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NUMBER 146
M AY & J U N E 2 017
Stir-Fried Shrimp
New Three-Step Technique
Great Guacamole
What’s with the Whisk?
Meatless “Meat” Sauce
Quick, Easy, and Hearty
Perfect Grilled
Pork Tenderloin
Chicken Drumsticks
Supertender on the Grill
Best Ways to Clean
All Your Cookware
Olive Oil Cake
Mediterranean Classic Perfected
˚
Panang Beef Curry
Italian Rice and Peas
Napa Cabbage Slaws
German Pancake
CooksIllustrated.com
$6.95 U.S.
Display until June 5, 2017
M AY & J U N E 2 017
2
20 Olive Oil Cake
Quick Tips
Quick and easy ways to perform everyday tasks,
from cleaning countertops to peeling garlic.
Repurpose one of your favorite savory
ingredients for a cake that’s light yet plush and
simple yet sophisticated.
COMPILED BY ANNIE PETITO
BY ANDREA GEARY
4
Great Guacamole
22 Napa Cabbage Slaws
A perfectly seasoned dip isn’t just stirred
together. You have to cut and paste.
Could we maintain napa cabbage’s delicate
texture but not end up with a soupy slaw?
BY LAN LAM
BY KEITH DRESSER
6
Panang Beef Curry
23 Testing Fire Extinguishers
With a few tweaks to jarred curry paste, this rich,
savory-sweet, deeply fragrant Thai classic can
be as easy to make as a stir-fry.
When you have only seconds to put out a
kitchen fire, you want an extinguisher that’s easy
to use and effective. We were shocked at how
many aren’t.
BY ANNIE PETITO
8
Meatless “Meat” Sauce
BY LISA McMANUS
We wanted it quick. We wanted it easy. Most of
all, we wanted it to be as hearty and satisfying as
a meaty red sauce.
26 Another Big Cheese in
Our Kitchen
PAGE 12
BY LAN LAM
10 Grilled Chicken
The right Gruyère is buttery and complex,
is pleasantly firm and dense, and melts like a
champ. If you aren’t buying it, you should be.
16 The Best Ways to Clean
Drumsticks
When grilled as part of a whole chicken, drumsticks taste just fine. But with the right treatment,
they can be the solo stars of your cookout.
BY ANDREA GEARY
Cookware
If you’re spending as much time cleaning your
kitchen equipment as you are cooking with it,
it’s time for some better methods.
BY KATE SHANNON
28 Ingredient Notes
BY KEITH DRESSER, STEVE DUNN, ANDREA GEARY,
ANDREW JANJIGIAN & LAN LAM
BY ELIZABETH BOMZE AND KEITH DRESSER
12 Stir-Fried Shrimp
The key to good stir-fried shrimp? Don’t stir-fry
them at all.
BY ANDREW JANJIGIAN
18 Grilled Pork Tenderloin
What’s the secret to achieving a tender, custardy
base and a crispy, puffy rim? Ignoring one of the
cardinal principles of baking.
BY ANDREW JANJIGIAN
PLUS: TESTING SYRUP DISPENSERS
BY STEVE DUNN, ANDREW JANJIGIAN,
LAN LAM, ANNIE PETITO & DAN SOUZA
For a rich crust and tender, juicy meat,
we explored the highs and lows of grilling.
BY STEVE DUNN
14 German Pancake
30 Kitchen Notes
32 Equipment Corner
19 Introducing Risi e Bisi
BY MIYE BROMBERG AND LAUREN SAVOIE
Brothier than risotto but thicker than soup, this
Venetian classic requires a not-so-gentle touch.
BY STEVE DUNN
BACK COVER ILLUSTRATED BY JOHN BURGOYNE
Asian Herbs
Herbs play starring roles in many Asian cuisines. Stiff, shiny KAFFIR
LIME LEAVES add a fresh, citronella-like flavor to Thai soups and
curries. The tender, citrusy cores of LEMON GRASS stalks are
steeped in soups or added to curry pastes. Bitter, sweet, slightly
soapy CILANTRO stems are just as often stuffed into Vietnamese
sandwiches as the leaves are used to garnish stir-fries. More potent
and earthy, CILANTRO ROOTS add fresh, clean flavor to Thai curry
pastes. Garlicky CHINESE CHIVES fill pan-fried Thai buns called
khanom kui chai. YELLOW CHINESE CHIVES are mild but pack a
sharp finish. Licorice-flavored THAI BASIL leaves are heaped into
Vietnamese pho and stir-fries. CULANTRO, also called “saw-tooth
herb,” tastes refreshing and vegetal, like cucumber or celery.
Cinnamon, mint, and orange flavors define SHISO, the hairy-looking
leaves that often accompany Japanese dishes such as sashimi. Teeny
MITSUBA pack a cold menthol burn with a hint of carrot greens.
America’s Test Kitchen, a 2,500-square-foot
kitchen located just outside Boston, is the home
of more than 60 test cooks, editors, and cookware specialists. Our mission is to test recipes
until we understand exactly how and why they
work and eventually arrive at the very best
version. We also test kitchen equipment and
supermarket ingredients in search of products
that offer the best value and performance. You
can watch us work by tuning in to America’s
Test Kitchen (AmericasTestKitchen.com) and
Cook’s Country from America’s Test Kitchen
(CooksCountry.com) on public television and
listen to our weekly segments on The Splendid
Table on public radio. You can also follow us on
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
LETTER FROM THE EDITORS
E D I T O R I A L STA F F
Chief Executive Officer David Nussbaum
Chief Creative Officer Jack Bishop
Editorial Director John Willoughby
Executive Editor Amanda Agee
Deputy Editor Rebecca Hays
Executive Managing Editor Todd Meier
Executive Food Editor Keith Dresser
Senior Editors Andrea Geary, Andrew Janjigian, Lan Lam,
Chris O’Connor
Senior Editors, Features Elizabeth Bomze, Louise Emerick
Associate Editor Annie Petito
Test Cooks Daniel Cellucci, Steve Dunn
Assistant Test Cooks Mady Nichas, Jessica Rudolph
Senior Copy Editor Krista Magnuson
Copy Editor Jillian Campbell
Executive Editor, Cook’s Science Dan Souza
Science Editor Guy Crosby, PhD, CFS
Director, Creative Operations Alice Carpenter
Executive Editor, Tastings & Testings Lisa McManus
Managing Editor Scott Kathan
Deputy Editor Hannah Crowley
Associate Editors Lauren Savoie, Kate Shannon
Assistant Editors Miye Bromberg, Emily Phares
Editorial Assistant Carolyn Grillo
Test Kitchen Director Erin McMurrer
Assistant Test Kitchen Director Leah Rovner
Test Kitchen Manager Alexxa Benson
Lead Senior Kitchen Assistant Meridith Lippard
Senior Kitchen Assistant Sophie Clingan-Darack
Lead Kitchen Assistant Ena Gudiel
Kitchen Assistants Gladis Campos, Blanca Castanza
Design Director Greg Galvan
Photography Director Julie Cote
Art Director Susan Levin
Designer Maggie Edgar
Art Director, Marketing Melanie Gryboski
Deputy Art Director, Marketing Janet Taylor
Associate Art Director, Marketing Stephanie Cook
Senior Staff Photographer Daniel J. van Ackere
Staff Photographer Steve Klise
Assistant Photography Producer Mary Ball
Styling Catrine Kelty, Marie Piraino
OUR OLD FRIEND
T
echnology has continually changed
the way we cook. First, of course, was
the world-shaking invention of cooking itself, which basically consisted of
dangling food over flames. Many anthropologists mark this as the point when humans became
truly human. Millennia later, the development of
clay-fired bowls allowed us to begin boiling, stewing, and braising. After many more centuries came
roasting in an enclosed space, also known as an
oven. Then came gas and, eventually, electricity as
cooking fuels. These not only made life easier but
also eliminated the near-constant presence of ash
in everyone’s home.
More recent years saw the introduction of the
microwave and induction, technologies that took
cooking into the arena of the seemingly magical.
The latest in culinary technology is sous vide, which
involves cooking food very slowly, submerged in a
liquid that’s at the temperature you want the food
to be when it’s done.
Senior Director, Digital Design John Torres
Executive Editor, Web Christine Liu
Managing Editor, Web Mari Levine
Senior Editor, Web Roger Metcalf
Associate Editors, Web Terrence Doyle, Briana Palma
Senior Video Editor Nick Dakoulas
Test Kitchen Photojournalist Kevin White
B U S I N E S S STA F F
Chief Financial Officer Jackie McCauley Ford
Production Director Guy Rochford
Imaging Manager Lauren Robbins
Production & Imaging Specialists Heather Dube,
Sean MacDonald, Dennis Noble, Jessica Voas
Senior Controller Theresa Peterson
Director, Business Partnerships Mehgan Conciatori
Chief Digital Officer Fran Middleton
Director, Sponsorship Marketing & Client
Services Christine Anagnostis
Client Services Manager Kate Zebrowski
Client Service and Marketing Representative Claire Gambee
Partnership Marketing Manager Pamela Putprush
Director, Customer Support Amy Bootier
Senior Customer Loyalty & Support Specialists
Rebecca Kowalski, Andrew Straaberg Finfrock
Customer Loyalty & Support Specialist Caroline Augliere
Senior VP, Human Resources & Organizational
Development Colleen Zelina
Human Resources Director Adele Shapiro
Director, Retail Book Program Beth Ineson
Retail Sales Manager Derek Meehan
Director, Public Relations & Communications
Rebecca Wisdom
Circulation Services ProCirc
Cover Illustration Robert Papp
PRINTED IN THE USA
Each of these developments along cooking’s
evolutionary arc has its advantages. But we find a
particular satisfaction in going back to the beginning of it all—grilling outside over a live fire. In
New England, where our test kitchen is located, this
doesn’t begin in earnest until warm weather arrives.
But we know that those of you in less frigid parts
of the country grill year-round—plus, we’re always
anxious to get back to our grills. So in addition to the
many “indoor” dishes in this issue, we’ve got a couple
of live-fire recipes to whet your grilling appetite. On
page 10, Andrea Geary uses the low, slow heat of the
grill to make chicken drumsticks supertender. On page
18, Steve Dunn explores every approach to cooking
over a half-grill fire to grill pork tenderloin perfectly.
We’ve got one more live fire–related story for
you in this issue, though ironically it brings us back
inside: On page 23, Lisa McManus takes you with
her as she personally tests a range of kitchen fire
extinguishers. Because, though it’s been with us
since we became human, fire is a friend that must
always be treated with respect and care.
–The Editors
CORRECTION: In our March/April 2017 issue, we stated that farmed salmon is “dyed pale pink by synthetic
astaxanthin and carotenoid pigment in [the] feed.” To be clear, farmed salmon is not dyed. The pinkish color of the
flesh is created by compounds in the feed. A similar process occurs in wild salmon, which get their pink color from
eating shrimp and other sea creatures rich in carotenoids.
FOR INQUIRIES, ORDERS, OR MORE INFORMATION
COOK’S ILLUSTRATED MAGAZINE
Cook’s Illustrated magazine (ISSN 1068-2821), number 146,
is published bimonthly by America’s Test Kitchen Limited
Partnership, 17 Station St., Brookline, MA 02445. Copyright
2017 America’s Test Kitchen Limited Partnership. Periodicals
postage paid at Boston, MA, and additional mailing offices,
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M AY
&
JUNE
1
2017
QUI CK
TI P S
Boxed broth sometimes glugs and
splashes out of the container, which
can cause a bit of a mess. Dan
Messier of Beacon, N.Y., found that
by simply rotating the box so the
spout is at the top of the container
instead of the bottom, he can pour
the broth without any splashing.
COMPILED BY ANNIE PETITO
Easy Cake Rotating
To rotate cakes halfway through baking, Christa Lucas of Medford, Mass.,
forgoes a potholder (which can accidentally touch the cake) and instead uses
a large, sturdy spatula or a small pizza peel, which can easily slide under the
baking pan.
How to Contain Sandwich Fillings
When piling hearty sandwich fillings such as
meatballs or chicken salad into sub rolls, the filling
often falls out. To keep the filling contained, Janice
Hall of Troy, Va., buys rolls that aren’t split, cuts off
one end, hollows them out using a butter knife, and
stuffs them with the sandwich fixings so that nothing escapes. (This works well for any filling
that doesn’t need to be layered.)
SEND US YOUR TIPS We will provide a complimentary one-year subscription for each tip we print. Send your tip, name, address, and
daytime telephone number to Quick Tips, Cook’s Illustrated, P.O. Box 470589, Brookline, MA 02447, or to QuickTips@AmericasTestKitchen.com.
COOK’S
ILLUSTRATED
2
Squeegee-Clean
In place of a bench scraper,
Stephanie Schelling of Lake Ariel,
Pa., uses a clean window squeegee
to corral crumbs, flour, and other
messes on her kitchen counter.
Its sharp edge easily slides under
crumbs and scrapes them into the
sink or garbage.
Securing Condiment
Squirt Bottles
David L. Lloyd Jr. of New York, N.Y.,
refrigerates nearly empty squirt bottles of condiments such as ketchup,
mustard, and relish upside down so
that the contents are at the top for
easy squeezing, but the bottles tend
to tip over. He found that storing
them in the slots of an empty
cardboard six-pack beer or soft
drink carrier keeps them stable.
ILLUSTRATION: JOHN BURGOYNE
Pouring Boxed Broth
Without Splashing
Make Your Own Half-Sheet Paper Towels
Space-Saving Sauce Storage in
the Freezer
Ishwari Sollohub of Santa Fe, N.M., prefers paper towels that allow
you to tear off half sheets but can’t always find them at the store.
To make his own, he gently saws a roll in half using a long, sharp
slicing or chef ’s knife, rotating the roll as he cuts and stopping when
he reaches the cardboard tube. The roll hangs on the rack as usual.
Instead of using ice cube trays to store small
amounts of thick sauces such as sofritos or
pestos, Carla Krash of Narberth, Pa., uses
plastic Easter eggs, which hold more and are
easier to store. She fills both sides of the egg,
snaps the sides together, and tucks the eggs
into the freezer anywhere they fit. When she’s
ready to use the contents, she runs warm
water over the egg to make it easy to open.
Tamping down Foil
When lining a rimmed baking sheet with
aluminum foil, it can be tricky to press
the foil neatly into the pan’s corners.
Emilio Teisser of Milwaukee, Wis., makes
it easy by placing a second baking sheet
on top of the foil sheet to press it neatly
into place. (Alternatively, you can use
an overturned wire rack that fits snugly
inside the baking sheet.)
No More Wrestling with Plastic Wrap
Boxes of plastic wrap are lightweight, so the roll tends to lift up
out of the box, making it difficult
to unroll and tear cleanly. James
Speed Hensinger of Westminster,
Colo., adds weight to the plastic
wrap tube by sliding a honing
steel into the roll. The box prevents the rod from sliding out,
and the steel adds resistance so
he can smoothly pull off a portion
of the wrap without having to
fight it. This technique also works
with parchment paper, waxed
paper, and aluminum foil.
DIY Garlic Peeler
Roberta Cerniglia of Rhinebeck, N.Y., doesn’t
own a garlic peeler but creates her own
by wrapping a swath of silicone shelf liner
around a clove and rolling it on her counter.
The skin comes off smoothly and easily with
no need to smash the clove first.
Upright Deviled Eggs
When transporting deviled eggs to a dinner party, Irene Makuch of Florence, Ore., cuts a small sliver off the
bottom of each egg white before filling it so that the egg can sit on the
serving platter without wobbling. To minimize waste, she then places
the egg white sliver in the egg cavity before adding the filling.
M AY
&
JUNE
3
2017
Great Guacamole
A perfectly seasoned dip isn’t just stirred together. You have to cut and paste.
BY LAN LAM
T
What I needed was something abrasive like
the molcajete to quickly and thoroughly
break down the aromatics. Fortunately I
had something right in the bowl: salt. In
the test kitchen, we often use salt to help
break down garlic into a creamy paste, since
it grinds the particles and draws moisture
out of the cells so that they quickly collapse
and soften. Borrowing this idea, I piled
together a finely chopped onion (I’d test
it against garlic later), a minced chile, and
½ teaspoon of kosher salt. As I ran my
knife through the pile, I could see that the
salt was helping draw out the juices from
the onion and chile, and after less than a
minute of chopping, I had the homogeneous, fragrant paste I was looking for. I
transferred it to a bowl and looked around
the kitchen for a better tool with which to
incorporate the avocado.
Since my colleagues couldn’t agree on the
ideal texture, I stuck with my own preferSmooth Operator
ence: a creamy base with chunks scattered
To achieve this cohesive flavor, the tradithroughout. I needed a tool that would cut
tional recipes I followed called for grinding
through the avocado but not break it down
the aromatics in a molcajete, a three-legged
too much. That ruled out rubber spatulas,
mortar made from volcanic rock, which you
wooden spoons, and potato mashers (all
may be familiar with if you’ve ever seen gua- Using a whisk to stir ½-inch pieces of avocado into the aromatic paste
too flat), but I paused when I saw a whisk.
camole prepared tableside in a restaurant. produces guacamole that’s cohesive yet still chunky.
The top of the whisk, where the wires meet,
Its coarse surface is ideal for pulverizing the
aromatic ingredients so that they thoroughly break by hand, finely mincing some onion (a placeholder can mash the avocado efficiently; the gaps between
down and release their flavors. Once that’s done, the for now) and a serrano chile, tossing them in a bowl the wires along the body allow most of the avocado
avocado and any other ingredients are mixed in the with salt, and then mashing three avocados (the chunks to remain whole during mixing; and its
molcajete’s wide, shallow bowl until the paste is fully nutty, buttery Hass variety was a must) into the rounded shape conforms to the bowl, allowing it to
incorporated and the chunks are broken down to the aromatics with a fork. But the seasoning wasn’t as easily incorporate the aromatics. Just a couple of quick
evenly dispersed as in the molcajete-made batch, and turns of the whisk yielded a guacamole that had the
desired consistency.
right ratio of chunks to mash.
Before I decided what, beyond the basics, would my arm was worn out.
go into my dip, I wanted to figure out the best way
to achieve a paste without a molcajete, since most
home cooks don’t own one. Many recipes default to
Make Paste
a food processor, but after a couple of tests I decided
Traditionally, guacamole is made by grindthis was unreliable; the blades had a hard time grabing aromatics in a molcajete, a volcanic rock
bing and breaking down such a small quantity of
mortar with a coarse surface that helps
aromatics (just a few tablespoons total), and it was
break down the aromatics and draw out
impossible to blend in the avocado without pureeing
their juices so they are distributed evenly
it completely. I also tried to do all the preparation
throughout the dip. We got similar results
in a regular mortar and pestle with kosher
salt, whose coarseness helped abrade the
Watch Lan Mash It
vegetables. We also found that we could
WITH A GRAIN OF SALT
A step-by-step video is available
create a paste from the aromatics by simply
Kosher salt helps turn aromatics into paste, whether they’re
at CooksIllustrated.com/june17
chopping them with kosher salt.
pounded in a mortar and pestle or chopped on a cutting board.
COOK’S
ILLUSTRATED
4
PHOTOGRAPHY: CARL TREMBLAY
Worth Its Salt
here’s no consensus on what
makes a good guacamole. Case
in point: As soon as I set out
different versions of the dip, the
arguing began. Some of my colleagues
pounced on a minimalist mash of avocados, salt, and onion as their favorite.
Others cast their votes for batches featuring additional ingredients such as chiles,
fresh lime juice, garlic, diced tomato,
fresh cilantro, and spices. Further debate
ensued about what the texture should be:
thick and chunky, creamy and smooth, or
something in between.
That said, the favorite recipes did have
one thing in common: In each, the aromatics were thoroughly incorporated into the
mashed avocado so that every bite featured a
cohesive balance of flavor—not just a bland,
unseasoned bite of avocado here and a sharp
pop of onion, garlic, and/or chile there.
Now for the hard part: getting consensus on the
added flavors. Everyone agreed that lime juice
was a must to balance the rich avocado, so I
stirred in a couple of tablespoons. It wasn’t quite
enough, but adding more juice would make the
dip too loose and acidic. Instead, I added lime
zest, unlocking its flavor by working it into the
onion-chile paste.
As for the other potential additions, everyone
preferred onion to the sharper, hotter flavor of raw
garlic. Cumin and black pepper didn’t make the cut,
but cilantro and tomato did; I seeded the tomato to
prevent the jelly from diluting the finished guacamole. I also upped the salt to a full teaspoon, since
we’ve found that rich ingredients often need more
aggressive seasoning; doing so also helped the paste
ingredients break down more quickly.
The result was a perfect combination of buttery
avocado chunks and smooth, well-seasoned mash. My
tasters asked me to whip up a few more batches—just
so that we could be sure it was perfect.
