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Cook's Illustrated September/October 2021

At Cook's Illustrated, our test cooks are dedicated to testing and retesting recipes 20, 30, sometimes 50 times until we come up with a recipe that will come out right the first time -- and every time -- you make it. And each issue of Cook's Illustrated is 100% ADVERTISING FREE, so you get unbiased and objective information on every page. As we like to say at Cook's Illustrated, "We make the mistakes so you don't have to."

Country:
United States
Language:
English
Publisher:
Boston Common Press, LP
Frequency:
Bimonthly
£5.05
£14.53
6 Issues

in this issue

2 min
muscle−bound

Most food television shows would have us believe that the best professional cooks are explosive and erratic, speeding through tasks with squirrel-like energy. That’s simply not true. Peer into any kitchen, find the calmest cook, and you’ve likely spotted the most experienced. Their steady, deliberate motions signify confidence born out of muscle memory. That term of art is often applied to everyday tasks such as typing on a keyboard or driving a car, but the concept is just as relevant in the kitchen. It’s the ability to shape a boule or chop an onion while focusing on the next few steps of a recipe. But it’s also the collective habits each of us builds around cooking that, quite simply, make time in the kitchen more efficient and enjoyable. Omelet making is…

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3 min
quick tips

Beat Eggs with Ease When they need to beat eggs, John and Denise Goodman of Oak Park, Calif., turn not to a whisk but to a handheld milk frother. The tool buzzes the eggs into an airy, uniform mixture with minimal effort. Score Frozen Meat When scoring poultry skin or the fat cap on meat, the skin can catch and get tugged by the knife’s blade, making clean cuts a challenge. That’s why Pamela Tucker of Maumee, Ohio, scores her proteins while they’re frozen—the firmer skin or fat offers less resistance, allowing her to make more-precise cuts. Label Your Alarms When Kathryn Dundon of Lake Zurich, Ill., is cooking several dishes at once, she sets multiple alarms on her phone and labels each one with the name of the corresponding dish. That way, when an…

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7 min
blackened chicken

During the 1980s, the red drum population along the Gulf Coast was decimated by overfishing. Demand for the fish (also known as redfish) had soared to such unprecedented levels that the National Marine Fisheries Service was forced to ban commercial harvests in federal waters and limit recreational anglers to one fish per person per trip. Arguably, the surge in demand had little to do with the fish itself, which is mild; firm fleshed; and considered comparable to red snapper, grouper, and black sea bass. The root cause was the way locals were cooking it—specifically Paul Prudhomme and his wife, K. Hinrichs, at their acclaimed K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen in New Orleans. Allegedly riffing on a grilling method that he’d picked up during his childhood, Prudhomme dipped the fillets in melted butter, dredged…

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1 min
the art (and science) of blackening

Whether you’re searing meat, frying potatoes, baking bread, or caramelizing sugar, color is a pretty good indicator of flavor development, and a rich shade of brown is usually the goal. It’s a visual cue that proteins and/or sugars in the food have undergone either Maillardization or caramelization—both complex chemical reactions that break down a food’s molecules and cause them to react with each other, creating hundreds of new flavor compounds that smell and taste delightfully complex. Maillard browning boasts savory, meaty, roasty, buttery depth; caramelization can overlap with the roasty, buttery profile, but it skews more bitter and sharp. By that color spectrum logic, a surface that has merely tanned hasn’t reached its full flavor potential, and one that has blackened entirely has overshot the mark and burned. But there’s a…

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6 min
plush, meaty pastelón

My Puerto Rican grandmother stockpiled plantains in the pantry of our New York City apartment like preserves in a root cellar. While they were green and as starchy as potatoes, she’d double-fry them for tostones or pound them into a mash with flavorful fats. As they transitioned to yellow, softening slightly and taking on a touch of sweetness, she’d grate them into soups or turn them into dumplings. But for me, the real prize came days or even weeks later, when their skins were mostly black and their flesh creamy and sweet: She’d fry up a batch of plátanos maduros fritos (fried ripe plantains) to make the meaty casserole called pastelón. Then she’d layer the caramelized slices with a swath of picadillo—ground beef simmered in sofrito and tomato sauce and…

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2 min
latin cooking’s top banana

In the United States, the dessert banana dominates supermarket shelves, but in the Caribbean Basin and Latin America, its starchier botanical cousin, the plantain, proliferates. The fruit is so integral to the cuisines of these areas, “we think of it as ours,” noted the Cuban-born chef and culinary historian Maricel Presilla, author of the award-winning exploration of Latin cooking Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America (2012). In truth, the plantain is an import that originated in Asia; traveled to Africa; and then made its way to the Americas in the 1500s, where enslaved Africans helped spread it across the region. The reasons the fruit took hold are simple: The plantain not only grows readily in tropical climates but also has the rare quality of being edible at all…

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