José Andrés Told Us the One Protein He Always Keeps in His Fridge

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Plus, he offered his best tip for planning expectation-free dinner parties for friends and family.



An award-winning humanitarian and restaurateur, José Andrés stays busy with his various ventures, from World Central Kitchen to numerous restaurants. Despite his jam-packed schedule, Andres makes a point to dedicate time to enjoy food with his friends and family. He enjoys the treasured time so much, he's giving viewers an inside look with his one-off program Dinner Party Diaries with José Andrés, available on Prime Video and Amazon Freevee starting March 19. For the premiere, the chef invited stars like Jamie Lee Curtis, Bryan Cranston and O'Shea Jackson Jr. to his home to cook Spanish-influenced recipes and have a downright good time.

We were lucky enough to sit down with Andrés to talk about his motivations behind the special. Plus, he told us about the versatile protein that’s never missing from his fridge, his favorite spice that “brings Spain to your kitchen” and his tip for hosting a fun—and less stressful—dinner party, all in this interview.

EatingWell: What’s an underrated ingredient you wish people used more often in their cooking?

Andrés: Eggs are the perfect dish. You can fry, boil and scramble. You can make omelets, soufflés, sweet dishes and savory dishes. You can whip egg whites with sugar to create meringue. You can cook egg whites low and slow to achieve masterpieces. From mayonnaise and aioli to mousse, eggs are the perfect protein, in a way. It can be centerplate, supportive, on top of rice or part of a Caesar dressing—it’s fascinating the possibilities an egg gives you. I know not everyone will agree, but an egg for me will always be the ingredient that should never be missing in the fridge.

Related: Is It Safe to Leave Eggs Out on the Counter—or Do They Need to Be Refrigerated?

EatingWell: If you had to choose one Spanish cooking staple everyone should have in their kitchen, which would it be?

Andrés: If there’s an ingredient I especially like, it’s the Spanish paprika or Spanish pimentón. You can make it into dressing for a salad. You can make a stew and add it to the sofrito to make the dish better and slightly smokier. You can use it in making Spanish rice, paella, meat stews and fish stews. You can sprinkle it on top of fish on a bit of foil and salt. It’s a simple spice with a lot of possibilities.

Spanish pimentón is a type of smoked paprika, often smoked over oak wood for a more distinct and spicy flavor.

EatingWell: What goal did you have in mind with filming Dinner Party Diaries?

Andrés: At the moment, I think we need feel-good shows with friends and family coming together to have a good time around the kitchen. That’s how I try to live my life and what I try to show others. And I don’t organize the dinner parties in advance. It’s almost spontaneous like, ‘Hey, are you coming tonight?’ Those are the best gatherings because there are no expectations.

Related: Why Cooking & Eating Together Are as Important for Your Health as the Foods You Eat

EatingWell: You’re embracing creativity and imperfection with this TV special. Do you have a tip for those who want to be more spontaneous in their own kitchen?

Andrés: There was a moment when I cut myself in the show. We kept rolling because I'm a big believer that things don't go as planned, even for professional chefs like me. It’s good sometimes to see those perfect shows where culinary geniuses achieve mastered perfections, but it's good also to show people that professional chefs can have moments when the recipe does not work as expected. I think it helps non-professional cooks at home be more comfortable and understand that sometimes things are not going to go as planned.

EatingWell: How did you decide on the menu for the special?

Andrés: We decided on some of the dishes a half hour before the show. We had an amazing production team that made it happen, but believe me … When I came at the last second saying we should change the dish, everyone rolled their eyes. But that’s what happens when you’re at home and someone forgets to buy something. Or, all of a sudden someone is allergic to something, and you have to change the menu. It’s kind of funny that these situations happen at all dinner parties, right? And this simple, feel-good show is sending a message that we shouldn’t take life too seriously when with friends and family. Everything else outside that cocoon of friends and family is way too serious. The kitchen is a perfect place where everybody brings down their guard.

EatingWell: What’s your biggest tip for people wanting to host friends and family at home?

Andrés: Don’t overplan! Don’t make too many dishes. Make a big pot. It can be a big pot of pasta or stew or soup—just don’t over complicate it. One pot can feed the world, indoors or outdoors … especially a terracotta pot. It can break easily, but it’s the pot that keeps giving.

Recipe to try: José Andrés's Gazpacho

Read the original article on Eating Well.