¼
3
1
CLASSIC GUACAMOLE
2
MAKES 2 CUPS
For a spicier version, mince and add the serrano ribs
and seeds to the onion mixture. A mortar and pestle
can be used to process the onion mixture. Be sure to
use Hass avocados here; Florida, or “skinny,” avocados are too watery for dips.
2
1
tablespoons finely chopped onion
serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
Kosher salt
teaspoon grated lime zest plus
1½–2 tablespoons juice
ripe avocados, halved, pitted, and cut into
½-inch pieces
plum tomato, cored, seeded, and cut into
⅛-inch dice
tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Place onion, serrano, 1 teaspoon salt, and lime
zest on cutting board and chop until very finely
minced. Transfer onion mixture to medium bowl
and stir in 1½ tablespoons lime juice. Add avocados
and, using sturdy whisk, mash and stir mixture until
well combined with some ¼- to ½-inch chunks
of avocado remaining. Stir in tomato and cilantro.
Season with salt and up to additional 1½ teaspoons
lime juice to taste. Serve.
Avocado Primer
SHOPPING
R I P E N I N G A N D S TO R A G E
( Buy Hass for most recipes: Small, rough-
( Faster (but less even) ripening: Storing avocados
in a paper bag at room temperature will speed up
ripening by trapping ethylene, the gas that triggers
ripening in many fruits and vegetables. But it may also
result in uneven ripening, as the ethylene produced by
the avocado won’t distribute uniformly throughout the
flesh. We didn’t find that placing avocados in a paper
bag with other fruits (we tried Golden Delicious apples,
which produce a large amount of ethylene) made
much difference: These avocados didn’t ripen noticeably faster than those enclosed in a bag on their own.
skinned Hass avocados account for 95 percent of
the American market. Their rich flavor and buttery texture are essential for guacamole.
HASS
“SKINNY”
Rich and buttery
Sweet and watery
ILLUSTRATION: JOHN BURGOYNE
( “Skinny” avocados are fine for salads: Large,
bright green Florida avocados are sometimes
referred to as “skinny” avocados because their fat
by weight can be half that of Hass. Their milder,
sweeter flavor is fine in salads, but they’re too
watery for dips and sauces.
( Don’t judge a Hass (only) by its color:
While Hass avocados start out green and get progressively more purple-black as they ripen, color
alone isn’t an accurate indicator of ripeness.
( Use the squeeze test: The most accurate
test for ripeness is to place the fruit in the palm
of your hand and gently squeeze: It should yield
slightly to the pressure.
( Double-check with the stem test: Flick off
the small stem at the narrow end of the fruit. An
easy-to-remove stem with green underneath indicates ripe fruit; if the stem is hard to flick off, the
avocado needs to ripen further.
( When the fruit is past its prime: Avocados
that feel soft like a tomato when gently squeezed
and/or don’t fill out their skin are overripe; these
specimens will also show brown underneath the
stem when you flick it off. Another sign: skin with
dents or mold.
( Slower (but more even) ripening: If you have
time, allow your avocados to ripen in the refrigerator.
Though it will take longer, the chilling slows down the
production of ethylene gas and, therefore, the ripening process, giving the gas time to distribute evenly
throughout the fruit. Store avocados near the front
of the refrigerator, on the middle to bottom shelves,
where the temperature is more moderate.
( Always refrigerate ripe avocados: Unless you plan
to eat them immediately, keep ripe avocados refrigerated, which can extend their shelf life by days.
P R E V E N T I N G B R O W N I N G I N C U T AV O C A D O S
Avocado flesh turns brown when cut. Oiling the flesh and
placing the avocado cut side down on a plate or wrapping it
tightly in plastic wrap (refrigerated in either case) can lessen
browning. But these two methods work best.
( Store in lemon water: We found that storing the avocado cut side down in water that had been acidified with
a few squeezes of lemon juice kept it green for two days
(although it also turned the flesh a little tart and soft).
( Vacuum-seal: Vacuum sealing preserved the color for a
TWO GOOD WAYS
week (it works for guacamole, too).
Store cut avocado in lemon water or vacuum-seal it.
P I T, C R O S S H ATC H , S C O O P
Because the buttery flesh of ripe avocados bruises easily, cutting neat, even pieces requires delicate handling.
1. Strike pit with chef ’s knife. Twist
2. Secure avocado half with dish
3. Insert spoon between skin and
blade to remove pit. Use wooden
spoon to knock pit off blade.
towel and use paring knife to make
½-inch crosshatch slices into flesh
without cutting into skin.
flesh to separate them. Gently
scoop out avocado cubes.
M AY
&
JUNE
5
2017
Panang Beef Curry
With a few tweaks to jarred curry paste, this rich, savory-sweet,
deeply fragrant Thai classic can be as easy to make as a stir-fry.
j BY ANNIE PETITO k
COOK’S
ILLUSTRATED
6
PHOTOGRAPHY: CARL TREMBLAY
S
well as a long simmering time. Ultimately,
avory Thai curries are often catI ditched them all in favor of a cut we
egorized by the color of the spice
often turn to for braising: boneless short
paste used to flavor and thicken
ribs. They’re flavorful and well-marbled,
them. Green is hot and pungent,
so they’d be sure to cook up moist. And
mild yellow is sweet-spiced, orange is
even though they’re a bit pricier than
pleasantly sour, and salty-sweet red feachuck, there’d be much less waste and knife
tures a lingering burn. And then there
work—a worthwhile trade-off. Sliced ¼
is panang—a sweeter, more unctuous
inch thick, the short ribs cooked up tender
derivative of red curry that’s enriched
after just about an hour of simmering. On
with ground peanuts and seasoned with
to the paste.
sugar, fish sauce, deeply fragrant kaffir
lime leaves, and a touch of fiery Thai
chile. Panang curries are often made with
Nut Like the Rest
beef—usually a flavorful but tough cut,
I usually wouldn’t be so quick to endorse
such as chuck roast, shank, or brisket, that
a prefab ingredient, but most commercial
needs to cook for a long time to turn tenThai curry pastes are nothing more than
der. And unlike those other more familiar
purees of the same herbs and spices I would
curries, which are typically brothy, panhave to seek out and grind myself—in this
ang is a drier style curry that contains a
case dried red chiles, shallots, garlic, galanjudicious amount of coconut milk, giving
gal, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, cilantro
it a thick, velvety consistency that steadroot, white pepper, and salt. Plus, pastes are
fastly clings to the pieces of meat.
inexpensive and keep well in the refrigerator
For a cook who has time, making panang
for about a month.
curry from scratch can be a labor of love:
Unfortunately, panang curry paste isn’t
toasting and pounding spices and aromatics
widely available in American markets, so I’d
to make the paste; frying the paste in a little
have to start with the more common red
coconut cream skimmed from the can; add- More like a thick sauce than a stew, panang curry is richer than other Thai
variety and doctor its flavor. That wouldn’t
ing the coconut milk, seasonings, and beef; curries and should be served with plenty of rice and vegetables.
be hard, though, since all I needed to do
and, finally, simmering it all to meld the
was add some form of peanut and work in
flavors. But even in Thailand, many cooks start with
However, unlike Western beef stews, which cook plenty of kaffir lime leaves so that their bright, citrusy
store-bought paste, which can make this dish easier the meat directly in the braising liquid to maximize fragrance would stand out in the rich sauce.
to pull together than a typical stir-fry.
Once I had another batch of beef ready to go, I
beefy flavor, most traditional panang curry recipes I
found called for cutting the beef into chunks or slices sizzled a few tablespoons of red curry paste in a little
and simmering them in plain water until tender, vegetable oil to intensify its flavor and then added
Tender at Heart
Most traditional panang curry recipes call for a which takes 1 to 2 hours, depending on the cut. The a can of coconut milk. Traditional recipes often call
tough, collagen-rich cut of beef for the same reason water is then discarded, and the meat is combined for frying the paste in coconut cream that has been
that Western stews do: The abundant collagen with the sauce for the last few minutes of cooking “cracked”—that is, simmered until its oil separates
breaks down during the prolonged cooking time, to purposely limit the amount of beefy flavor so
so the beef turns silky and fall-apart tender. I came that it won’t muddy the flavors of the spice paste. I
across a few modern panang curry recipes calling for proceeded with simmering the meat separately, but
When Beefier Is Not Better
quick-cooking cuts such as sirloin or flank steak, but I planned to double back at the end of testing and
Boiling the beef in water and combining it with
they weren’t nearly as nice to eat; cooked briefly, try cooking the meat in the sauce.
the curry during the last few minutes of cookBut first: Which cut of beef should I use? For my
these cuts have a steak-like chew that’s not right in
ing doesn’t infuse the dish with deeply meaty
Thai curry, while a lengthy simmer toughens them. early tests, I defaulted to chuck roast for three reaflavor—and that’s the point. Unlike Western beef
sons: good flavor, availability, and affordability. The
I’d stick with traditional collagen-rich cuts.
stews, which are meant to taste ultrabeefy, tradownsides were that trimming fat and gristle from
ditional versions of panang curry cook the beef
the roast was time-consuming and generated a lot of
separately so as not to muddy the flavors of the
Annie Makes the Curry
waste, and even when cut into thin slices, it needed
spice paste. We tried cooking the dish both ways
A step-by-step video is available
2 hours of simmering to turn tender. Looking for
and preferred the more assertive curry flavor
at CooksIllustrated.com/june17
other options, I considered cuts such as shank and
produced by the traditional Thai approach.
brisket, but these would require some trimming as
Short Ribs: Perfect Texture,
Minimal Knife Work
Panang curry is quick to make if you start with
jarred paste, but don’t try to shortcut it further by
using a quick-cooking cut of beef such as sirloin
or flank steak. We tried, and the results were like
steak with sauce, not the fall-apart-tender texture
you get by braising a collagen-rich cut. Chuck roast
is a popular choice, but it requires lots of trimming
and takes 2 hours to cook, so we use boneless
short ribs instead. They become at least as silky
as chuck does after just 1 hour, and they require
almost no knife work.
out, but we’ve found that coconut milks from different brands yield varying amounts of cream and that
vegetable oil works just as well. To that mixture I
added a few teaspoons of fish sauce and a touch of
sugar for salty-sweet balance, followed by the cooked
short ribs. I then simmered the curry until the liquid
was reduced by roughly half and was thick enough to
coat the meat. Finally, I stirred in a few tablespoons
of peanut butter, an ingredient I’d seen called for in
several recipes. Its flavor and texture overwhelmed
and overthickened the curry, so I reduced the
amount of peanut butter in subsequent batches, but
it never tasted quite right. The better option was to
scatter finely chopped roasted peanuts over the top
before serving, which lent the dish subtle nuttiness
as well as a nice crunch.
Some recipes instruct you to simmer whole kaffir
lime leaves in the sauce and remove them just before
serving, as you would bay leaves in a soup or stew.
Others called for slicing the stiff, shiny leaves into
very thin slivers and adding them to the pot just
before serving or even sprinkling them over the top
as a garnish. After trying both approaches, I found
that the latter delivered brighter, more vibrant citrus
flavor in every bite. I also came up with an acceptable substitute: a 50/50 combination of lime and
lemon zest strips.
I doubled back to the question of whether to
cook the beef in water or in the sauce: A side-by-side
test confirmed that tasters unanimously preferred
the water method; the sauce in the other batch was
not only muddy-tasting but also much too rich after
reducing for such a long time.
With savory-sweet heat; lush, creamy body; nutty
richness; and floral, citrusy tang, my version of
panang curry was satisfying in a way that belied the
ease of making it.
I N G R E D I E N T S P OT L I G H T
Kaffir Lime Leaves
Shiny kaffir lime leaves boast a tangy, floral aroma
that perfumes many Southeast Asian dishes.
They’re available in Asian markets and freeze
well. If you can’t find them, a combination of
lemon zest and lime zest will approximate their
flavor. Note: These leaves are also called “makrut
lime leaves,” as “kaffir” is an offensive term in
some cultures.
PANANG BEEF CURRY
SERVES 6
Red curry pastes from different brands vary in spiciness, so start by adding 2 tablespoons and then taste
the sauce and add up to 2 tablespoons more. Kaffir
lime leaves are well worth seeking out. If you can’t
find them, substitute three 3-inch strips each of
lemon zest and lime zest, adding them to the sauce
with the beef in step 2 (remove the zest strips before
serving). Do not substitute light coconut milk. Serve
this rich dish with rice and vegetables.
2
2
2–4
1
4
2
1
6
⅓
pounds boneless beef short ribs, trimmed
tablespoons vegetable oil
tablespoons Thai red curry paste
(14-ounce) can unsweetened
coconut milk
teaspoons fish sauce
teaspoons sugar
Thai red chile, halved lengthwise (optional)
kaffir lime leaves, middle vein removed,
sliced thin
cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts,
chopped fine
1. Cut each rib crosswise with grain into 3 equal
pieces. Slice each piece against grain ¼ inch thick.
Place beef in large saucepan and add water to cover.
Bring to boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat
to low, and cook until beef is fork-tender, 1 to
PUTS THE TANG IN PANANG
1¼ hours. Using slotted spoon, transfer beef to
bowl; discard water. (Beef can refrigerated for up
to 24 hours; when ready to use, add it to curry as
directed in step 2.)
2. Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over
medium heat until shimmering. Add 2 tablespoons
curry paste and cook, stirring frequently, until paste
is fragrant and darkens in color to brick red, 5 to
8 minutes. Add coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, and
chile, if using; stir to combine and dissolve sugar.
Taste sauce and add up to 2 tablespoons more curry
paste to achieve desired spiciness. Add beef, stir to
coat with sauce, and bring to simmer.
3. Rapidly simmer, stirring occasionally, until
sauce is thickened and reduced by half and coats
beef, 12 to 15 minutes. (Sauce should be quite thick,
and streaks of oil will appear. Sauce will continue to
thicken as it cools.) Add kaffir lime leaves and simmer
until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to serving
platter, sprinkle with peanuts, and serve.
ILLUSTRATION: JOHN BURGOYNE
Curry in a Hurry? Even Thai Cooks Do It
Making curry paste from scratch is
great if you have time to source about
a dozen ingredients and toast, grind,
and pound all the spices, herbs, and
aromatics. For a casual meal, most
cooks—Thai cooks included—make
curry using jarred paste, which contains
all the ingredients you need (many of
which are hard to find in American
markets) and turns this deeply flavorful
dish into a fast weeknight meal.
dried
chiles
garlic
peanuts
shallots
shrimp paste
kaffir lime leaves
coriander
cumin
FAST
ALTERNATIVE
LABOR OF LOVE
Making a curry paste
requires about a dozen
ingredients and at least an
hour’s work.
galangal
lemon grass
cilantro
M AY
&
JUNE
7
2017
white
peppercorns
Using jarred paste,
you can have the
whole dish on the
table in about half an
hour (if you cook the
beef ahead).
Meatless “Meat” Sauce
We wanted it quick. We wanted it easy. Most of all, we wanted
it to be as hearty and satisfying as a meaty red sauce.
B Y L A N L A M
T
I added garlic, dried oregano, and red
pepper flakes; stirred in the tomatoes; and
simmered the sauce for about 20 minutes.
Tossed with some pasta, this early batch
looked thin and tasted one-dimensional,
but it was undeniably savory. What I
needed was a partner for the mushrooms
that would provide the sauce with some
bulk and flavor balance.
hough I didn’t grow up in an
Italian family, I can still appreciate the appeal of a bowl of
pasta dressed with tomatoey
meat sauce. The sauce is rich and savory,
clings well to just about any noodle shape,
and can be thrown together quickly with
basic ingredients such as ground beef,
canned tomatoes, onion, garlic, and seasonings. That’s why I make it so often.
The thing is, sometimes I want a meatless
version instead, either because I’m hosting
vegetarian guests or, increasingly, because
I’m trying to eat less meat. And the more I
think about it, the more I realize that what
I crave most about a quick meat sauce like
this isn’t the flavor of the meat itself, since
this type of sauce doesn’t taste particularly
beefy. It’s the rich, savory flavor and hearty,
unctuous body that I want. Do you really
need meat to achieve the look and feel—and
even the savoriness—of a good meat sauce?
I was about to find out.
Fill ’er Up
The typical Italian American meat sauce gets
most of its savory depth from browning the This thick, hearty sauce pairs well with any pasta shape.
ground beef. As the beef cooks, it releases
That explained why so many of the vegetarian
juices that reduce and form a flavor-packed fond on
the bottom of the pot. From there, you remove and “meat” sauce recipes I tried called for mushrooms,
reserve the beef and cook the onion, garlic, and sea- but in most cases I found their earthy flavor too
sonings (such as oregano and red pepper flakes) in the dominant; I wasn’t trying to make a mushroom
rendered fat, which adds to the flavor base. You then sauce, after all. However, a modest amount of
add canned tomatoes and the browned beef to the mushroom presence would be a good thing as long
pot and simmer the sauce long enough to tenderize as I balanced it with other components.
I ruled out more assertively flavored varieties,
the meat a bit and allow the flavors to meld.
Finding a savory stand-in for the ground beef including porcini and shiitake, in favor of earthy but
was an obvious place to start, and mushrooms were more neutral-tasting cremini, and I kept the amount
my first instinct. They’re a popular meat alternative to a judicious 10 ounces. To quickly chop them
because they’re an excellent source of both glutamic into ground meat–size bits, I blitzed them in a food
acid and nucleotides, molecules packed with savory processor. From there, I sautéed them in extra-virgin
umami flavor. Plus, their cell walls are made of a olive oil with a bit of salt; the oil would mimic the
heat-stable substance called chitin, so instead of richness of rendered beef fat, and the salt would
breaking down and turning to mush when cooked, both season the mushrooms and pull water from
them so that it could evaporate for faster browning.
they retain some satisfying meat-like chew.
Once the mushrooms had developed some color, I
added an onion (also chopped in the food processor)
Look: No Meat Required
and a healthy scoop of tomato paste, another umami
A step-by-step video is available
booster. When the onions were translucent and the
at CooksIllustrated.com/june17
paste had darkened to a deep rust red (a sign that its
sugar had caramelized and its flavor had intensified),
COOK’S
ILLUSTRATED
8
A Speedy Process
To make this recipe as quick as possible, most of
the “knife work” takes place in a food processor.
Even better, you don’t have to wash the processor bowl between uses.
PHOTOGRAPHY: CARL TREMBLAY
Build the Base
I began to scour cookbooks and blogs for
other ingredient ideas, steering clear of meat
fakers such as tempeh and seitan. Instead,
I compiled a list of vegetables, grains, and
nuts that might mimic the hearty, lush consistency of ground beef without revealing
themselves too obviously: cauliflower, eggplant, walnuts, cashews, lentils, and bulgur.
But the list quickly shortened. The nuts
took the better part of an hour to become
fully tender, even after I broke them up in
the food processor. And the bulgur grains
absorbed so much water that the sauce
looked and tasted like a wheaty porridge.
Lentils didn’t look or taste right in an Italian
American–style sauce, eggplant had to be
roasted to break down, and chopped cauliflower lost votes for its sulfurous aroma.
Chickpeas were the most promising candidate.
Canned ones would be just fine for this quick sauce;
they softened nicely after a few pulses in the food
Getting to “Meaty” Without Meat
Pasta Pointers
By zeroing in on the specific qualities meat brings
to a meat sauce, we were able to replicate
them in our meatless version.
SAVORY DEPTH
from well-browned
cremini mushrooms
and tomato paste
MEATLESS “MEAT” SAUCE
WITH CHICKPEAS AND MUSHROOMS
MAKES 6 CUPS; ENOUGH FOR 2 POUNDS PASTA
Make sure to rinse the chickpeas after pulsing them
in the food processor or the sauce will be too thick.
Our favorite canned chickpeas are from Pastene, our
favorite crushed tomatoes are from SMT, and our
favorite tomato paste is from Goya.
1
5
1¼
¼
¼
1
2
1
Use Plenty of Water—or Stir Often
As pasta boils, it leaches starches into the
cooking water, which can cause the noodles to
stick together. The easiest way to cut down on
sticking is to boil pasta in a generous amount of
water—4 quarts per pound of dried pasta—to
dilute the starches. However, if you don’t have a
pot large enough for all the water, you can reduce
the water by half and stir the pasta frequently
during cooking.
HEARTY TEXTURE:from
drained, chopped chickpeas
processor and just 15 minutes of cooking. The only
drawback was that they overthickened the sauce, so I
tried rinsing them after chopping to remove as much
of their excess starch as possible. When that didn’t
help enough, I tried adding another can of crushed
tomatoes, but it contained too much pulp and not
enough liquid and made the sauce too tomatoey.
Ultimately, I added a couple of cups of vegetable
broth along with the crushed tomatoes, which loosened the sauce without diluting the flavor. For an
authentic finish, I stirred in chopped fresh basil.
