NEW YORK, Dec 15 — Towering cakes and intricate sauces are worthy kitchen goals, but when it comes to everyday cooking, convenience and comfort are king. The recipes our readers loved most this year prove that point deliciously: All of these dishes are simple to prepare and are the satisfying, habit-forming sort that cooks return to again and again. Here are the five most popular NYT Cooking recipes published in 2016, determined by the number of times readers saved them. More favourite recipes are online at nytcooking.com.
1. Mississippi roast
When Sam Sifton first heard of Mississippi Roast, a wildly popular recipe on Pinterest made by plopping a chuck roast into a slow cooker and simmering it with a stick of butter, powdered ranch dressing mix, “au jus” gravy mix and pepperoncini, he was dubious — until he tried it. His version has no packaged mixes and far less butter, but it still yields, as he wrote, “a luscious tangle of deliciously tangy beef that goes beautifully with mashed or roasted potatoes or egg noodles, or as a hot-sandwich filling.”
2. Middle Eastern herb and garlic chicken
This recipe from Melissa Clark was inspired by za’atar, a traditional Middle Eastern mix of dried herbs, sesame seeds and sumac. Here, she uses fresh parsley, mint, thyme and oregano, as well as plenty of lemon and garlic, as a marinade for boneless chicken thighs. The finished dish is intensely flavorful, and destined to be a repeat.
3. Chicken enchiladas with salsa verde
“Don’t let the one-hour prep time on these enchiladas scare you,” Sifton wrote of this take on the classic Tex-Mex casserole, inspired by a smoked chicken version Robb Walsh serves at El Real Tex-Mex, his restaurant in Houston. With a few shortcuts (use leftover or grocery-store rotisserie chicken and canned tomatillos), it is truly weeknight possible.
4. Creamy corn pasta with basil
There’s no cream in this luscious pasta by Clark, just a light sauce made from pureed fresh corn and sweet sauteed scallions. It’s best made with farmstand corn in August, but many readers used frozen or supermarket cobs with excellent results.
5. Pot roast
The recipe for this comfort food staple comes from the chef Gavin Kaysen, of Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis, who learned it from his grandmother. Kaysen calls for paleron, the shoulder cut of beef commonly used in pot-au-feu, and a house-made sugo finto of pureed tomatoes, minced carrot, celery, onions and herbs. Our version is further adapted for the home cook, using a chuck roast and tomato paste, both easier to find and equally delicious.
Time: 6 1/2 to 8 1/2 Hours
Yield: 6 to 8 Servings
1 boneless chuck roast or top or bottom round roast, 3 to 4 pounds
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons neutral oil, like canola
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 to 12 pepperoncini
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon buttermilk, optional
Chopped parsley, for garnish
Step 1: Place roast on a cutting board and rub the salt and pepper all over it. Sprinkle the flour all over the seasoned meat and massage it into the flesh.
Step 2: Heat the oil in a large saute pan set over high heat until it is shimmering and about to smoke. Place the roast in the pan and brown on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes a side, to create a crust. Remove roast from pan and place it in the bowl of a slow cooker. Add the butter and the pepperoncini to the meat. Put the lid on the slow cooker, and set the machine to low.
Step 3: As the roast heats, make a ranch dressing. Combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, dill and paprika in a small bowl and whisk to emulsify. Add the buttermilk if using, then whisk again. Remove the lid from the slow cooker and add the dressing. Replace the top and allow to continue cooking, undisturbed, for 6 to 8 hours, or until you can shred the meat easily using 2 forks. Mix the meat with the gravy surrounding it. Garnish with parsley, and serve with egg noodles or roast potatoes, or pile on sandwich rolls, however you like.
Middle Eastern Herb Chicken
Time: 40 minutes, plus at least 30 minutes’ marinating
Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 1 3/4 pounds)
6 garlic cloves, grated on a Microplane or minced
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for serving
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, more for serving
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano or marjoram
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, more for garnish (optional)
3/4 teaspoon sumac, more for garnish (optional)
2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt, preferably whole milk yogurt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Step 1: Combine chicken with all but 1 teaspoon of the grated garlic (save that teaspoon for the yogurt sauce), the zest and juice of 1 lemon, oil, parsley, mint, thyme, oregano, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and the sesame seeds and sumac, if using. Cover and marinate for 15 to 30 minutes at room temperature; you can refrigerate it for up to 24 hours.
Step 2: Heat grill or broiler. If grilling, cook chicken over high heat until charred in spots, 4 to 7 minutes. Flip pieces and continue grilling until just cooked through, another 4 to 7 minutes. If broiling, arrange a rack 3 to 4 inches from flame. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spread chicken out in a single layer. Broil chicken, turning halfway through cooking, until well coloured and charred in spots, 4 to 7 minutes per side. Be careful that it doesn’t burn.
Step 3: While chicken cooks, place yogurt in a small bowl. Stir in the reserved grated garlic and lemon zest and season to taste with salt. Serve the chicken drizzled with olive oil, remaining lemon juice to taste, black pepper, parsley and sesame seeds and sumac, if using, with the yogurt alongside for dipping.
