cooked has you covered. Fernald’s recipes are decidedly Italian at the root and agricultural at heart, which is to say they’re as easy to devour as they are practical, and they’re built on ingredients you already know and love.

We caught up with Fernald and she told us that onions are among her favorite ingredients to reinvent. “I always have an onion kicking around in the bottom of the fridge, and in a pinch I slowly cook down slices in butter for a long time — like 30 minutes — until they are sweet and a little caramelized. I will then mix them with beaten eggs and a little cheese and make … a frittata. Usually no one can ever figure out what the taste is! They get so sweet and develop so much umami. I also like to mix slow-cooked onions with bone broth for a quick/simple and light French onion soup or use them on top of crostini,” she explains.

What’s the trickiest pick to transform? “Weirdly, eggs,” Fernald says. She adds: “I end up using them as the protein in a lot of simple lunches and dinners. Just reheat some cooked veggies or beans and put an egg on it and — voila! I end up always doing them over-easy or soft-boiled. I guess I need to develop some easy souffle recipe for my repertoire? The reality is that I like them super-simple!”

Read on below to hear more from Fernald and find out her top do’s and don’ts for updating classic, familiar ingredients into dressed-up items:

Do’s

1: “Use your oven! Roasting can bring out new dimensions in everyday ingredients. I am always blown away by how simple and delicious whole peeled carrots can be when roasted in the oven until they are soft throughout and have tasty black, caramelized tips and patches.”

2: “Get creative with the quality and type of your cooking fat. Experiment with coconut oil (great with cabbage, broccoli and lamb), lard (great with all starchy vegetables and with meats) and cultured butter (great with spring vegetables).”

3: “Spend on quality ingredients. If you are going to make carrots or ground beef the star of the show with minimal bells and whistles, they have to be the best quality you can afford. The simpler the dish, the better the primary ingredients need to be in order for the final dish to shine.”

Don’ts

1: “Rush your meat. For simple, inexpensive cuts of meat to shine in roasted and grilled dishes, you need to let that meat rest before it comes to the table! I let my roasted chicken rest a good 45 minutes before we eat it — it just gets yummier and more tender!”

2: “Be overly sodium- or fat-conscious! Sodium and animal fats are on the ‘good for us’ list now after years on the ‘bad for us’ list. Hallelujah! Don’t be afraid to celebrate their newfound healthiness — they make everything taste better.”

3: “Feel the need to make your table groan. I often serve a meat and one simple veggie side to guests, or two veggies and an abundant salami starter plate. Keeping it simple keeps you more relaxed and happy, and in return, your guests.”

Asado Potatoes

Yield: 6 servings

I first ate these crispy potatoes at a Uruguayan asado — a South American barbecue — where they were cooked in a Dutch oven alongside the grilling meats, and the method has become my favorite way to prepare russets. They are easy to make, and the result is fairly spectacular, giving you the best of both worlds: tender, buttery rounds of potato with browned, crunchy edges.

Don’t pack the sliced potatoes into the pan too tightly — tight enough to remain upright but with still a bit of space between the slices, so the heat can circulate and cook the potatoes through. They are equally delicious prepared with olive oil or melted duck fat instead of butter.

6 large russet potatoes

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Wash and scrub the potatoes and, with a mandoline or sharp knife, slice the potatoes into 1? 8-inch-thick slices and put in a bowl. Toss with half of the butter, then arrange the potatoes in a spiral in a 10-inch cast-iron pan. Season with salt and pepper.

Roast the potatoes until tender and brown and crispy on top, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, pour the remaining butter over, and season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Reprinted with permission from Home Cooked: Essential Recipes for a New Way to Cook by Anya Fernald with Jessica Battilana, copyright © 2016. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photography credit: Brown W. Cannon III © 2016