The pantry staples made it quick. The food processor made it easy. And when my colleagues asked
if they could take home the leftovers, I suspected
that this sauce might become just as popular as the
meat kind.
10
6
Boiling pasta in salted water is a straightforward
kitchen task, but you can improve your results
with these simple tricks.
RICHNESS:from
6 tablespoons
of extra-virgin
olive oil
ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
onion, chopped
garlic cloves, minced
teaspoons dried oregano
teaspoon red pepper flakes
cup tomato paste
(28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
cups vegetable broth
1
2
(15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed
tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1. Pulse mushrooms in two batches in food
processor until chopped into ⅛- to ¼-inch pieces,
7 to 10 pulses, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
(Do not clean workbowl.)
2. Heat 5 tablespoons oil in Dutch oven
over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add
mushrooms and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring
occasionally, until mushrooms are browned and fond
has formed on bottom of pot, about 8 minutes.
3. While mushrooms cook, pulse onion in food
processor until finely chopped, 7 to 10 pulses,
scraping down sides of bowl as needed. (Do not
clean workbowl.) Transfer onion to pot with
mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until
onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Combine remaining 1 tablespoon oil, garlic,
oregano, and pepper flakes in bowl.
4. Add tomato paste to pot and cook, stirring
constantly, until mixture is rust-colored, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and push vegetables to
sides of pot. Add garlic mixture to center and cook,
stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Stir in tomatoes and broth; bring to simmer over
high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer sauce for
5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. While sauce simmers, pulse chickpeas in food
processor until chopped into ¼-inch pieces, 7 to 10
pulses. Transfer chickpeas to fine-mesh strainer and
rinse under cold running water until water runs clear;
drain well. Add chickpeas to pot and simmer until
sauce is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Stir in
basil and season with salt and pepper to taste. (Sauce
can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up
to 1 month.)
2
Salt the Water
Salting the cooking water ensures that
seasoning gets into the pasta, not just on it. Add
1 tablespoon of salt to 4 quarts of water (or
1½ teaspoons to 2 quarts), making sure to stir
well so that the salt will dissolve.
3
Skip the Oil
Since it merely sits on top of the cooking
water, adding a splash of olive oil to the pot
before adding the pasta doesn’t prevent the
pasta from sticking together as it cooks—though
it may help keep the water from boiling over. To
prevent the pasta from sticking together, simply
stir it for a minute or two after adding it to the
boiling water.
4
Check for Doneness Often
We recommend ignoring the cooking times
listed on packaging, which are almost always
too long and result in mushy, overcooked pasta.
Tasting the pasta is the best way to check for
doneness. We prefer pasta cooked al dente,
meaning that it has a bit of resistance in the
center when bitten.
5
Reserve Some Water
Before draining the pasta, reserve about
½ cup of the cooking water, which is flavorful,
somewhat salty, and starchy. It can be used to
loosen a thick sauce without diluting the sauce’s
body or flavor as much as plain water would.
Faked It But Didn’t Make It
ILLUSTRATION: JOHN BURGOYNE
We found plenty of ground beef alternatives in the vegetarian “meat” sauces we tried, but most of them were busts.
NUTS
LENTILS
BULGUR
EGGPLANT
CAULIFLOWER
Took 45 minutes to soften
Tasted too earthy
Produced wheaty porridge
Required preroasting
Gave off sulfurous aroma
M AY
&
JUNE
9
2017
Grilled Chicken Drumsticks
When grilled as part of a whole chicken, drumsticks taste just fine.
But with the right treatment, they can be the solo stars of your cookout.
BY ANDREA GEARY
C
collagen will be converted into gelatin and
the more tender and juicy the meat will be.
Slowing down the cooking was imperative. On a grill, that means cooking over
indirect heat. I lit a full chimney of charcoal,
and when it was partially covered with ash,
I poured it over half the grill. I placed the
chicken, skin side down, on the cooler side;
covered the grill; and settled in to enjoy one
of my favorite features of indirect grilling:
doing nothing.
Except for one moment when I rearranged the pieces so that they all had equal
time close to the coals, I carried on doing
nothing for a full 50 minutes. But in that
time, good things were happening inside
the grill. The drumsticks were shedding
their excess fat, but without any coals
beneath them, there were no flare-ups to
contend with. This meant I didn’t need
to frantically move them around to avoid
scorching—they clung lightly to the grill
grate but were easily dislodged. Once the
drumsticks reached 185 degrees, they easily
An Indirect Approach
released from the grate, so I moved them
There aren’t a lot of drumstick-specific
over to the hotter side to char and crisp up
recipes out there; most just lump them
under the heading “parts.” And most of the Since a glaze would make drumsticks messy to eat out of hand, we opt for a bit, which took only about 5 minutes.
This batch was a big improvement over
recipes I managed to find followed a similar a spice rub instead.
the previous one. The skin was rendered,
pattern: Soak chicken in a marinade for a
few hours or simply dust it with a spice rub and then difficult because the chicken skin was still stuck to the not rubbery, and the meat was tender and reasongrill it over a medium fire until it’s done. If a final grate. Because the drumsticks cooked pretty quickly, ably juicy. I wondered if adding one step to my
the skin, though inevitably scorched (and ultrasimple process might be worthwhile.
internal temperature was specitorn in spots), was still blubbery and soft
fied, it was usually 165 degrees. Don’t Let the
I decided to put off deal- Probe Touch Bone underneath. Meanwhile, the meat was
TECHNIQUE
tough and even a bit dry.
ing with marinades and spice The bones in these drumsticks
I had a pretty good idea of how to fix
rubs until I had figured out were 5 degrees hotter than the
APPLYING THE RUB
that last problem. All parts of the chicken
the best grilling strategy. My meat. For an accurate reading,
first stop was the popular insert the probe into the thick- are food-safe at 165 degrees. Taking
white meat any higher dries it out, but
grill-over-medium-fire-until- est part of the drumstick until
dark meat is different. We’ve found that
done approach, which took only it hits the bone and then pull
it benefits from being cooked to as high
about 25 minutes, but speed back about ¼ inch.
as 190 degrees, especially if it’s brought
turned out to be its only virtue.
Fat from the drumsticks dripped onto the coals, to that temperature slowly. That’s because the legs
causing flames to shoot up, so I was frantically mov- and thighs have a lot of connective tissue, which is
ing the pieces around to avoid scorching, which was made up of a sturdy protein called collagen. This
can work to the smart cook’s advantage because,
given time, that collagen transforms into rich gelatin,
Drumming up Dinner
which lubricates the muscle fibers so the meat is juicy
For a light, even coating of spice rub, hold each
A step-by-step video is available
and tender. At 140 degrees, collagen begins to break
drumstick by its “handle,” pressing it into the
at CooksIllustrated.com/june17
down. The more time the meat spends between
spices, and then gently pat away any excess rub.
140 degrees and its final temperature, the more
COOK’S
ILLUSTRATED
10
PHOTOGRAPHY: CARL TREMBLAY; ILLUSTRATION: JOHN BURGOYNE
hicken breasts have been
the most popular part of the
chicken for decades, thighs are
currently trendy, and wings are
a sports-bar standby. Drumsticks, on the
other hand, have been neglected. Maybe
that’s because when you eat them as part
of a whole chicken, they don’t seem that
special. In fact, they can be chewy and
tough. Nevertheless, with their built-in
handles and conveniently small size, they
are tailor-made for a cookout. They also
happen to be the most economical part
of the bird (for more information, see
“Pricing Chicken Parts” on page 29).
I decided to devise a foolproof way to
grill drumsticks to perfection. In my book,
that means fully rendered, nicely browned
skin and moist, flavorful meat. And if I
really wanted to start a drumstick fad, I’d
have to make sure my method was easy,
even for grill novices.
TECHNIQUE
CHICKEN LEG TWO-STEP
To ensure that all the drumsticks are done at the
same time, we rearrange them halfway through
cooking, moving those closer to the heat to the outside and those on the outside closer to the heat.
E Q U I P M E N T S P OT L I G H T
Heavy-duty cookbox and
narrow vent keep heat steady
and distribute smoke evenly
Our Favorite Grills—and Why We Like Them
Lid design keeps
smoke away
from our faces
when open
Solidly constructed
22-inch kettle
maintains heat well
Gas ignition system lights
coals with push of button—no
chimney starter needed
Well-positioned
vents draw hot
air over food
Large,
secure grease
tray makes
cleanup easy
Sturdy,
compact cart
rolls without
struggle
Charcoal
storage bin
holds 20
pounds of
coals and
keeps them
dry
Lid holder
means you don’t
have to set lid
on ground
Roomy, easyto-roll cart
Salt Solution
I almost always brine or salt white meat (and whole
birds) before cooking. It seasons the meat, but more
important, it changes the meat’s proteins in such a
way that they hold on to more of their moisture when
cooked. This extra step usually isn’t necessary when
cooking fattier dark meat because it is not as easily
overcooked. But I was cooking the drumsticks for an
unusually long time in the grill’s dry heat, so I figured
some kind of salt treatment might be advantageous.
Salting takes at least 6 hours, but brining takes
only 30 minutes, so I opted for brining. Sure enough,
the saltwater soak plus my mostly hands-off cooking
method produced the juiciest drumsticks I had ever
eaten. If only the flavor were a bit more interesting.
In the test kitchen, we often avoid marinating.
The oil tends to drip and cause flare-ups on the grill
(admittedly, this would be less of a problem with
my indirect cooking strategy), and the acid turns the
exterior of the meat mealy and mushy. Glazes can add
interest, but they make eating chicken out of hand a
messy proposition. I opted for a spice rub instead.
I started with sugar, which would melt and turn
tacky to help the spices stick. I then added paprika,
chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper.
After brining the chicken, I patted it dry and coated it
with the rub. One hour later I had chicken that would
ILLUSTRATION: JAY LAYMAN
SCIENCE
Brining Dark Meat
We typically don’t brine dark meat because it has
enough fat to keep it moist when cooked to 175
degrees. But in this recipe, we cook the drumsticks
to between 185 and 190 degrees to ensure that
most of the collagen converts to gelatin, making
what can be a chewy cut tender. And since the
long cooking time needed to get the drumsticks
to 190 degrees (plus the dry heat of the grill) can
compromise dark meat’s juiciness, we brine the
drumsticks to dissolve some of their proteins,
making them better able to hold on to moisture.
The upshot: ultratender drumsticks that are also
wonderfully juicy.
TOP GAS GRILL UNDER $500
TOP CHARCOAL GRILL
Weber Spirit E-310 Gas Grill ($499.00)
Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill ($399.00)
be the star of any cookout. I also developed two more
spice rubs. After all, a single flavor profile might not
be enough to sustain a new drumstick-eating trend,
and I wanted this craze to have legs.
GRILLED SPICE-RUBBED
CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS
SERVES 6
Before applying the spice rub, smooth the skin over
the drumsticks so it is covering as much surface area
as possible. This will help the skin render evenly and
prevent the meat from drying out. Our recipe for Ras
el Hanout Spice Rub is available free for four months
at CooksIllustrated.com/june17.
½
5
1
cup salt
pounds chicken drumsticks
recipe spice rub (recipes follow)
1. Dissolve salt in 2 quarts cold water in large
container. Submerge drumsticks in brine, cover, and
refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
2. Place spice rub on plate. Remove drumsticks
from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Holding
1 drumstick by bone end, press lightly into rub on all
sides. Pat gently to remove excess rub. Repeat with
remaining drumsticks.
3A. FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent halfway. Light large chimney starter filled
with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals
are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over
half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and
open lid vent halfway. Heat grill until hot, about
5 minutes.
3B. FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners
to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about
15 minutes. Leave primary burner on high and turn
off other burner(s). (Adjust primary burner [or, if
using three-burner grill, primary burner and second
burner] as needed to maintain grill temperature
between 325 and 350 degrees.)
4. Clean and oil cooking grate. Place drumsticks,
skin side down, on cooler side of grill. Cover and cook
M AY
&
JUNE
11
2017
for 25 minutes. Rearrange pieces so that drumsticks
that were closest to edge are now closer to heat source
and vice versa. Cover and cook until drumsticks register 185 to 190 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes.
5. Move all drumsticks to hotter side of grill and
cook, turning occasionally, until skin is nicely charred,
about 5 minutes. Transfer to platter, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. Serve.
BARBECUE SPICE RUB
MAKES ABOUT ⅓ CUP
You can substitute granulated garlic for the garlic
powder, if desired.
3
1
1
2
¾
¾
¼
tablespoons packed brown sugar
tablespoon paprika
tablespoon chili powder
teaspoons garlic powder
teaspoon salt
teaspoon pepper
teaspoon cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients in small bowl.
JERK-STYLE SPICE RUB
MAKES ABOUT ¼ CUP
If you can’t find whole allspice berries, substitute
2 teaspoons of ground allspice.
1
1
1½
2
2
1½
¾
¾
tablespoon allspice berries
tablespoon black peppercorns
teaspoons dried thyme
tablespoons packed brown sugar
teaspoons garlic powder
teaspoons dry mustard
teaspoon salt
teaspoon cayenne pepper
Grind allspice, peppercorns, and thyme in spice
grinder or mortar and pestle until coarsely ground.
Transfer to bowl and stir in sugar, garlic powder,
mustard, salt, and cayenne.
Stir-Fried Shrimp
The key to good stir-fried shrimp? Don’t stir-fry them at all.
BY ANDREW JANJIGIAN
See the Two-Step
A step-by-step video is available
at CooksIllustrated.com/june17
1. START HIGH Cook the
vegetables over high heat; remove
them from the skillet.
COOK’S
2. LOWER HEAT Add the
sauce ingredients and then the
shrimp; cover and cook gently over
medium-low heat.
ILLUSTRATED
12
3. RETURN TO HIGH Add
a cornstarch slurry to thicken the
sauce. Return the vegetables to the
skillet; toss and serve.
PHOTOGRAPHY: CARL TREMBLAY; ILLUSTRATION: JAY LAYMAN
I
I opted for a classic, boldly flavored
love the delicate, briny flavor that
garlic sauce. I started by cooking six thinly
shrimp brings to a stir-fry, as well as
sliced cloves of garlic in oil over medium
the contrast between crisp vegetaheat for several minutes, until they were
bles and the shrimp’s juicy, tender
just beginning to brown, to bring out the
flesh. And if you use shelled, deveined
garlic’s nuttiness and infuse the oil with
shrimp, few dishes can be faster. That
flavor. Next I increased the heat to high and
said, because shrimp cook in a flash,
added grated fresh ginger and scallion whites
avoiding rubbery results takes some care.
to the pan, followed by the asparagus as
I wanted to figure out the best way to
before, as well as the tender scallion greens,
preserve a plump, tender texture in a few
which I’d cut into 1-inch pieces. Once the
simple stir-fries. I’d add one or two vegevegetables were cooked, I set them aside
tables to each, along with a potent sauce.
and added the sauce’s liquid ingredients to
I started by letting the shrimp sit for
the pan. Many recipes call for Shaoxing, a
30 minutes in a combination of salt and
Chinese rice wine. Since it can be hard to
sugar. Both would be drawn into the flesh,
find, I settled on the test kitchen’s preferred
thanks to shrimp’s loose protein structure.
alternative, sherry. I also added a splash of
Salt would add seasoning while sugar
sherry vinegar for a little bright acidity and
would add complexity without noticeable
savoriness, plus soy sauce and broad bean
sweetness; both would also help the shrimp
chili paste for more savory depth and a touch
retain moisture. Because the ionic structure
of heat. I then added the shrimp and let
of salt allows it to move into protein faster
them cook through. Once they were done,
than sugar does, I used just ½ teaspoon of
all I needed to do was add a little cornstarch
it and a full teaspoon of sugar.
(which I made into a slurry with a touch of
Meanwhile, for a springtime dish, I
sherry) to thicken the sauce to just the right
settled on delicate, grassy asparagus, cut
consistency, return the vegetables to the pan,
into 2-inch lengths, to pair with the
toss, and serve over rice.
shrimp. Following our usual technique
From there, it was easy enough to come
for stir-frying vegetables, I cranked up the Thanks to a bold-tasting sauce, this simple shrimp stir-fry featuring just
up with a few variations, swapping out the
heat under a nonstick skillet (our preferred shrimp, asparagus, and scallions has plenty of flavor.
vegetable and making adjustments to the
vessel for stir-frying), added oil, tossed
in the asparagus, covered the skillet, and let the cook for 5 minutes or so, stirring once or twice to sauce base: shrimp with broccoli in oyster sauce
asparagus cook for a few minutes until crisp-tender. make sure they cooked evenly. It worked perfectly; and shrimp with onions, bell peppers, and cumin.
I then transferred it to a bowl and turned back to the shrimp were tender, plump, and moist. All I Each version was simple and satisfying and boasted
perfectly tender shrimp.
needed to do was settle on the sauce.
the shrimp.
Though many stir-fry recipes call for browning
the shrimp, I opted not to. I prefer clean shrimp flaT E C H N I Q U E A DIFFERENT WAY TO MAKE STIR-FRIED SHRIMP
vor in a stir-fry; plus, browning would make things
more challenging, since shrimp’s moisture is an
Instead of using a searing-hot skillet to cook all the components, we cook the vegetables on high but turn down
impediment to achieving decent color. This decision
the heat before adding the shrimp. We then shallow-poach them in the sauce so they cook up moist and tender.
freed me up to make another, more unconventional
one: Why not skip the blazing-hot skillet and gently
shallow-poach the shrimp in the sauce? Because
the temperature of the sauce can’t get above
212 degrees, there’s much less risk of overcooking.
I added both the shrimp and the sauce (a placeholder for now) to the empty skillet. I lowered the
heat, covered the skillet, and let the crustaceans
STIR-FRIED SHRIMP AND
ASPARAGUS IN GARLIC SAUCE
SERVES 4
If your shrimp are treated with salt, skip step 1 (see
“Shopping for Shrimp: Buyer Beware”). Asian broad
bean chili paste or sauce is also known as toban djan;
Lee Kum Kee is a common brand. Serve with rice.
1
1
½
⅓
2
1
1
2
2
6
3
2
1½
pound extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per
pound), peeled, deveined, and tails removed
teaspoon sugar
teaspoon salt
cup plus 2 tablespoons dry sherry
tablespoons soy sauce
tablespoon Asian broad bean chili paste
teaspoon sherry vinegar
teaspoons cornstarch
tablespoons vegetable oil
garlic cloves, sliced thin
large scallions, white parts chopped fine,
green parts cut into 1-inch pieces
tablespoons grated fresh ginger
pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut on bias
into 2-inch lengths
1. Combine shrimp, sugar, and salt in medium
bowl. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
2. Whisk ⅓ cup sherry, soy sauce, chili paste,
and vinegar together in bowl. Whisk cornstarch
and remaining 2 tablespoons sherry together in
second bowl.
3. Heat oil and garlic in 12-inch nonstick skillet
over medium heat until garlic is just beginning to
Shopping for Shrimp:
Buyer Beware
Most supermarket shrimp are frozen, so to prevent darkening or water loss during thawing, some
manufacturers treat the shrimp with salt or sodium
tripolyphosphate (STPP). (To determine if your
shrimp has been treated with salt or STPP, look
on the ingredient list.) We cooked samples of
salt- and STPP-treated shrimp, as well as untreated
shrimp, and tasted the samples side by side. We
also brined a batch of each type of shrimp before
cooking to see how it affected their flavors and
textures. Here are our recommendations.
* SALT-TREATED SHRIMP ARE OK IN
A PINCH Salt-treated shrimp were a bit saltier
than plain shrimp, though not objectionable, and
their textures were comparable. If using salttreated shrimp, skip any brining, which doesn’t
have a pronounced effect on the shrimp’s flavor.
* AVOID STPP-TREATED SHRIMP
Tasters disliked the chemical flavor and mushy
texture of STPP-treated shrimp, both plain and
brined. We do not recommend cooking with
STPP-treated shrimp.
brown at edges, 3 to 4 minutes. Increase heat to
high, add scallion whites and ginger, and cook until
fragrant, about 1 minute. Add asparagus and scallion
greens, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until
asparagus is crisp-tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer
vegetable mixture to bowl.
4. Add sherry–soy sauce mixture and shrimp to skillet and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low,
cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are
just cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes.
5. Whisk sherry-cornstarch mixture to recombine
and add to skillet; increase heat to high and cook,
stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened, 1 to
2 minutes. Return vegetable mixture to skillet and
toss to combine. Transfer to serving dish and serve.
stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened, 1 to
2 minutes. Return broccoli to skillet and toss to
combine. Transfer to serving dish and serve.
STIR-FRIED SHRIMP WITH ONION,
BELL PEPPERS, AND CUMIN
SERVES 4
If your shrimp are treated with salt, skip step 1 (see
“Shopping for Shrimp: Buyer Beware”). Sichuan
peppercorns have a piney, citrusy aroma and a
unique tingling sensation; they don’t contribute
heat, so don’t substitute black pepper or red pepper
flakes. Serve with rice.
