Milk Street: The World in a Skillet


By Christopher Kimball

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125 easy one-pot meals that reveal the world of flavorful possibilities inside a simple skillet—America's most common cooking tool—from the James Beard Award-winning team at Milk Street.

From a wok to a clay pot, every cuisine has a ubiquitous pot or pan that can cook just about anything. In the United States, the most common pan is a simple 12-inch skillet. Here you’ll find 125 recipes that will transform and expand the way you use this versatile piece of cookware.
To liberate the skillet from commonplace fare, we share what we’ve learned from our travels and from cooks in more than 35 countries. We drew inspiration from the East African islands of Mauritius and Réunion for Shrimp Rougaille, based on a Creole tomato sauce that reflects European and Indian influences. And in India, a wok-like vessel called a kadai or karahi is common. We use a skillet instead to make Chicken Curry with Tomatoes and Bell Peppers.
The skillet also is a good choice for the stir-fried Sichuan classic Spicy Glass Noodles with Ground Pork, fragrant Vietnamese-Style Lemon Grass Tofu, and Mexican-Style Cauliflower Rice. You can even use it to make Three-Cheese Pasta, Skillet-Roasted Peruvian-style Chicken, and Pizza with Fennel Salami and Red Onion.

To make it easy to find the recipe you need, we organized chapters by cooking times (an hour or less, 45 minutes, and under 30 minutes) as well as sections for side dishes, pastas, grains, stir-fries, pan roasts, and skillet-griddled sandwiches. And because the cooking is limited to one pan, the techniques are straightforward and the clean-up is easy.
Great cooking is rarely about which pan you put on your stove. It’s about what you put inside it. Push those limits, and find a new world in your kitchen.


Done in One


Chicken Curry with Tomatoes and Bell Peppers

START TO FINISH 50 minutes


This curry is commonly referred to as kadai chicken after the cooking vessel in which it customarily is cooked. In the Indian kitchen, a kadai (also known as karahi), is a deep skillet with sloping sides, much like a wok. We use a 12-inch skillet; its wide surface area allows for quick evaporation of liquid and concentration of flavors. This is a simplified version of a recipe taught to us by cooking instructor Shivani Unakar at APB Cook Studio cooking school in Mumbai. Kashmiri chili powder—which has a fine texture and mild spiciness—lends the curry a deep, rust-red hue. It’s sold in spice shops and Indian markets; taste yours for spiciness and add the smaller or larger amount based on your personal preference. If you cannot find Kashmiri chili, sweet paprika (for best color, make sure it’s fresh) plus a little cayenne for heat are a decent substitute.

Don’t add all of the bell peppers to the skillet in the second step. Sauté only half of them, then remove them from the pan when lightly charred but still crisp; they’re added back to the curry at the end to add freshness and texture. The remainder is simmered into the mix so their textures and flavor soften.

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

1½ to 2 tablespoons Kashmiri chili powder (see headnote) or 2 tablespoons sweet paprika plus ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon garam masala

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

3 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided

2 medium bell peppers, preferably 1 red and 1 green, stemmed, seeded and chopped

2 tablespoons cumin seeds

1 medium red onion, chopped

4 medium garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

14½-ounce can crushed tomatoes

¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

In a medium bowl, mix together the chicken, chili powder, garam masala and 1 teaspoon each salt and black pepper; set aside. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon oil until barely smoking. Add half of the bell peppers and cook, stirring just once or twice, until lightly charred, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl; set aside.

To the same skillet over medium-high, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and the cumin seeds. Cook, stirring often, until the seeds are fragrant and sizzling, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining bell peppers and the onion; cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and chicken mixture. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce to medium, cover and cook, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat to maintain a gentle but steady simmer, until a skewer inserted into the chicken meets just a little resistance, 10 to 15 minutes.

Uncover, increase to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is lightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in the reserved bell peppers and the cilantro. Taste and season with salt and black pepper.

