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What's the Most Time Consuming Thing You Have Ever Cooked?

How long did it take?
Was it worth it?

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  1. A rabbit dish from a Charlie Trotter cookbook. I was making it for my husband's birthday. After baking a cake first thing in the morning, and cooking all day, it seemed as if by five o'clock all I had were some reductions called for in the recipe. So, we went out for Chinese and had the meal for lunch the next day. So, it took about a day and a half.

    1. I'd have to say cassoulet, since I made the duck confit from scratch (day of seasoning/resting, 12-15 hours of cooking, then cooling) as well as the beans from scratch (overnight soak, hour of cooking, then cooling). And all of that cooking is BEFORE you assemble and cook the dish.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Hungry Celeste

        In the same vein, Balthazar's recipe for their Duck Shepherd's Pie.

        4 days. 10 duck legs. 4 bottles of red wine. And that's just the marinade.

        But man, it was good!

        1. re: Hungry Celeste

          Amen to that! And along with the confit, I made the sausage links too. Never really could find a recipe for a sausage typical of cassoulet so I made one up using fresh pork and a good amount of garlic and some s&p. Also, never found a connection to buy the traditional dish used to cook it in and so used a cast iron dutch oven kind of thing. Curious, what did you do for your sausage and cooking vessel?

          1. re: gamebronc

            I know you weren't asking me, but I thought I'd stick my nose in here anyway. I've made the cassoulet from Mastering the Art a few times (using my 7+ quart Le Creuset) and she calls for homemade sausage cakes as a substitute for Saucisse de Toulouse. They're really simple and just wonderful in the cassoulet.

            1. re: gamebronc

              Fresh pork sausage (sometimes called chaurice, seasoned with garlic, parsley, green onions, red & black pepper, and often thyme or sage or bay) as sold in southern Louisiana works just fine for cassoulet; it is fairly fatty & doesn't dry out with long cooking. I can buy this stuff at virtually any butcher or supermarket here. I browned the sausage well (probably cooked 50% thru) before quickly assembling the cassoulet (I had everything else, including toasted crumbs, ready to go).

              As for the dish, I used a round, lidded stoneware dish (I think Portmeirion calls it a "casserole dish", but it's not the oblong, rectangular thing most Americans call a casserole dish). Cooked it with the lid for the primary cooking time, then removed the lid for final browning of crumbs.

              It was delicious and worth every bit of effort. But the next time I made it, I bought the confit already made and I cooked enough beans for two batches & froze half.

              My monthly natural gas bill went up $10 as a result of my long, long cassoulet project.

            1. I've BBQ'd brisket twice for between 16-18 hours and yes it was well worth it.

              1 Reply
              1. re: JAB

                I've done this too, to the extent of sleeping with an alarmed thermometer (can't let that meat go too high or too low). My wife made me sleep on the couch that night. Absolutely worth it; I wept when I ate it. I've also cooked Boeuf Bourguignon for 16, on my own damn birthday, which involved at least twelve hours at or near the stove.

              2. Probably tiramisu is the one I remember the most, because I made my own ladyfingers! And whisked the marscapone cream until I thought my arm was going to fall off! I'm sure there are other recipes that have taken longer, but I remember being really stressed trying to get this one done! And I'm getting ready to make it again... glutton for punishment! It was worth it though, but I was glad I had made it the night before the dinner party; otherwise, I'm not so sure it would have tasted as good! Recipe here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

                1 Reply
                1. re: Katie Nell

                  Okay, made it again, and decided it's not worth it to make your own ladyfingers! I did have some egg whites that did not want to cooperate though! Damn those egg whites!!

                2. Ketchup. I spent most of a day peeling tomatoes and then simmering and simmering and simmering. Was it worth it? The cookbook said it would be. It was NOT!

                  That's if things that marinate like sauerbraten don't count. In that case the answer would be days and YES! I've also got a bread recipe from Amy Schreiber that ages in the fridge to extract every single bit of flavor from walnuts for 24-36 hours before baking. Again, is it worth it? YES! Oh god, YES!

                  1. Years ago for a pitch-in we were asked to make snow peas stuffed with tiny scallops. I can't remember how long it took altogether, but the time per snow pea was probably two to three minutes to cram those little scallops in and then repeat, endlessly, because they would fall right out again. My husband is still cranky about having to do that.

                    And the really irritating thing was that they were boring and aside from being lovely to look at, no one really cared for them.

                    1. I'm with JAB. Bbq brisket, 16 hours in the smoker at 200 degrees. Worth every minute. Same for pulled pork shoulder, but that was about 14 hours.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                        Yea, pork butt is a piece of cake at 45 min. per pound in relation to brisket's 1 hr. per pound. ;>)

                      2. A cake for my daughter. Started making the buttercreams and and fillings and decorations a couple of days in advance.

                        1. I don't think this counts, but... a frozen turkey. (We were skiing, it was Thanksgiving, that was all the store had. Thanksgiving dinner happened in the wee hours of Friday morning as a result, but we'd stuffed ourselves on stuffing and libations and it was all good.)

