Lucinda Scala Quinn: The Key 3

Micah Taylor

Lucinda Scala Quinn is a chef and executive director of food and entertaining at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia who appears on Mad Hungry. She is the author of several cookbooks, including Mad Hungry Cravings.

Here are Lucinda's Key 3, as told to Lynne:

I'm first and foremost the voice of the home cook. What do we use all the time? We have to have a rotation on our table of dishes the family is going to love. 

1. Old-School Meatloaf

This recipe was one of the five meals my mom had in her heavy weeknight rotation to feed our family of six. I loved the way she made three holes in the loaf and filled each one with a reservoir of spicy ketchup, so each bite had a touch of it. Little details like a pool of ketchup create a memorable dinner experience for a little kid -- never to be forgotten. 

I grate the onions to avoid unpleasantly large chunks in the meat loaf; use a box grater and they'll melt into the meat mixture as it cooks. Grated carrots help keep the loaf moist.

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs 
  • 1/3 cup whole milk 
  • 2 pounds ground beef chuck 
  • 1/4 cup grated onion 
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated 
  • 1 large egg 
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup Chili Sauce (recipe follows) or regular bottled chili sauce
Procedure
Raw meatloaf

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F with a rack in the middle position. In a large bowl, soak the bread crumbs in the milk for 5 minutes.

2. Add the beef, onions, carrots, egg, salt, and pepper to the bread crumb mixture. Mix gently.

3. Shape the meat mixture into a loaf and put it in an 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pan. Make 3 holes, evenly spaced lengthwise, in the meat loaf and fill them to the top with the sauce. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Pour any accumulated juices over the top of the meat loaf. Slice and serve with the remaining chili sauce on the side. 

Chili Sauce
Makes 3/4 cup

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon chili paste, such as sambal oelek 
  • 1/4 cup sweet pickle relish 
Procedure

1. Mix the ingredients together in a small bowl. 

(From Lucinda's 2013 book Mad Hungry Cravings)


How many times have I made roast chicken over the years? Thousands. How many ways? Too many to count, but every couple of years, I change my technique. Speed has become more and more of a concern--getting the food out fast to a horde of ravenous males. One day, in a rush, we simply cut the backbone out and laid the whole bird flat, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and cooked it in under an hour. Gone is the problem of the breast cooking before the rest; all the pieces cook evenly. If you wish, finish with a sauce poured over after cooking, which tastes tangy and delicious over the crisp skin. An ovenproof 14-inch skillet, preferably cast-iron, makes for an easy job. 

Ingredients
  • 1 whole chicken, 3 to 4 pounds, backbone removed 
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional) 
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled (optional)
Procedure

Roasting pan method: Follow Step 1, then place the chicken in a large, shallow roasting pan, skin side up, and put in the oven. Proceed to Step 3 and complete. 

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Using kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone to remove. Reserve it for broth. Open the chicken's legs and spread the bird down flat, skin side up. Press down firmly on the breastbone to flatten it. Pat it dry with paper towels. Salt and pepper generously on both sides.

2. Heat a large ovenproof skillet such as cast iron on high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter. Immediately add the chicken, skin side down. Allow to brown (without moving) for 3 minutes. Turn the chicken over, careful not to break the skin, and transfer the skillet to the oven.

3. The chicken is done when it is golden brown and cooked through, 40 to 45 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part, not touching bone, should read 165°F. Remove the chicken to a cutting board to rest for 10 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and the remaining tablespoon of butter to the pan drippings and swirl around.

4. Meanwhile, if you want to make the lemon sauce, whisk together the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, the red pepper flakes, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Cut the chicken into pieces, drizzle with the pan sauce and the optional fresh lemon sauce, and serve immediately. 

(From Lucinda's 2009 book Mad Hungry)


Whenever I'm cutting up whole chickens at home, I reserve the back and wing tips, put them in a resealable bag in the freezer, and use my stockpile the next time I make this delicious homemade broth. To add even more nutrients, or for recipes with an Asian theme, add a 3-inch piece of ginger, sliced, and 2 spicy chili peppers with the other ingredients. 

Ingredients
  • 2 chicken backs, necks, and wing tips 
  • 6 chicken thighs 
  • 1 large yellow onion, quartered 
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled 
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped 
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
Procedure

1. Combine all the ingredients in a stockpot and add cold water to barely cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour, skimming and discarding the foam as it rises to the surface. Strain the broth into another pot (the cooked chicken meat can be used in a salad). Simmer to reduce to 8 cups, which will concentrate the flavor.

2. To store, cool completely and seal in plastic freezer containers. The broth will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or in the freezer for up to 6 weeks. 

(From Lucinda's 2013 book Mad Hungry Cravings)

The Key 3 is a series of discussions with great cooks (not just professional chefs) about the three recipes or techniques they think everyone should know.

Featured recipe

Top Recipes

Featured recipe