1
STIR-FRIED SHRIMP AND BROCCOLI
SERVES 4
If your shrimp are treated with salt, skip step 1 (see
“Shopping for Shrimp: Buyer Beware”). If you can’t
find chili-garlic sauce, substitute 2 teaspoons Sriracha
sauce. Serve with rice.
1
1
½
⅓
2
1
1
1
2
2
1
1
2
pound extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per
pound), peeled, deveined, and tails removed
teaspoon sugar
teaspoon salt
cup plus 2 tablespoons dry sherry
tablespoons oyster sauce
tablespoon soy sauce
tablespoon Asian chili-garlic sauce
teaspoon sherry vinegar
teaspoons cornstarch
tablespoons vegetable oil
pound broccoli, florets cut into 1-inch pieces,
stalks peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
tablespoon grated fresh ginger
garlic cloves, minced
1. Combine shrimp, sugar, and salt in medium
bowl. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
2. Whisk ⅓ cup sherry, oyster sauce, soy sauce,
chili-garlic sauce, and vinegar together in bowl.
Whisk cornstarch and remaining 2 tablespoons
sherry together in second bowl.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until smoking. Add broccoli and 2
tablespoons sherry–oyster sauce mixture and toss to
coat. Cover skillet and cook for 4 minutes, stirring
halfway through cooking. Uncover and continue
to cook until broccoli is crisp-tender and beginning
to brown in spots, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer
broccoli to bowl.
4. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, ginger, and
garlic to skillet and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add remaining sherry–oyster sauce mixture and
shrimp to skillet and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to
medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally,
until shrimp are just cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes.
5. Whisk sherry-cornstarch mixture to recombine
and add to skillet; increase heat to high and cook,
M AY
&
JUNE
13
2017
2
½
2
1½
⅓
2
1
2
2
2
⅛
1
3
2
pound extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per
pound), peeled, deveined, and tails removed
teaspoons sugar
teaspoon salt
teaspoons cumin seeds
teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns
cup plus 2 tablespoons dry sherry
tablespoons soy sauce
teaspoon sherry vinegar
teaspoons cornstarch
tablespoons vegetable oil
garlic cloves, minced
teaspoon red pepper flakes
red onion, halved and sliced thin
large bell peppers (2 red and 1 green),
stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1-inch by
3-inch strips
tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh
cilantro
1. Combine shrimp, 1 teaspoon sugar, and salt
in medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature
for 30 minutes.
2. Microwave cumin seeds and peppercorns in
small bowl until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Let cool
slightly, then grind coarse in mortar and pestle or
spice grinder. Whisk ⅓ cup sherry, soy sauce, vinegar, and remaining 1 teaspoon sugar together in
bowl. Whisk cornstarch and remaining 2 tablespoons
sherry together in second bowl.
3. Heat oil, garlic, pepper flakes, and cumin mixture in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until
garlic is just beginning to brown, 1 minute. Add
onion, cover, and cook, stirring frequently, until
softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add bell peppers, cover,
and cook until crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer
vegetable mixture to bowl.
4. Add sherry–soy sauce mixture and shrimp to skillet and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low,
cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are
just cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes.
5. Whisk sherry-cornstarch mixture to recombine
and add to skillet; increase heat to high and cook,
stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened, 1 to
2 minutes. Return vegetable mixture to skillet, add
half of cilantro, and toss to combine. Transfer to
serving dish, top with remaining cilantro, and serve.
German Pancake
What’s the secret to achieving a tender, custardy base and
a crispy, puffy rim? Ignoring one of the cardinal principles of baking.
BY ANDREW JANJIGIAN
T
a couple of pats of butter in a skillet, added
the batter, and transferred it to the oven.
Sure enough, the rim of this no-fruit
pancake rose much higher, about 3 inches.
But the rim verged on dry, and the section
of pancake alongside the rim was overly
thick and dense. Meanwhile, the very center was paper-thin. It was as if the batter
had moved like an ocean wave toward the
edges of the pan during baking, crested,
and stayed that way.
I added an extra egg to push the texture
in the direction I wanted. One more egg
made the base more custardy, but it didn’t
add substance to the very center. The additional moisture and fat also mitigated some
of the dryness at the edge. But there was a
limit to the benefits since yet another egg
made the pancake taste too eggy. Could I
Ballooning Up
make the very center of the pancake more
After auditioning a number of recipes,
substantial by adding more flour? An addiI settled on a routine: Caramelize sliced
tional ¼ cup did create a bit more depth,
apples with sugar in a skillet (using nonstick
but any more than that made the pancake
ensures an easy release), pour in the batter,
too dry.
and place the filled skillet in a 375-degree
At this point, I needed to better underoven (the highest temperature most nonstand the mechanics of the dish in order to
stick skillets are rated to withstand). After
20 minutes, the rim of this pancake browned The puffy rim starts to deflate after the pancake is removed from the oven, make more progress toward my goals. So I
peered through the oven door during bakand puffed while the base remained flat, so it is best served immediately for maximum dramatic effect.
ing. When I put the skillet into the oven,
with a custardy texture. However, the rim
contact with the hot sides of the skillet. This results the batter was an even 1 inch deep. As the batter
wasn’t particularly tall—it had risen only 1 inch.
at the edges started to rise up out of the pan—at
That said, it was interesting that it had puffed at in a distinct rim and base.
about the 20-minute mark—the batter in the center
all, since I hadn’t added any leavener or incorporated
of the pan was still fluid. Over time, as the edges
air into the eggs. Rather than relying on a chemical Puff Piece
reaction or the expansion of an egg foam to provide I wondered if the apple filling was weighing things started to creep northward and the rim inflated, the
lift (as in a soufflé), a German pancake inflates more down and preventing the rim from fully expanding. If rim pulled more and more of the batter into itself;
like a balloon (or a popover): Heat begins to set the so, it would be easy enough to turn it into a topping. as that happened, the level at the center of the pan
gluten and egg proteins on the surface of the batter, Testing my theory, I whisked together another batch dropped. Eventually, even the center of the pancake
forming a flexible shell. Meanwhile, water inside of my basic mix: 5 eggs and 1½ cups each of flour began to set, and it began to puff there as well. But
this shell turns to steam; the trapped steam causes and milk, along with salt, vanilla, lemon zest, and a there was so little batter left at that point that it was
the pancake “balloon” to inflate. Since popovers are pinch of nutmeg (all standard flavorings). I melted still paper-thin.
made in small, cup-shaped tins, the batter is in close
contact with the sides of the tins and the heat of the
oven and thus inflates uniformly. A German pancake,
Heating Butter Until Foaming Subsides?
on the other hand, bakes in a wide, shallow vessel
Butter starts to melt at about 85 degrees and is completely liquefied at 94 degrees; when it reaches 190 degrees,
and cooks more quickly at the edges, which are in
it starts to foam. This is an indication that its water is evaporating and the milk proteins are forming a froth. At
212 degrees, the bubbling becomes more vigorous and the foaming subsides. While many recipes call for
heating butter to this point to ensure that it’s very hot, we don’t typically use this direction. That’s because
Look: It Puffs
we don’t often use butter in applications that would require a really high temperature (such as frying or sautéing).
A step-by-step video is available
In the case of German pancakes, we need only to melt the butter before pouring in the batter since it will
at CooksIllustrated.com/june17
continue to heat in the oven.
COOK’S
ILLUSTRATED
14
PHOTOGRAPHY: CARL TREMBLAY
he German pancake, sometimes
called a Dutch baby, is a study
in contrasts: The edge of the
skillet-size breakfast specialty
puffs dramatically to form a tall, crispy
rim with a texture similar to that of a popover while the base remains flat, custardy,
and tender, like a thick crêpe. Luckily,
this entertaining treat is far easier to
prepare than its pomp and circumstance
would suggest. A stir-together batter of
flour, egg, and milk is simply poured into
a skillet and baked. Sometimes sautéed
apples are incorporated into the batter.
The pancake may also be served with
a fruit topping, drizzled with syrup, or
sprinkled with sugar and lemon juice.
For a More Satisfying Pancake,
Start It in a Cold Oven
1. Whisk flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, lemon zest,
salt, and nutmeg together in large bowl. Whisk milk,
eggs, and vanilla together in second bowl. Whisk
two-thirds of milk mixture into flour mixture until
no lumps remain, then slowly whisk in remaining
milk mixture until smooth.
2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position.
Melt butter in 12-inch ovensafe nonstick skillet over
medium-low heat. Add batter to skillet, immediately
transfer to oven, and set oven to 375 degrees. Bake
until edges are deep golden brown and center is
beginning to brown, 30 to 35 minutes.
3. Transfer skillet to wire rack and sprinkle pancake with lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon
sugar. Cut into wedges and serve.
Most German pancake recipes call for pouring
the batter into a preheated skillet and/or using
a preheated oven. This means that the batter at
the edges heats and puffs up very quickly, drawing some of the batter from the middle of the
skillet with it and resulting in a pancake that’s
superthin at the center. Starting in a cold oven,
on the other hand, allows the heat to build up
slowly enough that the center can start to set (and
maintain its thickness) before the oven reaches
the temperature necessary to give maximum lift
to the rim (which takes about 25 minutes). A
thicker center is more satisfying to eat and is
better able to stand up to a fruit topping.
BROWN SUGAR–APPLE TOPPING
MAKES ABOUT 2 CUPS
How Low Could I Go?
I needed the batter at the very center to set before
too much of it had migrated toward the edges.
But the pancake was cooking from the outer edges
inward. Would lowering the oven temperature even
things out? I whipped up another batch of batter and
reduced the temperature to 350 degrees. It helped,
but only a little. When I went down to 325 degrees,
my pancake was substantially thicker at the center,
but the edges no longer rose as dramatically. Clearly
the pancake needed to be above a certain temperature
to ensure sufficient lift. But I was on the right track,
since slowing the rate at which the pancake puffed
gave the center time to set before the batter rose up
the side of the rim. How about starting low and finishing high? For my next test, I started the pancake in
a 250-degree oven and increased the temperature to
375 degrees after 10 minutes. Better but still not quite
right. That’s when I went for broke: I put the pan into
a cold oven and then set the oven to 375 degrees.
This approach worked like a charm, allowing the
heat to build up slowly enough that the center of the
pancake could start to set before the oven reached
the temperature necessary to give maximum lift to
the rim (which took about 30 minutes). Now the
pancake formed a near-perfect bowl shape, with
a beautifully tall, crispy rim and a moist, custardy,
evenly thick base. I devised a brown sugar–based
topping with apples, but the pancake was a treat even
with nothing more than a drizzle of maple syrup or a
squeeze of lemon juice and dusting of sugar.
A German Pancake
or a Dutch Baby?
German pancakes and Dutch babies are essentially the same thing, but the dish is said to have
originated in Germany, not the Netherlands. The
term “Dutch baby” was coined by an American
restaurateur whose use of “Dutch” was a corruption of the word “Deutsch” (“German” in
German). “Baby” referred to the fact that the
restaurant served miniature versions.
GERMAN PANCAKE
You can substitute Honeycrisp or Fuji apples for the
Braeburn apples, if desired.
SERVES 4
A traditional 12-inch skillet may be used in place of
the nonstick skillet; coat it lightly with vegetable oil
spray before using. As an alternative to sugar and
lemon juice, serve the pancake with maple syrup or
our Brown Sugar–Apple Topping (recipe follows).
Our recipes for German Pancake for Two and Brown
Sugar–Banana Topping are available free for four
months at CooksIllustrated.com/june17.
1¾
¼
1
½
⅛
1½
6
1½
3
cups (8¾ ounces) all-purpose flour
cup sugar
tablespoon grated lemon zest
plus 1 tablespoon juice
teaspoon salt
teaspoon ground nutmeg
cups milk
large eggs
teaspoons vanilla extract
tablespoons unsalted butter
2
⅓
¼
¼
⅛
1¼
tablespoons unsalted butter
cup water
cup packed (1¾ ounces) brown sugar
teaspoon ground cinnamon
teaspoon salt
pounds Braeburn apples (3 to 4 apples),
peeled, cored, halved, and cut into
½-inch-thick wedges, wedges halved crosswise
Melt butter in 12-inch skillet over medium heat.
Add water, sugar, cinnamon, and salt and whisk
until sugar dissolves. Add apples, increase heat to
medium-high, and bring to simmer. Cover and
cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Uncover
and continue to cook until apples are translucent and
just tender and sauce is thickened, 5 to 7 minutes
longer. Transfer to bowl and serve. (Topping can be
refrigerated for up to 2 days.)
TESTING
RECOMMENDED
Syrup Dispensers
AMERICAN METALCRAFT
Pouring maple syrup or honey onto
your breakfast can result in sticky tables,
counters, fingers, and more—especially
when kids are involved. Maple syrup
dispensers promise to reduce mess
when pouring the sweet stuff over
pancakes and waffles. We tested five
models priced from $7.80 to $42.00,
and one quickly moved to the front
of the pack. Its simple design made it
easy to fill and clean, and it poured like
a dream. One minor quibble: It’s not
microwave-safe. But it’s a mess-saver
and a bargain at just about eight bucks.
For the complete testing results, go to
CooksIllustrated.com/june17.
–Lisa McManus
Beehive Syrup Dispenser, 6 oz
M AY
&
JUNE
15
2017
MODEL:
PRICE:
BSD64
$7.80
This winning dispenser’s spring-loaded spout cover
worked like a charm and can be opened as much or as little as you
like, allowing you to pour neatly and precisely. It was easy to fill
and clean, too.
COMMENTS:
N OT R E C O M M E N D E D
NORPRO Honey/Syrup Dispenser
MODEL:
PRICE:
780
$18.99
This vessel dispenses from its
bottom, which sits in a base that can be filled
with warm water to keep syrup soft and flowing. It works
beautifully until it’s time to refill—an awkward, messy operation.
COMMENTS:
The Best Ways to Clean Cookware
If you’re spending as much time cleaning your kitchen equipment as you are
cooking with it, it’s time for some better methods. BY ELIZABETH BOMZE AND KEITH DRESSER
STAINLESS-STEEL, NONSTICK, AND
HARD-ANODIZED ALUMINUM SKILLETS
( Everyday messes
Boil and scrape: Fill pan halfway with tap water;
bring to boil, uncovered; and boil briskly for
3 minutes. Scrape skillet with spatula or spoon (for
nonstick skillet, use nonabrasive sponge or cloth),
pour off water, and let skillet sit briefly. Residue will
start to flake off as skillet dries.
( Stubborn messes
Sprinkle with Bar Keepers Friend cleanser:
Moisten stainless-steel or hard-anodized aluminum
skillet with water, then sprinkle cleanser on top.
Scrub with copper scrubber (stainless steel) or
nylon scrubber (hard-anodized aluminum). Rinse
well and wash. (Note: We don’t recommend using
this cleanser on nonstick skillets. If our approach
for removing everyday messes doesn’t remove all
stuck-on food, the skillet’s nonstick coating may be
worn out and it may be time for a new skillet.)
( Burnt and blackened skillet bottoms
Apply oven cleaner: Working outdoors or in
well-ventilated area, place skillet upside down on
newspapers. Wearing rubber gloves, spray even
layer of oven cleaner on exterior of skillet only. Let
sit for 20 minutes. Wipe off, rinse well, and wash.
WIRE RACK
SINK
Soak in baking sheet
Most sinks aren’t large
enough to hold a rack
when flat, so we soak it
in a rimmed baking sheet.
Squirt dish soap into the
sheet and fill it with warm
water. Invert the rack in the
sheet and soak until all food
particles are loosened.
Scrub the rack gently in the
direction in which the wires
run, widthwise on top and
lengthwise on underside.
Sanitize with bleach
Studies have found that the kitchen sink is crawling with even more bacteria than the
garbage bin (the drain alone typically harbors 18,000 bacteria per square inch). Clean
these areas frequently with a solution of 1 tablespoon of bleach per quart of water
(bleach will also kill off some microbes in the drain).
GARBAGE DISPOSAL
SPONGES
Grind lemon pieces
Toss cut-up pieces of spent lemon into
the empty disposal while cold water runs;
turn on the disposal until the lemon is
ground up. You can freeze spent lemons
until ready to use.
Alternatively, freeze
cubes of white
vinegar to have
at the ready.
Boil for 5 minutes
We microwaved, bleached, froze, and
boiled sponges that had seen a month
of test kitchen use; we also ran them
through the dishwasher and washed
them with soap and water. Lab results
showed that microwaving and boiling
were most effective at killing germs
and bacteria. But since sponges can
burn in a high-powered microwave,
we recommend boiling them.
CARBON-STEEL SKILLET
( Everyday and stubborn messes
Because the seasoning, or “patina,” on carbon steel
does not adhere as well as it does to cast iron,
gentle cleaning is best.
Rinse and rub with oil: Wipe skillet with nonabrasive scrub pad, rinse clean, dry thoroughly on low
burner, and rub with light coat of oil. If you scrub
off some patina, wipe skillet with thin coat of oil and
place it over high heat for about 10 minutes, until
surface darkens (it will smoke; turn on exhaust fan).
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean
Day Liquid Dish Soap
($3.99 for 16 oz)
Cleans burnt-on food
more than twice as fast as
other soaps we tested.
CAST-IRON SKILLET
( Everyday messes
Rinse under hot water, scrubbing with nonmetal
brush or nonabrasive scrub pad to remove any
traces of food. (Use small amount of soap if you
like; rinse well.) Dry thoroughly with paper towels.
( Stuck-on food and/or rust
Oil-salt scrub: Rub skillet with nonabrasive scrub
pad; wipe clean. Add ¼ inch oil and heat over
medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Off heat, add
¼ cup kosher salt. Using potholder to grip handle,
scrub skillet with thick wad of paper towels (held
with tongs). Rinse with hot water; dry well. Repeat
if necessary.
Our Favorite Cleaning Products
Method All-Purpose Natural Surface Cleaner
($3.79 for 28 oz)
Cuts grease, lifts stuck-on messes, and leaves
surfaces shining.
COOK’S
ILLUSTRATED
16
Casabella Premium
Water Stop Gloves
($5.49)
Slender fingers and
tapered wrists ensure
that gloves fit snugly and
comfortably; long sleeves
are cleverly dammed at
end by self-folding cuff.
OXO Steel Soap
Squirting Dish Brush
($11.99)
Built-in scraper tackled
stubborn bits of food
that its bristles—and
other models—missed.
Skoy Earth Friendly
Cloth
($5.99 for 4 cloths)
Easily sweeps up sauce
and rinses clean; nontoxic;
washer- and dryer-safe;
can be easily sterilized
in microwave.
CUTTING BOARDS
Splatter Control
Lab tests determined that, if you can’t use a dishwasher (which won’t work for wood, bamboo, and
some composite boards), scrubbing your board thoroughly with hot, soapy water is just as effective at killing
harmful bacteria as using bleach or undiluted vinegar. If
stains and/or odors persist, try the following tricks.
( Stubborn odors
Baking soda paste: For boards made of any material,
scrub board with paste of 1 tablespoon baking soda
mixed with 1 teaspoon water.
( Stubborn stains on plastic boards
Overnight bleach bath: Put 1 tablespoon bleach per
quart of water in sink and immerse board dirty side
up. When board rises to surface, drape clean white
dish towel over top and splash towel with another ¼
cup bleach. Let soak overnight, then wash with hot,
soapy water.
The best way to tackle kitchen messes is to prevent
them from happening in the first place.
BASTING BRUSHES
Salt Bath
After washing the dirty brushes, rinsing them well,
and shaking them dry, place the brushes, with the
bristles pointing down, into a cup and fill the cup
with coarse salt until the
bristles are covered.
The salt draws moisture
out of the bristles and
keeps them dry and
fresh between uses.
REDUCING FLOUR SPRAY
No matter how carefully you
open a new bag of flour, a
cloud of fine white dust sprays
the counter. To settle the flour
so that it stays in the bag, slap
the top of the bag before
opening it.
A NO-MESS WAY TO
GREASE BAKEWARE
Coating bakeware with
nonstick spray inevitably
means that your counter or floor will end up
greasy. To prevent this,
open your dishwasher door, place the vessel on
the door, and spray. Any excess or overspray will
be cleaned off the door the next time you run the
dishwasher. Spraying over your sink or trash can
works, too.
MINIMIZING SAUTÉ SPLATTER
SPLASH-FREE POURING
When browning meat on the stove, grease inevitably
splatters on the stovetop and gunks up the unused
burners and burner plates. To shield them, position
an inverted disposable aluminum pie plate over each
burner. Alternatively,
use a large baking
sheet to cover
more than one
burner at
a time.
Transferring sauces, soups, or stews
from one container to another can
result in messy splatter, but the
mess can be easily
averted. Simply
place the convex
side of a large
spoon under the
pouring stream to
deflect the liquid.