                          I recall some ridiculously annoying recipe that involved making phyllo dough.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Cinnamon

                            Had fifteen people arriving for Thanksgiving in the country, my oven
                            broke and I had to cook the turkey in the weber on a very cold day.
                            It was a marathon of trouble and uncertainty but resulted in best
                            turkey ever produced in my home.

                          2. Peking Duck. Total elapsed time: 4-5 days, not counting the time to clean up which was an extra week. Actual working time: probably 8-10 hours. Time to consume: about 15-30 minutes. It was NOT worth it.

                            I did the whole shebang starting from a raw duck, blowing up the skin, glazing it, letting it air-dry for 3 days, roasting it at high temperatures in my small apartment oven. I also made the pancakes and scallion brushes.

                            The mess in the kitchen was unbelievable, the oil spattering all over the oven from the high-temperature roasting of the duck took days to scrub off. The oil burned, leaving a sooty residue on everything close to the stove.

                            It tasted fine but I felt nauseous from the smell of duck which clung to my hair and skin (I had changed clothes). You couldn't pay me enough money to do this again.

                            If you're talking about elapsed time, the ham I cured took 5 months but most of that was just air drying time.

                            1. Butchered a 120 pound pig by myself in my four bedroom apartment in Boston and cooked over the better part of a week to get it ready for a crowd.

                              It's the last time I do something that ambitious on my own. I would cook until 3am then go to bed in tears because I felt I was so far behind.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Ernie Diamond

                                Ernie, you probably wont see this now, but I can't believe you butchered a pig in your Boston apartment. Really?

                                1. re: yumyum

                                  I'm with you yumyum, dang that is impressive. I kinda want to give it a go. Not sure I want to cook the whole darned pig, but wouldn't mind giving it a whirl to butcher one.

                                  Also not sure I would want to kill one, that would be tough, but cutting it up, heck, sure.

                                  Course the more I think about it, my counters aren't even big enough to butcher a pig. I have this awesome image of wrestling with the damn thing half of it sticking out onto the stove cause my counters arene't big enough... then neither is my fridge.

                                  I think I read an article about someone butchering their own pig, was that you Ernie?

                              2. Pates and terrines. They are labor intensive and time consuming but worth the effort and I do like making them. It keeps you focused on what you are doing.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Candy

                                  Indeed, my most time consuming was Julia Child's Canard en croute from Mastering. The shopping alone took a day. Deboning the duck without breaking the skin took over an hour the first time I did it, with practice I got to where I could do it in 25 minutes. Making the filling was alot of work... But it was really good! Worth the work, not really.

                                2. The most time-consuming thing I do on a regular basis is bake bread, because I have to feed the starter; sauerbraten is up there too, because it has to marinate for three days.

                                  That said, the one that stands out was the day I arrived at a friend's apartment so that we could cook a wedding dinner for 80. We went to Costco at 5 PM, then dropped it off and I was taken to watch a Harry Potter movie across town, we still had to go to Safeway, and I didn't start cooking until midnight.

                                  That was not a happy experience.

                                  1. Mole Poblano. It took me two days, with all the various steps - Making turkey stock. Toasting and rehydrating three kinds of chiles (and then I burned some and had to go out and buy more). Toasting the spices and grinding them. Hydrating the dried fruit. Toasting and grinding the nuts and seeds. Making the tomato verde with fresh tomatillos. Nope, not done yet - have to add even more ingredients and more steps (frying, reducing, pureeing) before you can combine everything to make your mole paste. Finally, almost done - fry the paste in lard, add stock, season some more, simmer for an hour, and cook the turkey. It was very very good, but surveying the disaster in the kitchen and the hours of work, now I just buy mole paste and doctor it up ;)

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Rubee

                                      Way cool Rubee. I have made mole from scratch myself and it was so much better then the paste. I will say, I cheated and did not make my own turkey stock, I just used drippings and decent canned broth. Everything else from scratch though.

                                    2. A lasagna filled with hundreds of miniature meatballs. It took several hours just to roll up the meatballs alone. Tasted wonderful but the effort was not worth the outcome.

                                      1. Ribs -- my ribs are a two/three day affair depending on how long I brine them. They are definitely worth it, although everytime I make them, I'm sick of the sight of them by the time they're served.

                                        1. Helping a buddy of mine out at a VFD BBQ. We cooked a little over 2000 lbs of boston butt.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Stack8

                                            If we're counting things not cooked in a home kitchen, then: annually, my family cooks ~200 gallons of seafood gumbo (outdoors, over three days in cooking and a week in prep) from all fresh ingredients for my hometown food festival. Quite a production, honed over 30+ years to a relatively simple affair.

                                          2. A tiny Hickory nut cake. I found the nuts on the ground near my house when coming home from a run last fall. Picked them up in my T-shirt and took them home. I was planning to serve some sort of hickory nut dessert with some muscadine syrup from my grapes in the yard, growing just a hundred yards form the hickory tree.

