Hello, my name is Savannah Guthrie. I can’t cook, and I’m hosting a new cooking show.
I know what you’re thinking: “Wait, what? How did this happen? Why? And … why would anyone watch this show?”
All good questions. If you have watched TODAY over the years, you are aware that I am, um, challenged in the kitchen. See here, here and here. Over the years, our well-meaning producers have tried to teach me how to cook many times, even enlisting A-list chefs to attempt the impossible.
Spoiler alert: I never did learn. Thankfully, I have a husband who can cook and a weekday babysitter who makes healthy dinners for my kids. I’m beyond lucky. And let’s just say my lack of knowledge, skill and confidence in the kitchen has been a boon to the New York City restaurant scene. But how many takeout sushi rolls can one person really eat?
This time, it’s going to be different. It has to be! Here’s why: Unlike in all of the previous TODAY kitchen interventions, I am actually going to — wait for it — cook. I’ll be the one doing the slicing, dicing, peeling, chopping, draining, searing, blanching, deglazing and whatever other cooking verbs I’ve yet to learn. All of it.
I have realized the main reason I never caught on to cooking even after all those lessons — aside from laziness and disinterest, I mean — is because the talented TODAY Food stylists did all the work for me ahead of time. All I really had to do was dump the ingredients in a pot and — presto! — thanks to the magic of television, dinner was served.
The problem with this approach is that I could never replicate those recipes in my own kitchen. For me, even the basics — from choosing the right pot to getting the pan temperature right — are mysterious and perplexing. I need to learn … everything. I don’t know how to chop an onion. I don’t know how to cut herbs. I don’t know how to hard-boil an egg. I don’t know when the chicken (or beef or fish or tofu) is ready to be turned over. The only way to learn is to just do it — and to ask plenty of stupid questions along the way.
So that’s what we’re going to do! Every week, I will attempt a menu from scratch. I will be joined by an actual, real-life, honest-to-goodness chef, someone who is patient enough to watch this painful process unfold and answer every one of my goofball inquiries, kind of like my own personal Butterball hotline. “Starting from Scratch” is my earnest, heartfelt and unintentionally comical culinary journey. It’s for you, person who wouldn’t mind learning to cook but doesn’t have the time … or talent. It’s for you, person who thinks it might just be nice to put something on the table every once in a while that didn’t come in a Styrofoam container. It’s for you, person who will enjoy the shock of family members seeing you in the kitchen doing something other than mixing a drink or getting ice cream from the freezer. Join me! It will be fun, educational and only one of us will get burned (yep, me, in the first episode).
Here are the recipes I cooked in episode 1:
"If you want a comforting, falling-off-the-bone meat dish without babysitting a roast all day, might we suggest the humble chicken thigh? Braising or pan-roasting it results in that same decadence in a fraction of the time. The trick for this recipe is to let the skin get really crispy in the initial browning phase and then let it finish roasting skin side up, just barely nestled in the sautéed vegetables, stock, and wine — not submerged. This way the meat will stay tender while the skin will get crackly-crispety-crunchety (these are technical terms, you understand). It's the best of both worlds." —Goop
"It definitely scratches the itch for mashed potatoes, but the cauliflower and yogurt make it feel much lighter and like something we could easily incorporate into our regular rotation." —Goop
"These breadcrumbs are like the crouton's sophisticated older cousin. They're a bit more subtle, but they deliver the most satisfying crunch in every bite. Plus, they take only a few minutes to make." —Goop
Watch the first episode of “Starting from Scratch with Savannah Guthrie” on TODAY All Day at 11 a.m. EST on Friday.