WOODEN BOWL Sand and stain
To remove sticky residue, “refinish”
the wood by rubbing the surface
with sandpaper and coating it with
mineral oil.
Appliances
SPICE GRINDER
Most grinders can’t be immersed in water.
“Dry-clean” your grinder by adding several
tablespoons raw white rice. Pulverize rice
to fine powder; powder will absorb residue and oils.
GRIND
CLEAN
Dry rice
absorbs
residue.
BLENDERS
Alkalies and Acids
In some cases, common
household products can
clean just as effectively as
dedicated soaps, sprays,
and cleaners. Use baking
soda and lemon to eliminate
odors, vinegar as a surface
spray, and bleach to sanitize.
WOODEN SPOONS
RASP GRATER
Scrub with baking soda paste
Alkaline baking soda neutralizes
odor-causing acids, and since
it is water-soluble, it is drawn
into the wood along with the
moisture in the paste. For every
tablespoon of baking soda, use
1 teaspoon of water.
Wash ASAP
Immediately after
use, rinse the blade
under warm water
and then run a wet
sponge along the grating surface, moving
toward the handle
(moving away from
the handle will cause
bits of sponge to get
caught in the teeth).
If food dries out and
bonds itself to the
grating surface, soak
the grater before
proceeding.
BOX GRATER
Grate stale bread
Stale bread is hard enough to
remove stuck-on food and
dry enough that it won’t leave
behind any sticky residue of its
own. Grate the bread over a
plate to catch the crumbs.
M AY
&
JUNE
17
ILLUSTRATION: JOHN BURGOYNE
Fill blender jar (regular blender)
or 2-cup glass measuring cup
(immersion blender) halfway with
BLEND CLEAN hot water and add few drops of
Buzz with soap and dish soap. Blend for 30 seconds
water to clean.
and rinse.
2017
MICROWAVE
WAFFLE IRON
Microwave 2 cups water on high
power until steaming heavily but
not boiling, about 2 minutes. Let sit
for 5 minutes. Steam will loosen any
dried, stuck-on food.
Use cotton swab to wipe away
residue between ridges.
STEAM CLEAN
SWIPE CLEAN
Easily wipe down walls.
Swab between ridges.
Grilled Pork Tenderloin
For a rich crust and tender, juicy meat, we explored the highs and lows of grilling.
j BY STEVE DUNN k
A
See How Simple It Is
A step-by-step video is available
at CooksIllustrated.com/june17
Salsa
½
1
4
½
1
2
A grilled salsa, made while the meat rests, enhances
the smoky char flavor.
All these beautifully browned tenderloins needed
was a bit more seasoning and character. So I applied
a simple spice rub to the exteriors of the roasts:
salt; sugar, which aided browning; and cumin and
chipotle chile powder for savory smokiness. I also
created an easy grilled pineapple–onion salsa that
added bright punch and made use of the hotter side
of the grill while the tenderloins cooked through on
the cooler side.
GRILLED PORK TENDERLOIN WITH
GRILLED PINEAPPLE–RED ONION SALSA
SERVES 4 TO 6
We prefer unenhanced pork in this recipe, but
enhanced pork (injected with a salt solution) can be
used. Our recipes for Grilled Pork Tenderloin with
Grilled Tomatillo Salsa and Grilled Pork Tenderloin
with Grilled Tomato–Ginger Salsa are available free
for four months at CooksIllustrated.com/june17.
Pork
1½
1½
½
½
2
teaspoons kosher salt
teaspoons sugar
teaspoon ground cumin
teaspoon chipotle chile powder
(12- to 16-ounce) pork tenderloins,
trimmed
COOK’S
ILLUSTRATED
18
pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut
lengthwise into 6 wedges
red onion, cut into 8 wedges through
root end
teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
cup minced fresh cilantro
serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
tablespoons lime juice, plus extra for
seasoning
Salt
1. FOR THE PORK: Combine salt, sugar,
cumin, and chile powder in small bowl. Reserve
½ teaspoon spice mixture. Rub remaining spice mixture evenly over surface of both tenderloins. Transfer
to large plate or rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate
while preparing grill.
2A. FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter
filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When
top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly
over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover,
and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot,
about 5 minutes.
2B. FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners
to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15
minutes. Leave primary burner on high and turn off
other burner(s).
3. Clean and oil cooking grate. Place tenderloins
on hotter side of grill. Cover and cook, turning tenderloins every 2 minutes, until well browned on all
sides, about 8 minutes.
4. FOR THE SALSA: Brush pineapple and onion
with 1 teaspoon oil. Move tenderloins to cooler side
of grill (6 to 8 inches from heat source) and place
pineapple and onion on hotter side of grill. Cover
and cook until pineapple and onion are charred on
both sides and softened, 8 to 10 minutes, and until
pork registers 140 degrees, 12 to 17 minutes, turning
tenderloins every 5 minutes. As pineapple and onion
and tenderloins reach desired level of doneness,
transfer pineapple and onion to plate and transfer
tenderloins to carving board. Tent tenderloins with
aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes.
5. While tenderloins rest, roughly chop pineapple.
Pulse pineapple, onion, cilantro, serrano, lime juice,
reserved spice mixture, and remaining 1 tablespoon
oil in food processor until mixture is roughly
chopped, 4 to 6 pulses. Transfer to bowl and season
with salt and extra lime juice to taste.
6. Slice tenderloins crosswise ½ inch thick. Serve
with salsa.
PHOTOGRAPHY: CARL TREMBLAY
nyone who has simply thrown a pork
tenderloin over a hot fire knows
that its exterior will quickly overcook before its interior comes up to
temperature, guaranteeing a thick gray band of
dry meat between the tenderloin’s crust and its
thicker center. That’s why many pork tenderloin
grilling recipes call for setting up a half-grill fire,
where the hot coals are spread evenly over just
half the bottom of the grill. That way, there’s a
hotter side for searing the meat to develop flavorful browning and a cooler side for cooking it
gently so that it stays tender and juicy. But does it
matter if you sear the meat before or after it cooks
on the cooler side?
To find out, I seasoned four pork tenderloins
with salt and pepper, set up two grills with halfgrill fires, and started one pair of tenderloins over
the cooler sides and the other pair over the hotter
sides. We’ve successfully used this reverse-searing
technique in the past to cook pan-seared thick steaks
and beef roasts, so I was placing my bets on the
pair started on the cooler sides of the grills. In this
setup, the bulk of the cooking takes place over low
heat, resulting in meat that is cooked evenly from
edge to edge (the lower the temperature, the less
variation in doneness).
But as it turned out, this technique didn’t translate well to grilling pork tenderloins. The key with
reverse searing is knowing when to move the meat
from low heat to high heat to ensure that the interior
is just cooked through at the same time the meat is
sufficiently browned. Stovetop heat is fairly standard,
meaning meat will brown within the same narrow
window of time from one stove to the next. But the
heat output of grills (especially gas grills) is far more
variable. Moving the meat to the hotter side when it
reaches, say, 110 degrees might give it enough time
to brown on one grill, but it might take far longer
on another.
Searing the meat first, when any charcoal grill
would be at its hottest, was the best way to guarantee a rich crust and a juicy, rosy interior every time.
To minimize any gray band, I also turned the meat
every 2 minutes as it seared (it took about 8 minutes
total) and again every 5 minutes once I moved it to
the cooler side.
Introducing Risi e Bisi
Brothier than risotto but thicker than soup, this Venetian
classic requires a not-so-gentle touch.
BY STEVE DUNN
PHOTOGRAPHY: CARL TREMBLAY; ILLUSTRATION: JOHN BURGOYNE
V
enetians have a centuries-old tradition of dishing up risi e bisi (rice and
peas) every April 25, St. Mark’s Day,
to celebrate spring’s first peas and to
honor the importance of rice production in the
Veneto region. Thinner than a traditional risotto
yet thicker than soup, the dish’s unique consistency
and fresh flavors make it the ideal ambassador for
the season: a light and vibrant—yet still satisfying—escape from heavier winter fare.
The classic version is made with arborio rice and
fresh spring peas along with onion, garlic, Parmesan
cheese, and pancetta. Most recipes adhere to the
long-established risotto method of vigorously stirring broth into the rice in multiple additions. Extra
broth is then poured in at the end to create something looser than a creamy risotto.
Since my goal was not to create a rich, velvety
consistency, I was fairly certain I could jettison
the laborious stirring routine and simply cook the
dish more like a soup. I was right. I sautéed finely
chopped pancetta, onion, and garlic until the meat
rendered its fat and the onion turned translucent;
added the rice; poured in hot broth all at once;
brought the mixture to a boil; and then let it simmer,
adding the peas and Parmesan last.
I then focused on the peas. Since fresh pea season
is fleeting at best, I’d have to rely on the frozen kind.
Stirring them in thawed at the end of cooking, just
to warm them through, was key to preserve their
texture and verdant color. I also sought out petite
peas, which were noticeably sweeter and more tender
than full-size peas.
As for the broth, recipes are divided on whether
to use chicken or vegetable. I conducted a few tests,
ultimately finding that chicken broth diluted with
water struck just the right balance of savoriness and
lightness. Unfortunately, the consistency of the
broth itself was too thin. I tried adding a few pats
of butter, but this masked the dish’s delicate flavors.
I N G R E D I E N T S P OT L I G H T
PETITE PEAS
Petite, or baby, peas boast
a sweeter flavor and a less
starchy texture than their
larger counterparts, which
have tougher skins and
mealier interiors.
SO SWEET
3
1
Risi e bisi is the no-fail alternative to risotto.
I realized that my hands-off approach was freeing
little starch from the rice. Maybe I needed to stir the
rice after all? Indeed, aggressively whisking just before
adding the peas and Parmesan loosened just enough
starch to lightly thicken the broth.
And with that, I gave this simple supper a final
nod to spring, adding a spritz of lemon juice and a
sprinkle of minced fresh parsley.
RISI E BISI
SERVES 4 TO 6
We use frozen petite peas here, but regular frozen
peas can be substituted, if desired. For the proper
consistency, make sure to cook the rice at a gentle
boil. Our favorite arborio rice is from RiceSelect.
4
1½
3
2
1
2
1
2
1
cups chicken broth
cups water
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
ounces pancetta, chopped fine
onion, chopped fine
garlic cloves, minced
cup arborio rice
cups frozen petite peas, thawed
ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (½ cup),
plus extra for serving
M AY
&
JUNE
19
2017
tablespoons minced fresh parsley
teaspoon lemon juice, plus lemon wedges
for serving
Salt and pepper
1. Bring broth and water to boil in large saucepan over high heat. Remove from heat and cover
to keep warm.
2. Cook oil and pancetta in Dutch oven over
medium-low heat until pancetta is browned and rendered, 5 to 7 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring
frequently, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic
and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add rice
and stir to coat, about 1 minute.
3. Add 5 cups broth mixture, increase heat to
high, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low,
cover, and boil gently until rice is tender but not
mushy, about 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes
to ensure that rice is gently boiling.
4. Remove pot from heat and whisk rice vigorously until broth has thickened slightly, 15 seconds.
Stir in peas, Parmesan, parsley, and lemon juice.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust consistency with remaining ½ cup broth mixture as
needed. Serve, passing extra Parmesan and lemon
wedges separately.
Getting
the Right
Consistency
The consistency of risi
e bisi is thinner than
risotto but thicker than
soup: It’s lightly thickened yet still fluid. The
proper texture is easy
to achieve by using a
5:1 ratio of liquid to rice
and vigorously whisking toward the end of
cooking to free enough
starch from the rice to
give the broth body.
See the Proper Technique
A step-by-step video is available
at CooksIllustrated.com/june17
RISOTTO
Too thick
SOUP
Too thin
RISI E BISI
Just right
Olive Oil Cake
Repurpose one of your favorite savory ingredients for a cake
that’s light yet plush and simple yet sophisticated.
j BY ANDREA GEARY k
COOK’S
ILLUSTRATED
20
PHOTOGRAPHY: CARL TREMBLAY
N
plain. What I really wanted was the kind of
ew England, where I’ve
even, fine crumb that the best butter cakes
lived for most of my life, is
have. The problem? That texture is largely
not known for its vast and
due to their being made with butter.
fruitful olive groves. Maybe
In a butter cake, air is whipped into the
that’s why I only recently learned about
butter before it’s mixed with the other
olive oil cake, which is commonplace in
ingredients. In the heat of the oven, the
most traditional olive-producing regions
baking powder creates carbon dioxide,
of the world.
which inflates those bubbles a bit more.
That said, I’ve made plenty of cakes with
Those tiny bubbles are what make a butter
neutral-flavored vegetable oil. Though
cake fluffy and fine-textured.
most people associate cake with butter, oil
But I wasn’t without options for producis a good choice for simple snack cakes and
ing a similar effect in my oil cake. Although
quick breads because it provides moisture,
most oil cakes use the “mix wet, mix dry,
tenderness, and richness without calling
and combine” method, chiffon cake is
attention to itself. It also makes the mixing
an oil cake that’s mixed a bit differently.
process simpler (more on this in a minute).
Its light and fluffy texture is achieved by
But extra-virgin olive oil, the type I kept
whipping egg whites with some sugar to
seeing called for in recipes for olive oil cake,
form a foam, which you then fold into the
can be noticeably grassy, peppery, and even
batter. Might that approach work for my
a little bitter. That’s welcome in a salad, but
olive oil cake?
I was skeptical about how it would work in
I applied the chiffon method to my
cake, so I made a few versions.
recipe and, at the same time, implemented
I happily discovered that the slightly
a couple of ingredient adjustments: I
savory notes of olive oil can, in fact, lend
increased the eggs from two to three for
appealing complexity to a cake. But there’s
better lift and the olive oil from ½ cup
no definitive version. Some cakes had a lot
to ¾ cup for more richness and moisture
of oil and a correspondingly assertive flavor This simple, not-too-sweet cake lets the flavor of the olive oil come
and a more pronounced flavor. The batter
and rich, dense crumb; others included through, with just a little lemon zest accentuating the oil’s fruitiness.
was promisingly airy and mousse-like. The
only a modest amount of oil and were light
cake rose impressively in the oven—but it fell when
and spongy, and the flavor was so faint that they Crumb Quandary
might as well have been made with vegetable oil. One of the most attractive aspects of making a cake it cooled. And when I cut it open, there was a line
Still others had so many additional ingredients— with oil rather than butter is the way it expedites of dense, collapsed cake in the middle.
apples, spices, loads of citrus—that the oil’s flavor the mixing process: There’s no waiting for butter
was obscured.
to come to room temperature and then beating it
And that’s fair enough. I suspect that such recipes with sugar before you even start to add the rest of
Don’t Panic When It Puffs
originated not to showcase olive oil but because the ingredients. With many oil-based cakes, you
people wanted cake, they needed fat to make it, and simply whisk the dry ingredients in one bowl, whisk
the local olive oil was the fat they had on hand. But the wet ingredients in another, and then combine
I have my choice of fats, so if I was going to be using the contents of the two bowls.
extra-virgin olive oil in my cake, I wanted to be able
So that’s where I started. The dry ingredients
to taste it, at least a bit. I didn’t want sponge-cake were all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt,
austerity or dense decadence but something between and the wet ingredients were eggs, milk, the test
the two. I wanted a cake that offered some intrigue kitchen’s favorite supermarket olive oil (see “Use
but was at the same time simple, something I could a Good Oil”), plus the sugar. The batter was ready
enjoy with a cup of tea.
to go into the oven in 5 minutes flat, and the cake
Sprinkling sugar on top of this cake creates a
came out just 40 minutes later.
crackly-sweet crust once the cake has cooled.
This first attempt was easy to make but not easy
It will puff up during baking, but don’t worry.
Andrea Will Demonstrate
to love. The crumb was dry and coarse, and I could
This is just air released by the cake batter getting
A step-by-step video is available
detect the olive oil flavor only if I thought about it
trapped beneath the layer of melted sugar. It will
at CooksIllustrated.com/june17
really, really hard. As for the appearance, I was okay
settle once it cools.
with simplicity, but this cake looked uninvitingly
It turned out that the batter was too airy to support all the fat; it essentially overextended itself. But
I was happy with the more pronounced olive oil
flavor, so I was reluctant to back down. Providing
more support by switching to a tube pan, the vessel
of choice for chiffon cakes, could help, but frankly
I didn’t want my olive oil cake to be mistaken for
chiffon. Instead, I’d adjust the mixing method.
Going All In
If whipped egg whites were too airy, maybe whipping yolks, which aren’t as good at holding air,
would be better. I did a quick test, but the cake
came out dense and squat. Whipping whole eggs, I
hoped, would be the solution. I put all three eggs,
both whites and yolks, in the mixer bowl with the
sugar and whipped the mixture for about 4 minutes,
until it was pale and airy. I added the rest of the
ingredients, including a tiny bit of lemon zest to
accentuate the fruitiness of the olive oil. After pouring the batter into the cake pan, I sprinkled the top
liberally with granulated sugar to lend some visual
appeal and textural contrast.
The whipped whole eggs did indeed provide
just the right amount of lift, creating a crumb that
was fine but not dense and light but not spongy.
(For more on how whipping eggs impacts cake,
see “Aerating Cake with Eggs.”) The sugar on top
had coalesced into an attractively crackly crust that
complemented the cake’s plush texture, and the
lemon zest supported the olive oil flavor without
overwhelming it.
And there’s one more advantage to my olive
oil cake: Because it’s made with liquid fat instead
of solid, it will keep longer than its butter-based
counterparts (see “A Real Keeper”). It can be stored
at room temperature for up to three days—in the
unlikely event that it doesn’t get eaten right away.
SCIENCE
OLIVE OIL CAKE
SERVES 8 TO 10
For the best flavor, use a fresh, high-quality extra-virgin
olive oil. Our favorite supermarket option is
California Olive Ranch Everyday Extra Virgin Olive
Oil. If your springform pan is prone to leaking,
place a rimmed baking sheet on the oven floor to
catch any drips. Leftover cake can be wrapped in
plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up
to three days.
1¾
1
¾
3
1¼
¼
¾
¾
cups (8¾ ounces) all-purpose flour
teaspoon baking powder
teaspoon salt
large eggs
cups (8¾ ounces) plus 2 tablespoons sugar
teaspoon grated lemon zest
cup extra-virgin olive oil
cup milk
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat
oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9-inch springform
pan. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together
in bowl.
2. Using stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip eggs on medium speed until foamy,
about 1 minute. Add 1¼ cups sugar and lemon
zest, increase speed to high, and whip until mixture
is fluffy and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Reduce
speed to medium and, with mixer running, slowly
pour in oil. Mix until oil is fully incorporated,
about 1 minute. Add half of flour mixture and mix
on low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute,
scraping down bowl as needed. Add milk and mix
until combined, about 30 seconds. Add remaining
flour mixture and mix until just incorporated, about
1 minute, scraping down bowl as needed.
3. Transfer batter to prepared pan; sprinkle
remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over entire surface.
Bake until cake is deep golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out with few crumbs
attached, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack
and let cool for 15 minutes. Remove side of pan and
let cake cool completely, about 1½ hours. Cut into
wedges and serve.
Use a Good Oil
Our goal was a cake with a subtle but noticeable savory, complex flavor imparted by the oil.
While there’s no need to splurge
on a premium extra-virgin olive
oil, spring for a good supermarket product such as our favorite
from California Olive Ranch. A
cheap supermarket EVOO won’t
deliver enough character.
A Real Keeper
Unlike butter cakes, which start to taste dry
just a day after baking, oil-based cakes and tea
breads can taste moist for several days. This is
an illusion, since over time the starches in both
types of cakes retrograde, or stale and harden
into a crystalline structure, and this structure
traps water within the crystals. A cake made with
butter, which is solid at room temperature, will
seem drier. But oil, which is liquid at room temperature, acts to retard retrogradation, causing
even a days-old cake to seem moist even though
it’s actually not.
Aerating Cake with Eggs
While butter cakes get their lift from air that’s whipped into the butter, our olive oil cake relies on eggs.
Whipped whites might be the first thing to come to mind, but you can also whip just yolks or whole eggs. We
tried all three in our cake. Whipped whites made it too airy, and our cake collapsed somewhat. Whipped
yolks made a squat, dense cake. Whipping whole eggs was the perfect compromise. But why?
The proteins in egg whites are better at unfurling and creating a foam than the proteins in egg yolks are, so
whipped whites will be more voluminous than whipped whole eggs and certainly more voluminous than whipped
yolks. But the oil in this batter is a factor, too. Oil molecules are able to displace some egg white proteins in
whipped whites, which weakens the bubbles. Yolks offer some protection against
this; their emulsifiers help keep the oil from interfering with the structure. Thus,
whipped whole eggs are the perfect compromise because they provide some
lift from the whites as well as a more stable structure from the yolks.
