Flex your cooking skills with whatever you have.

By Alison Fox
Updated May 29, 2020
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While going out to dinner is currently not an option, attempting to turn your kitchen into the hottest restaurant in town has become a rising trend. But even though trying new recipes can be a fun way to spend time in quarantine, venturing out for different ingredients has become increasingly harder as many in the U.S. have been told to stay in.

Marc Forgione
Astrid Stawiarz/Stringer via Getty

That’s where Chef Marc Forgione comes in. An "Iron Chef" winner and star of the New York City food scene, — with a restaurant aptly named, Marc Forgione — the culinary pro knows how to turn pantry staples into delicious dishes.

“Everybody is kind of turning dinner into an event at home because it's something to do,” Forgione told Travel + Leisure recently. “Go into your pantry and see what you have — master something you maybe couldn't master [before] with pantry ingredients.”

His suggestion? Spaghetti carbonara.

“It’s bacon, Parmesan cheese and spaghetti. Most of those things are things people have in their pantry,” he told us, encouraging kitchen newbies to get adventurous with what they already have. “Your spice rack is some of the most fun — I had to blow the dust off some of the stuff that was in there.”

As for what Forgione has been cooking up for himself, the chef told T+L that he made pork tenderloin on Easter complete with a whiskey glaze made from brown sugar (chef’s tip: soften it by breaking it up and heating it) and the whiskey he found in his own pantry, “which everybody should have in this crisis,” he joked.

“Now we have hours to sit down and breathe and people are using that to cook,” he said. “There's something about dinner that makes you feel good.”

But spending time cooking at home isn’t possible for everyone, especially healthcare workers who are clocking long hours as hospitals are overwhelmed by coronavirus patients. So to help, Forgione teamed up with the Taste Of Tribeca — a culinary festival that's put their efforts towards COVID-19 relief — to cook for hospital workers during the pandemic.

As part of the initiative, Forgione regularly gets assigned a hospital and told how many people to cook for (155 one day last week, for example) and gets to work. Recently, one of his deliveries was a spread of spiced, slow-roasted chicken with farm fresh carrots, green garlic chimichurri, young roasted potatoes, and broccolini.

“At the end of the day I'm a chef and I cook food… I’m shopping at the Union Square Greenmarket... really farm fresh, nutritious and delicious meals,” he said. “For me and my soul, it just feels great. They need it and they're working hard. We all get stuck in our Internet and TV’s and binge watching, and we all need to do that... but these people are out there putting themselves in harm's way and working really hard.”

Forgione also started a GoFundMe page to help pay his own restaurant staff after he had to shut the doors.

But for anyone who is staying home, Forgione suggests experimenting in the kitchen, and lucky for us he shared some recipes to try for ourselves.

Whisky-glazed ham or pork loin

Ingredients:

- 4 to 6 pound boneless fully cooked smoked ham or boneless pork loin

- Kosher salt

- Black pepper

- 1/3 cup light brown sugar

- 1/3 cup whisky

- 1 tablespoon orange zest

- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Steps:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees

2. Score the pork and season with salt and pepper

3. Bake ham or pork loin on a roasting pan or tray with a rack until the meat reaches 120

degrees when a meat thermometer is stuck in the thickest part

4. While the pork is baking, simmer the other in a small pot for 10 minutes and set aside

5. Turn the oven temperature up to 375 degrees and glaze the pork with the sauce every

10 minutes until it is 140 degrees in the thickest part

6. Remove the pork from rack and pour any juices left in the roasting pan into a small pot

and combine with any remaining glaze. Simmer while the pork rests. This is now your

sauce

7. Allow the pork to rest for at least 20 minutes loosely wrapped in foil before serving

8. Carve at table

Potato, Bacon, and Egg Salad

Ingredients:

- ½ pound bacon

- 2 pounds baby potatoes, cooked (boil in salted water until easily pierced with a knife)

- 2 tablespoon chopped parsley

- 1 full sour or dill pickle, seeds removed, roughly chopped

- 2 tablespoon pickle juice

- 2 stalks spring/green garlic (or scallions)

- 1 hard boiled egg, shell removed

- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

- 2 tablespoon sour cream

- 3 to 4 dashes of your favorite hot sauce (depending on how spicy you like it)

- Kosher salt

- Freshly ground black pepper

Steps:

1. Slice the bacon into 1/4 “ pieces or lardons and cook until crispy. Remove and set aside

for later.

2. While the bacon is rendering, boil the baby potatoes in salted water until cooked

through (when it can be easily pierced with a knife). While potatoes are still warm/hot,

slice in half or into ¼” disks (depending on size of potatoes). Place in a large bowl.

3. Add chopped parsley, chopped pickles, and pickle juice to bowl

4. If using spring garlic, remove tough green stems. Slice white/light green part in half

lengthwise and then slice thinly crosswise. Add to bowl.

5. Using a grater (smaller holes), grate the hardboiled egg into the bowl.

6. Add reserved bacon, mustard, sour cream, and hot sauce. Season with salt and black

pepper. Mix together until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Pasta Carbonara

Ingredients:

- Pasta

- 2 tablespoon pancetta or bacon

- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

- Extra-virgin olive oil

- 2 farm fresh egg yolks, beaten

- 2 tablespoon grated pecorino cheese, plus additional

- Freshly grated black pepper (5 to 6 turns of pepper mill)

Steps:

1. Cook the pancetta or bacon in butter and a little oil until crispy in a pot or dutch oven.

Remove cooked pancetta from pot. Pour off all of the fat except for 1 tablespoon.

2. Whisk together the eggs yolks and cheese in a bowl.

3. Just before pasta is finished cooking, scoop out some pasta cooking liquid.

4. Deglaze the dutch oven with a little bit of the pasta water (scrape up all the crispy bits

on the bottom). Remove pan from heat.

5. Whisk a little bit of the pasta water into the egg/cheese mixture to temper the eggs (so

they don’t curdle). Add the hot cooked pasta to the dutch oven and working quickly,

toss the hot pasta with the egg/cheese mixture. Add in a little of the pasta cooking

water if needed to bring the sauce together and coat the noodles.

6. Mix in the cooked pancetta. Finish with some grated pecorino and more black pepper.