‘New Family Cookbook’ serves up the classics
Wed., Nov. 19, 2014
Quick look: The 10-year anniversary edition of this beast of a cookbook encompasses 888 pages and weighs 6 pounds, 4 ounces – that is, according to the scale in The Spokesman-Review’s mailroom. But don’t let the size scare you. It’s well organized, user-friendly and extremely practical.
What’s inside: With 1,356 repeatedly tested recipes – 1,139 new ones and 217 “foolproof” classics – families theoretically could be fed three daily meals for more than a year before having to repeat a dish from this comprehensive guide.
Chefs at America’s Test Kitchen, perhaps this country’s most trusted brand when it comes to home cooking, spent a year revamping their original, decade-old, encyclopedia-like resource. The updated version is hardcover versus ring-bound. It features a shopping guide, more than 1,400 color photos, and 60, step-by-step, photo-illustrated tutorials for core techniques and recipes.
Plus, there’s a cheese primer, guides to grains and greens – from arugula to watercress – and charts identifying cuts of pork and beef as well as different roasts. Other tables identify types of fish, pasta and Asian ingredients as well as cooking times for vegetables.
The introduction discusses cooking basics – from food safety to utensils and thermometers. Recipes – easy to follow and unfussy but elegant – are divided into 21 chapters and organized by food type. There are appetizers, salads, seafood and casseroles as well as two chapters on breads and five for desserts – and more.
Red squares indicate fast recipes – 45 minutes or less – in the index at the front of each chapter; they’re also notated in red under the title next to the total cooking and prep time. Quick and easy appetizers and dishes include Caprese Skewers (20 minutes), Quick Beef and Barley Soup (45 minutes), Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken with Sage (40 minutes) and Arugula Salad with Figs, Prosciutto, Walnuts and Parmesan (25 minutes).
Look for longer recipes like Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Dirty Rice, Garlicky Roasted Shrimp with Parsley and Anise, Easy Baked Ziti with Ricotta Cheese, Nut-Crusted Chicken Breasts with Lemon and Thyme, Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms and much more. For dessert, there’s a Nutella Tart, Chocolate Mousse, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Strawberry Dream Cake, Flourless Chocolate Cake, Key Lime Bars and, of course, much more. Each comes with America’s Test Kitchen signature “Why This Recipe Works” explanation.
What’s not: Other than black-and-white chapter title pages, there are no full-page photographs in this book. Color images are vibrant – and in the case of the step-by-step instructions – helpful. But they’re rather small, typically tucked into corners and taking a quarter of the page.
Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken with Sage
I chose this recipe from the cookbook’s grand total of 1,356 because it seemed simple yet sophisticated, an easy and elegant take on the Italian classic chicken saltimbocca.
This recipe came from Chapter Four, which is dedicated to poultry. It’s one of the fast ones, slated to come together in 40 minutes.
The recipe used few ingredients and came together quickly in three steps: wrapping the chicken breasts, browning them in a pan, then roasting them in the oven while making a basic browned butter sauce infused with fresh, woodsy sage.
Freshly squeezed lemon juice gave the dish a bit of a bite, balanced by the saltiness of the prosciutto, earthy richness of the sage butter and fleshy tenderness of the chicken.
4 (6- to 8-ounce) boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, trimmed
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 thin slices prosciutto (3 ounces)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Pound thicker end of breasts as needed, then pat dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Slightly overlap 2 slices of prosciutto on cutting board, lay 1 chicken breast in center, and fold prosciutto over chicken. Repeat with remaining prosciutto and chicken.
Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown chicken lightly on both sides, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer chicken to rimmed baking sheet and roast until chicken registers 160 degrees, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer chicken to platter and cover to keep warm.
Melt butter in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat, swirling occasionally, until butter is browned and has nutty aroma, about 1 ½ minutes. Stir in sage and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle sauce over chicken and serve.
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