                                            I was feeling TOTALLY the slow-food, seasonal, local, organic, macrobiotic, Alice-Waters-channeling, domestic genious. Well...it took me TWO evenings watching TV to crack and pick those freaking nuts to yeild about 1/2 cup of nut fragments.

                                            No, it was not worth it.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: danna

                                              Years ago my husband spend many evenings watching televsion and cracking hickory nuts for a wonderful torte. It was delicious and he'll never do it again.

                                            2. Koulibiaca (Russian Fish Pie). Very time consuming, but because it turned out so absolutely delicious (better than almost anything I have eaten), it was worthwhile. (Photos below.)

                                              Koulibiaca:
                                              http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e10...
                                              Close-Up:
                                              http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e10...

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Funwithfood

                                                I did that once. There was a recipe in The New York Times for Coulibiac of Salmon. Craig Claiborne called it "the greatest dish in the world. . . A coulibiac is a celestial creation, manna for the culinary gods . . . ." Challenge enough for me. A boyfriend did part at his apartment, I did part at my apartment, and we brought the parts together and finished them in the fabulous kitchen of a friend's brownstone. It was extraordinary. I'd give anything to have photos of that evening.

                                                There was another recipe in the Times (and another boyfriend; do we see a pattern here?) called Lamb Chops Champleve (don't quote me on that) that started with the making of a rich beef stock, which was reduced from something like 6 cups to 1/2 cup, and then used as a basis for a veloute. That alone took two, maybe three, days. Then you just barely dipped the chops into the sauce, dipped them again into some breadcrumb concoction, and sauteed them for what? two minutes? Tasted liked Shake 'N Bake. Not really, but not that far off. Definitely Craig on an off day.

                                                But at the very top of my "never again" list is artichoke bottoms. I figured they'd be an elegant and tasty holder for I don't even recall what anymore. Needed to do a dozen. Didn't take as long overall as any number of two and three day recipes I'd done before, but the amount of work for the proportional contribution to the menu? Uh-uh. Count me out. No more artichoke bottoms.

                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                  I love artichoke bottoms. With a paring knife and a grapefruit spoon I can prep one in less then a minute.

                                              2. Corned Beef for St. Patrick's Day every year. The first, and biggest, one that I made was in the cure for 2 weeks. That was a packer cut brisket. I've switched to using flats since then which usually only take about a week in the cure.

                                                Once out of the cure they get a good couple hours of soaking (changing the water a few times in the process) before getting cooked.

                                                A bit of a process, but SO worth it.

                                                1. Tamales. I've never made anything that required two days of cooking!! The result was VERY worth it. It was actually one of the first things I made, inspired by this board!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: virtualfrolic

                                                    I also once spent 14 hours in the kitchen making fresh corn tamales. Wrapping the masa in fresh corn husks proved to be a real challenge for a klutz like me. They were delish, though. . . .

                                                  2. Without a doubt Roast Goose stuffed with foie gras stuffed prunes. I had to pit every prune (lots) Make foie gras mousse. Stuff the prunes with mousse. Prepare two geese (straight from the Menonite Farm so many feathers and pin feathers to remove, as well as cleaning. Prepare geese for oven. Roast and pour boiling water over the geese every 15 minutes for two and a half hours. Transport to dinner party and then carve and serve. Was it worth it? Can't tell you because I did not eat any. I did not realize how few a nine pound goose would feed so we did not eat it. In any case, I have not ever made it again.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: faijay

                                                      That sounds so delicious. What a sad story! I once spent all Christmas day making coq au vin for my family, most of whom wouldn't eat it because they thought it was strange. So I ate the leftovers all week. Sort of the opposite of your situation.

                                                      1. re: faijay

                                                        NOT FAIR to do all that work and then not even get to try it! It sounds magnificent.

                                                        Didn't the others even notice that you hadn't gotten any? !!!

                                                      2. Interesting question! I've never cooked for 20 or 80 like others on this board... I have a leg of lamb recipe that calls for 3 days of marination. But I'd have to say the most labor intensive was bread pudding, because I made the bread first by hand (challah) just so that I could have stale bread for the recipe.

                                                        Forgot to add: both were worth it.

                                                        1. Bagels. They took all day and when I was finished I had, well, bagels. Won't do it again, but it was kind of interesting.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Betty

                                                            Betty, I'm so with you! Sometimes when we do all this work to make quite ordinary things we find that we're happy to buy the good work of someone else who doesn't have to put a whole meal on the table or to run a carpool. Still, these are interesting and valuable experiences to have and add something the enjoyment of someone else's good work. ; >

                                                          2. I think my most time consuming recipe was a Greek Stifado -- a stew made with rabbit or chicken (I used chicken) and pearl onions. I made it for a greek party, and quadrupled the recipe. The original called for 4 lbs. of pearl onions, which all had to be peeled. Multiplied by 4. It took me hours just to peel the onions -- it took so long, I almost abandoned the recipe. The stew itself had to be braised for around 4 hours. Thankfully, the effort was worth it and the final result was excellent.