Chicken enchiladas with salsa verde
Time: 1 Hour
Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
For the chicken (or use 1 1/4 pounds leftover or store-bought roast chicken):
2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs or breasts, or a mixture
1 small white onion, cut in half
4 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon kosher salt
For the salsa verde:
1 pound fresh tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut into quarters (use canned if you can’t find fresh)
1 small white onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
2 serrano chillies or more to taste, seeds removed if you want it less spicy, stemmed and roughly chopped
4 to 5 tender stems of fresh cilantro, with leaves, roughly chopped
Salt to taste
For the enchiladas:
1/2 cup neutral oil, like canola
12 yellow corn tortillas
1 cup crumbled queso fresco or cotija cheese
1 cup Mexican crema, or use creme fraiche or sour cream
1 medium-size white onion, peeled and chopped (optional)
Step 1: Prepare the chicken: Place chicken parts in a large saucepan with onion, garlic and salt, and cover with water. Heat pan over high heat until liquid comes to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and let simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove chicken and let cool, reserving stock for another use. Using your fingers or two forks, shred meat from chicken and reserve, discarding skin and bones. (Alternatively, shred meat from leftover or store-bought roast chicken and set aside.)
Step 2: Meanwhile, heat oven to 375, and make the salsa verde: Combine tomatillos, onion, garlic, serranos and cilantro in a blender or food processor and purée until smooth, adding water as needed to thin it out a little. Season with salt to taste.
Step 3: Prepare the tortillas: In medium saute pan set over medium-high heat, heat oil until it begins to shimmer. Using tongs or a wide spatula, place a tortilla in the hot fat; it should start to bubble immediately. Heat tortilla for about 10 seconds a side, until soft and lightly browned. Remove tortilla and set on a rack set over a baking pan, or just on a baking pan if you don’t have a rack. Repeat with remaining tortillas, working quickly.
Step 4: Assemble the enchiladas: Use a ladle to put about 1/2 cup salsa verde in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and spread it out a little. Roll a few tablespoons of shredded chicken into each tortilla with a teaspoon or so of salsa verde and place it seam-side down in the pan, nestling each one against the last. Ladle salsa verde over top of rolled tortillas and sprinkle with about half the crumbled cheese.
Step 5: Transfer to oven and bake until sauce bubbles and cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Dot with crema, sprinkle with remaining cheese and, if using, chopped onion, then serve immediately.
Creamy corn pasta with basil
Time: 30 Minutes
Yield: 3 to 4 Servings
Fine sea salt
12 ounces dry orecchiette or farfalle
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 bunch scallions (about 8), trimmed and thinly sliced (keep the whites and greens separate)
2 large ears corn, shucked and kernels removed (2 cups kernels)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, more for serving
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, more to taste
1/3 cup torn basil or mint, more for garnish
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
Fresh lemon juice, as needed
Step 1: Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until 1 minute shy of al dente, according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water.
Step 2: Meanwhile, heat oil in large saute pan over medium heat; add scallion whites and a pinch of salt and cook until soft, 3 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water and all but 1/4 cup corn; simmer until corn is heated through and almost tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, transfer to a blender, and puree mixture until smooth, adding a little extra water if needed to get a thick but pourable texture.
Step 3: Heat the same skillet over high heat. Add butter and let melt. Add reserved 1/4 cup corn and cook until tender, 1 to 2 minutes. (It’s OK if the butter browns; that deepens the flavour.) Add the corn puree and cook for 30 seconds to heat and combine the flavours.
Step 4: Reduce heat to medium. Add pasta and half the reserved pasta cooking water, tossing to coat. Cook for 1 minute, then add a little more of the pasta cooking water if the mixture seems too thick. Stir in 1/4 cup of the scallion greens, the Parmesan, the herbs, the red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice to taste. Transfer to warm pasta bowls and garnish with more scallions, herbs, a drizzle of olive oil and black pepper.
Time: 3 Hours
Yield: 6 to 8 Servings
3 pound boneless beef chuck roast
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons canola oil
4 tablespoons butter
2 medium red onions, cut into quarters
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
3 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 rutabaga, peeled and cut into 12 to 16 pieces, about a pound
8 cremini mushrooms, halved
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 head garlic, top cut off to expose cloves
3/4 cup tomato paste
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs rosemary
1 1/2 cups red wine, preferably cabernet
4 cups beef broth
Step 1: Preheat oven to 340 degrees. Season meat generously with salt and pepper. On the stove top, heat oil in a large Dutch oven, or other heavy roasting pan with a lid, over medium-high heat. Sear the meat until a dark crust forms, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove meat to a plate.
Step 2: Reduce heat to medium and add butter to the pan. Melt the butter and add the whole head of garlic and vegetables, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom of the pot, until the vegetables start to colour, 8 to 10 minutes.
Step 3: Add tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until it darkens slightly, about 5 minutes.
Step 4: Add bay leaves, rosemary and wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced to a thick gravy consistency, 5 to 7 minutes.
Step 5: Return meat to the pot. Add broth, then cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 hours 20 minutes.
Step 6: Let roast sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes. Remove meat to a cutting board to slice. Discard bay leaves and rosemary stems. Squeeze any garlic cloves remaining in their skins into the stew and discard the skins. Serve slices of meat in shallow bowls along with the vegetables and a generous amount of cooking liquid ladled over top. — The New York Times