Blog Posts by Esquire.com

  • What Type of BBQ Charcoal Should You Use?

    by Jim Shahin

    Charcoal Lately, you may have noticed commercials for high-end charcoal. "Lump," it's called. Not a very high-end name, but hardwood lump charcoal has become big business. It used to be most everybody used briquettes - those hard, black, uniformly pillow-shaped blocks that you empty from a Kingsford Sure Fire blue bag.But as barbecue competitions and grilling shows have grown in popularity, so, too, has the fetishization of charcoal. And it turns out the differences might mean more than you think.

    What exactly is charcoal?

    All charcoal is basically carbon. It's made by heating wood in an oxygen-starved process that burns off compounds like water, tar, hydrogen, and methane. What's left is coal.

    DRINK THIS, NOT THAT: The Healthiest Beers in America > >

    A brief history of charcoal
    A Pennsylvanian named Ellsworth Zwoyer patented the design for charcoal briquettes in 1897. Henry Ford popularized them in the 1920s, when he created the nuggets from wood scraps at his factory.

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  • The Best Bars in America 2012

    It's another addition to our catalog of the best places to have a drink in America. As always, the project is guided by David Wondrich: Esquire's drinks correspondent, the world's foremost cocktail historian, and the best drinking partner anyone has ever had. So, here's the list.



  • Top 10 Unhealthiest Items at McDonald's

    A McDonald's












    For all the criticisms lobbed against it, McDonald's is certainly good for some things. (Oatmeal, maybe. Fries, definitely. Cheap coffee, sure.) And yet it's hard to picture any of its proponents describing McDonald's as healthy. That is, until just recently, when the "senior director of culinary innovation" for the chain said, "I don't see anything on the menu that's unhealthy." Look, chef Daniel Coudreaut, I had one of those McFlurry things just the other day, but I think we can all agree there are some items at the Golden Arches that are not necessarily in our bodies' best interest. So as a sort of public service, we've rounded up the ten highest-calorie offerings among popular McDonald's orders, for your perusal below. Not because you shouldn't necessarily eat them from time to time, but because you might want to know about them. You might be surprised to find that the leader of the pack is actually a drink.

    DRINK THIS, NOT THAT: The Healthiest Beers in America

    1.

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  • 10 New Secrets for Summer Grilling

    Esquire's annual grilling awards highlight the ultimate supermarket staples of 2012, plus tricks and tips for throwing (or just enjoying) your best BBQ ever.


    The Hot Dog (Fancy): Hartmann's Beef Wieners Hot dog Hot dog

    Ball Park, Nathan's, Hebrew National - all solid summer cookout choices, guaranteed to hit the spot when given a deep char and topped with a wide stripe of ketchup. But those dogs are not handmade by an Austrian master sausage-maker. Nor do they contain beef that's been lovingly hand-stuffed into natural lamb casings, free of any artificial ingredients. Nor are they gently smoked over hardwood imported from the forests of Austria. But you know what is? Hartmann's Beef Wieners. They're a cut above the rest, with a rich beefy taste, a touch of smoke, and a great snap. And despite their decidedly Teutonic name, I can assure you that they're made right here in the U.S.A. -Elizabeth Gunnison

    About $10 per 1-lb package at Wegmans or hartmannssausage.com

    MORE TRICKS: 8 Things No

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  • How to Make a Crab Sandwich

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    By Chef Spike Gjerde, as told to Francine Maroukian

    TOP CHEF SURVEY: The Best Fast Food in America

    You can tell someone isn't from the Chesapeake region if they say "soft-shell crab." In Baltimore, they're "soft crabs," and we have them in abundance. But that doesn't mean we take them for granted, and I always celebrate their seasonal return with a big sandwich, humble and indulgent at the same time.

    Getting soft crabs to market takes a waterman's art and experience. As the water warms up, the dormant crabs get the signal to move, and as they do they molt their shell, like a snake shedding its skin. That's what creates the window: The waterman must catch and then hold the molting hard crabs in tanks until they lose their shell, and then pack the soft crabs under wet newspaper before the shell hardens again. Like oysters, clams, and lobster, soft crabs must be alive when you buy them. When lifted, the crab should still move a bit rather than limply hang. Buy the softest crab

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  • How to Make Better Store-Bought Pasta

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    By Elizabeth Gunnison

    Not so long ago in Esquire, Nick Anderer of New York City's Maialino talked about the critical role that pasta cookery plays in achieving an exceptional pork Bolognese. And here's the thing, to speak more broadly: Most of you are cooking your pasta wrong. Dead-wrong. You may not realize it, but it's true. And this greatly decreases the deliciousness of any given pasta dish, whether you're attempting a from-scratch sauce like that aforementioned Bolognese or simply heating and eating something from a jar.