                                                            Despite it being so good, I never would have made it again, due to my frustration over peeling all those little onions. To my delight, I discovered thereafter that you can buy frozen, peeled pearl onions. Typically, I don't use frozen veggies when fresh are available, but for this dish, it makes little difference due to the braising time, and it cuts the prep time for the dish to a more manageable length of time.

                                                            1. Years ago, I made an apple strudel, making the dough from scratch, instead of using purchased dough. What a lot of work. Afer I was finishe, I took it to my patents'house and somehow ended up sitting on it on the bus while it was wrapped in my suitcase. It tasted delicious, but was a mess.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Leslie

                                                                Hooray for you! I have always been fascinated with the idea of streudel dough. I *know* I don't have enough patience for it. I'd end up with lumpy dough pulled to shreds.

                                                              2. When I was in high school, I made this Viennese Christmas Cookie every year. It required me to make my own hazelnut and almond flour, which would take forever since I always doubled the recipe and all we had was a blender (this was before food processors were a staple in every kitchen). And I would always end up with hazelnut paste, which would then turn the cookies too crumbly.

                                                                Between the dough resting in the fridge and the nut grinding then putting together the sandwich cookies, it would take me 2 days just to get a batch of 50 cookies. But the flavor is amazing.

                                                                1. Sfaxian Fish Soup with Crumbled Barley Bread from Paula Wolfert's "Mediterranean Grains and Greens."

                                                                  1. Julia's veal Prince Orloff. I was fairly inexperienced so I followed each step with care, exact measurements etc. The mushroom-shallot duxelles, the béchamel part of which gets turned into soubise and the rest into Sauce Mornay , the braising of the boneless veal roast, the skimming of the pan juices, the slicing (ha!) of the roast so as to reassemble it with sauce between the slices, the final baking in the oven... took all day, pretty much without a break. One big difference--maybe the biggest--in having experience, at least within a general style of cooking, is that you can think about recipes in advance as independent "modules" (béchamel, duxelles etc.) that you eventually combine, rather than nose-to-the-page step-by-step terror. Some traditional French cookbooks work this way--instead of giving a detailed recipe they just say something like "Prepare the veal sweetbreads and serve with Sauce Marchand de Vin." Right, got it...

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: rootlesscosmo

                                                                      I love this recipe. Haven't made it in years, as we simply don't eat this way anymore. However, if you like classic French cuisine and haven't made this, you should do it at least once.

                                                                    2. I will add that making a buche de noel always *feels* like it's taking forever - but it's worth the results.

                                                                      1. If you include all the trial runs, my own wedding cake, followed by the wedding cake I baked for a friend (which I actually think took longer to actually make because I was working in my tiny NY kitchen instead of my mom's big CA kitchen, and it was covered in poured chocolate ganache instead of buttercream and fondant, AND it was decorated with chocolate plastic).

                                                                        But the most time consuming thing I've made just because for dinner was probably bstilla - I think the recipe was from Claudia Roden's Middle Eastern Food and it was a huge PITA. Good though.

                                                                        1. A wedding cake for 150 people for a friend. I'm not a baker, didn't have the right utensils. It would have been great but it was almost 100 degrees outside and the cake almost melted off the tiers. It took me over a week to make. Worth it? Well...twelve years later, they're still married.

                                                                          1. A Chocolate Damnation cake from Michel DesAulniers' Trellis restaurant cookbook. Three days, start to finish. Make chocolate cookies for crust; grind and fill with chocolate cheesecake. Make raspberry coulis. Make chocolate layer. Make chocolate mousse. Each layer had to be brushed with the coulis, and the cake layer split and filled with mousse. Then, the whole thing is frosted with ganache. It was absolutely worth it, though, when a guest at the party I brought it to asked me what bakery it was from.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: CynD

                                                                              Oh yeah, I made Desauliner's Death By Chocolate what a job. I was sick of it by the time it was ready to serve but it is sooooo good.

                                                                            2. Glace de viand. Several days, many pounds of browned stock bones and meat, several transfers to and from a 12 quart stockpot, a dozen egg whites for clarification, an hour or so of stirring (out of many sitting on the stove) and and voila, about pint of the damned stuff (concentrated yes, but still)! lol Was it worth it? Yes, for the experience, no for practical purposes.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: MikeG

                                                                                I wasn't going to sneak in here- I feel like most of what I cook takes longer than other's would bother... but after your Glace, MikeG, I had to share my own-

                                                                                I was grilling a Venison Shoulder for A memorial day picnic (CASUAL!!!) so I made a vat of my brown stock (1/3 beef, 1/3 veal, and misc pork and lamb bones) and then a vat of my poultry stock (1/2 chicken, 1/3 duck, and a pheasant carcass)- then reduced each of them to half volume. I then took 2 quarts of brown demi, and 1 quart of poultry demi, and reduced it to 1 1/2 qts stock enhanced with venison trimmings, smoked pheasant drumsticks, leeks, and mushroom stems. I then added 2 cups of tawny port, 1 star anise, 3 cloves, a cinnamon stick and a dozen peppercorns, then reduced the whole thing to 1 quart of solid lipsmacking flavorful gelatin demi glace.
                                                                                I brought the shoulder and the sauce with me to the bbq, and promptly dropped the sauce off the third floor balcony.

