13 August 2009

60-Minute Gourmet

I know you’ve heard this before, but really, 60-Minute Gourmet is one of my favorite cookbooks. It was one of my first cookbooks. I have cooked numerous recipes and go back to it again and again. My first copy of the book was “cooked” to bits.

Technically, the cookbook is entitled: The New York Times 60-Minute Gourmet. The book began as a series in the New York Times. The esteemed food writer, Craig Claiborne, wrote in the Times that there was only one restaurant that lived up to the elegance taught at the Hotel School in Switzerland, Le Pavillion. It was shocking to all those New Yorkers who felt they were the cradle of culinary civilization. To accompany this article, Claiborne went to meet the chef, Pierre Franey.

As The New York Times expanded their “living” section, they hired Pierre Franey to develop a series of gourmet recipe that could be completed within an hour. The series was so popular, it spawned a book which, no big surprise, was a New York Times best-seller. After being out of print for many years, it was re-issued in 2000, 4 years after Franey died.

This recipe is a summer staple. I don’t just make this recipe, I multiply it four-fold.

Poulet aux Nouilles Froides Façon de Virginia Lee
(Virginia Lee’s chicken and cold noodles with spicy sauce)

1 large chicken breast
6 ounces egg noodles
1/4 cup sesame paste
3 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons hot chili oil, optional
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 cup peanut or corn oil
2 tablespoons chopped garlic

1. bring about 6 cups of water to the boil and add the breast. Do not add salt. When the water returns to the boil, simmer about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the breast but save the broth.
2. Bring the broth to the boil and add the noodles. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and run under cold water until chilled. Drain thoroughly and add to a mixing bowl. Add the teaspoon of sesame oil and toss.
3. cutting with a knife or using fingers, cut or pull the chicken into fine shreds.
4. Add the sesame paste to a bowl, add the water, stirring. Add the chili oil, soy sauce, wine vinegar, the tablespoon sesame oil, peanut oil, and garlic.
5. Arrange the noodles on a serving dish. Cover with the chicken and spoon the sauce over.

First, let me just say the chili oil is NOT optional. Secondly, the dish is greatly improved with the addition of chopped scallions. Give this a try in the hot weather and you will be pleasantly surprised.


  1. Lucinda, this book is one of my favorites as well. I have this list in my head "desert island cookbooks" and this is one of 5 that I would take with me (to that island with a fully stocked grocery). The Balsamic Chicken recipe is a staple and often requested.

    Do you have Bruce Aidell's "The Meat Cookbook?" That is on the list too.


  2. Don't have the Bruce Aidell. My other favorite om 60-Minute Gourmet is the "Poulet Bonne Femme"


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