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M1^11Y S1``-111 N:` )111 211

1 1 1 ` 1 1 1
Mac and Cheese
Creamy, Not Gritt
Oven BBQ Chicken
All-New Technique
Bacon Taste-Test
Surprise Supermarket Winner
Better Chef's Sa lad
Deli Ham and Turkey Tasting
Chicken Stir-Fry
Rating Spice
Grinders
Do Tey Really Work?
Secrets of
Coconut Cream Pie

Steak Diane
Creamy Fruit Sherbets
Quick Cheese Bread
Foolproof Brown Rice
Sauteing ||
www. c ooks i l l u strate d . c om

CONTENTS
May t June Zll
2 Notes from Readers
Reader ask questions and sugest sol utions.
4 Quick Tips
Quick and eas ways to perform everday tasks, from
making lare batches of tea to grting ginger and
toasting nuts.
6 Quick Cheese Bread
Runofthemi l l cheese bread is at once dr and greas,
with fleeting cheese favor. We were after something
diferent: a rich, moist loaf topped with a bol d, chees
crust. BY REBECCA HAYS
8 Better Chefs Salad
Fastfood joints have given this retro supper slad a bad
name ( and a plastic fork). Coul d we produce a substntial
slad with supermaret staples? BY SEAN LWLER
10 Oven-Barbecued Chicken
Te idea-barbecued chicken stright from your oven-is
a great one. Unfortunately. the real thing is dr and
tough, with a tasteless, bakedon suce. Coul d we sve
this recipe?
BY ERI N MCMURRER WITH ADAM RI ED
12 Foolproof Brown Rice
Forget the instructions on the back of the bag, unless you
WDIscorched or mushy rice.
BY REBECCA HAYS
13 Rescuing Steak Diane
Reduced to the level of bad dinner theater, this legendar
tbleside showpiece was in need of a revival. Coul d we
give this tired classic a new life at home?
BY DI ANE UNGER- MAHONEY
16 Mastering the Art of Saute
From proper pans and equipment to perfect technique.
we take the guessork out of this often confusing
cooking method. BY MATIHEW CARD
18 Family-Style Macaroni
and Cheese
Neither dul l and bland nor excessively rich, macaroni and
cheese shoul d please a multitude of palates. Coul d we
fnd a simple way to make this dish appealing to adults
and kids alike? BY BRI DGET LNCASER
20 The Problem with Chicken
Stir-Fries
Tired of dr, string chicken in your sti rfry? We have the
sol ution. BY KERI FI SHER
22 Extra-Fruity Fruit Sherbet
Unlike ice cream, store bought sherbet is usual ly
third rte. If you wnt a real ly good frit sherbet, do
you have to make it yourelf? Yes. BY ERIKA BRUCE
24 Putting the "Coconut" in
Cream Pie
Most coconut cream pies are no more than coconut
dusted vani l l a cream pies. Other use artificial
f lavoring and taste like suntan lotion. We wanted honest
coconut flavor. BY DAWN YANAGIHAR
26 Bringing Home the (Best)
Bacon
Does it mater which brnd of superarket bacon you
buy? Absolutely. Shoul d you pay 250 percent more for
premium. gourmet bacons? We'l l let you decide.
BY ERIKA BRUCE AND ADAM RIED
28 Grinding Spices at Home
Is home grinding worth the trouble? Yes. And it's no
trouble at al l if you choose the right grinder.
BY ADAM RI ED
30 Kitchen Notes
Test results , buying tips. and advice related to stories
past and present, directly from the test ltchen.
BY BRI DGET LNCASTER
3 2 Resources
Products from this issue and where to get them, including
rotar cheese grter. a freezer therometer. bacon.
and cutting boards.
MIN The most often used mints are spearmint and peppermint. Te purple-tinged
leaves of the latter have a more assertive flavor and are used to make tea, oils. and
extracts. Spearmint, which has straight or curly light green to deep green leaves , has a
milder favor and frgrnce and is commonly used in mint jel lies and sauces; it's also the
kind of fresh mint found in the supermarket. Apple and pineapple mint are closely related
and have a simi l ar taste, although pineapple mint's white-streaked. f ri l ly leaves can be
sweeter and fruitier than the subtly favored. velvet leaves of the apple mint. Ornge
mint has mild citrus undertones and is used in the l iqueur Chartreuse. Gold-fecked
ginger mint has a fruit scent and a mi l dly spicy ginger favor. Chocolate mint has a fla
vor that is faintly reminiscent of mint chocolate candy. Severl other herbs, in the same
family as the above mints but of a diferent genus. incl ude the fol lowing: licorice, or Korean.
mint; calamint. with mint-favored leaves and flowers; and mountain. or wil d. mint, which has
a bol d favor. COVER (Lndtvc onu kccl:cci::a).Elizabeth Brndon, BCK COVER (^o.i).John Buroyne
[''b_
l L l.' S T R E lI
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!^1 ! A^1CAS 11S1 |1C!I
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Dawn Yanagihar
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PND |NTE OS

ast Christmas, my oldest daughter,


Whitney, purchased a doggy hat with
earfaps for our youngest, 5-year-old
Emily. It is pink and white with a big
brown nose, eyes, and ears and has become her
favorite piece of headgear. If you were to meet
Emily on a cold winter day, however, you would
be immediately struck by the fact that she takes
this hat quite seriously, despite its cartoonlike
appearance. She wi11 entertain no lighthearted
discussion about the fact that she appears to be
wearing a dog on her head.
That, I suppose, is the essence of being 5 years
old; reality is simply whatever you decide it ought
to be. Saturday mornings, Emily will stride into
my ofce and ask me to assume the role of hus
band to her wife, who then has to cook dinner on
her bright yellow plastic kitchen set ( the menu is
limited to ersatz hamburgers, pizza, pickles, and
cookies) . Other times, she will dress up for the
role of princess and I have to win her love. Of
course, she understands that royalty is a tough
business, so things usually do not go well for me,
the prince. Princesses are, in Emily's view, not
patient people.
Adrienne and I have four children, and Emily
is our last. Being parents is nothing new for us
and so we are less apt, perhaps, to treasure every
cute drawing, every charming utterance. ( That
being said, Adrienne has collected a basement
fll of childhood drawings, plaster handprints,
class photos, and other childhood memorabilia. )
Once the frst ( and second and third) blush of
parenthood is gone, however, the true miracle
of life remains. This notion is, admittedly, a bit
tread-worn, but I defend the thought nonethe
less. P when a scientist contemplates a remote
corner of the universe, there is no percentage in
being offhand and incurious. So before my last
child grows up and leaves home, I want to offer
this goodbye.
Dear Emily. You are about to forget many
things . You will forget the icy spray of snow
11'11.1
I/K I^II\
crystals as you sled with your
mother down toward the horse
pasture . You will no longer
know how to whisper wet
nothings i n my ear and how
to chase guinea hens around
the yard. You will have for
gotten the many goldfi sh won
and then lost at the fireman's
parade, the sound of fddlers
at the Ox Roast, and perhaps