                                                                                I still make stock 4 times a year...

                                                                              2. Has anyone every tried making "Big Night" Timpano? I usually go bravely forward with the most complicated recipes but this one has me intimidated.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: serious

                                                                                  I was inspired by both the movie and a book titled Bread and Chocolate by Fran Gage (might be wrong on the name) She deconstructed the recipe from the movie by watching it in slow motion since no recipe could be found.

                                                                                  I tried one made with pasta and one made with puff pastry, both in stainless steel bowls. Puff pastry won. I haven't made one in many years, but now that you remind me.....

                                                                                  1. re: chowetta

                                                                                    I make Fran Gage's puff pastry version every year for a pre-Thanksgiving feast. A lot of the people are vegetarians so this works (as it did for Fran Gage) as a big, festive dish for them. Like a lot of things, it's a lot easier to do the second, etc. time around. Now I know to cook the filling parts a day before AND to keep a list of the layers - it's not a happy thing to finish and seal everything up only to find a bowl that I forgot in the refrigerator. I keep wondering if using a bundt pan might make it easier to cut into slices but haven't tried that yet.

                                                                                2. Fresh cream sponge cake with fruit. Probably took about 4-5 hours from start to finish but it was SO worth it.

                                                                                  TT

                                                                                  1. I love music,adore the influence of NOLA on the world's music and was distraught after Katrina last year. I wanted to raise money for the legendary singer Irma Thomas, who lost her funky club,The Lion's Den in the flood. Irma makes red beans for her customers a few nights a week. Two weeks after Katrina, I channeled Irma and spent 4 days organizing, shopping,chopping, serving (and selling and cleaning up,) red beans and rice and corn bread for 250 people and sold it a benefit concert for the musicians of NOLA. I raised $1500(after expenses) for Irma, the event raised $10,000. Did most of my part by myself. I loved every minute of it (not the clean up.)Irma was touched. Cooking is great therapy during a time when you HAVE to do something to help out a little.

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: missclaudy

                                                                                      Weirdly wonderful. I was just listening to her sing Back Water Blues when reading this! oooEEEEEooooooooooo!

                                                                                      1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                        Glad to hear you love her too. If only you had a big bowl of andouille laced red beans and rice to eat while grooving, life would be complete! Guess I'll have to make some ASAP. Got dry ice? I'll send you some!!!!!

                                                                                    2. My gumbo takes about a day and a half. I start it the night before with steaming mussels and shelling them and peeling shrimp. Then seasoning everything and get the leftover shells ready for stock. Then next day it's make stock. That takes a while. Prep everything, make the gumbo and simmer it for a few hours before finishing it off.
                                                                                      Then you get to eat.

                                                                                      Pork shoulder is about 20 hours or so. 16 - 18 hours on the smoker and then after an hour rest, an hour of pulling it.

                                                                                      DT

                                                                                      1. I still make stock once in a while, but mostly chicken which is more worthwhile to make in small amounts (and so much cheaper, for that matter.)

                                                                                        But I definitely don't spend all the extra time cooking it down through the various stages to get to the glace. Mainly because I just found myself not using it all that often and even in the freezer, it doesn't actually last forever.;)

                                                                                        1. I'd have to say springerles. My nana's recipe takes three days-- make the dough on day one, press the cookies on day two, bake on day three.

                                                                                          1. I make a en croute terrine that takes a day or two.....

                                                                                            Day one I debone a goose, duck and chicken

                                                                                            Day two I make forcemeat and then cover the chicken with it and put it in the duck and then cover the duck with the forcemeat and into the goose. Then it's covered in a thick layer of a flour/lard mixture (and decorated) and baked for about 5 hours - you have to keep a close eye on it while it's cooking as the goose and duck throw off a lot of grease.

                                                                                            Delicious and worth it though! Good for a big Christmas cocktail party and very showy - the crust isn't eaten but we keep it on half of the piece when it's on the table.

                                                                                            The recipe is from the Time Life Good Cook series - it's on the cover of the Terrine book.

                                                                                            1. I made a big dutch oven of tripe, tongue, heart, and other offal.

                                                                                              The tripe and tongue took a couple of hours to prepare alone.

                                                                                              Then it all went into the dutch oven with some other things...and cooked over night.

                                                                                              I even confited some pig's ears for it.

