5 Star Chefs Share the Best Recipe They Learned From Mom

Leah Bourne
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Most us have a lot to be grateful for when it comes to our mothers, and—in the case of super-star chefs—learning to cook is high up on that list, with many crediting mom for not only teaching them the ins and outs of cooking, but also for introducing them to recipes they still swear by today.

MORE: 101 Stylish Recipes To Try Now 

In honor of Mother’s Day, top chefs Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Mario Batali, April Bloomfield, David Chang, and Georges Mendes shared their favorite dish that they learned from mom, along with how to make it.

Now get cooking, and might we suggest making one of these dishes for your own mom to thank her for the many times she’s made you dinner over the years.

Jean-Georges White Asparagus and Ham Gratin

Photo: Jean-Georges

1. Jean-Georges Vongerichten Mom’s White Asparagus and Ham Gratin 

Few chefs in the world are as famous or as revered as Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Growing up in a small town on France’s German border, his mother, he says, would often buy the area’s famed white asparagus, turning them into gratins for family dinners.

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 pounds fat white or green asparagus, peeled and tied into 6 bundles, peels reserved
Salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
6 thin slices of smoked ham, such as Virginia ham or Black Forest
1 cup shredded Comté or Gruyère cheese (1/4 pound)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350° and lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch shallow baking dish. Bring 8 cups of water to a boil in a very large, deep skillet. Add the asparagus peels and salt the water. Add the asparagus bundles to the skillet and cook over high heat until tender, about 12 minutes. Transfer the asparagus to a platter and pat dry. Strain the asparagus broth into a large glass measuring cup. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook over moderately high heat for 1 minute. Add 1 1/2 cups of the asparagus broth and cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.

Season the sauce with salt, pepper, lemon juice and nutmeg. Remove the strings from the asparagus and loosely roll a slice of ham around each bundle. Transfer the asparagus and ham bundles to the prepared baking dish and pour the sauce on top. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake the gratin in the upper third of the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling.

2. David Chang Mom’s Braised Short Ribs

Korean-American chef David Chang revolutionized the New York City restaurant scene with his now famous Momofuku. One of his mom’s favorite recipes he still swears by? That would be her short ribs.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

11/2 cups pear or apple juice
1 cup sake
1 cup mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. chopped garlic
10 garlic cloves, crushed
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil
4 to 5 lb. short ribs
Salt
2 large onions, peeled and roughly chopped
1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
8 to 12 small potatoes, preferably fingerlings, trimmed
1/2 cup chopped scallions
4 cups cooked white rice

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Make the braising liquid: In a saucepan, combine the juice, sake, mirin, sugar, soy sauce, about 20 grinds of pepper, both forms of garlic, sesame oil, and 11/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer. Put the grapeseed oil in a large ovenproof braising pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Season the ribs liberally with salt and pepper, then add them to the pan. Brown well on one side, moving them around to promote even browning. Turn, add the onions, and brown the other side, stirring occasionally.

Arrange the ribs in the pan, bone side up. Carefully pour the braising liquid on top; the ribs should be submerged in the liquid (add water or juice if necessary). Place the pan in the oven and bake uncovered for two hours. Add the carrots and potatoes to the pan. Cook two more hours, or until the meat falls from bones. Cool the ribs in the braising liquid for one hour, then remove. Strain the liquid from the meat and vegetables. At this point, the ribs and liquid can be covered and refrigerated overnight.

Remove the bones from the ribs. In a pot, combine the meat and vegetables with the braising liquid. Heat to a boil, then simmer, reducing the liquid until syrupy. If it seems too thick, thin with a bit of water. About a half hour before you are ready to serve, taste the mixture and adjust seasonings if necessary. Garnish with scallions and serve on rice.

April Bloomfield Salad Sandwich

Photo: David Loftus for A Girl & Her Greens by April Bloomfield and JJ Goode

3. April Bloomfield Mom’s Salad Sandwich

April Bloomfield, the chef behind New York City’s perpetually packed The Spotted Pig, says she grew up eating salad sandwiches in the summer made by her mom. Bloomfield’s go-to salad sandwich recipe isn’t much different from her mom’s original.