Most of all, I will forget the
push and pull of youth, when
you venture out into the
pond just a bit too far from
shore, panic, and then fran
tically paddle back or when
you taunt your older brother,
Charlie, in order to liven up a
dull evening and then end up
.
even the taste of the butter-
milk biscuits I make for you
on Saturday mornings . You
will no longer be startled by
your "Dragon Breath" on a
cold winter's morning nor demand a Hug, Kiss,
Tickl e, and Taste from your mom when you
get home from school . You may

still remember
Bartholomew and the Oobleck but have forgot
ten Mr. Popper's Penguins, Arthur's Teacher
Trouble, and the windup alarm clock witl1 the
organ grinder and his monkey. And, of course,
you will no longer talk like Elmer Fudd, telling
us that you fell down and got a "bwues" or tl1at
tle toilet's "pwogged. " And, by tl1e time you go
off to college, we do hope tl1at you are no longer
sucking your thumb.
But perhaps i t i s what I am likely t o forget
tl1at is more tl1e issue . I won' t remember that
you used to call me "Dumb Pants" or tl1at you
11sually ask for a scary story at bedtime but half
way through the telling ofen cry out, "Not tl1at
scary!" I will forget that, when told tl1at all - beef
hot dogs were no longer a lunch option owing to
Mad Cow Disease, you tl1ought for a moment,
looked at your plate of insipid chicken salad, and
then' said calmly, "Well, I bet you haven' t heard
about Mad Chicken Disease!" I will also forget
what my lap is really for, the sweet smell of child
hood, and the spidery touch of tiny hands around
my shoulders as you creep up from behind,
sta
.
nding on a chair.
in a shock of tears. Adults have
no prescribed limits, tl1ere is
nothing lurking on the edge
of darkness, the woods have
all been mapped. Yet on a
cold winter's morning, your
world can still be measured in
inches from tle wood cookstove while the rest of
us pace off the universe in light-years. Your day is
measured by the length of a crayon, the size of a
lollipop, and the pieces of a puzzl e.
You have shown us the importance of the
inner eye, the one that sees a bear in a bush, a
face in a fre, or a mountain in a cloud. There is
no need to instruct a child, "To thine own self be
true," yet it is the greatest struggle faced by those
more traveled in years and adversity. You see the
world through imagination; adults see it through
opportunity.
These "airy nothings" of childhood-fairies
and fying monkeys-can fade and be forgot
ten or, instead, as Shakespeare put it, "grow to
something of great constancy, however strange
and admirable. " You have taught us that child
hood is not like the passing mist afer a summer
rain but that we should learn to see a world "as
new as foam and as old as the rock. " Perhaps our
best hope is to eat biscuits by tl1e woodstove on
cold mornings or to sled, your mother and I,
down the hill toward tl1e lower pasture with eyes
wide open, blinded by fresh snow. And then, just
before bed, we might peek into the mirror and
see kings and queens, remembering that our love
for you is limited only by your imagination.
ILlLLb, LLLb, LILLlILI/!Ll:
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M A Y c !J^J 211
NOTES FROM READERS
Pie Crust without Crisco?
I'm looking for pie pastry recipes that do not
contain the hydrogenated (or trans) fats found
in vegetable shortening (such as Crisco). While
I understand that shortening is recommended in
pie crusts for textural reasons, for health reasons,
neither I nor my fly wishes to consume it. Is it
sufficient to replace it with butter?
COMPI LE D BY I NDIA KOOPM AN ;
than one favored the classically tender texture of
the crust made with Crisco.
Taking taste, texture, and dough workability
into account, neither all butter nor a Spectrum/
butter combination produces exactly tl1e same
result as a Crisco/butter combination, but each
produces a satisfactory result.
KASEY sAssER / Killer Oven Mitt
CHALMETTE. LA.
In previous tests conducted when developing
our recipe for American pie dough, which calls
for 6 tablespoons of butter and 4 tablespoons of
shortening, we found that you can substimte tl1e
same amount of butter for the shortening with
good results. The flavor of an all-butter crust is
better and its texture just a bit less tender than a
crust made with both butter and shortening. A
dough made with all butter can be more diffcult
to work with, however, because butter melts
more readily than shortening. The shortening
gives a less experienced baker more time to roll
out the dough before it sofens to the point of
becoming unworkable. Make sure to chill an all
butter dough thoroughly.
Another alternative to standard shorten
ing is a new product called Spectrum Organic
Shortening. It is not mechanically hydrogenated
and so contains no trans fats (now tlught to be
the least healthy of all fats) and, according to the
manufacturer, can be substituted tablespoon for
tablespoon for hydrogenated shortenings such
as Crisco. Spectrum comes in a mb and is pure
white, just like regular shortening, and its only
ingredient is palm oil, which is naturally solid at
room temperamre. We substimted Spectrum for
Crisco in our pie crust recipe and did detect a
couple of differences, though each was subtle.
One difference that we noticed straight off is
that Spectrum is a bit harder and less creamy at
room temperature than Crisco. Tlus "hardness"
was evident when we rolled out the dough afer
having let it sit overnight in tl1e refrigerator; it
was certainly workable, but not as malleable as tl1e
dough made with Crisco. Letting the Spectrum
dough sit out at room temperamre to sofen was
helpfl; like Crisco, Spectrum extends the "win
dow of workability" for tl1e dough.
There were also slight differences in tl1e taste
and texture of the baked crusts. Most tasters
found tl1e Spectrum crust sweeter and crisper
than the Crisco crust. Do "sweeter" and "crisper"
mean "better"? Here tasters diverged. Some pre
ferred the crust made witl1 Spectrum, but more
Have you seen the Orka? It's a silicone oven mitt
that's supposed to be heat-resistant up to 500
degrees Fal1renheit. It certainly takes tlle charm
out of oven mitts .... But does it work?
PATIENCE WHITTEN
BROOKLINE. MASS.
. The manufacturers claim tl1at tl1e Orka allows
you to submerge your hand in boiling water or
bubbling oil. We put it to those tests-afer frst
trying a few uses tl1at were a bit less, well, scary.
We used the Orka when grilling, grabbing
tle hot rack to add coals to tl1e grill, and didn't
feel a trace of heat. We used it to move hot pans
out of the oven and of the stovetop, and we still
didn't feel any heat. We used it instead of wadded
paper towels to mrn a large roast chicken-still
no transfer of heat. Now we were starting to feel
confdent in tlus whale-shaped teclmo-mitt (see
photo below) and prepared ourselves for the big
tests: boiling water and peanut oil that was hot
enough to fy clucken (about 350 degrees; even
we were scared of a smoking pot of 500-degree
oil). Millimeter by nl meter, an editor lowered
her mitt-clad hand into a pot of just-boiled eggs.
Did she feel the heat? Some, yes, but the mitt as
well as her fingers were stil intact. Results fom
submersion in hot oil were the same.
Do we recommend the Orka? Although it
offers lots more protection from heat than you'd
get witl1 a traditional terrycloth or leather pot
holder or oven nutt, it has a big drawback: It's
bulky and can be awkward, especially for cooks
with small hands. In an attempt to retrieve a
hard-cooked egg from tl1e above-mentioned pot
ORKA MIT
This whale of a techno-mitt can take the heat,
but it's also clumsy.
COO K
'
S I L L U S T R A T E D
Z
of boiling water, our editor ended up crushing
it. We also found that wearing the mitt made our
hands sweaty. Of tl1e tasks we tested, we would
use tle Orka for only one: moving a hot grill rack.
For the other tasks tested, we prefer a traditional
mitt or potholder (or a slotted spoon). The $20
Orka is available at most kitchen stores. See
Resources on page 32 for details.
Shattering Prex Revisited
Two readers had frther questions about the safe
use of Pyrex bakeware following the question
raised in this secton in the March/ April 2003
issue by Penny Robie, who had a problem with a
baking dish shattering when she placed it directly
fom the oven into a serving basket on the table.
I recently made your recipe for An1erican Loaf
Bread (May/June 1 996). To create a crisp crust,
the instructions suggest placing an empty loaf pan
on the bottom rack of the oven during preheating
(to 350 degrees), then fl g it with boilg water
when the bread is put in the oven. I use Pyrex loaf
pans, and when I poured the boiling water in the
hot pan, it popped loudly and cracked down the
midde. Next time, I'll defnitely use a metal pan to
hold the hot water. But what happened?
ELLEN FORMAN
AUSTIN. TEXAS
I want to make your "Do Allead Fresh-Baked
Apple Pie" (November/December 1 997). The
recipe says to take the pie out of the feezer and
put it directly into a preheated oven. I know you
recommend Pyrex pie plates, but I would think ;
that putting a frozen Pyrex pie plate in a pre-
heated oven would break tl1e dish. Should I thaw _
the pie or do exactly what the recipe states?
EILEEN MITTLEIDER
MARIETTA. GA .
0

