How to Make a Recipe Your Own

Prepare Rick Martinez’s Tajín grilled chicken, or any recipe on NYT Cooking, exactly as you like it.

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By Sam Sifton

Good morning. Cook a recipe once and you’re playing a cover song. Cook it four or five times, though, and you’re playing a new arrangement, even if it’s relatively faithful to the original.

That’s been the case for me with Rick Martinez’s recipe for Tajín grilled chicken (above). I first made it as Rick intended and loved it as a filling for sandwiches, with grilled scallions, cilantro and pickled jalapeños. But the second time, I dialed back on the honey by about half and doubled the Tajín. The third time, I added more heat with an additional chipotle and used the sauce to marinate the chicken for about an hour before grilling. And now that’s my jam. That’s how I make like Miley Cyrus singing Hole’s “Doll Parts.”

I hope you’re doing the same. It’s why we’re here, after all: To offer thorough instructions to follow, as well as the encouragement and confidence you need to make food that’s entirely your own.

Cook Rick’s chicken yourself and see where you end up. I know I’m going to keep doing so until Labor Day at least.

Other recipes I’m interested in of late: one-pot pasta with ricotta and lemon; kimchi tuna salad; fines herbes omelet; portobello steak au poivre. Also in that mushroom vein, this awesome recipe for mushroom chicharrón tacos.

And do check out David Tanis’s new picnic menu: a hibiscus punch; salads of marinated mozzarella, olives and cherry tomatoes and white beans with roasted cauliflower; sardines on buttered brown bread; cucumber and ricotta sandwiches; and pecan shortbread for dessert. What a spread that would make!

There are thousands and thousands more recipes waiting for you on New York Times Cooking, and further inspiration on our TikTok, Instagram and YouTube accounts. Yes, you need a subscription to access the recipes. Subscriptions allow us to continue to do this work that we love. So, please, if you haven’t already, would you subscribe today? Thanks.

You can write us at [email protected] if you experience issues with our technology. And you can write to me at [email protected] if you experience issues of other sorts, or simply want to say hello. I can’t respond to everyone. But I read every letter sent.

Now, it’s nothing to do with wild salmon or farmed shrimp, but please read this remarkable Times investigation of the deep roots of Haiti’s misery, dating back to the reparations France forced the nation to pay after it ousted its enslavers. It’s breathtaking in its sorrow and scholarship.

I’m very late to it, but the stakes are low and the landscape beautiful in “North Woods Law,” on Hulu.

In Granta, Amy Key’s “A Bleed of Blue” left me feeling sad, but I’m glad I read it.

Finally, the indispensable Jon Pareles put me onto this collaboration between the Trinidadian singer Calypso Rose, the Garifuna Collective and Carlos Santana, “Watina.” Listen to that while you’re grilling chicken, and I’ll be back on Friday.

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