Pork in Veracruz Sauce (Puntas a la Veracruzana)

START TO FINISH 50 minutes


Adriana Luna, who runs La Cocina de Mi Mamá in Mexico City, showed us how to make puntas a la Veracruzana, a dish of sliced pork in garlicky tomato sauce that, to us, tasted both new and familiar. The term “puntas,” which translates from the Spanish as “tips,” refers to small pieces of meat; “a la Veracruzana” means in the style of Veracruz—that is, prepared with tomato, garlic, olives and capers. The sauce reflects the culinary influence of the Spanish, who arrived in 1519 in what is now the coastal state of Veracruz, on Mexican cuisine. Whereas “a la Veracruzana” typically is applied to fish, Luna used thin slices of pork loin to a delicious result—the mild, lean meat finds a perfect partner in the punchy, tangy-sweet sauce. We adapted her recipe, making it a simpler one-pan affair, but in the spirit of her dish, we use chopped fresh tomatoes, a healthy amount of garlic and finish the puntas with a good dose of parsley. Serve with charred tortillas or with rice and beans, and, if you like, offer pickled jalapeños on the side.

Don’t slice the pork thicker than ¼ inch or the pieces will be quite chewy when cooked. If you like, for easier slicing, freeze the chops until partially frozen so the knife glides through the meat. Also, when cooking the tomato sauce, simmer it down to a very thick consistency, as the accumulated juices from the pork will thin it out.

1 pound boneless pork loin chops (about 1 inch thick), sliced no thicker than ¼ inch on the diagonal

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

3 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil

12 medium garlic cloves, peeled and chopped (about ¼ cup)

½ medium white onion, finely chopped

1½ pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped

3 bay leaves

2 jalapeño chilies, stemmed, seeded and chopped

⅓ cup pimento-stuffed green olives, chopped

2 tablespoons drained capers

1 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Toss the pork with salt and pepper. In a 12-inch skillet over high, heat the oil until barely smoking. Add the pork in an even layer and cook without stirring until well browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the pork to a plate and set aside.

To the fat remaining in the skillet, add the garlic and stir off heat. Set the pan over medium and cook, stirring often, until the garlic is lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes; adjust the heat as needed if the garlic sizzles too vigorously. Add the onion, ¼ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper, then cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, bay and jalapeños. Increase to medium-high and bring to a boil, then cover, reduce to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are fully softened, about 8 minutes.

Uncover, increase to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the moisture has evaporated and the sauce is thick, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the olives and the pork with accumulated juices. Cook, stirring often, until the pork is no longer pink at the center, 1 to 3 minutes.

Off heat, remove and discard the bay, then stir in the capers and parsley. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a serving dish.

Italian Summer Vegetable Stew

START TO FINISH 50 minutes


The southern Italian vegetable stew known as ciambotta or cianfotta often is likened to Provençal ratatouille, but it sometimes contains potatoes, which give the dish a little more heft. We use a 12-inch skillet to make the stew; its wide surface area means that cooking happens more quickly than if the vegetables were piled on top of each other in a pot, resulting in fresher, brighter flavors, textures and colors. Serve warm or at room temperature as a side to grilled or roasted chicken, lamb, beef or fish. Or offer it finished with pecorino or Parmesan as a light vegetarian main with crusty bread alongside.

Don’t worry about the vegetable mixture appearing dry when the ingredients are first added to the sautéed aromatics. Covered cooking will get them to soften and release their juices, which form a light, flavorful sauce.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 medium celery stalks, sliced

3 medium garlic cloves, minced

3 ripe plum tomatoes (about 12 ounces), cored and chopped

1 small Italian eggplant (about 8 ounces), trimmed and cut into ½-inch cubes

1 medium zucchini (about 8 ounces), trimmed and cut into ½-inch cubes

8 ounces Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, cut into ½-inch cubes

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

¼ to ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 cup lightly packed fresh basil, shredded

In a 12-inch skillet over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion, celery and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, potatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper and the pepper flakes. Stir to combine, then cover, reduce to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly saucy and a skewer inserted into the potatoes meets no resistance, 30 to 35 minutes.

Off heat, stir in the basil, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve drizzled with additional oil.

