Did you know that June 21 will be the longest day of 2017? That’s right, because of the June Solstice, the sun will be at its northernmost point in the sky, making this special Wednesday the day with the most hours of sun.
To celebrate, we’ve rounded up our most lengthy recipes, labors-of-love that require as much patience as skill, but are certainly worth the effort. From the Philippines comes a divine slow-roasted pork belly—those long hours make the meat extra tender—, while the archival cookbooks of France yielded lou fassum, a strange meat-and-cabbage creation that looks like it came from another planet.
At Boulestin, Agen prunes, prized for their caramel notes and soft texture, are infused with brewed tea, cinnamon, and armagnac and then used to top this sumptuous custard. In lieu of vanilla sugar, you can substitute 3/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla extract. Get the recipe for Sauternes Custard with Armagnac-Soaked Prunes »
A low and slow braise is the best way to transform tough cuts of meat into fork-tender morsels. This version, made with a crosscut whole beef shank, is cooked in white wine and rich homemade beef bouillon layered with vegetables and aromatics for added complexity. Crunchy roasted radishes and a funky flaxseed, herb, and vinegar relish balance the pot roast's richness with acidity and texture. Get the recipe for The Ultimate Pot Roast »
Crème fraîche: It's one of those expensive grocery-store items that's so easy and cheap to make at home yourself, you really have no excuse not to have it in your fridge at all times. Alana Chernila, author of The Homemade Pantry and The Homemade Kitchen, picks up a pint of cream on every grocery run, mixes it with a little cultured buttermilk (or buttermilk culture, a powder you can order online), and the next day, voilà, a bowl of slightly sour, thick, lush crème fraîche. “It's perfect for adding tang and richness, and it doesn't have that weird pucker of sour cream,” says Chernila, who finds herself adding it to salad dressings, drizzling it on tacos, and folding it into pumpkin pie. It will keep for up to three weeks in the fridge—more than enough time for you to pick up some cream and make yourself another batch. Get the recipe for Homemade Crème Fraîche and Preserved Lemon Salad Dressing »
The staple meats of Western China, lamb and mutton can be found folded into everything from pilafs to buns to noodles. Of course, they're also the focal point of the region's iconic kebabs. Seasoned with freshly ground cumin (zira in Farsi and zīrán in Chinese), which was probably introduced to Xinjiang from Persia, the kebabs get an extra kick from minced garlic cloves and ground chile powder. Get the recipe for Chile and Cumin Lamb Kebabs (Yángròu chuàn) »
Made with confit duck legs, pork belly, and two kinds of sausage, this meaty, resplendently rich cassoulet is worth treasuring all winter. Get the recipe for Dominique Ansel's Cassoulet »
Lou fassum is most dramatic when presented whole, then sliced into thick wedges. Serving the pieces with a stock-based glaze is optional. The dish can also be drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with fresh herbs, or ladled with chicken stock and topped with a dusting of grated cheese. Serve with mashed or roasted potatoes if desired. Get the recipe for The Ultimate Stuffed Cabbage (Lou Fassum) »
These short ribs are brined, steam-roasted, and then seared, making the meat succulent and turning the peppercorn rub into a thick, spicy bark. Get the recipe for Justin Smillie's Peppercorn-Crusted Short Ribs with Lemon, Olives, and Radishes »
With three colorful layers of ice cream domed atop a fudgy, flourless chocolate cake, our version of this retro dessert is a project perfect for celebrations. (Especially if you make your own ice cream: We used our homemade Pistachio Gelato and Raspberry Ice Cream.) You can vary the assembly as you like—layering the ice cream in any pattern or thickness, or flambéing the meringue topping or not. But whatever you choose, give yourself a day or two in advance to prepare. Get the recipe for Baked Alaska Flambé »
Inspired by the vegetable dishes Laurent Gras cooked during his time at Monaco's Le Louis XV, this celebration of market fare is meant to be the centerpiece of a meal. The ingredients are permutable—peas, tomatoes, and favas in summer; beets, potatoes, and parsnips in winter—but all are enhanced with a kombu stock glaze (chicken or vegetable stock will do the job too) and laid over a bed of almond cream. Get the recipe for Mixed Spring Vegetables With Almond Cream »
The leaf-wrapped sticky rice dumplings zongzi (in Mandarin) or joong (Cantonese) are a snack enjoyed year-round in China, though they are especially popular in the spring. The long bamboo leaves are filled with either sweet or savory ingredients, and often made and enjoyed by families in the weeks leading up to the Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on the fifth day in the fifth month of the lunar calendar. We learned how to make these with Chinese home cook Mei Zeng, who's perfected her zongzi recipe after years of practice. Get the recipe for Chinese Sticky Rice Dumplings (Zongzi) »
"This is my modern take on the traditional Lechon, which is a whole roasted pig. While many of us don’t have the space or equipment to roast a whole pig on a spit over coals, this recipe gives you the ability to recreate the idea and flavors." – Leah Cohen of Pig & Khao Get the recipe for Crispy Philippine Slow-Roasted Pork Belly (Bellychon) »
These sandwich cookies, adapted from chef Frederico Ribeiro of New York’s Te Company, are an homage to the classic Taiwanese pineapple cake. Here a super-buttery vanilla bean shortbread gets a nutty dose of hazelnut flour, and sweet pineapple-rosemary jam gets balanced by the spicy, fermented, and grassy flavor of Japanese yuzu kosho paste. Get the recipe for Pineapple Tea Cookies »