Z
a
.
w
.. Pyrex is most vulnerable to cracking when it
experiences a dramatic drop in temperature, espe-
cially if there is even a tiny, all-but-imperceptible
crack in the glass. Why, tl1en, would a hot loaf pan -
crack when hot water is poured into it? Although ;
the water was boiling, itwas still much cooler at
212 degrees than the pan, which had been pre-
heating in a 350-degree oven. This sudden drop
in temperature could easily cause tl1e loaf pan to
crack. A metal loaf pan is the way to go.

In the case of the do-ahead apple pie, in which w

a pie fozen in a Pyrex dish goes straight from


me freezer to a preheated oven, a couple of fac-
tors are at work. For one, glass going fom cold
to hot is less vulnerable (though of course not
invulnerable) to breaking. More important is
the fact that the pie plate is going from cold to
hot slowly. Unlike water, air delivers heat slowly,
which is why you can briefy stick your hand in a
hot oven without burning it. (You would never
stick a bare hand in boiling water, even though
the temperature of the water is so much lower
than that of a 350-degree oven.) So it's safe to
move a Pyrex pie plate directy from the freezer
to a hot oven. And we do recommend baking pies
in Pyrex plates because they do such a good job of
browning the crust.
Our Polic on Salt for Brines
In your January /February 2004 issue, you say to
brine the chicken for the Garlic-Rosemary Roast
Chicken with / cup salt. Is that table or kosher
salt? You usually indicate which to use.
WHAT IS IT?
We found thi s for a dol l ar in a box of other unnamed
kitchen tool s i n what some might cal l an anti que
shop (we' d say i t' s cl oser to a j unk shop) . Do
you know what i t' s used for?
MR. AND MRS. ALFRED SCHLETIER
MIDDLE VILLAGE, N.Y.
. In our J uly/August 1 996 issue, we
featured thi s i tem-an oven rck adjus
tor-as one of ni ne trul y " Useful Ki tchen
Gadgets." Made of wood and measuring
about 1 2 inches l ong by I inch wide, it's
used to pul l out an oven rck (use the
notch cared a few i nches down the si de
of the tool ) to check on the doneness of
whatever might be cooki ng and then to
NO MORE BURNT KNUCKLES
An oven rack adjustor keeps hands away
from hot oven racks.
PULL
LINDA j ANOWITZ
SANTA CLARA. CALIF.
push the rck back in place (use the notch cared i nto the tip of the tool ) . Te oven rck adj ustor ofer much better
protection against bums than a pothol der. I t' s avai l abl e at crf and kitchen stores for as l ittle as $4.
.. Kosher salt is an ideal choice for brining
because its large, airy crystals dissolve so quickly
in water. Unfortunately, the two major brands of
kosher salt-Morton's and Diamond Crystal-are
not equally airy. Because the crystals in Morton's
are a bit more compact, you need less of it cup
for cup than you do of Diamond Crystal. One
quarter cup table salt is equivalent to 14 cup plus 2
tablespoons of Morton's but / cup of Diamond
Crystal. This difference makes precise recipe writ
ing a challenge. Because there's no accounting
for which brand of kosher salt a reader might use,
we have decided to list table salt in our brining
recipes. (Sorry, we should have been clearer in the
Garlic-Rosemary Roast Chicken recipe.) To use
kosher salt in this or any recipe, just apply one of
the above conversions, depending on tl1e brand
you have on hand.
Best Pastr Blender
I know I'm old-fashioned, but I like to make pie
dough by hand rather than in a food processor.
I'm looking to replace an old pastry blender with
a new one that's easier to use and clean. What do
you recommend?
consists of a handle tl1at you grip witl1 a fst and
a collection of curved wires or blades that loop
from one end of tl1e handle to the other (see tl1e
photos below). The basic question to ask when
buying a pastry blender is: wires or blades? We
purchased a couple of each type and used them
to make pie dough. We preferred the stiffness of
tl1e blade-type cutters to the fexibility of the wire
cutters. The rigid blades required less force to
cut through tl1e fat and did so more cleanly and
quickly than the wire cutters. In addition, blades
were easier to clean tl1an wires. We also liked cut
ters with rubber handles; wood and steel handles
are less comfortable and don't provide as good a
grip. Our favorite, the Cuisena Dough Blender,
costs $6.99. See page 32 for details.
WHICH IS THE BETTER PASTRY BLENDER?
The stif blades of the blender on the left are more eficient
Rl CHARD HAROLD AINSWORTH than the flexible wires of the blender on the right.
j OLIET. ILL.
.. The food processor is our tool of choice for
makng pastry dough because it's so fast, easy,
and effective. The next best thing is a pastry
blender; cutting butter into four with two
knives is much more of a chore. A pastry blender
SEND US YOUR QUESONS We will provide a com
plimentar one-year subscription for each letter we print. Send
your inquir. name. address. and daytime telephone number
to Notes from Readers, Cook's Illustrted, |.. Box 470589,
Brookline, MA 02447, or to notesfromreaders@bcpress.com.
Diluting Thickened Condiments
Regarding your suggestion on storage and use
of oyster-favored sauce in the January /February
2004 issue, I would like to suggest tl1at water
not be added to oyster sauce that has gotten
too thick, except to the amount that will be
immediately used. If you add water to the bottle
that will again be returned to the refrigerator
for storage, you may be adding contaminants
bacteria-from the water. At tl1e same time, the
water is diluting the salt (or sugar or acid) that
M A Y c !'^J 211