Moroccan Meatball Tagine



The term “tagine” refers to a Moroccan shallow earthenware cooking vessel with a conical lid as well as the stewy dishes prepared in the pot. To make this tagine of tender, warmly spiced meatballs simmered in a thick tomato sauce—a much-simplified version of a dish we tasted in Marrakech—we use a 12-inch skillet with a lid and we bring the pan directly to the table for serving. Ras el hanout is a fragrant Moroccan spice blend that may include more than a dozen different ingredients; it’s an easy way to add complex North African flavors to your cooking. Look for ras el hanout in well-stocked supermarkets, Middle Eastern grocery stores or spice shops. If it’s not available, use 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1½ teaspoons ground coriander and ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon to achieve a similar warm, savory spiciness.

Don’t skip the step of allowing the panko to soften and hydrate for about 5 minutes after mixing in the water. The softened panko can then be mashed to a smooth paste that will combine easily with the beef.

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

6 medium garlic cloves, minced

5 teaspoons ras el hanout (see headnote)

1 bunch cilantro, stems minced, leaves roughly chopped, reserved separately

⅓ cup panko breadcrumbs

28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 pound 90 percent lean ground beef

⅓ cup pimento-stuffed green olives, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

In a 12-inch skillet over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ras el hanout and cilantro stems; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat.

Measure ½ cup of the onion mixture into a medium bowl. Add the panko and ¼ cup water; stir to combine, then let stand until the panko hydrates and softens, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, return the skillet to medium, add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Cover and set aside off heat while you form the meatballs.

Using your hands, mash the panko mixture to a smooth paste. Add the beef, ¾ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper; mix thoroughly with your hands. Divide the mixture into 12 portions and form each into a ball.

Return the sauce to a simmer over medium. Add the meatballs and turn to coat with sauce. Cover and cook at a gentle simmer, stirring and turning the meatballs about every 5 minutes, until the centers of the meatballs reach 160°F and the sauce is lightly thickened, 10 to 12 minutes.

Off heat, taste and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the olives, lemon zest and cilantro leaves and serve directly from the skillet.

Green Chutney Braised Chicken

START TO FINISH 50 minutes


When many of us think “chutney,” savory-sweet, jam-like mango chutney usually is what comes to mind. But in the Indian kitchen, the variety of chutneys is vast. In this skillet-cooked braise, homemade green chutney provides a jolt of spicy, fresh, herbal flavor for lean, mild chicken breasts. The blender does the heavy lifting—we use it to blitz cilantro, mint, green chilies, garlic and ginger to a smooth puree. We also blend nuts into the chutney; not only do they add rich flavor, they also lend creaminess. Roasted cashews or peanuts work best, as they turn smooth when pureed. Salted or unsalted doesn’t make much difference, as you’ll need to taste and adjust the seasoning at the end of cooking anyway. Enjoy this with basmati rice or with warm naan for sopping up the delicious chutney-based sauce.

Don’t forget to remove the skin from the chicken breasts. If left on, the skin turns soggy and flabby with cooking and also renders a bit of unwanted fat into the sauce. Be sure to soak the nuts in the water for at least 10 minutes before blending. This ensures the chutney has a smooth, creamy texture.

¼ cup roasted cashews or peanuts (see headnote)

⅓ cup warm water

2 cups lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus ¼ cup lightly packed cilantro leaves, divided

½ cup lightly packed fresh mint

3 serrano chilies, stemmed and seeded

5 medium garlic cloves, 2 smashed and peeled, 3 minced

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger, divided

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 tablespoons coconut oil or neutral oil

1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced

1 medium red or orange bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped

Three 12- to 14-ounce bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, trimmed, skin removed and discarded, halved crosswise

To make the chutney, in a blender, combine the nuts and water; let stand to soften slightly, about 10 minutes. Add the 2 cups cilantro, the mint, chilies, the smashed garlic, 1 tablespoon ginger, the lemon juice and ¼ teaspoon salt. Blend until smooth, scraping the blender jar as needed, 1 to 2 minutes; set aside.

In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until barely smoking. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt; cook, stirring often, until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the bell pepper, the minced garlic and the remaining 1 tablespoon ginger, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add half of the chutney and ¾ cup water; bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits, then nestle the chicken into the sauce. Cover, reduce to medium-low and cook, occasionally stirring and flipping the chicken, until the center of the thickest piece reaches 160°F, 15 to 20 minutes.

