Food Network’s Alton Brown on quarantine and new YouTube series
Food Network host Alton Brown talks to USA TODAY’s Andrea Mandell about spending his quarantine at home in Atlanta with his wife and their dogs.
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Alton Brown hasn’t been redoing old “Good Eats” recipes in recent years because they were bad. Well, not all of them anyway. there is that slow cooker lasagna recipe – which is one of “the most hated” in his repertoire, he says – but more on that later.
Brown decided to revisit his cache to reflect on how the food world has changed since his signature Food Network show launched more than 20 years ago. Earlier, sous vide was done by only a few anointed ones in the gastronomic world. Now anyone can have a decent immersion circulator shipped to their door overnight for around $100. Accessibility of ingredients has exploded. Today, even regular grocers carry herbs like sumac and Aleppo pepper†
And, most importantly, people’s attitudes about cooking have changed. They are more adventurous, more willing to spend time learning by trying in the kitchen.
“If I had published a recipe 10 years ago that called for… gochujang“People would have thought I was crazy” Brown, 59, tells USA TODAY.
He’s not worried about including the Korean fermented red chili paste in his latest cookbook,”Good food: in recent years(Abrams, 432 pp., out now). In true Alton Brown fashion, he explains what the spice is and how it’s made, and he uses it in a recipe (the dolsot bibimbap looks great).
“Understanding equals power,” he says. “You have power over your fears, so you have confidence when you know what’s going on.”
Featuring about 150 recipes, the pages are brimming with food history and science and sprinkled with Brown’s wit and sardonic wit. In a breakout section about plain roasted chicken, Brown complains about glass spice racks on the counter (“I’d wipe those off planet Earth if I could,” he tells us. “I’d go out into the world and dump those in a landfill.” .”) While improving his chicken parmesan recipe, Brown writes that he learned the hard way that older Pyrex casserole dishes were made with borosilicate glass, which could withstand rapid temperature changes under a grill, while the newer formula uses soda lime glass, what not .
In the “Lost Season” section, which focuses on the never-aired “Reloaded” season 3, Brown offers his response to his much-maligned slow cooker lasagna recipe. For those unfamiliar, the slow cooker recipe uses layers of noodles, vegetables, and meat along with goat’s milk powder and requires a propane burner to brown the cheese topping.
“It’s not a good dish,” Brown says. “Smart isn’t always smart.”
His new version, which spans several pages and ends with “The Final Lasagna”, is the most lasagna lasagna out there, he says. He recommends taking a break between making the ragù alla bolognese and putting together the final dish, as it’s “quite a bit of work.”
“I’m done with lasagna,” Brown says. “(This) is the way to do it. I can run away. I have done penance.”
Brown is doing a book tour, hit about a dozen cities, including Seattle; Washington; New York; and Dallas, and ending May 11 in Atlanta. If you go, you might hear someone ask about his famous tips – like adding mayonnaise to get creamy scrambled eggs or start pasta in cold water† But what’s his top tip, which he says is the biggest thing you can do to improve your cooking?
“Read the recipe,” he says. ‘Sit down and read it. Don’t cook. Don’t start collecting pots and pans. Make notes if necessary. … That’s not very exciting, but it’s absolutely true.”
“Good Eats: The Final Years” isn’t just the fourth installment in the franchise’s cookbook series: it’s the last. Brown says he’s done with the iconic show – at least for now – and won’t be shooting season 3 of “Good Eats: Reloaded.”
But just before fans melt faster than Gruyere in fondue, that doesn’t mean he’s done with entertainment. Brown has a big announcement coming soon. He has teased a project slated to launch this summer with a streaming service. When asked if he can share more details, he gives a friendly but firm no.
“If I told you, a helicopter full of lawyers would descend on my building,” he says. “I’m on the move right now, but in a good way. I have not finished yet.”