    EASY RECIPES: The Perfect At-Home Bolognese

    Expanding on Anderer's spaghetti-cooking dictum, here's a brief primer on very easy ways to get the most from store-bought pasta, which is what people are generally cooking in their home kitchens on a given night. They will greatly enhance said kitchen output.

    First, buy good pasta. The texture and flavor of dried pastas vary significantly from brand to brand, and it's really worth getting the

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  • The James Beard Awards Predictions

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    By John Mariani

    As the 2012 James Beard Restaurant Awards (on May 4 and 7) approach, here's my third annual handicapping of who I think will win and why.

    It's a good year overall for newcomer nominees - chefs who, under the awards' guidelines, "have set new or consistent standards of excellence in their respective regions. Each candidate may be employed by any kind of dining establishment and must have been a working chef for at least the past five years. The three most recent years must have been spent in the region where the chef is presently working."

    TOP CHEF SURVEY: The Best Fast Food in America

    The regional awards are the toughest to predict because, quite frankly, so few in so many regions are known at all outside their respective cities. In the national categories, like Restaurant of the Year and Outstanding Pastry Chef, the nominees are supposed to be "national standard-bearers," which of course favors chefs in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San

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  • Steak, the Ted Allen Way

    Grilled Skirt SteakGrilled Skirt Steak
    Next month,
    Esquire contributing editor Ted Allen will release a cookbook of recipes for people who don't mind spending a lot of time in the kitchen. They're involved and challenging, and sometimes require a trip to the specialty grocery store. But a lot of them also sound delicious. Here, one of our favorites.

    EXTREME GRILLING: 8 Chef Recipes to Upgrade Your Cookout

    Grilled Skirt Steak with Roasted Jalapeno Chimichurri

    People who haven't worked a lot with jalapenos, Scotch bonnets, anchos, guajillos, and poblanos might not realize that these different spicy chiles also have pronounced and unique flavors - or that those flavors change when the peppers are roasted or grilled. Here, the grassy-herbal jalapeno picks up a bittersweet char on the grill and still lends its familiar kick to this variation on garlicky South American chimichurri sauce. And there's no better cut for this recipe than juicy, chewy-in-the-best-way skirt steak, grilled just to medium-rare.

    BEEF BUYING

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  • How to Pull Off Bolognese Sauce

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    By Francine Maroukian

    Bolognese is the essential meat sauce of Emilia-Romagna's rich food culture, and nothing stops the people of that region from eating it year-round. But it's also a sensible between-seasons dish while we wait for the markets to fill with spring's early greens. A good Bolognese is vibrant enough to wake us from the hibernating foods of winter and satisfying enough to bridge that unpredictable gap when the weather isn't quite as warm as we think it is.

    As complex as the flavor is, this Bolognese is a straightforward, short-simmered sauce. The most important moment comes cooking the pasta itself, a single step that can make the dish great or just okay. Executing this step properly will allow the spaghetti's starch to flow into the sauce and the sauce to flow into the spaghetti: It's osmosis, and it's the way spaghetti Bolognese is supposed to taste.

    TOP CHEF SURVEY: The Best Fast Food in America

    PORK BOLOGNESE

    Chef Nick Anderer, Maialino, New York

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  • Why We Cheat

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    By Lisa Taddeo

    FOR THE BEDROOM: 10 Ways to Have Better Sex, According to Science


    I don't think my late parents cheated on one another, but I can't ask them anymore, can't say, But come tell me now this time for real, now that I'm old enough.

    As far as I know, they didn't cheat. As far as I know, my mother never cried in a car on the way to her favorite restaurant, like a friend of a friend's mother, who I call the Lorax.

    The Lorax's husband told her to get dressed up and pick out the place she wanted to go to, when he had not done so in months, and she spent her fifty-six-year-old day preparing her face, creaming her body, hooking a bra, and doing that thing that women do, touching a part of ourselves we imagine being touched later by a man.

    In the car on the way to the favorite restaurant, the Tom Waits song "Shiver Me Timbers" came on.

    "I'm leavin' my family / I'm leavin' all my friends / My body's at home / But my heart's in the wind."

    Her husband said, Turn

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