JUST WHITES
JUST YOLKS
WHOLE EGGS
Ultrafluffy egg whites made a cake
that was too airy and collapsed.
Unable to hold much air, egg
yolks made a squat, dense cake.
Whipping whole eggs provided
structure and just enough lift.
M AY
&
JUNE
21
2017
BUTTER CAKE
Dry and crumbly the day after it’s baked
OIL CAKE
Seems moist and tender three days after baking
Napa Cabbage Slaws
Could we maintain napa cabbage’s delicate texture but not end up with a soupy slaw?
j BY KEITH DRESSER k
W
See Our Slaw Solution
A step-by-step video is available
at CooksIllustrated.com/june17
vinegar to large bowl and let cool completely, about
10 minutes. Whisk in sesame oil, vegetable oil, rice
vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, ginger, and salt.
2. When ready to serve, add cabbage and carrots to
dressing and toss to coat. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add
scallions and sesame seeds and toss to combine. Serve.
NAPA CABBAGE SLAW WITH
APPLE AND WALNUTS
Omit sesame oil and increase vegetable oil to 4
teaspoons. Omit soy sauce and ginger. Substitute
cider vinegar for rice vinegar. Decrease sugar to 2
teaspoons and increase salt to ¾ teaspoon. Substitute
2 celery ribs, sliced thin on bias, and 1 grated Fuji
apple for carrots. Substitute 3 tablespoons minced
fresh chives for scallions and ½ cup walnuts, toasted
and chopped fine, for sesame seeds.
NAPA CABBAGE SLAW WITH
JÍCAMA AND PEPITAS
The key to intense, bright flavor is cooking down some
of the vinegar.
NAPA CABBAGE SLAW WITH
CARROTS AND SESAME
SERVES 4 TO 6
This slaw is best served within an hour of being
dressed. For information on shopping for napa cabbage, see page 29. Use the large holes of a box grater
to prepare the carrots. Our recipes for Napa Cabbage
Slaw with Snow Peas and Mint and Spicy Napa
Cabbage Slaw with Red Bell Pepper are available free
for four months at CooksIllustrated.com/june17.
⅓
2
2
1
1
1
1
¼
1
2
4
¼
cup white wine vinegar
teaspoons toasted sesame oil
teaspoons vegetable oil
tablespoon rice vinegar
tablespoon soy sauce
tablespoon sugar
teaspoon grated fresh ginger
teaspoon salt
small head napa cabbage, sliced thin (9 cups)
carrots, peeled and grated
scallions, sliced thin on bias
cup sesame seeds, toasted
1. Bring white wine vinegar to simmer in small
saucepan over medium heat; cook until reduced to
2 tablespoons, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer white wine
COOK’S
ILLUSTRATED
22
Omit sesame oil and increase vegetable oil to 4 teaspoons. Omit soy sauce. Substitute lime juice for rice
vinegar, honey for sugar, and ½ teaspoon ground
coriander for ginger. Increase salt to ¾ teaspoon.
Substitute 1 seeded and minced jalapeño for ginger.
Substitute 6 ounces jícama, peeled and grated, for
carrots. Substitute ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh
cilantro for scallions and ½ cup roasted and salted
pepitas, chopped fine, for sesame seeds.
TECHNIQUE
HOW TO SLICE NAPA CABBAGE
Unlike the tightly packed heads of regular cabbage, which require coring to release the leaves,
napa cabbage leaves come away from the core
with just a slight tug.
Trim base. Stack several leaves and cut thin crosswise. Repeat stacking and cutting for entire head.
PHOTOGRAPHY: CARL TREMBLAY; ILLUSTRATION: JOHN BURGOYNE
hile traditional green cabbage has
long been the favorite for making coleslaw, napa cabbage is a
great alternative. Its crinkly, thin
leaves have a more tender texture and a sweeter
flavor that can put a new spin on the picnic classic.
While our traditional slaw recipes call for salting
the cabbage to draw out excess liquid and soften
the dense leaves, I wanted to retain napa cabbage’s delicate texture. I found that even a brief
salting made the shreds too limp, so I decided to
skip it. But simply tossing the shredded cabbage
with dressing didn’t work either; I ended up with
a waterlogged, bland slaw. It turns out that what
gives napa cabbage its appealing tenderness—
thinner, weaker cell walls—is also a liability. It
will leach twice as much water as regular cabbage.
To handle the extra moisture, I needed to make a
more potent dressing. I mixed up a bracing dressing
of 3 parts vinegar to 1 part oil. But when I tossed the
shredded cabbage with this mixture, I was surprised
to find that the slaw still tasted too watered-down
and bland. Our science editor told me what was
happening: Vinegar was breaking down the cell
walls of the cabbage, causing water to escape and
the leaves to wilt.
I had an idea: Why not simmer the vinegar before
incorporating it into the dressing? This cooked off
some of the vinegar’s water so that the water leached
by the cabbage would then reconstitute it.
With that in mind, I reduced ⅓ cup of vinegar to
3 tablespoons and proceeded as before. After letting
the dressed shreds sit for 5 minutes, I had a slaw that
was the best yet. However, simmering had driven
off some of the vinegar’s volatile compounds, so it
tasted a bit flat. Reducing the vinegar even further,
to 2 tablespoons, and adding 1 tablespoon of fresh
vinegar delivered potent, bright flavor.
I was getting close, but the slaw still seemed too
lean. Adding more oil to the dressing would only
make it greasy, so I considered add-ins, settling on
toasted sesame seeds. They lent a nutty richness that
didn’t weigh down the slaw. Grated carrots contributed earthy sweetness and color while thinly sliced
scallions added another layer of flavor.
From here, I created a few variations so that I’d
have a slaw to pair with almost any meal.
Testing Fire Extinguishers
When you have only seconds to put out a kitchen fire, you want an extinguisher
that’s easy to use and effective. We were shocked at how many aren’t.
B Y L I S A M cM A N U S
U
nattended cooking is the primary
source of fire-related injuries and
household fires in America; more
than $1.1 billion in property damages are claimed each year. Neglecting a pan of hot
oil or leaving a dish towel too close to a burner are
all-too-easy ways to find yourself suddenly facing
fire. And fire spreads fast—experts say you have less
than 2 minutes before a fire will be out of control.
That’s why it’s wise to always keep a fire extinguisher within easy reach of your stove. But the
big trouble with most fire extinguishers is that you
can’t practice with them or give them a test run in
the store; once the trigger punctures the pressurized
canister, they can’t be used a second time. So how
do you know which one is the best for the job—one
that will be absolutely easy to use, even with no prior
experience, and will work fast when seconds count?
To find out, we bought eight models of home fire
extinguishers and drove to a firefighter training facility
west of Boston to test them on staged cooking-related
fires. Under the supervision of Deputy Chief John F.
Sullivan and Captain Robert Hassett of the Worcester
Fire Department, we set up shop in the department’s
“burn building,” a blackened concrete structure
behind the fire station. With a stack of 10-inch skillets,
a dozen cotton dish towels, portable electric burners,
and a jug of vegetable oil, we set a series of typical
kitchen fires and went about trying to put them out.
Choose Your Weapon
The fire extinguisher market offers a bewildering
array of products designed to combat specific types
of fires, whether they start in a restaurant deep fryer,
in a tractor-trailer, or on a boat. For home cooks, the
choice is a little simpler. In this category, fire extinguishers break down into two main types. Those
with an “ABC” rating are known as “multipurpose”
extinguishers, meaning they can tackle (A) cloth,
wood, and paper; (B) flammable liquids and gases,
such as grease and gasoline; and (C) electrical fires.
“BC”-rated extinguishers cover only the latter two
categories. Both types work similarly: When you
squeeze the trigger, a chamber inside the pressurized
canister is punctured and a spray of fire-suppressing
material is propelled. (For more information, see
“How to Use a Fire Extinguisher.”) For our testing,
we chose two ABC and two BC models. The ability
to extinguish cloth fires (dish towels, potholders,
etc.) is a priority, but BC extinguishers are often
sold as “kitchen” extinguishers, which implies that
Clockwise from top left: The Worcester Fire Department’s “burn building”; the weak spray of an aerosol-style
extinguisher in action; a traditional model creates a huge cloud; starting a fire on our makeshift stovetop; the testing lineup; Lisa McManus with Lt. Annmarie Pickett of the Worcester Fire Department.
they are still up to the task. Plus, a BC extinguisher
took first place in our previous testing. We stuck
with the smallest size since bigger isn’t better—you
want something most people can easily lift and use.
Since manufacturers also offer solutions beyond
traditional extinguishers, we tried a variety of these,
too, including two sprays sold in aerosol-style cans,
a fire blanket meant for throwing over and smothering fires, and one “automatic” extinguishing system
called the StoveTop FireStop Rangehood, which
resembles a pair of Sterno cans that attach via magnet or adhesive to your hood or to the bottom of a
cabinet or microwave over your stovetop. When they
detect fire, the company claims, the cans automatically burst open, spraying your rangetop with fire
suppressant—hands-free, no experience necessary.
M AY
&
JUNE
23
2017
If that proved to be true, we reasoned, it could be
a great solution.
Fighting Fire
For our first round of tests, we started a grease fire
by encouraging a flame to burn in a skillet filled with
¼ cup of vegetable oil. As soon as the flames spread
over the pan, I picked up a fire extinguisher and,
working as quickly as I could, figured out how to use
it and shot it toward the flaming pan. For the second
round of tests, we left a cotton dish towel next to
an electric burner with one corner just touching the
coils. As soon as it caught fire, I went into action.
It took anywhere from 11 seconds to 27 seconds
to figure out how to use the products in our lineup.
An odd cap on one traditional extinguisher slowed me
How to Use a Fire Extinguisher
Traditional fire extinguishers all work in a similar fashion. Usually a small gauge on top of the extinguisher
points to green if the extinguisher has enough pressure to spray. (If the gauge points to red, it’s time to buy a
new extinguisher.) If a fire breaks out, stand 4 to 6 feet back and PASS.
P A S S
PULL : Pull the pin.
AIM: Aim low, pointing
SQUEEZE: Squeeze
SWEEP: Sweep the
the extinguisher nozzle
(or its horn or hose) at
the base of the fire.
the handle to release
the extinguishing agent.
spray from side to side
to cover the fire until it
is out.
Up in Flames: What Went Wrong
We tested several options beyond traditional extinguishers, but none measured up. Here are a few in action.
We tested eight fire extinguishers, including four traditional pressurized canisters,
two aerosol sprays, one fire blanket, and
a self-operating canister that attaches to
the hood over a stove. In two separate
rounds of testing, we allowed vegetable
oil to catch fire in a hot skillet and a dish
towel to ignite from touching a lit burner.
We used the extinguishers to put out
these fires, timing the results and rating
the extinguishers on ease of use, performance, and, to a lesser extent, cleanup.
Scores from both tests were combined
to reach our final ranking. Information
about fire suppressant material in extinguishers was provided by manufacturers. Models were purchased online and
appear in order of preference.
TIME TO UNDERSTAND
OPERATION
Time elapsed between when we picked up
the product and when we began using it.
NO CAN DO
TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT
A FLAIR FOR FLARE-UPS
StoveTop FireStop Rangehood
Flames literally had to lick the
canister to engage it.
FireAway Fire Blanket
You don’t know if the fire is out
unless you lift the blanket to check.
Fire Gone Fire Suppressant
Flames flared dramatically when
hit with this aerosol spray.
down. Another can-style model was so covered with
colors, busy images, and words that it was impossible
to scan quickly for the essential information. A third
model’s trigger was unmarked. The fire blanket may
have been simple—remove from pouch, unfold, walk
toward fire, and drop it on—but it was a little scary
to get so close to the fire. Our favorite extinguishers
had unambiguous, clearly marked, exposed triggers
or buttons that we could find and operate without
losing time (or getting too close to the fire). As for
the automatic canister, our only job was to wait and
watch. And wait, and wait. In fact, when used as
instructed, this model never went off, despite flames
nearly reaching the canister.
Once we had the extinguishers going, effectiveness varied dramatically from model to model. It
took anywhere from just 2 seconds to 1 minute
and 22 seconds to put out fires. When weak spurts
of drippy foam from one can hit the fire, the flames
suddenly became a tower several feet high. Though
this was terrifying, I stood my ground and kept
spraying until the flames finally subsided. One
model shut down both types of fire instantly with
a powerful, controlled spray, but it filled the room
with a choking cloud of chemicals that sent us running for the exit. A few models seemed to put out
the fire, but then, seconds later, the flames flickered
back to life. One seemingly promising extinguisher
quickly and easily put out the grease fire, but when
we picked up a fresh copy to put out the burning
dish towel, it completely failed to operate. Some
models (including one of the BC extinguishers)
worked well on grease but didn’t fully extinguish
the burning towels. The biggest disappointment
was the StoveTop FireStop system. Meant to attach
to your hood and hang at least 27 inches above the
burners, the canisters simply didn’t work until we
lowered them to a mere 15 inches above the pan
and flames literally touched the canisters to ignite
the wick, which turns out to be the mechanism for
setting them off. At this point, the fire is likely to
have spread well beyond the stovetop.
TIMES TO PUT OUT GREASE AND
TOWEL FIRES
Time elapsed between when we started
spraying/smothering the fires and when
the fires were extinguished.
EASE OF USE
We evaluated how simple and intuitive
the extinguishers were to operate, taking into account that we were working
quickly, under pressure, with no preparation (to simulate a real fire emergency).
PERFORMANCE
Models that extinguished both types of
fire quickly and thoroughly rated highest.
CLEANUP
The Best Weapon
After we evaluated each extinguisher’s effectiveness on
both grease and cloth fires, taking into account how
intuitive it was to use and how quickly it put out the
fires, we were surprised—and disappointed, given the
stakes—that we had only one extinguisher we could
highly recommend. The rest we could recommend
only with reservations or not at all. Our winner, the
Kidde ABC Multipurpose Home Fire Extinguisher
($25.99), was fast and thorough. Its design was
simple and obvious, with a basic trigger and nozzle
and easy-to-read pressure gauge that clearly shows if
your canister is ready to keep you safe. While it created
a cloud of fumes (like many other models) and left
residue that was a bit harder to clean up than some of
the others, we can live with that. It left no question
that the fire was out, every time.
COOK’S
ILLUSTRATED
24
Extinguishers that produced less mess
and fumes rated higher, although we
gave more weight in our ranking to their
performance and ease of use.
Watch Lisa in Action
A free video available is available
at CooksIllustrated.com/june17
KEY
GOOD
TESTING FIRE EXTINGUISHERS
FAIR
POOR
H I G H LY R E C O M M E N D E D
N OT R E C O M M E N D E D
KIDDE ABC Multipurpose Home Fire Extinguisher
KIDDE RESSP Kitchen Fire Extinguisher
FA110
PRICE: $25.99
TYPE: ABC
MODEL:
EASE OF USE:
PRICE:
PERFORMANCE:
MODEL:
EASE OF USE:
+++
+++
PERFORMANCE:
CLEANUP: +½
Monoammonium phosphate
TIME TO UNDERSTAND OPERATION: 15 sec
TIME TO PUT OUT GREASE FIRE: 2 sec
TIME TO PUT OUT TOWEL FIRE: 2 sec
COMMENTS: Fast and very effective, this extinguisher really works. Its
powerful spray put out both the grease fire and the towel fire right away,
though it left a big cloud of fumes each time. It also left a greenish foam
on the burner and pan that took some effort to wipe off.
SUPPRESSANT:
++
++
CLEANUP: ++
RESSP
$24.49
TYPE: BC
SUPPRESSANT:
+++
++
+
Sodium bicarbonate
22 sec
4 sec
TIME TO PUT OUT TOWEL FIRE: 5 sec*
COMMENTS: A brief struggle to figure out the trigger wasted some
time, but once it was going, this model was very effective on the grease
fire and easy to control. But, living up to its BC rating, it didn’t work
as well on the towel. It extinguished the fire after 5 seconds, so we
stopped timing, but the fire reignited a few seconds later. It created a
huge cloud and a lot of powder, but residue was easy to clean.
TIME TO UNDERSTAND OPERATION:
TIME TO PUT OUT GREASE FIRE:
FIRE GONE Fire Suppressant
R E C O M M E N D E D W I T H R E S E R VAT I O N S
MODEL:
FIRST ALERT Tundra Fire Extinguishing Spray
PRICE:
AF400
$23.88
TYPE: Aerosol spray
SUPPRESSANT: Potassium lactate
+++
MODEL:
EASE OF USE:
PRICE:
PERFORMANCE: ++
CLEANUP:
FG-007-102
EASE OF USE: +½
$12.44
PERFORMANCE: +
CLEANUP: +++
TYPE: Aerosol spray, ABC
SUPPRESSANT: AFFF, or aqueous film-forming foam. Water-based.
TIME TO UNDERSTAND OPERATION: 13 sec
TIME TO PUT OUT GREASE FIRE: 9 sec
TIME TO PUT OUT TOWEL FIRE: 5 sec*
COMMENTS: Flames flared up in a terrifying way when we hit them with
this spray. We kept spraying, and the fire eventually went out, but it
took much longer than with our top performers. Busy, bright labeling
slowed us down as we tried to find the instructions; we eventually gave
up, sprayed, and hoped for the best. It never fully put out the towel fire.
On the plus side, the loose, watery foam was easy to clean up.
++
11 sec
2 sec*
TIME TO PUT OUT TOWEL FIRE: 3 sec*
COMMENTS: This simple aerosol spray was easy to figure out, and it quickly put
out the grease fire. But then, alarmingly, we saw a flare-up after we thought the
fire was out, forcing us to spray a second time to eliminate the flames. The same
happened with the burning towel. The small cloud of fumes it generated went
away fairly quickly, and this lightweight canister is easier to handle than bigger traditional extinguishers, but the spray residue gunked up our stove surface.
TIME TO UNDERSTAND OPERATION:
TIME TO PUT OUT GREASE FIRE:
FIRST ALERT Kitchen Fire Extinguisher UL Rated 5-B:C
EASE OF USE: +½
KFE2S5
PERFORMANCE: +
$24.72
CLEANUP: +++
TYPE: BC
SUPPRESSANT: Sodium bicarbonate, talc, magnesium aluminum
silicate, methyl hydrogen polysiloxane, and blue pigment
TIME TO UNDERSTAND OPERATION: 27 sec
TOTAL TIME TO PUT OUT GREASE FIRE: 2 sec
TOTAL TIME TO PUT OUT TOWEL FIRE: Extinguisher failed to work
COMMENTS: An unusual cap slowed us down, but once it was operating, this extinguisher was astonishingly fast (just 2 seconds to put out
the grease fire), with a controlled spray. It didn’t leave a cloud of fumes,
and residue wiped right off. But when we grabbed a fresh copy of this
model to put out the towel fire, it would not spray; the brand-new
extinguisher had somehow lost pressure and was useless—a fatal flaw.
MODEL:
AMEREX 2.5 lb ABC Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher
B417
$41.13
TYPE: ABC
PRICE:
+++
++½
MODEL:
EASE OF USE:
PRICE:
PERFORMANCE:
CLEANUP:
+
Monoammonium phosphate
TIME TO UNDERSTAND OPERATION: 15 sec
TIME TO PUT OUT GREASE FIRE: 2 sec
TIME TO PUT OUT TOWEL FIRE: 5 sec
COMMENTS: While this extinguisher quickly and thoroughly put out the grease
fire, it also emitted a cloud of chemical fumes that smelled bad and sent testers
running out of the building. One big problem with our second test: The powerful
spray knocked the towel right off the stovetop. (Luckily, in our case, it was extinguished first.) Residue stuck to the pan and burner and was difficult to wipe off.
SUPPRESSANT:
STOVETOP FIRESTOP Rangehood
FIREAWAY Fire Blanket
679-3D
EASE OF USE: ++
$56.95 for two canisters PERFORMANCE: n/a
(need both over a stove)
CLEANUP: +
TYPE: Automatic
SUPPRESSANT: Proprietary, nontoxic fire-suppressing powder blend
(similar to baking soda)
TIME TO UNDERSTAND OPERATION: n/a
TOTAL TIME TO PUT OUT GREASE FIRE: Extinguisher failed to work
TOTAL TIME TO PUT OUT TOWEL FIRE: Extinguisher failed to work
COMMENTS: When we set this device 27 inches above our skillet, the
shortest distance recommended, the oil caught fire and burned high,
and the FireStop never started. At 24 inches, it still didn’t start. After
lowering it to just 15 inches above the stovetop, we
finally heard a pop after 3 minutes of flames, and
a pile of powder dropped into the pan. The dish
towel test was also a failure. It turns out that fire
must physically light a tiny wick; by the time that
happens, the whole house could be in flames.
