What are foods that taste better the longer you take to make them?
July 29, 2014 6:16 PM   Subscribe

Chocolate chip cookies. No-knead bread. Even crepes! All of these benefit from rest time (and usually 12+ hours). Are there other foods that also taste better the longer you take to make them?

One probably-not-so-secret technique to better tasting chocolate chip cookies is to chill the dough before baking (if you can manage) for 12-36 hours (as discussed, among other places, in this NYTimes article) Similarly, there's no-knead bread, where a 24-hour rise is the secret. When I researched tips for making crepes, the overnight rest came up again. What are other foods that taste better the longer you take to make them? Is there a way you can tell if a recipe can be made slower? (It seems like any time you want to work with gluten, then rest time will help.)
posted by subversiveasset to Food & Drink (42 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
There are any number of low-n-slow roasted meat recipes, is that on point? And all the overnight smoked bbq meats...
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:18 PM on July 29, 2014 [4 favorites]

pickled foods (eggs etc)
fermented foods and beverages (sauerkraut, soda, alcohol etc)
posted by herox at 6:22 PM on July 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

Most stews are better the second day.
posted by rtha at 6:23 PM on July 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Chilli and curry both taste better when made one day, chilled overnight, then reheated. So it's not the cooking time that is extended, but the rest time allows the flavours to develop.
posted by jb at 6:24 PM on July 29, 2014 [8 favorites]

Roulade. (German stuffed beef rolls.) Leaving it to simmer on the stove all afternoon makes for a glorious meal. And the leftovers are ambrosia.

Not exactly the same thing, but the recipe for Complementary Pie (I believe from "Diet for a Small Planet") tastes better after it has been in the fridge overnight and then get reheated. (Though I was leaving out the onions because I was making it largely to feed a picky toddler.) It is basically a bean-and-rice quiche recipe.
posted by Michele in California at 6:24 PM on July 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh - these raised waffles. The batter rests overnight at room temp and they are the most wonderfulest waffles in the world.
posted by hilaryjade at 6:29 PM on July 29, 2014 [10 favorites]

Lasagna. Pre-assemble and let it all marinade together overnight before baking. Leftover lasagna is also often better than just baked lasagna.
posted by raztaj at 6:29 PM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Bolognese sauce.

Many soups (leave out the noodles).
posted by jessca84 at 6:30 PM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Lasagna always seems better the next day-- better texture, favors all settled into the noodles. I just made kale salad and it's definitely better if you have time to rub in the oil and salt and let it sit.
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:31 PM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:31 PM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

pizza dough
curtido for pupusas
posted by bottlebrushtree at 6:32 PM on July 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

I asked a similar question a few years ago and got some good answers. The one I do all the time is soaking muesli or steel cut oats in yogurt or kefir overnight.
posted by moonmilk at 6:34 PM on July 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

I wish i could find the recipe, but there's pumpkin pie where you roast the pumpkin itself for 8 hours on a lowish heat overnight.
posted by asockpuppet at 6:35 PM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Chili, clam chowder, stews: all are better for long slow cooking and resting overnight.

Roasts --- beef, poultry --- should all sit for a while before carving.

Boston brown bread or cheesecake: long low baking times, followed by turning off the oven and letting them rest and cool slowly overnight as the oven cools.
posted by easily confused at 6:36 PM on July 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Potato salad.

And, not a "while" but an "after" you make it - I have this anise cookie recipe (a version of pfefferneuse) that my grandmother swore up and down that you made, then put away in an airtight container for a minimum of two weeks. Six weeks was preferred, and the longer, the better. (Six months, even!)

I've never managed to make enough at once to keep them around that long.
posted by stormyteal at 6:47 PM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Many vegetable dishes, especially Southern style. I was recently surprised that the difference between good eggplant parmigiana and outstanding eggplant parmigiana was roasting the sliced eggplant until it's beginning to brown quite nicely before assembling the dish. The best tomato sauce is also the product of a long, slow simmer. I love many vegetables raw or blanched and crunchy but old-fashioned Southern style is very time consuming. Even with ratatouille, crookneck squash, many others and anything with sautéed onions, low and slow is the way to go!
posted by Anitanola at 6:55 PM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Properly made English Christmas pudding. Hours of steaming, months of aging, hours of steaming again.
posted by Specklet at 7:04 PM on July 29, 2014 [4 favorites]

A lot of fermented things. Bread, beer, wine, cider, kraut, kimchi, various fermented condiments, pickles, cheese, etc.
posted by ssg at 7:09 PM on July 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Cornbread. Combining the cornmeal and milk (or buttermilk) before mixing with the rest of the ingredients has actually made me like cornbread. Funny enough I made cornbread tonight and I couldn't find my recipe so I was looking up recipes online to verify the basic proportions and saw that most recipes mention a 5 or 10 minute "soak" time, but I've found that 30 minutes to an hour is better. And related to a longer time, is that then preheating a cast iron skillet in a really hot oven before baking creates a great crust on the outside and a dense, moist cornbread. Lodge skillets for the win!
posted by dawg-proud at 7:11 PM on July 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Stack Cake is an Appalachian dessert that needs to sit at least overnight before it's ready for eating.
posted by notbuddha at 7:22 PM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Banana bread
posted by backwards guitar at 7:28 PM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ice Box Cake requires sitting overnight in your refrig so that the whipped cream really soaks into the wafers.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 7:50 PM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Smoked meats like ribs, brisket, etc. Especially when using a large smoker.
posted by Crystalinne at 7:53 PM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Any tomato-based soups.
posted by bluebelle at 7:54 PM on July 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Madeleines are also vastly improved if you let the batter sit in the fridge for 8-12 hours. The difference in depth of flavor is pretty big, IMO.
posted by yasaman at 8:02 PM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

