Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Week-Long Cookbook Review, Monday

To start off this new direction I'm heading here, I've begun a week of cooking from one particular cookbook:

I've had this book for a few months now. When I first learned about America's Test Kitchen's existence - while reading Kelly Eddington's blog - it was pretty much love at first sight. With the exception of that whole immersion blender debacle and their obnoxious need to make you pay for absolutely everything on their websites (which is why I've not added them to my links list), they're pretty much spot-on with everything they publish. I've since subscribed to Cook's Country and Cook's Illustrated, a sure thing after I ordered this book from amazon. I knew I wanted to review it when I got going again and here we are.

The plan is to make one recipe from this book per day. Monday was risotto. "Almost Hands-Free Risotto with Parmesan and Herbs" to be specific. What's not to love about risotto? It is creamy, cheesy, starchy elegance. It's also a pain in the butt to cook - who wants to stir something you're planning to eat as a side dish for thirty minutes straight? America's Test Kitchen has come up with a way to cook risotto that allows you to walk away from it for almost twenty of those thirty minutes and I wanted to see if it made authentic-tasting risotto.

(You get this pic because, as usual, I forgot to take a picture of the finished dish. The risotto is simmering in the cast iron dutch oven.)

You know what? It pretty much does. This recipe contains all the classic ingredients for risotto: arborio rice, white wine, onions, garlic, chicken broth, butter, and parmesan cheese. It was much easier to cook, allowing me to spend time on the stuffed chicken we ate alongside.

Low sodium note: America's Test Kitchen called for 3/4 tsp salt plus more to taste. I added a decent-sized pinch of this grey salt, which has about half the regular amount of sodium present in regular table salt (or kosher salt), and I didn't miss the difference what with the chicken broth and parmesan:

I will say this about the risotto, it was pretty yummy (I left out the herbs even though they are amongst the counter mess) and the less work the better, but there was something missing. Maybe it was just my imagination, but this dish felt, or tasted, easier than it should have to be true risotto. Most of the cooking required the lid. 'Nuff said.

Up next - Maryland Crab Cakes

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