If you think cooking with cannabis is about crumbling your herb into your latest concoction, then you’re doing it all wrong. There’s a very deliberate way to cook with marijuana and chefs are busy creating menus of tasting dishes specifically to fit with the cannabis culture.
Le Cordon Bleu-trained Melissa Parks has been hiding the distinct flavor of cannabis so that diners get the medicinal hit without the taste overturning her delicate avocado crab pasta or saucy Thai-style chicken wings. Jessica Catalano, the author of The Ganja Kitchen Revolution, is considered one of the most experienced cannabis chefs today and has moved on to teaching classes where herbal chef entrepreneurs can learn her techniques create dining-worthy meals, and practice accurate dosing. You might know her as a judge at High Times’ U.S. Cannabis Cup or from her pop-up cannabis pairing dinner experiences. Top Chef winner, Hosea Rosenberg, does something a little different so as not to taint his prize-winning recipes with the skunky stuff. He creates strain pairings that he knows will enhance each of his dishes. In one of his several-course meals, you might try a different bud with each course, like a Boulder County flatiron steak with charred corn and herb sauce paired with a nug of White OG, chosen for its spicy aroma and pungent taste. Mindy Segal is a James Beard Award winner and Chicago Magazine’s Pastry Chef of The Year who is coming out with her line of lab-produced edibles. And finally, The Herbal Chef, Chris Sayegh is eschewing “simple” infused baked goods for New York strip steaks served with a medicated red wine reduction, and toffee pudding with infused chocolate, all served from one of his LA-based pop-ups (if you can get in).
As you can see, cooking with cannabis is just a way of supplementing everyday ingredients—butter, oil—with ones infused with cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are the active ingredients in marijuana that produce a distinct entourage effect that is both healing and psychotropic. Cannabinoids love clinging to fat (THC gets stored in the lipid cells in our body too), so it’s always easiest to infuse a fatty substance like oil or butter. Doing so has the added benefit of being readily metabolized by the body. When making an infused butter, the THC gets pulled out of the cannabis, and the butter allows it to hitch a ride into your bloodstream and straight to your liver for an experience that far surpasses that of smoking alone.
Choosing your delivery vehicle
As you can see, there are many ways to combine cooking with cannabis, but for our intents and purposes we’re talking about cooking in a way that’s a step above making “special brownies” from shake and a Betty-Crocker box, but not quite haute cuisine. Instead of putting our weed in a one hitter, or using a grinder to get some grinder weed we can try something a bit more classy. It’s easy once you get the hang of making your infusion, and you’ll want to start medicating all of your cooking ventures. Just make sure to label the leftovers, so no one gets a nasty surprise. If you know what your end-product is going to be then, it’s easy to decide on the medium with which to extract the cannabinoids from your dry flower. Cookies use butter and sometimes vegetable oils, while spicy foods often use olive oils. We’ll introduce you to some recipes with the most popular infusions below. The entire spectrum of potential mediums is wide and includes butter, olive oil, coconut oil, canola oil, corn syrup, alcohol, vegetable glycerin, etc. Once you’ve chosen your delivery medium, you can use the infused ingredient in anything that calls for that ingredient. Here are some of our favorite examples.
1. Mile High City Sugar Cookies
Nothing topped off a visit to grandma, especially around the holidays, quite like the taste of sugar cookies. However, the sugar rush isn’t the highlight of these particular cookies. We chose the Girl Scout Cookie strain for these buttery bites because of it’s light, feel-good effects that are as uplifting and stress-busting as the nicest grandma ever.
1 cup cannabutter, made with girl scout cookies
1 cup sugar
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 cup infused canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
4 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
½ tsp. salt
Cream together cannabutter and sugar until fluffy, and add the eggs one at a time while beating. Then, blend in the canola oil and vanilla extract. Sift flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt together into a bowl, and slowly add the dry mix to the mixer of moist ingredients. Chill the dough overnight in the fridge. At least 8 hours later, preheat the over to 350° F. Shape the dough into balls about the size of a walnut and place them 2-inches apart on your baking sheet. Do not grease the baking sheet—these cookies are buttery enough to slide right off after 10-12 minutes in the over.
2. Lazy Sundazey Gravy and Mash
Want to sink into your couch with relief just like a ladle-full of gravy over silky smooth mashed potatoes (or lumpy, as per your taste)? Then we’ve got the easiest canna recipe for you to try with a powerful indica, like Kosher Kush.
For the mashed potatoes:
2 lbs Idaho potatoes
8 Tbsp Pink Kush cannabutter
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper
For the gravy:
4 tbsp Hindu Kush cannabutter
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 cup beef broth
1 tbsp heavy cream
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Wash and peel the potatoes, and cut them up into cubes larger than die—they need to be fairly even to allow them to cook evenly. Place the potatoes into a large pot and cover with cold water that you will bring to a boil and let simmer until they are tender enough to let a fork slip right through them. Drain the water from the potatoes and add cannabutter to the pot, along with milk, salt, and pepper. Mix with a hand blender until they reach the right consistency.
Melt some more cannabutter in a saucepan over medium heat and saute the minced onion until it turns fragrant and light brown. Sprinkle in the flour and cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly. Add the beef stock and cook uncovered until the gravy thickens slightly. Pour over the fresh mashed potatoes and turn on a good movie.
3. Chicken Pot Pie
Nothing quite says comfort food like a homemade chicken pot pie with a crisp, buttery crust, and a creamy chicken filling. To help anxiety sufferers, we’ve paired this intensely pacifying dish with a stress-busting hybrid called Harry Potter.
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) melted Harry Potter cannabutter
2 cups chopped, cooked chicken breast
1 tbsp infused olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled & diced
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 cups Bisquick
1 cup whole milk
Preheat your oven to 350° F and lightly saute the chopped onion and carrots in the cannabutter/cooking oil while the oven raises its temperature. Add frozen peas, plus chicken, cream of chicken, plus chicken broth, and finish with the Old Bay and pepper. Mix everything well and spread evenly into a greased 9-inch pie pan. Follow the instructions to make the Bisquick and pour over the casserole. Brush extra cannabutter over the top and bake for 30–35 minutes.
4. Un-canned Canna-Frosting
You’ll be licking this right out of the bowl, it’s so good. We had to pair this recipe with a strain called Wedding Cake for a few reasons. The strain is potent, and frosting is easier to medicate with in small doses. Plus, it’s a strain known for its self-care tendencies and what is a cupcake really but a vessel of self-care?
½ cup cannabutter infused with Wedding Cake flowers (softened)
1 lbs pkg. icing sugar
1 oz. melted unsweetened chocolate
2 Tbsp. evaporated milk
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Cream the infused cannabutter with mixer until soft and smooth. Add all of the icing sugar in small parts, mixing well each time. Stire in the melted chocolate, and then add the evaporated milk, salt, and vanilla. Mix until perfectly creamy.