Quick Look: Eat your way through America with this smattering of coast-to-coast specialties, including a limited offering from the Pacific Northwest.
What’s Inside: This 320-page softcover cookbook is divided into four chapters which are organized by region: New England and the Mid-Atlantic, Appalachia and the South, the Midwest and Great Plains, and – lastly – Texas and the West.
You’ll mostly find the expected: Philadelphia Cheesesteaks, South Carolina Pimento Cheeseburgers, Mississippi Fried Catfish, Funeral Potatoes from Mormon country, Easy New England Clam Chowder, Wisconsin Cheddar Beer Soup and chocolate-and-peanut- butter Buckeyes from Ohio. Recipes are largely conventional.
There are assorted burgers, beans, rice dishes and casseroles – even a couple of recipes from Hawaii: Kalua Pork and Hawaiian Fried Rice.
Harder-to-find regional ingredients have been replaced with readily available items so home cooks everywhere can easily make the recipes. A green tea rub and mesquite wood chips give Kalua Pork flavors that typically come from kiawe wood and banana leaves, for example.
Methods are approachable and easy-to-follow. And limited breakout sections spotlight local eateries known for particular specialties, such as the Connecticut Steamed Cheeseburgers at Ted’s Restaurant in Meriden, Connecticut, and the Moravian Sugar Cake at Winkler Bakery in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
What’s Not: There’s only one recipe from the Pacific Northwest – a single dish to represent all of Washington, Idaho, Oregon, even Montana.
And, it’s jojos.
“Shaggy, crunchy Jo Jo Potatoes are a mainstay in taverns and roadside eateries throughout the Pacific Northwest,” begins the introduction to the recipe, which no doubt is good.
America’s Test Kitchen is well-known for streamlining and thoroughly testing its offerings.
However, while they might make for great bar food, Jo Jo Potatoes are no more popular in these parts than regular old french fries or, for that matter, trendy sweet potato fries. And the Pacific Northwest is such a vast and diverse region – a land of potatoes, yes, but also huckleberries and salmon, shellfish, wild mushrooms, rainbow trout, apples, blackberries and big game, such as elk.
Editors at America’s Test Kitchen could have let those roadhouse potatoes share the spotlight with cedar-planked or smoked or any kind of salmon or some kind of clams – or anything else from the aforementioned ingredients.
But jojos are the sole mention this four-state area gets in the cookbook, which otherwise doesn’t disappoint.
Jo Jo Potatoes
Do not substitute standard store-bought bread crumbs for the panko here. These potatoes are perfect dipped in ranch dressing.
3 russet potatoes, unpeeled
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1 1/3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated ( 2/3 cup)
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Adjust oven rack to the middle position, place rimmed baking sheet on rack and heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut each potato lengthwise into 6 wedges. Place potatoes in large bowl and cover. Microwave until edges of potatoes are translucent but centers remain slightly firm, 6 to 8 minutes, shaking bowl (without uncovering) to redistribute potatoes halfway through microwaving. Carefully uncover and drain potatoes well. Return to bowl, add 3 tablespoons oil and stir until potatoes are coated with starchy film, about 1 minute.
Combine panko, Parmesan, paprika, dry mustard, salt, garlic powder, thyme and cayenne in shallow dish. Dredge one-quarter of potatoes in panko mixture, pressing gently to adhere. Transfer to platter and repeat with remaining potatoes. Let sit for 15 minutes.
Remove hot sheet from oven and brush with remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Arrange potatoes cut side down in a single layer. Bake until crisp and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes, flipping wedges halfway through baking. Serve immediately.
Serves: 4 to 6
2/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro (or dill, tarragon or parsley)
1 tablespoon minced shallot
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Whisk sour cream, buttermilk, cilantro, shallot, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper together until smooth. Season with sugar to taste.
Makes: 1 cup
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