is the preservative. It's a double whammy of less


preservative power and more possible contamina
tion. If dilution is needed, remove the amount to
be used from tl1e bottle and dilute that.
MARY A. KEITH. PH.D . L.D.
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY COOPERATIVE
EXTENSION SERVICE
SEFFNER. FLA.
. Thanks for the advice. Your suggestion could
also be applied to other condiments that have
thickened over time, including hoisin sauce and
chili sauce.
The Elusive Key Lime
In tle "Exotic Citrus" illustration on the back
cover of your January /February 2004 issue,
you show green Key limes. In my 25 years of
visiting the Florida Keys, I learned from
old-timers and restaurateurs that real
Key limes are yellow (I've seen them),
tiny (those pictured on the cover look
the size of a typical supermarket, or
Persian, lime), and very rare.
FRED HINDLEY
SOUTH LYON. MICH.
. The Key limes pictured on the back cover do,
we now realize, look too green and too big to be
Key limes. But they are not Persian limes. The
limes were likely green and not yellow because
they weren't ripe. Their larger-than-life size
(their actual size was about tl1e same as that of
a walnut) is the choice of the artist, who's given
some license when depicting size for tl1e sake of
the overall aesthetics of the cover. Almost all so
called Key limes sold in this country now come
from Mexico. Florida Key limes are grown by a
handfl of home gardeners who generally don't
sell their wares to supermarkets.
Quick Tips
COMPILED BY R E B ECCA HAYS AND NINA WEST ;
Making Lrge Batches ofTea
To brew a large batch of tea with
out the mess of fishing out hot tea
bags, jennifer Roap of Iron Bridge,
Ontario, Canada, puts loose
tea bags into a potato ricer and
submerges the basket in a J to
4-quart pot of just-boiled water.
Once the tea has reached full
strength, she lifts the ricer out of
the pot and discards the tea bags.
Easier Food Processor
Cleanup
Some food processor l i ds have non
removabl e sl i di ng feed tubes that
don' t get compl etely clean i n the
di shwasher because the pi eces sti ck
together. P.J . Hi rbayashi of San Jose,
Cal i f . , found a way to solve the prob
l em-with a chopstick. She pul l s up
the top portion of the l i d and i nserts
a chopstick between the tube and
the l i d to separate the pi eces. Soapy
water can now fow through the
pieces, and the enti re lid emeres
from the dishwasher perfectly cl ean.
Pper Towel Substitute
Carole Nicolet of Bremerton, Wash.,
suggests an economical, earth-friendly
way to consere paper towels and
recycle newspapers. When she needs
several layers of paper towels to absorb
water or grease, she spreads out a few
layers of newspaper and tops them with
a single layer of paper towels. The news
papers are wonderully absorbent and
much less expensive than paper towels.
Quick Homemade Funnel
To make a funnel for fl l i ng a pep
per mi l l or addi ng spi ces to jar or a
food prcessor feed tube, Stephani e
Klauser of Madison, Wi s .. uses a
paper cone-stle cofee filter.
I. Cut of the bottom 1/4 i nch of
the filter.
2. Fold the fi lter in half and sepa
rte the layers to create a funnel .
3. I nsert the narrow end of the
funnel i nto a pepper mi l l and add
spi ces.
I.
Homemade Mi crowave Popcorn
2.
Instead of buying expensive (and sometimes unhealthy) microwave popcorn
at the supermarket, Gloria Wong of Sunnyside, N.Y., and Alan and Sara Rimm
Kaufman of Earlysville, Va., have taken to making a homemade version.

t

I. Place '/4 cup bulk popcorn in a 4-quart microwave-safe bowl with I tea-
spoon vegetable or olive oil. (For the calorie-conscious, good results can also
be achieved without any oil.) Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrp, poke a
few holes in the surface, and place the bowl in the microwave. Depending on
the power of your microwave, the popcorn will take beteen two and six min
utes to pop. Check its progress frequently.
2. When the majorit of the kernels have popped, use potholder to remove
the bowl from the microwave and place it on a clean, dr surface-it will be
extremely hot. Toss the popcorn with melted butter and salt, if desired.
5cn0 USYOUrTip We will provide a complimentary one-year subscription for each tip we print. Send your tip. name, and address to
Quick Tips, Cook's Illustrted, P.O. Box 47C589, Brookline, MAC2447,or to quicktips@bcpress.com.
C O O K
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S I L LU S T R A T E D