                                                                                              1. During WWII, my mother, a Navy WAVE, attended Hunter College in Manhattan. (She was a base payroll officer for the rest of the war.) Her neighbor, a kind Italian woman who was the best cook my mother ever knew, taught her to make her spaghetti sauce, which is a three-day affair. Mom, who always made the sauce for spaghetti feeds at our church, would have four or five of the very large electric Dutch ovens going at one time. The secret of the sauce, which is made with both pork and beef, is pork neck bones, which naturally thicken the sauce. My sister-in-law owns an Italian restaurant, and my husband is a 100-percent blue-eyed, blond-haired Italian (well, second-generation Italian-American), but I must say my Mom's sauce beats theirs hands down. (Although I've never told them that....tee hee.) When I get the urge, I go down into the basement, drag up my Dutch oven (which I inherited from Mom) and start a three-day round of sauce. After three days, the meat just shreds off the bones, the sauce thickens and it freezes very, very well.

                                                                                                1. Sauerbraten dinner for 200. My great aunt was the housekeeper and cook for our parish rectory and once a year she would do this massive traditional feast for 200 priests from all over the area. It was standing room only and we started marinating that meat with all the spices and fruit and aromatics a week ahead of time. I was seven at the time but was her prep cook for five or six years. The menu started with homemade head cheese, chicken soup with spaetzle, relish tray, the sauerbraten was served with homemade noodles and braised red cabbage, homemade dinner rolls, and raspberry whip (basically raspberry puree folded into whipped heavy cream) for dessert. It took two days to set the tables and afterward to wash the dishes. Yes, she had china for 200. I still have the little lawn waitress apron I wore for serving.

                                                                                                  Worth it? It certainly made me unafraid to cook for a crowd, always useful. The food was delicious; even people who couldn't make it would ask friends to bring home a plate for them. I still make sauerbraten once a year, but I've modified her recipe somewhat and don't make it for more than 12. And no head cheese.

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: sheiladeedee

                                                                                                    I just made Sauerbraten last week! Are you willing to share any of these recipes? We can continue this on the Home Cooking Board if you are.

                                                                                                    1. re: Ernie Diamond

                                                                                                      Sure, I'll post the sauerbraten recipe there.

                                                                                                  2. We Roasted a whole pig in a Caja China Box. Estimates for cooking time were 5 hours at 30lbs, but it was more like 7. If you count the brining and marinating, about 30 hours total. Well worth it; the poor bugger's cheeks blew up like Dizzy Gillespie-Mmmmmmmmmm...

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                                                                                                    1. re: ronzen

                                                                                                      I did a 22-pounder and also found the estimated time to be shorter than the actual time to get the thing done. Their web site now has a photo sequence showing the recommended cooking routine; it includes scoring the skin after you turn the pig skin side up, which wasn't in the instructions I got last year. I'm doing it again this weekend and will post results. (I'm also going to skip the brine injection though I'll brine the pig itself for about 48 hours.)

                                                                                                    2. I made the Big Night timpano! It really only took a good solid day. It's not hard - don't be intimidated! - it just takes time! Very yummy.

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                                                                                                      1. re: k_d

                                                                                                        AND? which recipe did you use?

                                                                                                        1. re: serious

                                                                                                          I honestly don't know where it came from. My mom emailed it to me shortly after she saw the movie. I ought to retype it, as the email formatting is really messed up.

                                                                                                      2. seville orange marmelade...worth the time and effort...can't afford the calories anymore...

                                                                                                        1. A hazelnut dacquoise. Two layers of baked meringue with chocolate and buttercream between the layers and piped in rosettes on top and then slivered almonds studding each rosette. I used to make desserts like that all the time. Then I had a baby and lost all my patience and concentration for cooking. That was 18 years ago and it still hasn't come back.

                                                                                                          1. Lobster Clam Bake on the beach. Started around 8:00am, digging pit in the beach, line it with skull sized rocks, burn fire of drift wood and any other wood I can find for 5 or 6 hours. Gather seaweed. Rake out hot coals from fire pit around 5 or 6pm, and then lay over hot coals seaweed, then lobster, more seaweed, then corn on the cob, more seaweed, then Portuguese sausage and baking potatos, more seaweed, top off with steamers and cover pit with tarp for an hour. Uncover and start eating the goodies around 6 or 7pm.

                                                                                                            Total time 10 to 11 hours.

                                                                                                            Was it worth it....YEAH!!!

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                                                                                                            1. re: Infomaniac

                                                                                                              right ON!! next time that's happening let us know!

                                                                                                            2. I tried to make chocolate mole and I took to many shortcuts or substitutions and it was a such a disaster that even the dog wasn't interested. It looked right, but the small wasn't close and the taste was horrible.
                                                                                                              I asked a friend who is a 1st generation Mexican immigrant and she set me right. Her mole' is fantastic, as long as I strictly keep to the ingredients list.

                                                                                                              I make reugulah, strudel and pie dough with my g-grandmothers recipe and it is always perfect.