MODEL:
3x3 Small
EASE OF USE: +½
PRICE: $30.00
PERFORMANCE: ++
CLEANUP: +++
TYPE: Blanket
SUPPRESSANT: Fire retardant–coated fiberglass yarn
TIME TO UNDERSTAND OPERATION: 22 sec
TIME TO PUT OUT GREASE FIRE: 11 sec
TIME TO PUT OUT TOWEL FIRE: 1 min, 22 sec
COMMENTS: There’s a fear factor to get over when smothering
fires with a blanket, but this blanket put out fires, albeit slowly. But
you don’t really know if the fire is out without lifting the blanket
to check, which lets in air that can restart the fire. The blanket
was much more effective when it could lie flat over the rim of
the burning pan; the lumpy towel continued burning for a long
time because air was able to get in. Cleanup was a snap—nearly
unscorched, the blanket was ready to use again. It’s a good backup
to other fire suppression gear, but it’s not our top choice.
MODEL:
PRICE:
*Time noted reflects the initial suppression of fire. We didn’t time the suppression of surprise flare-ups.
M AY
&
JUNE
25
2017
Another Big Cheese in Our Kitchen
The right Gruyère is buttery and complex, is pleasantly firm and dense,
and melts like a champ. If you aren’t buying it, you should be.
BY KATE SHANNON
W
hat most Americans think of
as “Swiss cheese” is the mild,
holey stuff called Emmentaler.
That cheese is fine for slicing
thin and piling on ham sandwiches, but it bears
little resemblance to its fellow citizen, Gruyère.
The latter, which has been made in the eponymous alpine region of Switzerland for more than
900 years, is pleasantly firm and dense, slightly
crumbly, and boasts that faint crystalline crunch
that high-quality aged cheeses such as cheddar
and Parmesan are known for. Good versions taste
deeply nutty and have sweet, fruity tang; nice
salinity; and a good bit of earthy funk. Gruyère is
also one of a very few cheeses, Swiss or otherwise,
that functions just as well in cooked applications
as it does on a cheese plate. Scan the test kitchen’s
recipe archive and you’ll find roughly 100 recipes
featuring it—from breads, soufflés, frittatas, and
gratins to scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, fondue, and French onion soup.
As Gruyère’s stateside popularity has grown over
the years, so, too, has its availability in American
supermarkets. When we shopped recently, we
found eight nationally available options, priced
from $14.99 to $23.99 per pound. Five were Swiss
imports bearing the Appellation d’Origine Protégée
(AOP) seal, meaning they were made according to
strict government-mandated rules and quality standards. The other three were domestic facsimiles; two
of those, both made by Emmi Roth, stopped calling
themselves “Gruyère” several years ago in deference
to the Swiss-made cheeses. To find a favorite, we
sampled each plain at room temperature, baked in
spinach-and-cheese squares, and melted on crostini.
The Swiss Way
Swiss cheesemakers claim that every part of the rigorous AOP-regulated process contributes to Gruyère’s
unique, deeply complex flavor and dense, crystalline
texture, starting with the milk itself. It must be raw
and from mostly grass-fed cows, since both the Alpine
grasses and the bacteria naturally present in unpasteurized milk infuse the cheese with flavor. From
there, the milk is mixed with cultures and rennet,
which introduce more flavorful bacteria and cause
the milk to coagulate into curds, respectively. Then
it’s heated in giant copper vats. That particular vessel
is important not just because copper heats evenly
and responds quickly to changes in temperature
but also because copper ions from the surface of
Our Triumvirate of Aged Cooking Cheeses
Parmesan, cheddar, and
Gruyère are the three
aged cheeses we cook
with most often in the
test kitchen. Because
they range dramatically
in flavor and texture,
we use them in
different ways.
GRUYÈRE
Dense, firm, rich, tangy Gruyère is
a sophisticated table cheese and a
great melter, thanks to its moderate
acidity, moisture, and salt.
CHEDDAR
Buttery aged cheddar adds gooey richness
to griddled sandwiches and
casseroles—but because it’s acidic,
it will “break” into a greasy mess unless
combined with a good melting cheese such
as Monterey Jack or American.
the vat leach into the milk and curds and react with
compounds in the milk to form desirable and distinct
flavor compounds.
Once the curds have formed, they’re transferred
to large wheel-shaped molds to be pressed for the
better part of a day; turned out and either salted
or brined for another day or two; and, finally,
aged for a minimum of five months before being
sold. The wheels are regularly turned and rubbed
with salt during the aging process, which ensures
that the rind forms properly and that the butterfat is evenly distributed. They’re also rubbed
with a “smear” of cultures, which Dean Sommer,
cheese and food technologist at the University of
Wisconsin–Madison’s Center for Dairy Research,
explains is the most important factor in creating the
flavor of each maker’s Gruyère. “The surface ‘smear’
cultures are absolutely unique to each cheese plant,”
he said, “which means that no two plants making a
COOK’S
ILLUSTRATED
26
PARMESAN
Its dry texture and intensely salty-tangy
flavor make Parmesan best for seasoning
breadings, stirring into risotto and polenta,
and sprinkling over pasta.
Gruyère-style cheese will have the exact same cheese
flavor, even if the composition of the cheeses is nearly
identical in the two plants.”
With Age Comes Flavor
We weren’t surprised to find that the Swiss-made
cheeses, all of which we recommend, generally did
taste noticeably “more intense,” “complex,” and
“caramel-like” than the American-made ones. Two
of the three domestic cheeses “lacked the characteristic notes” and “sparkle” of authentic Gruyère, and
we can recommend them only with reservations. In
fact, several tasters likened them to “bland” “deli
Swiss” even in the cooked applications.
Those differences might be linked to the fact that
domestic producers use pasteurized milk, which
loses much of its flavorful bacteria in pasteurization’s
intense heat, or that the Alpine grasses or specific
cocktails of cultures used by Swiss cheesemakers yield
High Alpine Standards
Creating Gruyère’s distinctively nutty, tangy, rich
flavor starts with the milk itself. According to strict
Swiss standards, the milk must come from cows
that grazed on Alpine grasses and be left raw
to capitalize on all the subtle flavors and natural
bacteria. Heating the milk in copper vats is also
crucial, as the copper ions leach into and combine
with the milk to form distinct flavor compounds.
Finally, all Swiss-made Gruyères must be brined or
salted, smeared with cultures that develop their
unique flavors, and aged for at least five months,
allowing ample time for the cultures to break
down and develop more-complex flavors and for
moisture to evaporate and concentrate flavorful
fat and salt.
TASTING GRUYÈRE
We sampled each cheese plain (at room temperature), baked in spinach-and-cheese squares, and melted
onto crostini. Scores were averaged, and cheeses appear below in order of preference. Information on
age, origin, ingredients, and pasteurization was obtained from manufacturers and product packaging, and an
independent laboratory analyzed the cheeses for moisture, fat, and sodium; nutritional data is reported per
100 grams of cheese. Prices were paid in Boston-area supermarkets.
RECOMMENDED
COMMENTS
1655 Le Gruyère AOP
$19.99 per lb ($1.25 per oz)
INGREDIENTS: Raw cow’s milk, salt,
cultures, rennet
MILK: Raw
AGE: 12 to 14 months
PRICE:
ORIGIN:
AOP:
Switzerland
Yes
32.79%
35.63%
SODIUM: 583.1 mg
MOISTURE:
FAT:
MIFROMA Le Gruyère Cavern AOP
$19.99 per lb ($1.25 per oz)
INGREDIENTS: Fresh part-skim
cow’s milk, cheese cultures, salt and
enzymes
MILK: Raw
AGE: 9 to 11 months
PRICE:
ORIGIN:
AOP:
Switzerland
Yes
33.17%
34.46%
SODIUM: 585.5 mg
MOISTURE:
FAT:
EMMI ROTH Grand Cru Surchoix
PRICE: $18.99 per lb ($1.19 per oz)
ORIGIN:
Pasteurized cultured milk, salt, enzymes
MILK: Pasteurized
AGE: At least 9 months
AOP :
INGREDIENTS:
USA
No
31.27%
34.94%
SODIUM : 534.6 mg
MOISTURE :
FAT :
EMMI Le Gruyère AOP Kaltbach
$23.99 per lb ($1.50 per oz)
INGREDIENTS: Milk, culture, salt,
enzymes
MILK: Raw
AGE: More than 12 months
PHOTOGRAPHY: STEFANO EMBER/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
PRICE:
better flavor. But the most likely reason the imported
cheeses taste deeper and more complex than most
domestic versions is that they’re aged longer. AOP
standards dictate that Gruyère must be aged for at
least five months. Our top four cheeses were aged for
even longer—nine to 14 months. Among these was
one of the domestic Gruyère-style cheeses, Emmi
Roth Grand Cru Surchoix, whose relatively lengthy
nine-month aging helped give it complex flavor
despite the use of pasteurized milk. Of the other
two domestic cheeses, one had no standards for
aging and the other was aged for just four months.
Sommer confirmed that the longer a cheese is
aged, the more intense and complex its flavor is
going to be. That’s partly because enzymes from
the starter cultures have more time to break down
at a molecular level, creating more robust, unique
flavor. Plus, as cheeses like Gruyère age, they lose
moisture, which concentrates the protein, milk fat,
flavor compounds, and sodium as well as calcium
lactate and tyrosine—those crunchy crystals that our
tasters loved. We confirmed via lab analysis that the
older, top-rated cheeses contain less moisture and
more fat than the younger, blander samples.
Sophisticated enough for a cheese plate and
equally great for melting, Gruyère might be one of
the most versatile supermarket cheeses for eating and
cooking. It doesn’t come cheap—our favorite, 1655
Le Gruyère AOP, costs about $20 per pound—but
we think it’s worth the splurge.
ORIGIN:
AOP:
Switzerland
Yes
31.95%
34.41%
SODIUM: 526.6 mg
MOISTURE:
FAT:
GRAND SUISSE Le Gruyère
$19.00 per lb ($1.19 per oz)
INGREDIENTS: Fresh part-skim
cow’s milk, cheese culture, salt,
enzymes
MILK: Raw
AGE: 5 months
PRICE:
ORIGIN:
AOP:
Switzerland
Yes
34.46%
32.76%
SODIUM: 463.1 mg
MOISTURE:
FAT:
EMMI Le Gruyère AOP
$15.44 per lb ($0.97 per oz)
INGREDIENTS: Cultured milk, salt,
enzymes
MILK: Raw
AGE: 5 to 6 months
PRICE:
ORIGIN:
AOP:
Switzerland
Yes
33.17%
33.93%
SODIUM: 659.2 mg
MOISTURE:
FAT:
Our winner had the highest fat content and
one of the lowest moisture contents, and
it was aged the longest: 12 to 14 months.
Those factors added up to a cheese that
tasters raved about—specifically its “excellent crystalline structure”; “dense,” “fudgy”
texture; and “deeply aged, caramel-like,”
“grassy” flavor that came through even
when baked with spinach and onions.
With low moisture, plenty of fat, and a
judicious amount of salt, this long-aged
Swiss import tasted “nutty” and complex—tasters picked up on fruity “pineapple” tang and a “savory onion quality.”
Its “creamy” texture was strewn with
pleasantly crystalline bites. In fact, one
taster found “five visible tyrosine crystals in
a single piece!”
Despite being made with pasteurized milk,
this domestic cheese (made by a subsidiary
of the Switzerland-based Emmi Group)
boasted “caramelized” sweetness; notes of
mushroom, onion, and “fruity red wine”;
and a “buttery” texture that was loaded
with crunchy tyrosine crystals.
“Would be a showstopper on a cheese
plate,” one taster remarked about this
particularly “funky,” “fruity,” and “nutty”
sample. Several others noted a pleasant fermented quality—like “sour apple
juice”—or a “deep, lingering muskiness.”
Aged for just five months, this “waxy”
Swiss Gruyère tasted noticeably leaner and
“milder” than the older samples. It was
“tangy but flat,” “semisharp,” and tasted
“young.” That said, it still delivered “pleasant nuttiness” and “mellow tang.”
“Gruyère for beginners” is how one taster
described this young, “buttery,” “nutty”
import. Compared with the denser, more
crystalline structure of our favorites, it was
“smooth, soft, and creamy,” though texture wasn’t an issue in cooked applications.
R E C O M M E N D E D W I T H R E S E R VAT I O N S
BOAR’S HEAD Blanc Grue Gruyère Cheese
$16.58 per lb ($1.04 per oz)
INGREDIENTS: Pasteurized milk,
cheese cultures, salt, enzymes
MILK: Pasteurized
AGE: No standard time
frame
PRICE:
ORIGIN:
AOP:
USA
No
34.38%
32.90%
SODIUM: 461.6 mg
MOISTURE:
FAT:
EMMI ROTH Grand Cru Original
PRICE:
$14.99 per lb ($0.94 per
ORIGIN:
USA
oz)
AOP:
Pasteurized cultured milk, salt, enzymes
MILK: Pasteurized
AGE: 4 months
MOISTURE:
INGREDIENTS:
M AY
&
JUNE
27
No
34.76%
31.69%
SODIUM: 532.5 mg
FAT:
2017
“Not offensive but no sparkle.” “Waxy”
and “bendy.” “Innocuous.” These comments indicate that this domestic facsimile
was aged for far less time than other
cheeses. However, it melted evenly on
crostini, and its flavor was “mild but pleasant,” with subtle nutty, sweet notes.
Several tasters compared this young
cheese with deli Swiss—even calling it a
“faker”—citing its “mild” (albeit “pleasant”) flavor and “rubbery” texture.
INGREDIENT NOTES
j B Y K E I T H D R E S S E R , S T E V E D U N N , A N D R E A G E A R Y, A N D R E W J A N J I G I A N & L A N L A M k
What to Do with Pea Greens
Tasting Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is made by shredding fresh coconut meat and pressing it to
extract liquid, sometimes adding a little water to help the process. We tasted
seven products plain (to get a sense of their differences) and then in coconut
rice pudding and Thai-style chicken soup.
Coconut milk is an emulsion of coconut oil, coconut protein, and water.
Because coconut oil solidifies into coconut cream at room temperature,
canned coconut milk generally separates into two layers: liquid water at the
bottom, cream at the top. The cream in some cans was as dense as Crisco,
while others had a loose consistency. The liquid in some cans was opaque and
smooth; in others, it was cloudy, with little specks of cream. And the ratio of
cream to liquid ranged from about 50:50 to almost no liquid.
Why were they so different? Industry experts told us that the age and
variety of coconut can have a large impact on the texture and flavor of the
milk, as can processing methods. Perhaps most important, fluctuations in temperature can cause the natural emulsion of water, protein, and oil to break,
thus impacting texture. Our tasters preferred creamy, full-bodied products
that didn’t register as greasy and had fresh, vibrant coconut flavor. One
key: Our three highest-rated products had relatively high levels of naturally
occurring sugar, likely due to the variety and age of the coconuts (manufacturers, however, wouldn’t disclose specifics). Tasters praised our winner,
Aroy-D Coconut Milk,
for its velvety consistency and “clean,”
“balanced” coconut
flavor. For the complete
tasting results, go to
Some milks had the consistency of shortening (left), CooksIllustrated.com/
while others were like cream (right).
june17. –Kate Shannon
Pea greens, also known as pea shoots or pea tendrils, are the tender tips of pea plants.
You’ll find them during spring and early summer at farmers’ markets and some supermarkets. Both the rounded, bright green leaves and the thin, hollow stems topped with
tendrils are edible, although the stems from older plants can be tough. We recommend
discarding stems that are wider than ¼ inch in diameter (you can still eat the leaves).
Our tasters described the plain leaves and stems as grassy and faintly bitter—“like
peas but not sweet.” When using them in a salad, we found it best to pair them with
delicate vinaigrettes instead of rich and creamy dressings, which muted their flavor
and weighed them down. They can also be substituted for basil to make a more
delicate pesto. To highlight their savory flavor, you can sauté pea greens with minced
garlic; cook them quickly (for about 2 minutes) to retain their bright color, and avoid
overcooking them, which will cause the leaves to disintegrate. –L.L.
RAW
Both the leaves
and the stems
of pea greens are
edible. We recommend pairing the
uncooked greens
with a light
vinaigrette so their
delicate grassy flavor
comes through.
COOKED
Lightly sauté
the greens
to highlight their
savory flavor. They
will wilt to about
one-third of their
uncooked volume.
RECOMMENDED
AROY-D Coconut Milk
$0.99 for 14-oz can ($0.07 per oz)
1.8 g per ⅓-cup serving
COMMENTS: Our new winner impressed tasters with a texture
that was “velvety” and “luxurious” but not too thick. It boasted
“balanced,” “clean” flavor that tasted strongly of coconut. It’s also
sold in cartons, but we don’t recommend buying them because
they are a nonstandard size for recipes at 16.9 fluid ounces.
PRICE:
SUGAR:
These days, rhubarb is available in many supermarkets from spring through summer. To
determine the best way to store it, we trimmed and washed a few bunches and experimented with different methods. Leaving the rhubarb completely unprotected in the
refrigerator caused the exposed ends to dry out, and the stalks turned limp within just
a few days due to water loss. Sealing the stalks tightly in a zipper-lock bag or in plastic
wrap caused them to soften in a few days as well. This is because airtight storage traps
the ripening hormone ethylene, which activates enzymes that break down and soften
the cell walls in many fruits and vegetables.
Though rhubarb and celery are unrelated,
it turns out that the best method we’ve found
for celery also works best for rhubarb: simply
wrapping the stalks loosely in foil. The key is
to wrap the stalks snugly enough to prevent
the rhubarb from drying out—but not airtight
THAT’S A WRAP
(no need to tightly crimp) so ethylene can
Wrap the rhubarb tightly enough
escape. Stored this way, our rhubarb mainto make a tidy bundle, but don’t tightly
tained its juicy, ruby perfection for longer
crimp the edges or the ethylene
gas can’t escape.
than two weeks. –A.G.
ROLAND COCONUT MILK
$2.79 for 14-oz can ($0.20 per oz)
2.7 g per ⅓-cup serving
COMMENTS: With high levels of fat and several stabilizers, this
sample was “thick,” “rich,” and “well emulsified.” It was also
described as “very sweet,” especially in the rice pudding—no surprise, given that it has one of the highest sugar levels in our lineup.
PRICE:
SUGAR:
N OT R E C O M M E N D E D
A TASTE OF THAI Coconut Milk
$2.99 for 13.5-oz can ($0.22 per oz)
2 g per ⅓-cup serving
COMMENTS: This product’s flavor was “weak,” and its texture was
“watery” and “greasy,” landing it in last place.
PRICE:
SUGAR:
COOK’S
ILLUSTRATED
28
ILLUSTRATION: JOHN BURGOYNE
The Best Way to Store Rhubarb
Pricing Chicken Parts
DIY RECIPE
Chicken breasts have the highest yield of
Part
Price per pound Price per edible ounce
meat per pound of all chicken parts, but
Drumsticks
$1.69
$0.23
they’re not the most economical cut.
$2.19
$0.29
When we cooked bone-in chicken breasts, Thighs
thighs, drumsticks, and wings and then
Breasts
$3.29
$0.36
stripped the meat from the bones to deterWings
$2.69
$0.40
mine the price per edible ounce, we found
that drumsticks were easily the cheapest.
(Surprisingly, wings were the most expensive.) They’re also easy to cook, flavorful, and moist, so this finding is just one more reason to make our Grilled Spice-Rubbed Chicken Drumsticks (page 11). –A.G.
Tortilla Chips
Even the best store-bought tortilla chips can’t
compare with the fresh corn flavor and ultracrispy
texture of homemade. Starting with good-quality
corn tortillas was key; thinner, fresh, locally made
tortillas made the best chips. A frying temperature
of 350 degrees browned the chips quickly without
burning them, and frying in two batches ensured that
the oil’s temperature didn’t drop too much when we
added the tortilla wedges. As soon as they came out
of the oil, we sprinkled them with kosher salt, which
was easier to distribute evenly than table salt. –L.L.
How to Cook with Chayote
Chayote—a fruit native to Mexico but now
popular throughout Latin America and
Asia—is a pale green, bumpy-skinned,
pear-shaped member of the gourd family
(Cucurbitaceae), which makes it a relative of
melons, pumpkins, cucumbers, zucchini, and
summer squash.
This fruit can be eaten both raw and cooked.
We like it cut thin and cooked lightly—sautéed,
stir-fried, or even stewed. When we swapped it for
some of the squash in our recipe for Sautéed Summer
Squash with Parsley and Garlic (September/October 2015),
it shed a bit of moisture, as did the summer squash. But it
retained a pleasant underlying crispness that the summer squash
lost. We also like chayote raw in salads and salsas, where its jícama-like crunch really shines. It can be pickled
(using vinegar or a brine) or simply tossed with sugar and salt (use 2 teaspoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt
for one 12-ounce chayote) and left to sit for about 10 minutes before eating.