Safer Gi nger Grating


I t can be hazardous to grte a smal l
knob of fresh gi nger, wi th your
knuckl es ski mmi ng dangerously cl ose
to the grter. To avoi d scrpi ng herel f,
E. Lyster of .,sticks
a fork i nto the peel ed pi ece of gi nger
and rubs i t over the grater, usi ng the
fork as a handl e.
Kitchen Twine Replacement
When she needs a short l ength of
foodsafe stri ng to tie a spi ce bag or
secure a bunch of herbs and doesn' t
have any kitchen ti ne handy, Rchael
Thompson of Universit Heights,
Ohio, cl i ps the stri ng of of a tea bag.
She fi nds that the stri ng i s the perfect
size for such smal l task. If a l onger
l ength i s requi red, two l engths of string
can be ti ed together.
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Removing Tea Stains
Afer reading the tip in the
january/February 2004 issue about
cleaning tea-stained ceramics with
a denture cleansing tablet, Diane
Von Behren of Kenner, L. , sent
us her own stain removal method,
which also removes cofee stains.
Cut a fresh lemon in quarters and
use the fruit as a scrubber, gently
squeezing its juice into a stained
cofee mug or teapot. For extra
cleaning power, first dip the lemon
in kosher salt, which acts as an
abrasive. Follow with a wash in hot
soapy water.
Improvised Proofi ng Box
Stephani e Shul t of Yaki ma, Wash. ,
a frequent baker who l ives i n a dry,
deserl i ke cl i mate, uses her di sh
washer to create a humi d, draft-free
environment i n whi ch her bread
dough can rise.
Tum on the di shwasher for about four
mi nutes. or long enough for some
warm water to fi l l the bottom. Place
the dough to be proofed i n a l oaf pan
or bowl , cover i t with pl astic wrp,
set it on the bottom rck of the di sh
washer. and close the door. Make sure
to tum of the di shwasher; otherise
the water will STI to fow agai n once
you close the door.
Microwave-Toasted Nuts and Sesame Seeds
When Casandr Sel ber of Coral l i s, Ore. , needs to toast nuts or sesame seeds and
her stovetop and oven are unavai l abl e. she uses the mi crowave.
I. For frgrnt. browned results, place '/ cup of sesame seeds or nuts in a
mi crowave-safe bowl and mi crowave at ful l power for about to mi nutes, checki ng
and stirri ng ever 30 seconds, unti l the seeds or nuts are gol den brown.
2. Spread the seeds or nuts on paper towels to cool and absorb oi l s. Thi s techni que
works best for cashews, al monds, pi ne nuts, hazel nuts, and sesame seeds.
Neatly Wrappi ng Cupcakes
Cupcake aficionados know how
messy frosted cupcakes can be
when packed into a lunch bag or
box, even when plastic wrap is
used. Celeste Garber of Pittsburgh,
| . ofers this tip for presering the
luscious frosting. Cut the cupcake
in half horizontally and flip the top
half upside down so that the icing is
in the middle, making a little layer
cake. Wrap the cupcake (or piece
of frosted sheet cake) in plastic
wrap or a plastic bag, and the cup
cake is good to go.
Transporing Fragi l e
Pstri es and
Hors d'Oeuvres
When asked to bri ng
dessert to a fami ly part,
P McGrath of Madi son,
Wi s. , li kes t o prepare
homemade bi te-size tart
l ets. But the del i cate tart
shel l s, whi ch break easi ly,
were di fi cul t to transport
unti l she came up wi th the
fol l owi ng i dea. She now
packs the tartlets in a card
board eg carton that she
has l i ned wi th pl astic wrp.
Storing Vanilla Beans
Vanilla beans, expensive as they are,
warrant proper storage when fresh
to presere their suppleness. To
keep vanilla beans from drying out,
Stephanie Perry Kipp of Anchorage,
Alaska, stores them in a tall bottle
(such as a clean caper bottle) filled
with vanilla extract. The beans stay
moist, full of flavor, and
ready to use.
M A Y { |'^J 211

Keeping Track of
Bakeware Sizes
With manufacturers' indications
of size on baking pans being either
illegible or nonexistent, joan Grace
of Bath, Maine, takes matters into
her own hands and uses ovensafe
metal paint (available at hardware
stores) to mark pan bottoms, not
ing dimensions or capacit.
Shoppi ng for Top-Rated
Products
avid Cook`s1|ustrat:dreader,
Denise Amos of Crestood, Ky. ,
prefers to buy top- rted i ngredi ents at
the grocer store. To keep trck of the
best brnds whi l e shoppi ng. she writes
notes on i ndex cards that she uses as
categor divi ders in her coupon hol der.
Eas Pureed Garl i c
I n addition to grting nutmeg,
citrus, and hard cheese, a
Microplane grater is an ideal tool
for producing finely pureed garlic,
shallot, or onion. For recipes such as
Caesar salad or aioli, Bev Drake of
Belmont, Calif., peels a clove of
garlic and grtes it on
the Microplane
before adding it
to her recipe.
Quick Cheese Bread
Run-of-the-mill cheese bread is at once dry and greasy, with fleeting cheese flavor.
We were after something different: a rich, moist loaf topped with a bold, cheesy crust.
C
heese bread sounds like a
great idea, a pairing of two
of Aerica's favorite foods.
Unlike pizza, wherein bread
dough is merely topped wth cheese, a
true cheese bread involves a more inti
mate relationship, going well beyond the
quick blind date in which the two ingre
dients are merely thrown together and
then heated. Good cheese bread displays
a subtle balance of favor and texture,
neither part getting the upper hand. But
most of the recipes I tested offered the
worst of both worlds: dry bread and no
cheese favor.
The quickest (and easiest) recipe I
came across was a chemically leavened
bread that I mixed up in 1 0 minutes; the
most difcult required a trip to a cheese
shop plus a 48-hour time investment.
Made with yeast, this bread was fantastic,
and I Wlikely make it again when I have
a spare weekend. But for most purposes,
cheese Caought to be quick.
3 B Y R E B ECCA HAYSE
I baked a half-dozen more quick
recipes, but the results were, dare I say
it, awl. The breads elicited comments
from tasters such as "cardboardy,"
"tough," and "totally devoid of cheese
favor." My colleagues yearned for a
For maxi mum fl avor, thi s bread has cheese baked i nto the top and
bottom crusts as wel l as the crumb.
moist, hearty bread with bits of cheese tossed
throughout, plus a cheesy crust. My frst step
toward this end was to create a working recipe
that consisted of 3 cups flour, 1 tablespoon bak
ing powder, 6 tablespoons melted butter, 2 cups
milk, and one egg. For the cheese, I chose shred
ded cheddar, the most frequently used type in
my stack of recipes. My working recipe had lots
of problems, but I could now methodically test
every variable.
Constructing the Bread
In search of a moderately hearty crumb, I experi
mented with different fours, making one loaf
with all-purpose, another with bread four, and
yet another with half bread and half all-purpose
four. A few tasters noticed that the breads made
with all or part of the higher-protein bread four
were slightly rubbery, but the difference was not
that dramatic. Still, all-purpose was clearly the
best, and most convenient, choice.
Buttermilk is a common ingredient in quick
breads, and it produced a decent loaf. Skim milk
was too watery and produced a crumbly, dry loaf
The whole milk version was the best, though,
with a creamier, cleaner, cheesier favor.
I next tinkered with the amount of butter,
which was preferred over oil for its favor. Starting
with 6 tablespoons, I worked my way down to
a mere 3, putting an end to the slick hands and
lips I'd been experiencing afer eating a piece of
bread. Less fat also pushed the bread away fom
the texture of a delicate cake and toward that of
a hearty muffn. The single egg I'd been using
turned out to be just right. Wen I once mistak
enly omitted it, the loaf failed to rise properly and
had little structure. Loaves made with more than
one egg had a beautifl golden hue but tasted
more like quiche than cheese bread.
So far so good, but I was falling short in the
texture department. Because I wanted a rich
loaf, similar to a good banana bread, I replaced a
C O O K
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S I L L U S T R A T E D