Ingredients

Sandwich

4 large eggs
1 pound tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 medium crunchy cucumber with minimal seeds, thinly sliced
12 or so rings red onion (preferably young onion)
1/2 lemon A few glugs extra-virgin olive oil
Maldon or another flaky sea salt
1/2 pound Little Gem lettuce (about 2 heads) or another crunchy lettuce, root end and floppy outer leaves discarded, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Eight 3/4-inch-thick slices
Pullman loaf white bread
A few knobs butter, at room temperature
About 8 tablespoons Salad Cream (instructions below)

Salad Cream

6 large eggs
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 very small garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon Maldon or another flaky sea salt
A small handful of tarragon leaves, roughly chopped

Directions

Fill a medium pot at least halfway with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Use a slotted spoon to gently add the eggs to the water and cook them for 7 minutes (set a timer), then run them under cold water until they’re fully cool. Lightly tap each egg against the counter to crack the shell all over, then carefully peel them. Slice them however you’d like just before you add them to the sandwich. Lay the tomato, cucumber, and onion in more or less one layer on a large platter or cutting board. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the veg, then add a good drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Flip them over and rub them gently, just to make sure they’re all seasoned. Spread each slice of bread with butter. Layer the tomato, cucumber, onion, lettuce, salad cream, and eggs on 4 slices of bread. Top with the remaining bread and give each sandwich a firm but gentle press with your palm.

To make the salad cream: Fill a medium pot at least halfway with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Use a slotted spoon to gently add the eggs to the water, cook them for 10 minutes (set a timer), then run them under cold water until they’re fully cool. Lightly tap each egg against the counter to crack the shell all over, then peel them, halve them lengthwise, and pop out the yolks. Use the back of a spoon to force the yolks through a mesh sieve into a food processor. Add the oil, cream, vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt, and 2 teaspoons water and process until very smooth and creamy. Add the tarragon and process briefly.

Mario Batali Blackberry Pie

Photo: Mario Batali

4. Mario Batali Mom’s Blackberry Pie

Mario Batali of Babbo, Del Posto, and TV cooking show fame, grew up in Seattle, and credits his mom for his love of his favorite fruit, blackberries. One of his favorite recipes growing up? That would be his mom’s famous blackberry pie.

Ingredients

Crust

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup solid vegetable shortening, chilled
5 tablespoons ice water

Filling

2 pints blackberries (1 1/2 pounds)
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Directions

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar and salt. Add the shortening and, using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut it into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the ice water and stir with a fork until the dough is moistened. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gather it into a ball. Knead the dough 2 or 3 times, just until it comes together. Divide in half; flatten each piece into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375°. Let the dough stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Working on a lightly floured surface, roll out one disk of dough to a 12-inch round. Transfer to a 9-inch glass pie plate. Roll out the remaining dough to an 11-inch round. Meanwhile, in a bowl, stir the blackberries with the sugar, flour and lemon juice, lightly mashing a few berries; scrape into the prepared pie crust and sprinkle the butter cubes on top.

Brush the overhanging pastry with water and carefully set the top crust over the berry filling. Press the edges of the dough together and trim the overhang to 1 inch. Fold the edge under itself and crimp decoratively. Cut 4 slits in the top crust. Bake the pie in the center of the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the bottom crust is golden and the fruit is bubbling. If necessary, cover the edge with foil for the last few minutes of baking. Let the pie cool for at least 4 hours before serving.

Georges Mendes Rice With Duck and Apricots

Photo: George Mendes

5. Georges Mendes Mom’s Rice With Duck and Apricots 

Georges Mendes, the chef behind New York City’s Michelin-starred Aldea, credits his mother for one of his most famous dishes.

Serves 4 to 5

Ingredients

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 plum tomato, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
Pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
1 cup arborio rice
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 confit duck legs, skinned and meat coarsely shredded
1/4 cup thinly sliced chorizo
1/4 cup sliced pitted kalamata olives
1/4 cup diced dried apricots
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderately low heat until softened, 5 minutes. Add the tomato and cook until softened, 5 minutes. Stir in the paprika and saffron. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add half of the broth and gently simmer until absorbed, 8 minutes. Stir in the duck, chorizo, olives and apricots and season with salt and pepper. Add the remaining broth and bring to a boil. Bake the skillet uncovered until the rice absorbs the liquid and is tender, 16 minutes.

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