As I compiled the recipes for this book, it quickly occurred to me that this is certainly my most important one to date. Not just because it’s my newest, but because it’s my most passionate. I’ve had the pleasure of bringing many facets of my life to the pages of my previous cookbooks, telling stories of my individual restaurants and the life that I’ve lived in them and through them. A handful of volumes displayed my love of outdoor cooking by working my grills overtime and bringing to life every piece of meat, fish, and vegetable imaginable with a spice rub, a sweet and spicy glaze of some sort, and, of course, the perfect char. There were flavors of the Southwest, the Mediterranean, and even a book focused on the greatest American meal of all time: Burgers, Fries & Shakes. In contrast to some of the higher-calorie dishes you found in Burgers, Bobby Flay Fit brought me and my readers full circle because just as my flavors need to be well balanced (from spicy to sweet to sour and more), so does our overall lifestyle. Hence, Fit was a book about how a person who spends both his personal and professional life constantly around food can stay somewhat in shape and healthy.
That brings us to the present. Bobby at Home is exactly what it says. It’s a collection of my favorite dishes that my friends and family eat when they’re in my home. I’m often asked by people what I do to relax when I’m not working. Interestingly, and somewhat surprising to most, the answer is: I cook. It’s a very different approach than my restaurant kitchen life or when I’m being challenged on TV by what seems like anyone who’s ever turned on a stove anywhere in America. At home, it’s a pace that’s steady but focused, and where the food is always abundant and served family-style.
This book is so important to me because the dishes that grace these pages have real emotion attached to them. They have been accompanied with laughs and tears. Each has a story—and not just that the fried chicken is soaked in buttermilk. These dishes are cooked and shared with my most trusted friends and family, as well as people whom I want to share an important conversation with. I love the idea of getting to know someone new over a bowl of shrimp and grits or doing business with a platter of crispy soft-shell crabs in front of us.
Cooking to me is much more than a profession. It’s the way I show my love, respect, and appreciation for the people in my life. If you’re in my circle, an invitation to my apartment in New York City comes often. It could be a Kentucky Derby lunch or a Belmont Stakes breakfast. A last-minute call to indulge in a bowl of homemade pasta Bolognese to watch the Golden Globes or an all-day Super Bowl party replete with gameday snacks like Brussels sprouts nachos. Sundays in my apartment are filled with the aromas of brunch dishes like pumpkin pancakes and glazed bacon, and at night, dinner can easily be a spread of chicken parmesan and a red chile Caesar salad. Don’t even get me started with Thanksgiving. It’s an epic day of classics on lots of twists, football, and late afternoon naps.
My house in the Hamptons is irresistible in the fall and winter, when I cook all-day braises of green pork chili and the occasional autumn “harvest weekend” that includes dishes like brick chicken with salsa verde and gingerbread and lemon curd trifle. But all summer long is when that kitchen really gets a workout. At least once a week, usually on Saturdays, lunch is served at exactly 1:30 p.m. I fill my outdoor wooden farmhouse table with an abundance of summer dishes mostly made with fruits, vegetables, and herbs from the farm stand near my home and fresh seafood from the fishmonger just ten minutes away. The pergola that presides over the table shades us and the food from the blazing sun.
There is never fewer than a dozen guests and usually more like twenty-five hungry people in their bathing suits with a glass of rosé glued to their hands. You’ll find dishes like Mediterranean mezze platters, Korean BBQ chicken, and cast-iron porterhouse steaks being passed around the table. I call it lunch because it starts in the afternoon, but to be fair, it’s an all-day event. We sit at the table for hours, eating, drinking, solving the problems of the world, and dwelling on the trials and tribulations of our lives. We swim, play bocce, and listen to music with the perfect beat until the sounds of evening tell us another day has come and gone.
Sitting around these tables and breaking bread binds us all together just a little more each time. It’s the one thing I look forward to most. It takes thought and it takes effort, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. My intention is to help you, as readers and cooks, get the people you care about around your table more often. Don’t just think of these dishes as a means to feed someone, but as a way to gather the people in your life you want to spend quality time with. The dishes on these pages all have a language of their own. I hope they bring as much joy to your table as they do to mine. Welcome to my home. I’m so happy you’re here.
Copyright © 2019 by Bobby Flay with Stephanie Banyas and Sally Jackson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.