portion of the milk in each of two breads


with scoops of yogurt and sour cream,
respectively. Given that this was cheese
bread, it also seemed logical to try cot
tage cheese, cream cheese, goat cheese,
and ricotta. In the end, most tasters chose
the sour cream-based bread. It was rich
and moist without being greasy, just what
I'd been aiming for. The sour cream also
added a nip of tartness to the bread, off
setting the richness of the cheese wthout
overpowering it.
It was time to decide on the leaven
ing: baking soda or baking powder. To
do its job, baking soda needs an acidic
ingredient (such as the lactic acid in sour
cream), while baking powder is self-relant,
essentially composed of bakng soda plus
one or two acids. I made two breads, one
with 1 tablespoon baking powder (this
was a heavy batter that needed a decent
amount of powder for proper leavening)
and a second with

/1 teaspoon baking
soda. (One teaspoon of bakng powder
contains v1 teaspoon of baking soda.)
Both breads rose into beautifl domed
loaves, but the bread made with baking
powder was preferred, possessing a more
complex favor.
Curious about these fndings, I had the
pH levels of the fnished breads tested and discov
ered that the bread made with baking powder was
quite acidic, with a pH of 5.8, whereas the bread
made with bakg soda was actually alkaline, wth
a pH of 8.3. The reason? The bang soda had
neutralized the lactic acid in the sour cream,
whereas the bakng powder, which brings its own
acid to the mix, had not. The acid was giving the
bread more favor.
Working in the Cheese
Test results showed that small chunks, not shreds,
were best, as they melted into luscious, cheesy
pockets. In terms of the cheese itself, I tested
fve supermarket offerings: extra-sharp cheddar,
Muenster, Asiago, Gruyere, and Monterey Jack.
Cheddar and Asia go were the leaders of the pack,
with Muenster and Monterey Jack being too
mild and Gruyere too pungent (although I liked
this last cheese in a variation made with bacon).
I quickly determined that excess cheese weighed
down the bread, causing it to collapse into itself
With a modest 4 ounces of cheese, the bread had
plent of flavor but still rose to its fll potential.
The fnal problem to solve concerned the top
crust. I wanted rich favor and color. The solu
tion was a topping of shredded Parmesan. Nutty
and salt, it was liked so much that some of the
test cooks were scalping loaves when my back
was turned. A colleague suggested that I coat
the bottom of the pan with cheese as well, thus
doubling the cheesy exterior. Her idea worked
brilliantly. Now every bite was packed with fla
vor. The Parmesan also turned the crust a deep
bronze color.
In the end, my cheese bread tasted like recipes
that required considerable preparation time, but
this recipe was oven-ready afer just 1 5 minutes of
hands-on work. In my opinion, that's time very
well spent.
QU I CK CH E E S E BREAD
MAKES ONE 9 BY 5 - I NCH LOAF
If using Asiago, choose a mild supermarket
cheese that yields to pressure when pressed. Aged
Asiago that is as frm as Parmesan is too sharp
and piquant for this bread. If, when testing the
bread for doneness, the toothpick comes out with
what looks like uncooked batter clinging to it,
try again in a different-but still central-spot;
if the toothpick hits a pocket of cheese, it may
give a false indication. The texture of the bread
improves as it cools, so resist the urge to slice the
loaf while it is piping hot. Lefover cheese bread is
excellent toasted; toast slices in a toaster oven or
on a bakg sheet in a 425-degree oven for 5 to
10 minutes, not in a conventional toaster, where
bits of cheese may melt, burn, and make a mess.
3 ounces Parmesan cheese, shredded on large
holes of box grater (about I cup)
3 cups ( 1 5 ounces) unbleached al l - purpose fl our
tall espoon baking powder
'/ teaspoon cayenne
teaspoon salt
'/s teaspoon ground black pepper
4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, cut i nto
11- i nch cubes, or mi l d Asiago, crumbl ed i nto
114- to 11- i nch pi eces (about I cup)
I 114 cups whol e mi l k
3 tabl espoons unsal ted butter, mel ted
large egg, beaten l ightly
/ cup sour cream
1 . Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat
oven to 350 degrees. Spray 5 by 9-inch loaf pan
witl1 nonstick cooking spray, then sprinkle 12 cup
Parmesan evenly in bottom of pan.
2. In large bowl, whisk four, baking powder,
cayenne, salt, and pepper to combine. Using rub
ber spatula, mix in cheddar or Asiago, breaking
up clumps, until cheese is coated witl four. In
medium bowl, whisk together milk, melted but
ter, egg, and sour cream. Using rubber spatula,
gently fold wet ingredients into dry ingrecients
until just combined (batter will be heavy and
thick). Do not overmix. Scrape batter into pre
pared loaf pan; spread to sides of pan and level
surface with rubber spatula. Sprinkle remaining
/ cup Parmesan evenly over surface.
3. Bake until deep golden brown and toothpick
or skewer inserted in center of loaf comes out clean,
45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan on we rack 5 min
utes; invert loaf fom pan and contnue to cool until
warm, about 45 minutes. Cut into slices and serve.
QUI C K C H E E S E BREAD WI TH BAC ON,
ONI ON, AND G RUYRE
1. Cut 5 slices bacon (about 5 ounces) into l
inch pieces and fy in mecium nonstick skillet over
medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned
and crisp, about 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon,
transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate and pour
of all but 3 tablespoons bacon fat fom skillet. Add
l medium onion, minced (about l cup), to skillet
and cook, stirring fequently, until sofened, about
3 minutes; set skillet with onion aside.
2. Follow recipe for Quick Cheese Bread,
substituting Gruyere for cheddar, adding bacon
and onion to four along with cheese, and omit
ting butter.
STE P- BY- STE P NPKl h| | H l l b l KlPD
I. Coat the bottom of
greased loaf pan with
Prmesan cheese to
create flavorful crust.
2. Add cubed cheese to
bowl with dr i ngredi ents
and mix well , breaki ng
apart pi eces that cl ump.
3. Whi sk wet i ngredi ents
in second bowl . Pour i nto
bowl wi th dr i ngredi ents
and fol d unti l combi ned.
4.Scrpe batter i nto
prepared pan . spri nkl e
wi th remai ni ng Prmesan.
and bake.
M A Y c J U N E 211
/
T | > T | N C | Q O | P H | N T .
Rotar Graters
Te serer at your l ocal I tl ian restaurnt uses a rotar
grter to ri n Prmesan over pasta at the tabl e. but does