I came in to suggest the same waffle recipe as hilaryjade. So good.
posted by town of cats at 8:14 PM on July 29, 2014

Kimchi, as a pickle, gets better with age and fermentation of course, but there's also the added step of carefully splitting the cabbage so it's in intact wedges and then rubbing kimchi paste between each individual leaf before wrapping it up and stuffing it in your pickling container. It's definitely better that way, instead of using large cut up pieces of cabbage and mixing, it takes much longer, and it's considered traditional.
posted by Mizu at 8:21 PM on July 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

Things like barbecued ribs or pulled pork taste better the longer you smoke them or however it is they are cooked.

Alton Brown on the Food Network notoriously seems to love recipes that involve waiting overnight or taking multiple steps so he can lecture that "your patience will be rewarded." Try watching his show.
posted by AppleTurnover at 8:36 PM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

This recipe for eggnog from my late friend Kevin is more amazing the more it ages. It get very, very smooth.

Also in the holiday vein, my dad used to make fruitcake right after Thanksgiving to serve on Christmas eve. He'd sprinkle it with booze maybe once a week (or more) and let it sit in a dark closet.
posted by zorseshoes at 8:53 PM on July 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Fried rice, you have to cook the rice the day before then chill overnight, or two to get the rice firm so you don't get fried rice paste.
posted by bartonlong at 9:09 PM on July 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Homemade Cranberry Sauce!
posted by calgirl at 9:25 PM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Chicken soup simmered all night.
posted by brujita at 9:36 PM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Dutch pea soup is always considered to be better if it's made the day before it's eaten.
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:46 PM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Christmas cake or pudding. The kind made with fruit mince and whiskey, or other alcohol.
posted by Salamander at 11:11 PM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure if this counts, because the resting period comes after you have finished baking, but... We have found that these chocolate toffee cookies are pretty good when you've just made them, but if you let them cool, and then put them in an airtight container over night, they are AMAZING the next day.

Also, slow roasted tomatoes.
posted by yankeefog at 1:42 AM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ice cream. It's better to make the base one day, refrigerate for 24 hours, and only then freeze it, after which it really should to back into the freezer for another 24 hours to firm up. You can make it all in one day, but the refrigeration deepens the flavors and also gives you the best possible texture, since the freezing process works better.

Caramelized onions, which benefit from the lowest, slowest cooking you can manage.

Homemade vanilla extract.

In the fruitcake vein, Jamaican Black Cake, which is discussed in Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking and which I am still interested in trying. It's a several-month lead time.

And as people have said above, pickles -- fermented and fridge pickles, but also canned pickles, which tend to deepen in flavor over time.

Jams and fruit sauces (anything that thickens with pectin) will be better made the day before at least, since pectin can be slow to gel properly.
posted by pie ninja at 5:31 AM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I keep one of these going all winter. Add something new every day and nobody complains. The broth will induce foodgasms after the first week.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 6:07 AM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Cheeses. Wines. Whiskey. Thought I am not sure if aging counts as making.
posted by wwax at 7:27 AM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sangria. Overnight in the fridge (though you don't add the fizzy element, if present, until right before serving.)
posted by ostro at 8:15 AM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding pizza dough. A quick googling of 'aged pizza dough' will get you scores of recipes that boast the merits of letting the dough age overnight. In NYC most pizza joints age their doughs.

Sourdough bread also falls in this category. Many breads using a decent yeast (e.g. not instant) will hold up to an extra rise and taste all the better for it, or for sitting in the fridge like icebox rolls.

And I know someone said potato salad, but I would like to specify that if you just dump cooked potatoes, eggs, grated carrot, etc. in with a bunch of mayo, you're doing yourself no favors no matter the age. The trick is to use a light vinaigrette on the still-hot, just-chopped potatoes + veg of choice and let that sit until it cools. The dressing soaks into the potatoes, you mix in eggs & mayo and you have perfection.

Collards. Cook 'em long and slow and in bacon fat or some other delicious meat grease. Even better tomorrow.
posted by carrioncomfort at 8:49 AM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh - these raised waffles. The batter rests overnight at room temp and they are the most wonderful waffles in the world.

Yes, it's very true. However, in my world, these are known as sourdough waffles. (The yeast-flour-water mixture left overnight is one way to make sourdough starter. More starter could be made, and then half saved in the fridge, for use the next time.)
posted by Rash at 9:35 AM on July 30, 2014

Pizza dough (Serious Eats explains why). Dal (lentils — chana dal is my favorite ever because it's so rich and buttery-tasting). Fruitcake (hush — good fruitcake is delicious). Pizza sauce (whole lotta garlic lightly browned in XVO until fragrant, large can whole tomatoes, lotta red pepper flakes, lotta Italian herb blend; whiz with stick blender). Muhammara. Green chili pickle.
posted by Lexica at 7:48 PM on August 2, 2014

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