Food & Wine
Cook's Illustrated

Cook's Illustrated July/August 2018

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."

United States
Boston Common Press, LP
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6 Issues

In this issue

2 min.
on community and wound care

My mom’s name is Martha, but she’s always gone by Marty. Marty worked as a registered nurse on the cardiac-orthopedic floor of a local hospital for more than 40 years. When I was a kid, she’d come home from long shifts on her feet and cook dinner for my sister, my dad, and me. We’d sit down to eat her excellent from-scratch cooking—maybe cream of chicken and rice or her milky Maine-style fish chowder with crispy bacon. And she’d talk about what was on her mind: surgeries, needles, pandemics, bad falls, and the best practices for wound care. Within minutes the clatter of spoons on ceramic would cease. Marty, sensing the deep silence, would look up to see three faces, now as pale as her chowder, staring blankly back. To this day…

2 min.
quick tips

Plunge Tomato Paste Instead of spooning tomato paste from its small can, Gary Schwartz of Lake Elmo, Minn., “plunges” it out. He uses a can opener to cut the lids on both ends, removes the lid from only one side, and uses the freed-up lid on the opposite side to push the paste into a bowl. Crumple Parchment Paper for Blind Baking Alice Hall of Chardon, Ohio, lines pastry shells with parchment paper when blind-baking but finds it difficult to position the stiff parchment snugly in the shell before adding pie weights. Crumpling the paper into a ball and then unfolding it helps it settle into the pastry. Watermelon “Sticks” Eating watermelon wedges is messy, so Trisha Novy of Philadelphia, Pa., cuts the melon into sticks that are tidier to bite. First, she halves the…

8 min.
grilled chicken thighs

One of my earliest cooking memories is of my dad positioned at the grill, squirt bottle in one hand and grill tongs in the other, working furiously to rescue chicken thighs from a three-alarm blaze. In a rush to get dinner on the table, he would position the thighs directly over the fire to cook them quickly. Within minutes, their rendering fat dripped into the flames, ignited, and grew into a blaze that forced him to shuffle the chicken around the grate while he simultaneously tried to quell the fire with water from his squirt bottle. I can’t lie: The pyrotechnics were pretty thrilling to watch as a kid. But eating the chicken was less thrilling—the chewy meat tasted of acrid smoke and was covered with rubbery, badly charred skin. Chicken…

8 min.
fresh tomato sauce

High-end, tech-minded chefs and bartenders cheat the normal laws of cooking by using a contraption called a rotary evaporator (or “rotovap”). The device, which costs upwards of $8,000, works by gently heating a liquid, such as tomato juice, in a vacuum chamber. The vacuum lets the juice boil at near room temperature, which lets volatile flavors get extracted from the liquid and concentrated. It’s a tool that could revolutionize fresh tomato sauce, which has an inherent dilemma: Simmering cooks out the very thing that makes a ripe tomato so special—its bright, sweet, delicate flavor. On the other hand, if you don’t cook juicy tomatoes long enough to evaporate a good bit of their liquid, the sauce won’t have enough body to cling to pasta, and its flavor won’t be intense enough. Imagine:…

8 min.
introducing tacos dorados

Maybe it’s nostalgia—the first bite that cracks the shell, sending orange grease down your wrist. Or perhaps it’s the satisfying combination of spiced meat, creamy cheese, and cool, crisp lettuce that makes hard-shell tacos so popular. Either way, Americans have an enduring love for this lunchroom and dinnertime staple. Ease is a big part of the appeal: Relying on a packet of powdered taco seasoning and a sleeve of prefried taco shells means that dinner comes together in a flash. But when I recently prepared tacos using the contents of a supermarket kit, my middle school memories were obscured by a dust cloud of flat spices covering dry, nubbly meat. Choose Your Shell Adventure I’d followed the instructions for preparing the shells, baking them for a few minutes before serving, and they were…

9 min.
vietnamese pork with rice noodles

I usually start the summer months dreaming about ambitious grilling projects such as ribs and brisket, but when the evenings turn hot and humid, I find myself seeking out lighter, fresher options that I can make more quickly. That’s how I learned about bun cha, a vibrant Vietnamese dish of rice noodles, grilled pork, and crisp vegetables, all pulled together with a light yet potent sauce. In the street-food stalls of Hanoi, where the dish originated, cooks prepare fatty cuts such as pork shoulder or belly in two ways: They slice some into thin strips and marinate it in fish sauce, sugar, black pepper, and maybe some minced shallots or onions, and they finely chop the rest (cha refers to chopped meat), mix it with similar seasonings, and shape it into…