this grter have a place at home? To fi nd out, we tested
ei ght model s. grting Prmesan, cheddar, mozarella.
and even chocol ate and i ncl udi ng a variet of test cooks
with diferent hand sizes and strengths.
Most of the handl es were ti ny and sli ppery, and
even the most comfortable of the lot became pai nful
after extended use. All but the Pedri ni and Ki tchenAid
struggl ed with mozzarella and cheddar; they were
more successful because of thei r l arer grating drums.
whi ch kept the cheese from sti cki ng.
We concl uded that a rotary grter i s much too slow
for use in the kitchen. None of the grter hoppers
could accommodate more than one or two ounces of
cheese at a ti me, and each grter gave us hand fatigue
after j ust a few moments of use. Get out a box or rasp
grter if you need grated cheese for a reci pe.
Al l of thi s sai d . a rotar grater i s ni ce for the tabl e.
i n part because there' s no ri sk of raki ng your knuckles
across the grter pl ate-a common occurrence with a
box or rsp grater. Be careful . though. when i t' s time
to cl ean up. Many rotar grters take some finesse to
di sassemble. as you must touch the sharp grater drum
to rel ease the handl e for cl eani ng. -R. H.
OUR FAVORl TE$
.P EDRI NI , $ 1 4. 99
An I tal i an- made grater with a
l arge hopper, sharp grati ng teeth , .-
and wel l -desi gned handl e.
K ITCHENAI D, $ 1 9. 99
Lrge hopper, sharp grati ng
teeth, and fai rl y comforabl e
gri p. Not desi gned for lefi es.
OTHE R MODE L$ TE$TE D
.. CUI S I P RO, $ 20. 00
Thi s stai nl ess steel grater was
sturdy and fast but uncomfortabl e.
MI CROP LNE, $ 1 6. 95
Turns out the fl uffiest, fi nest
shreds, but i t was the sl owest
model tested.
.. OXO GOOD GRI P S, $ 1 4. 99
Ukabl e rubberized handl e,
but the hopper i s rather smal l .
Not desi gned for l efti es.
HOFF Ril, $ 1 5. 99
Awkard design hur testers'
hands. Not desi gned for l efti es.
NORP RO, $ 1 5. 99
Thi s heavy- duty stai nl ess steel
grater qui ckly caused hand fati gue
ZYLI S S, $ 1 4. 99
Downgraded for its smal l handl e,
whi ch becomes sl i ppery with use.
Better Chef's Salad
Fast-food joi nts have given thi s retro supper salad a bad name (and a plastic fork) .
Could we produce a substantial salad with supermarket staples?
M
ost chef's salad recipes
read like loose guide
lines for cleaning out
the fridge: Toss what
ever greens you have lying around wth
some aging cold cuts and serve wth a
sigh. The resulting piles of oily ham,
characterless Swiss, and bland iceberg
lettuce should not be eaten but taken as
an object lesson, demonstrating that reci
pes, even for simple salads, need structure
and discipline.
BY SE A N LAWLE R ,
Aer al, a hearty green salad topped
wth boiled eggs, tomatoes, cold meats,
and cheese is a more than present
able dinner for a warm summer night.
Unfortunately, the versions we sampled
in the test kitchen were Lfom classic in
either taste or technique. Their ingredient
lists were haphazard and vague, resulting
in bland, muddled favors, while the pro
cedures were ofen fssy, time-consum
ing, and ultimately self-defeating. Yy
Cnd bou,ulenning ingredients into
'
stingy, unwieldy shapes? Why arrange
them in an exacting pattern only to toss
the salad into a jumbled mess, with the
meat and cheese drownng in a pool of
dressing at the bottom of the bowl? Si mpl e tri cks-such as more vi negar in the dressi ng and thi cker
sl i ces of meat and cheese-el evate a basi c chef' s sal ad.
Building a Better Salad
Pthe foundaton, the greens would have to stand
up to the strong flavors of the meat and cheese
and support their physical weight as well. Bland
iceberg lettuce failed the fst test, while tender field
greens such as mesclun flunked the second. Other
common mild greens, including romaine, Bibb,
and red- and green-leaf lettuces, all held their shape
under the weight of the other ingredient, but tast
ers preferred them mixed with the stronger favors
of spicy greens such as watercress or arugula. A 3: 1
rato of mild to spicy greens worked best.
Personal tastes varied when it came to types of
meat and cheese, but tasters agreed on one thing:
Thin, string strips were unappealing, especially
COOK' S EXTRA gives you free recipes online. Visit
www. cooksi l l ustrated. com and key in code 3041 for a
recipe for hard-cooked eggs. For another vari ation on
our chef' s sal ad, key in code 3042. The reci pes wil l be
avai l abl e until ] une I 5, 2004.
when covered with oily dressing. I readily solved
the thin-slice problem by ordering J-inch-thick
slices at the deli counter. These were easy to stack
and cut into 2-inch-long matchsticks, a convenient
size for spearing with a fork.
D ressing the Salad
Many recipes suggested creamy Russian or
ranch-style dressings, but tasters opposed them.
Combined with the meat and cheese, these dress
ings made the salad far too rich. Vinaigrettes, on
the other hand, could not hold their own against
the other ingredients, even when livened up with
shallot, garlic, and fresh herbs. Tasters declared
salad afer salad to be bland and oily. Our classic
vinaigrette recipe calls for a 4: 1 ratio of oil to vin
egar, but I decided to balance the meat and cheese
with a leaner, more acidic dressing. I reduced the
ratio of oil to vinegar frst to 3: 1, then to 2: 1 ,
before tasters were satisfed.
C OOK
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s I L L U S T R A T E D
d
From the way tasters scowled at piles of meat and
cheese at the bottom of the salad bowl, I knew a
traditonal toss was out. The heavier ingredients fell
right to the bottom. I dscovered that I did not need
to dress the meat and cheese. Other components
greens, radishes, cucun1bers, tomatoes, and hard
cooked eggs-ould be tossed individually or placed
on the salad and then drizzled with vinaigrette.
When placed in a wide serving bowl, wth the meat
and cheese piled on top, the salad could be served
fanil y-style but still accommodate individual (even
vegetarian) preferences. Diners could serve them
selves greens and vegetables fom around the sides
of the salad, then take whatever meat and cheese
they desired fom the center.
CHE F ' S SALAD
S E RVES 6 TO 8 AS A LI GHT MAI N DI S H
At the deli counter, be sure to have the meats and
cheeses sliced I/4 inch thick.
Vinaigret
6 tabl espoons extravi rgi n ol ive oi l
3 tabl espoons red wine vi negar
2 teaspoons mi nced shal l ot
teaspoon mi nced garl i c
teaspoon mi nced fresh thyme l eaves
1/4 teaspoon sal t
1/a teaspoon ground bl ack pepper
That' s One Tart Dressi ng

