Celebrate fall with Anthony Bourdain's 5 most comforting recipes

When it comes to reliable recipes, it's hard to beat Bourdain

By Michael La Corte

Deputy Food Editor

Published October 3, 2023 1:00PM (EDT)

Anthony Bourdain (Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images)
Anthony Bourdain (Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images)

Cherished and celebrated for his trademark acerbic wit, advocation for the working class and marginalized communities, and his sharp, incisive commentary on all things food, Anthony Bourdain remains a stalwart influence on the food industry at large.

Bourdain, of course, meant (and means) so many different things to so many different people. As "Roadrunner" director Morgan Neville told Salon's Alli Joseph, "I think with Tony, I mean, he was so complicated, but one of the things I came to realize was in many ways, his flaws were also his superpowers." 

So, for those looking to lean into the dawn of fall and start building a repertoire of top-tier comfort foods, here a rundown of some of Bourdain's most comforting dishes to enjoy on a cozy night in. From his many books and cookbooks to his numerous cooking show appearances and his travel shows like "Parts Unknown," Bourdain has a deep bench of recipes to his name.

Take your pick of these and be certain that your recipe will turn out perfectly. 

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This dish is a true exercise in simplicity. With only 6 ingredients (plus salt and pepper), the soup is so much more than the sum of its parts. Now, if you're not a mushroom fan, maybe steer clear of this — just because the flavor is deeply, distinctly mushroom-y. There's nothing superfluous here, either, so the flavor comes through so cleanly. Swap in vegetable stock instead of chicken if you're aiming to keep it vegetarian, use oil instead of butter to make it vegan, or omit the sherry if you're not looking to use alcohol in your cooking.
No matter which pivots or customizations you make, this soup is a real winner. 
Swapping the traditional chicken for turkey is a welcome change that helps to slightly elevate this incredibly classic dish. Don't skimp on the fresh herbs; they add a real brightness and freshness to the soup. Bourdain uses chicken fat here, but you can totally swap in oil or butter if you don't want to use (or don't want to go out and buy) chicken fat.
You might raise an eyebrow at the seltzer, but don't! It helps add such heft and buoyancy to the matzo balls.
Meatloaf, the quintessential mid-century offering, gets a slightly update with this immensely tender, super-flavorful version with the creamiest mushroom gravy you've ever had. The meatloaf has all the usual subjects, while the gravy packs shallots, tons of mushrooms, veal stock and heavy cream into a velvety, rich gravy. 
As Bourdain himself puts it, "My mom's meat loaf is inarguably better than yours, but this is not my mom's meat loaf recipe. This one is an amalgam, intended to evoke all the important meat loaves in my life—and there have been many." Add this one to your lineup and anyone at your table is sure to be pleased.


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As many have said, the true measure of a cook is how he or she makes a roasted chicken (or an omelette). As Bourdain puts it, "everybody should know how to roast a chicken."
This is a traditional recipe that harnesses the power of fresh herbs, lemon and butter, as well as some wine, stock and parsley for extra moistness, color and flavor. Pair this with some roasted vegetables, a starch (maybe a scalloped potato?) and a simple pan sauce for a truly special meal. 
Braised veal shanks (osso bucco)
While sourcing veal shanks might be bit tougher than finding some produce or more readily available proteins, you will thank yourself once you make this dish. Immensely, fall-apart tender with stunning flavor and texture, this is the kind of braised dish you would sink into at a restaurant; making this at home allows you to quite literally sink into your couch as you enjoy a bowl, diving into the flavor and the richness of the dish. This is a beautiful dish no matter what you pair it with, but if you do opt for a risotto and gremolata, you'll really be doing yourself a favor by making a genuinely top-tier restaurant-worthy dish at home. 

By Michael La Corte

Michael is a food writer, recipe editor and educator based in his beloved New Jersey. After graduating from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, he worked in restaurants, catering and supper clubs before pivoting to food journalism and recipe development. He also holds a BA in psychology and literature from Pace University.

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