                                                                                                              1. I made these eggrolls once that had three different fillings. It took all day and after I made them, I had bunch left over, so I froze them. The next day, my neighbor came over and thanked me for the eggrolls saying that theywere the best she had ever had. After all that work, I'm still pissed at my wife for giving those away.

                                                                                                                I also made my favorite Indian dish Chicken Tikka Masala, and all I remember is hardly being able to keep my eyes open and peeling cardamom pods at 3 am the day before to make the marinade for the chicken. It was good but next time, it's take-out or a bottle of Pataks!

                                                                                                                1. Tamales, from scratch.
                                                                                                                  You have to make a lot of Tamales, and between preparing the filling (pork), preparing the masa, and then filling and folding...
                                                                                                                  It's backbreaking work. I was on my feet for hours.
                                                                                                                  But it definitely was worth the effort.

                                                                                                                  1. Chicken soup with broth from scratch and homemade egg noodles. Took most of a day to make the broth and roll, cut and dry the noodles. The soup was consumed in about 10 minutes. Definitely not worth it.

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                                                                                                                    1. re: doctor_mama

                                                                                                                      I make chicken broth all the time. If you find it too time comsuming try the recipe at http://www.cooksillustrated.com for "quick homemade chicken broth". The noodles I can understand taking too long - but homemade chicken broth is so superior to any pre-made product. I use it not only for chicken soup, but for stir-fries, as a braising liquid, as a base for many other soups. In a pinch I'll use some Swanson broth, but it doesn't compare to the real thing.

                                                                                                                      1. re: doctor_mama

                                                                                                                        When I make my turkey noodle soup, I usually purchase the fresh ones in the deli case--they are very good.
                                                                                                                        Turkey Noodle Soup Photo:
                                                                                                                        http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e10...

                                                                                                                        1. re: Funwithfood

                                                                                                                          I'll make the stock and cook in the chicken using the Tyler Florence "one pot" cooking method, but use fresh store bought noodles.

                                                                                                                          TT

                                                                                                                      2. My Grandparents Christmas cookies. Fifteen or twenty types, winds up to be 100's of dozens. The four or five most traditional types (read German) were incredibly involved. Cut the cookies (never less than 300 pieces), lay it out on the baking sheet and let it dry in the oven. The next day, turn them all over and dab a drop of coffee (or brandy, or fruit juice) on the damp spot, then bake. When done, let ripen in a container with a cut apple for several weeks.

                                                                                                                        I alternated nights of mixing dough and baking it. I can't imagine what it was like before kitchenaid. Grinding 2 lbs almonds takes forever even with a food processor. Ever try whipping meringue by hand with 8 egg whites and 2 lb powdered sugar? Never again. Your bicep will be bigger than your leg.

                                                                                                                        And yep, it was worth it.

                                                                                                                        1. Hmmm, this depends on how I interpret the question.

                                                                                                                          If I'm not restricted to one dish, it was probably my last Peruvian Self-Essentialist Dinner Party. I throw one of these every 3-4 months and make usually 15-20 dishes, from simple salsas to time-consuming aji de gallina or anticuchos. The last August, I spent 5 days preparing the food, not including gathering the ingredients.

                                                                                                                          If we're talking about one dish, probably my improvised fish soup. I spent weeks practicing my filleting skills and then freezing the carcasses. Then I prepared a vegetable stock that I let cook for hours. Then I added the fish for about 20 minutes. Strain, clarify, clarify again. Let cool. The next day, I warmed it up again and added some large chunks of potatoes, a handful of rice, and some fish balls. 2 days preparation, but weeks of ingredient-gathering.

                                                                                                                          1. The most time consuming recipe I ever made has to have been Popia - The Great Crepe, from Chinese Gastronomy (by by Hsiang Ju and Tsuifeng Lin). First I had to go to Chinatown for many of the ingredients, particularly the side accompaniments - then couldn't find them all, so I had to search other ethnic stores (day one). Then I had to make the pot of filling (day two - it has to sit a day for the flavors to combine). Finally on eating day (day three), I made the crepes (an all-day effort, due to the difficult technique compunded by my clumsiness). Finally I reheated the pot of filling that last night, and it was all wonderful and delicious. It's been twenty years, but I often think of making it again - maybe after I retire.

                                                                                                                            1. A "trippa alla fiorentina" in honor of my mother's birthday....demanding prep work -- cleaning and dressing and blanching the tripe and calf's foot (timeconsuming and high on "ick" factor...then a long, very slow cooking. Absolutely delicious flavor....but few of the guests could stomach tripe -- the consensus was that the sauce would be fabulous over lobster!

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                                                                                                                              1. artichoke soup from "the french laundry cookbook." the most annoying part? it yielded about one cup.

                                                                                                                                1. I made 2 gallons of Meyer Lemon Limoncello. Took 100 days.

                                                                                                                                  btw - before I corked the batch in bottles, I squeezed more lemon juice into each bottle. It cut the sugary sweetness and gave it a delicious, lemony intensity. Meyer lemony, at that.