To prep chayote for cooking, peel and discard the leathery rind and then cut it lengthwise into quarters. Use a
paring knife to remove the hard central seed before slicing or cubing. –A.J.
HOMEMADE TORTILLA CHIPS
SERVES 4
For the best results, use fresh, locally made tortillas
(the thinnest available). We prefer peanut oil for
deep frying because of its high smoke point, but vegetable or corn oil will also work.
8
5
(6-inch) corn tortillas
cups peanut oil
Kosher salt
Spotty Cabbage Leaves
When shopping for napa cabbage, we’ve noticed that some heads have tiny black spots, about the size of
ground pepper, on both the leaves and ribs. The cause of these dots, known as “pepper spot” or “black
spec,” is unknown, but low light levels, high soil pH, harvesting and storage conditions, and excessive use
of fertilizers high in nitrogen and phosphorus are all possibilities. Regardless of the cause, our science editor confirmed that cabbage leaves with these spots are perfectly safe to eat. But to find out if they affect
flavor or texture, we set up a blind tasting. Tasters couldn’t tell the difference between unblemished leaves
and those with pepper spot. And unless we’re using whole cabbage leaves, the dots are so small that they
aren’t even noticeable. From now on, we’ll go ahead and buy heads of napa cabbage with the black dots
without concern. –K.D.
1. Cut each tortilla into 6 wedges. Line 2 baking
sheets with several layers of paper towels. Heat oil in
Dutch oven over medium-high heat to 350 degrees.
2. Add half of tortillas and fry until golden and
crispy around edges, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer chips
to prepared sheets, sprinkle lightly with salt, and let
cool. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Serve. (Cooled
chips can be stored in zipper-lock bag at room temperature for up to 4 days.)
Pancetta versus Prosciutto
Pancetta and prosciutto are often confused, since both are traditional Italian cured pork products that taste deeply savory and salty. That said, they come from different parts of
the pig, the processes to make them are different, and we use them in different ways. Here’s how to keep them straight. –S.D.
PANCETTA
What it is: Pancetta is seasoned salt-cured pork belly
(just like bacon but not smoked) that’s rolled and often
put in a casing before being hung to dry to develop firm
texture and deep flavor. It must be cooked before eating.
Forms: It can be sliced to order behind the deli counter
or bought presliced in packages. (It also comes prediced,
which we don’t recommend—we’ve found that the
cubes often taste sour.)
How we use it: We like to cut it into small chunks and
sauté it to add savory depth as well as intensely flavorful,
meaty bites to dishes from soups and stews to pastas.
M AY
&
What it is: Prosciutto is the salt-cured hind
leg of the pig (i.e., ham) that’s air-dried for
months or even years, giving it a markedly
dense, silky texture and a delicate, nutty flavor. Prosciutto is safe to eat without cooking.
Forms: It can be sliced to order at the deli
counter or bought presliced in packages.
PROSCIUTTO
How we use it: We like raw slices as part
of an antipasto platter or wrapped around
fruit or vegetables. We also use it in cooked applications, such as saltimbocca, and we
crisp it for a salad topping.
JUNE
29
2017
K I T CH E N N O T E S
j BY STEVE DUNN, ANDREW JANJIGIAN, LAN LAM, ANNIE PETITO & DAN SOUZA k
Troubleshooting a Weak
Flame on a Gas Grill
We’ve occasionally fired up our gas
grills only to have the burners emit a
tepid flame no matter how high we set
the knobs. This does not mean it’s time
to get a new tank of gas. Instead, we
learned that a weak flame can be a signal
that the safety regulator on the propane
line—that aluminum device that sits near
the end of the hose that attaches to the
tank—has been tripped, slowing the flow
of gas to a trickle.
This regulator is designed to respond
to low gas pressure inside the hose, a
sign that there’s a leak, but it can also be
tripped accidently if you turn on the grill
burners before you open the valve on
the tank. With the burner valves open,
pressure never builds up inside the hose,
and the regulator thinks it has detected
a leak.
Seasonings Beyond Salt and Pepper
Toward the end of developing a recipe in the test kitchen, tasters often make comments such as “it tastes just a bit flat” or “a smidge lean” or “too rich.” While salt
and pepper are always a consideration for final tweaks, our test cooks also look to
a range of other pantry ingredients that can help bring a dish into just the right balance. Such ingredients encompass sweet, bitter, sour, and umami (or savory) flavors;
we also may adjust with ingredients that add richness. Just a small quantity of one of
these finishing touches (from a pinch to ½ teaspoon) is a good starting place. Here
are a few of our favorites. –A.P.
Ingredient
What It Does
Suggested Uses
Sweet
Granulated or brown
sugar, honey, maple
syrup, mirin, sweet
wines or liqueurs, jams
or jellies
Rounds out sharp,
bitter, or salty
flavors
Salsas, relishes, sauces,
vinaigrettes, bitter
greens
Sour
Vinegars, citrus juice,
pickled vegetables (such as
jalapeños)
Adds brightness to
flat-tasting dishes,
cuts through richness or sweetness
Meaty stews or soups,
creamy sauces and
condiments, braised or
roasted meats
Bitter
Dry or prepared mustard,
fresh ginger, chili powder,
unsweetened cocoa powder, dark chocolate, horseradish, cayenne pepper,
coffee, citrus zest, beer
Cuts sweetness
Barbecue meats, slaws,
chopped salads, chili
Umami
Worcestershire sauce, soy
sauce, Parmesan cheese,
fish sauce, anchovy, mushrooms, tomato paste,
miso, sherry
Adds meatiness,
depth, or earthiness; boosts dishes
that taste a bit flat
Bolognese and other
meaty sauces, hearty
vegetarian sauces,
soups, deli sandwich
fillings such as tuna salad
Rich
Heavy cream, butter,
olive oil
Rounds out flavors,
adds viscosity
Vegetable-based soups,
sauces
1. Turn off all burners.
2. Turn off valve on tank.
TO AVOID THE PROBLEM
Always make sure to open the valve
on the tank before turning on the grill’s
burners. And when you have finished
grilling, be sure to turn off the burners
before shutting off the gas flow from
the tank.
TO FIX THE PROBLEM
If you forget the order of operations
above, the steps at the right will show
you how to reset the regulator and get
your grill back up and running. –A.J.
3. Detach regulator and hose from tank’s
nozzle; wait at least 30 seconds before
reattaching it.
For the Best Pizza Crust, Easy Does It
1. Shape cold-fermented
2. Proof each ball in separate
3. Gently press down on dough
(refrigerator-proofed) pizza
dough into balls 24 hours
before stretching to give gluten
ample time to relax.
lightly oiled bowl; transfer to
counter by inverting bowl. Flour
top of dough.
with your fingertips. Lightly
compress dough halfway toward
counter, then lift your fingertips.
Repeat across dough.
COOK’S
ILLUSTRATED
30
4. Once disk measures 6 to
8 inches across, gently lift it with
both your hands, drape it over
your closed fists, and use gravity
and your knuckles to stretch it.
5. If dough tightens up at any
point, lay it on floured counter
and let it rest for 1 to 2 minutes
to allow gluten to relax.
ILLUSTRATION: JOHN BURGOYNE
Good, chewy texture in pizza requires strong gluten development in the dough. But too much handling can cause the gluten to tighten up like a rubber band, making stretching the
dough a real challenge and leading to tough, rather than chewy, results. The key is to give the dough plenty of time to relax and to handle it as gently—and as little—as possible. –A.J.
COOKING CLASS
Boil versus Simmer
EXPERIMENT
Whether we call for boiling or simmering in a recipe depends on the situation. We boil
foods less often, but it can be beneficial in some situations, such as flash-cooking (or
blanching) vegetables so that they lose their raw edge while retaining their flavor and
bright color; speeding up the cooking of grains such as brown rice or wheat berries,
since surrounding the grains with boiling water transfers heat more quickly than the
absorption method; and cooking pasta, where the agitation helps keep the pieces from
sticking to each other. More often, we turn to simmering. Less agitation means delicate
foods won’t break apart and fats and soluble proteins in stock won’t coagulate and turn
the liquid cloudy. Because lower burner temperatures allow time for heat to transfer
evenly from the bottom of a pan to the top, there’s also less risk of scorching. –L.L.
Is Tofu Worth Marinating?
We know that, contrary to popular belief, marinades do most of their work
on the surface of meat and poultry. That’s because very few flavor compounds can make it deep into the meat, no matter how long it soaks in the
marinade. Tofu is often substituted for meat and poultry in recipes, but it
doesn’t behave in exactly the same way. How would it respond to marinating? We set up an experiment to find out.
EXPERIMENT
We marinated blocks of firm tofu in four different marinades—using soy
sauce, red wine, yogurt, and lemon and garlic as the various bases—for
15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, and 2 hours. We then wiped off the excess
marinade and baked the tofu in a 300-degree oven until hot throughout. We
also baked a control block of tofu that we hadn’t marinated. We trimmed
the outer 3 millimeters off each block and had 10 tasters sample the remaining tofus blind, asking them to identify the marinade for each.
RESULTS
BOIL: Liquid reaches 212 degrees;
large bubbles vigorously rise from bottom
of pot and continually break surface.
Tasters were relatively unsuccessful at matching the sample to the marinade at the 15-minute mark, but their results improved dramatically for the
30-minute set. All 10 tasters correctly identified the sample soaked in the
soy-based marinade, and eight of the tasters did the same for tofu from the
lemon-garlic marinade, while six were accurate for the red wine and yogurt
marinades. Interestingly, the accuracy increased only slightly for the 1- and
2-hour batches.
SIMMER: Liquid reaches 180 to
190 degrees; small bubbles rise from bottom of pot and occasionally break surface.
TAKEAWAY
Unlike meat and poultry, firm (and extra-firm) tofu can be thoroughly seasoned
by marinades of all types due to its relatively loose structure. Meat is made up
of individual muscle fibers bundled together in tight packages by connective
tissue, which translates to a dense, resilient texture. The flavors in most marinades don’t get much farther than skin-deep, with a few exceptions—alliums
such as garlic and glutamate-rich foods such as soy sauce, both of which have
small, water-soluble molecules. By comparison, firm tofu is made of coagulated curds of soy protein pressed into block form. Marinades are able to
seep between curd clumps and migrate toward the center.
That said, some marinades are more effective than others. It was easier
for tasters to identify the soy and lemon-garlic marinades because the
water-soluble flavor compounds in soy sauce and garlic are better at moving
through high-moisture tofu than are the compounds found in red wine or
yogurt. Considering that we often cut tofu into bite-size pieces with greater
surface area (thus creating more points of entry for marinade), marinating
can have a profound impact, seasoning the tofu not only at the surface but
also deep inside. –D.S.
Lazy Cook’s Frosting
Need a simple frosting that takes barely a minute to make? Whip some cream and
sugar in a food processor. Whereas whipping cream in a stand mixer produces
light, billowy peaks, the sharp, fast-moving blades of a food processor can’t add
as much air. Instead, they produce a dense, creamy consistency that works well
as a quick, spreadable topping for snack cakes, angel food and chiffon cakes, and
cupcakes; it was also very effective when piped through a pastry bag to make
decorative edging. Even better, because the smaller air bubbles created by the food
processor are more stable than the bigger bubbles created by a stand mixer, we
found that the processed cream kept its thick, dense texture for two full weeks.
(Method: Process 2 cups heavy cream, 2 teaspoons sugar, and ½ teaspoon
vanilla extract in food processor for 45 seconds. Pulse in 5-second intervals for
another 15 to 20 seconds, until cream has reached consistency of buttercream
frosting. –S.D.
CHICKEN
TOFU
Marinade doesn’t go past the edge.
Marinade reaches deeper.
Recrisping Stale Crackers and Cookies
The staling of dry, crisp foods such as
crackers, tortilla chips, and crunchy
cookies occurs because moisture from
the atmosphere gets absorbed by the
item’s starches, which soften and rob it
of its crisp texture. Luckily, this process
is reversible. And as long as you keep the
M AY
&
recrisped items dry by storing them in an
airtight container or zipper-lock bag, they
will stay crisp.
(Method: Spread foods such as soda
crackers and tortilla chips in an even
layer on a rimmed baking sheet (avoiding
overlap) and place larger items such as
JUNE
31
2017
cookies and graham crackers on a wire
rack set in a baking sheet. Place the sheet
on the middle rack of a 225-degree oven
for 15 to 25 minutes (the timing will vary,
depending on the item), until the food is
crisp again, stirring (or flipping, in the case
of cookies) halfway through baking. –A.J.
EQUIPMENT CORNER
j BY M I Y E B R O M B E R G A N D L A U R E N S AV O I E k
H I G H LY R E C O M M E N D E D
H I G H LY R E C O M M E N D E D
RECOMMENDED
RECOMMENDED
RECOMMENDED
ELITE CUISINE 1.5 Quart
Mini Slow Cooker
ALL-CLAD 12-Inch Stainless
Steel Fry Pan with Lid
THERMOWORKS
Fridge/Freezer Alarm
YAMAZAKI Home Ladle
and Lid Stand
BLUEAVOCADO (re)Zip
Stand-Up 4 Cup/32 oz
MST250XW
$24.02
41126
$119.00
RT8100
$22.00
2249
$18.00
BA339-4C
$8.99
MODEL:
MODEL:
MODEL:
MODEL:
MODEL:
PRICE:
PRICE:
PRICE:
PRICE:
PRICE:
Mini Slow Cookers
Refrigerator/Freezer Thermometers
Small slow cookers are convenient for keeping dips warm at parties, they easily
stow away in small kitchens, and they’re useful for making scaled-down versions of
slow-cooker recipes. They are also inexpensive. To find the best one, we gathered
four models priced from $13.79 to $24.02—all with 1½-quart capacities—and
used them to make slow-cooker recipes for cheese fondue and chicken soup, as
well as to keep hot spinach and artichoke dip and queso fundido warm (tracking the
temperature of each for 3 hours).
All the models were pretty rudimentary, with no digital temperature settings or
timers like our winning full-size slow cooker from KitchenAid has. Each model consists of a removable ceramic crock outfitted with a glass lid and set in a metal-lined
shell that houses the heating elements. We quickly noted that all the crocks and
lids were very similar in size, shape, material, and thickness (in fact, we had to label
them to keep from getting them mixed up). It’s no surprise, then, that they were all
equally durable, roomy (all comfortably held an entire bone-in chicken breast), and
easy to clean.
The shells looked pretty similar, too—except for one key difference: their
temperature controls. While two models had dials for three temperature settings
(warm, low, and high), one product had options for only low and high. Another
didn’t have a temperature dial at all; it was either on or off, with no variable settings.
All handled the fondue, soup, and spinach dip well, but two—those without
“warm” settings—had problems with the more finicky queso dip, which can separate if it gets too hot. Our favorite, the Elite Cuisine 1.5 Quart Mini Slow Cooker
($24.02), aced every test. –L.S.
Digital refrigerator/freezer thermometers provide concrete data to those who are
concerned that their refrigerators and freezers run too warm or too cold. The most
useful models have audio and/or visual indicators to tell you if the temperature
goes off course; we gathered four of these, priced from $17.99 to $41.99, and put
them to the test. Our winner, the ThermoWorks Fridge/Freezer Alarm ($22.00),
was the most accurate thermometer in our testing. Its display was easy to read, but
the interface was a little tricky to navigate. However, an extra feature more than
made up for this minor flaw: This unit alerts you when temperatures go above or
below the temperatures you designate and also tracks when temperatures remain
outside those points for longer than a half-hour. –M.B.
U P D AT E
Lid Holders
Many cooks swear by lid holders, claiming that they contain mess and save counter
space. To put those assertions to the test, we bought four models priced from
$11.99 to $80.00: three heat-resistant stands with troughs that cradle the lids (some
also hold utensils) and contain any drips and a fourth model that holds lids faceup so
they can’t drip in the first place. In general, we preferred models that sat securely on
the counter without taking up too much room and that could handle all sizes of lids
with aplomb. But one lid holder’s versatility really won us over. The Yamazaki Home
Ladle and Lid Stand ($18.00) held every lid and utensil we set inside it, and it was
the only model that could also hold tablets and even magazines—doing so just as
securely as our favorite tablet stand. –M.B.
Reusable Storage Bags
Traditional Skillets
Are reusable sandwich-size storage bags viable replacements for disposable
zipper-lock bags? To find out, we bought five 3- to 4-cup bags, priced from $2.32 to
$11.99 each and made of either silicone or vinyl, and used them to store a variety
of foods in the freezer, in the refrigerator, and in a backpack. We filled them with
water, sealed them, inverted them, and shook them; we also dropped the sealed
water-filled bags from counter height. All the bags proved easy to clean, but the
vinyl bags were superior to their silicone counterparts, because they sealed more
securely, allowing them to better contain foods and protect against freezer burn.
Vinyl bags also proved easier to fill than the small, thick silicone bags. Our winner,
the BlueAvocado (re)Zip Stand-Up 4 Cup/32 oz, stored all food well, had gussets
that made it especially easy to fill, and was very leak-resistant. It performs comparably to a disposable bag, but without the waste. –M.B.
Recently, All-Clad introduced a lidded version of our favorite traditional skillet, the
All-Clad 12-Inch Stainless Steel Fry Pan, so we compared the new model, the All-Clad
12-Inch Stainless Steel Fry Pan with Lid ($119.00), with the original. Lid aside, the two
pans are identical, and All-Clad plans to offer both models indefinitely. We used the
new lidded model to cook a chicken-and-rice casserole and to contain simmering
tomato sauce, pitting it against our favorite universal lid, the RSVP Endurance Stainless
Steel Universal Lid with Glass Insert ($19.99). The new All-Clad lid has a small but
easy-to-grip handle and fits securely on top of the skillet, helping cook the rice evenly
and keeping spatters to a minimum. The lid works very well and adds value to an
already excellent pan.
If you don’t yet own a traditional skillet, we recommend buying the new lidded
model. As a bonus, the All-Clad lid also fits our winning nonstick skillet, the OXO
Good Grips Non-Stick 12-Inch Open Fry Pan ($39.99). Unfortunately, it is not currently possible to buy the All-Clad skillet lid separately. –M.B.
COOK’S
For complete testing results, go to CooksIllustrated.com/june17.
ILLUSTRATED
32
INDEX
May & June 2017
MAIN DISHES
BONUS ONLINE CONTENT
Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Grilled
Pineapple–Red Onion Salsa 18
Grilled Spice-Rubbed Chicken
Drumsticks 11
Meatless “Meat” Sauce with Chickpeas
and Mushrooms 9
Panang Beef Curry 7
Risi e Bisi 19
Stir-Fried Shrimp and Asparagus
in Garlic Sauce 13
Stir-Fried Shrimp and Broccoli 13
Stir-Fried Shrimp with Onion,
Bell Peppers, and Cumin 13
More recipes, reviews, and videos are available
at CooksIllustrated.com/june17
SIDE DISHES
Napa Cabbage Slaw with Carrots
and Sesame 22
with Apple and Walnuts 22
with Jícama and Pepitas 22
RECIPES
Brown Sugar–Banana Topping
German Pancake for Two
Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Grilled
Tomatillo Salsa
Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Grilled
Tomato–Ginger Salsa
Napa Cabbage Slaw with Snow Peas
and Mint
Ras el Hanout Spice Rub
Spicy Napa Cabbage Slaw with Red
Bell Pepper
German Pancake, 15
Panang Beef Curry, 7
Risi e Bisi, 19
Grilled Pork Tenderloin, 18
Grilled Spice-Rubbed Chicken Drumsticks, 11
Classic Guacamole, 5
Napa Cabbage Slaw with Carrots and Sesame, 22
Olive Oil Cake, 21
Stir-Fried Shrimp and Asparagus, 13
Meatless “Meat” Sauce, 9
E X PA N D E D R E V I E W S
Tasting Coconut Milk
Testing Lid Holders
Testing Mini Slow Cookers
Testing Refrigerator/Freezer Thermometers
Testing Reusable Storage Bags
Testing Syrup Dispensers
B R E A K FA S T
German Pancake 15
RECIPE VIDEOS
S TA RT E R S
Want to see how to make any of the recipes
in this issue? There’s a free video for that.
Homemade Tortilla Chips 29
Classic Guacamole 5
F O L LOW U S O N S O C I A L M E D I A
D E S S E RT
facebook.com/CooksIllustrated
twitter.com/TestKitchen
pinterest.com/TestKitchen
google.com/+AmericasTestKitchen
instagram.com/CooksIllustrated
youtube.com/AmericasTestKitchen
Olive Oil Cake 21
TO P P I N G
Brown Sugar–Apple Topping 15
RUBS
Barbecue Spice Rub 11
Jerk-Style Spice Rub 11
America’s Test Kitchen
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whenever you want.
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PHOTOGRAPHY: CARL TREMBLAY; STYLING: MARIE PIRAINO
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