Melissa Clark on how to create the perfect recipe

Melissa ClarkPopular food writer Melissa Clark is no stranger to recipe development. She creates recipes for her column in The New York Times and other publications, plus she’s written or co-written nearly 40 cookbooks. In a recent interview with The Cut, she explains her process for creating the perfect recipe

The first step involves inspiration. Clark says she she sometimes begins with a thought like, “Oh, wouldn’t it be fun to add pancetta to gougères?” She’ll think about the ways that adding bacon to cheese puffs might make it more delicious, asking questions such as, “do you stuff bacon in the middle, do you chop it up really finely, or do you use bacon fat instead of some of the butter?”

Once the idea is firmly in place, the hard labor begins. Clark says she relies heavily on her recipe tester, although she also pitches in to make and re-make the dish. She admits that she rarely gets something right on the first try, and that the recipe usually requires tweaking along the way. Clark says that she averages four tests per recipe, and that she writes about 65 recipes per year for the newspaper column.

When she goes to restaurants, Clark likes to choose the dish that seems least likely to be successful, theorizing that if the dish works, she will learn more from that than by ordering a more traditional menu item. As for her favorite food indulgences, Clark admits to liking a decidedly non-gourmet food. “I really do love Cheetos, like really badly,” she says.

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  • sgump  on  October 18, 2017

    (I have to agree with Clark regarding the Cheetos. And openly admitting the obsession feels a bit like public penance!)

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