Stir in the remaining chutney and cook over medium-low, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Off heat, taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with cilantro leaves.

Potato, Celery Root and Smoked Trout Hash

START TO FINISH 50 minutes


Inspired by Swedish pyttipanna, or hash made with leftover meat and potatoes, we devised this one-skillet meal loaded with earthiness from root vegetables, savoriness from smoked trout and freshness from tender green herbs. To jump-start the cooking process, we microwave diced potatoes until tender, then add them to onion and celery root that have been lightly browned in butter. Another 10 minutes gets the potatoes nicely browned, then fiery horseradish and flaked smoked trout are folded in. Serve the hash topped with a fried or poached runny-yolked egg, or offer some lingonberry preserves alongside.

Don’t stir the hash too often once the potatoes are added to the skillet. Infrequent stirring encourages browning and crisping, making for a better-looking, better-tasting hash.

1 pound red potatoes, unpeeled, cut into ½-inch cubes

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

4 tablespoons salted butter

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

6 ounces celery root, peeled and shredded on the large holes of a box grater (about 2 cups)

8 ounces smoked trout, skin removed and broken into flakes

1 to 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish (see headnote)

½ cup lightly packed fresh dill, chopped

¼ cup chopped chives

In a large microwave-safe bowl, toss the potatoes with ½ teaspoon salt. Cover and microwave on high until tender, about 5 minutes, stirring once about halfway through. Pour off and discard any water in the bowl.

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, melt the butter. Add the onion, celery root and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally to start, then more often once the vegetables begin to release their moisture, until the vegetables are softened and lightly browned, 7 to 9 minutes; after the moisture has evaporated, reduce the heat slightly if the vegetables are browning too quickly.

Add the potatoes and cook over medium-high, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat if needed to slow the browning, until the mixture is crisped and well browned, 8 to 11 minutes. Fold in the trout and horseradish; cook, stirring occasionally, until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Off heat, stir in the dill and chives. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Chicken Tagine with Artichokes, Olives and Lemon

START TO FINISH 50 minutes


Fresh artichokes are highly seasonal and require time and patience to prep, so instead we use frozen artichoke hearts so this braise comes together easily. Saffron lends a golden hue and its inimitable flavor to the braise, complemented by the warmth of coriander and ground ginger. To be efficient, prep the artichokes, cilantro, olives and lemon juice while the chicken simmers.

Don’t use the leek without rinsing it to wash away any grit trapped in the layers. It’s best to slice the leek first, put it into a colander and flush it under running water. Drain it well to remove excess moisture.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large leek, white and light green parts quartered lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise, rinsed and drained

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 medium garlic cloves, finely grated

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon saffron threads


  • "Kitchen adventures beckon in this expansive and appetizing collection."—Publisher's Weekly
  • "Not long ago, Milk Street magazine was a scrappy startup; today the franchise sprawls like a gastronomic version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Every few months another cookbook tumbles forth from the Milk Street recipe database: Do you need another? I’d argue yes. If you, like me, routinely ax recipes that use one pan too many for a weeknight, this book is a godsend. Cook the pasta right in there with the pancetta, chard and beans. Forget about layering phyllo, just crumple it on top for “skillet spanakopita.” In other words, Christopher Kimball gleefully breaks rules in the name of simplification."—T. Susan Chang, NPR

On Sale
Apr 26, 2022
Page Count
304 pages

Christopher Kimball

About the Author

Christopher Kimball's Milk Street is located at 177 Milk Street in downtown Boston and is dedicated to changing the way America cooks with new flavor combinations and techniques learned around the world. Milk Street is home to Milk Street TV, a three-time Emmy Award winning public television show, a James Beard Award-winning bimonthly magazine, an award-winning radio show/podcast, a cooking school, and an online retail store with over 1,500 kitchen tools and ingredients. Milk Street is the author of 10 cookbooks, including "Cookish," "Vegetables," and the James Beard winning "Milk Street: Tuesday Nights." Milk Street also invests in non-profit outreach, partnering with FoodCorp, Big Sister Association of Greater Boston and the Boys & Girls club of Dorchester. 

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