                                                                                                                                  Yum-ola.

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                                                                                                                                  1. re: tom in sf

                                                                                                                                    Recipe please, my Meyer lemon tree is loading up as I type....

                                                                                                                                  2. Manti (Turkish dumplings filled with herbed and spiced beef with yoghurt and red pepper sauce) I had the make the dough twice as the first one did not turn out how it was supposed to.... I spent all night on the phone with my Mom in Turkey and she walked me through the whole recipe. The second batch of dough came out good and the rest went fine, but I spent more than 6 hours to make it.... That was the first and the last time! It was very tasty.

                                                                                                                                    1. tamales. made 4 different versions with 2 different types of masa. omg did it take forever!

                                                                                                                                      1. A chestnut/pearl onion/fennel confit from Joel Robuchon's "Simply French" cookbook, mostly because he says to shell the chestnuts by some insane method - I think deep frying or baking and then covering with a towel soaked in ice water and wrung out, which was both painful and not very effective.

                                                                                                                                        I still make the same recipe, but now I use Trader Joe's frozen chestnuts, baked. The shells come right off and the recipe is fabulous and delicious.

                                                                                                                                        1. I once made the most amazing chutney from one of Laurie Colwin's books. I think it was mostly lime? Anyway, I never made it a second time because I had the memory of it being an interminable process, although really it was worth it, because it was heavenly, and canned, so it lasted a few years.

                                                                                                                                          But now reading this thread I am thinking...how long could it possibly have taken to make chutney? Not 100 days, certainly. Probably not even 10 or 12 hours. I need to go find that recipe again.

                                                                                                                                          1. I cooked every night for a week to make about 120 baby quiches for my 40th birthday party. I made four different fillings (artichoke & parmesan; mushroom & swiss; roasted pepper & ricotta; spinach & feta); plus 120 tiny tart shells: mixing; resting; rolling; cutting; shaping; weighting; pre-baking; cooling. Then: adding filling to each shell, topping off with custard & baking. (after all that, by the way, they freeze well).

                                                                                                                                            Was it worth it? Yea! I made them again for a friend's wedding a few months later.

                                                                                                                                            1. Can I add... this a GREAT discussion. Lots of varied and terrific experiences!

                                                                                                                                              1. Pizelle, the batter is as simple as can be, but baking up meaningful quantities, 2 at a time in my iron takes all d*mn day.

                                                                                                                                                Triple that if you want multiple flavors.

                                                                                                                                                1. The Bakery-style Sticky Buns that Cooks Illustrated had in their Jan/Feb 1994 issue takes me two days to make - all the rising involved makes it hard to do in one day AND serve it nice and warm. I've had other people ask for the recipe and a few have made it once, no one twice. As I mentioned above for the timpano recipe - it's easier the second time around. It does leave a lot of honey, butter and brown sugar slicked pans all over my kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                  One woman took a bite and declared that if her husband ever tasted it, he'd leave her in a second. That's a pertty nice response!

                                                                                                                                                  1. I have a bit of a compulsion for long crazy complex recipes, many of them I only make once or twice, but they are always worth the effort and worth repeating if I ever get around to them:

                                                                                                                                                    - Mole from scratch
                                                                                                                                                    - Gnocchi from scratch with Bolognese sauce from scratch
                                                                                                                                                    - Slow cooked pork shoulder (7 hours at 185 degrees)
                                                                                                                                                    - Oxtail stew or beef shin stew, though it is faster since I started using a pressure cooker
                                                                                                                                                    - Once made 4 separate flavors of knish from scratch, beef, cabbage, potato, and kasha. Must've taken 5-6 hours
                                                                                                                                                    - Jerk chicken slow cooked including making jerk paste from scratch
                                                                                                                                                    - Probably my all time winner for sheer duration of prep is my sourdough bread with sprouted wheat berries. You basically have to start sprouting the wheat berries at least 6-7 days ahead of time. Then I get a starter going on day 3 or 4. Then I do a first rise of at least 24 hours including the wheat berries. Then punch down final rise, and bake.

                                                                                                                                                    I am sure I am forgetting some, but those are the obvious ones.

                                                                                                                                                    1. Gateau Saint Honoré; paté sucreé base, prebaked; cream puff paste piped in a circle around the circle of paté sucreé. Individual small cream puffs, baked separately.
                                                                                                                                                      Rich pastry cream with whipped cream folded in. Slice perimeter ring horizontally, fill with pastry cream. Fill individual cream puffs. Arrange small puffs in center of ring.
                                                                                                                                                      Make syrup for spun sugar. With two wooden spoon handles, dip syrup and spin candy floss beteeen two chairs over old newspapers to protect wooden flooring. Adorn gateau with spun sugar. Candied violets optional. Serve to oohs and ahs of guests. Collapse into bed.
                                                                                                                                                      My memory is blessedly dim on the details.