TRAD I TI ONAL 4 : I
RATI O F OR
GRE E N SALAD
H I G H - ACI D 2 : I
RATI O F OR
C HE F ' S SALAD

To make a tradi ti onal vi naigrette for a basi c l eaf sal ad,


we use 4 pars oi l to I part vi negar. Because chef' s
sal ad contai ns so many fatt i ngredi ents, we found i t
necessary to al ter thi s rati o, usi ng j ust 2 parts oi l to I
part vi negar to create a hi gh-aci d dressi ng.
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Salad
medi um cucumber, peel ed, halved l engthwi se,
seeded, and sl i ced crosswise 1/4 i nch thi ck
2 medi um heads l eaf l ettuce, washed, dri ed, and
torn i nto bi te-size pi eces (about 3 quarts)
8 ounces arugul a, washed, dri ed, and torn i nto
bite- size pi eces (about I quart)
6 ounces radi shes, tri mmed, halved, and sl i ced thi n
Salt and ground black pepper
pi nt cherr tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
3 large hard-cooked eggs, each cut i nto 4 wedges
8 ounces del i ham, sl i ced 1/4 i nch thi ck and cut i nto
2 - i nch- l ong matchsti cks
8 ounces del i turkey, sl i ced 1/4 i nch thi ck and cut
i nto 2- i nch- l ong matchsti cks
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, sl iced 1/4 i nch thi ck
and cut i nto 2- i nch-l ong matchsti cks
reci pe Garl i c Croutons (reci pe follows)
1 . FOR 1M VNAGR11 Whisk ingre
dients in medium bowl until combined. Add
cucumber and toss; let stand 20 minutes.
2. FOR1M SAOToss lettuce, arugula, and
radishes in large, wide serving bowl. Add cucum
bers and a but 1 tablespoon dressing and toss
to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Toss tomatoes in remaining dressing in bowl;
arrange tomatoes around perimeter of greens.
Arrange egg wedges in ring inside tomatoes and
drizzle with any dressing in bowl. Arrange ham,
turkey, and cheese over center of greens; sprinkle
wth croutons and serve immediately.
CHE F ' S SALAD WI TH F E NNEL, ASI AGO ,
AND SALAMI
S E RVES 6 TO 8 AS A LI GHT MAI N DI S H
If water-packed artichoke hearts cannot be
found, use marinated artichoke hearts, but rinse
and drain them before use. For this salad, opt for
a mild, sof Asiago cheese that crumbles easily;
avoid aged Asiago that has a hard, dry texture.
Vinaigrete
6 tablespoons extra-virgin ol ive oi l
3 tabl espoons balsami c vi negar
teaspoon mi nced garl i c
1;4 teaspoon salt
1/s teaspoon ground black pepper
Salad
2 heads romai ne lettuce, washed, dri ed, and torn
i nto bi te-size pi eces (about 3 quarts)
4 ounces watercress, washed, dried, and stemmed
(about I quart)
11 cup flat- l eaf parsl ey l eaves
smal l fennel bul b, tri mmed and sl i ced thi n
(about 2 cups)
Salt and ground bl ack pepper
jar ( 8 ounces) roasted red peppers,
drai ned, peppers cut crosswise i nto
1f- i nch-wide stri ps
r A n 1 N G . Del i Ham and Turkey
Supermarkets ofer a bafi ng assortment of packged meats. but do any of them hol d a candl e to sl i ced-to-order
del i meats? We began thi s tasti ng wi th a dozen wi dely avai l abl e presl i ced ham and turkey products, most costing
about $2 for a 6-ounce package. Al l were categori cal l y rejected by taster. Thi ngs i mproved at the del i counter.
DE Ll TURKEY: At the del i counter, we purchased six nati onal brnds of sl i ced- to-order turkey breast. Taster
l i ked Sara Lee' s Oven Roasted Turkey Breast ( $6. 50 per pound) , descri bi ng i t as "moi st, " "meat, " and " honest,"
but the house brnd produced by Stop & Shop ( $6. 50 per pound) , a l ocal supermarket chai n, rnked j ust as
highly. Also i ncl uded in the l i neup was an i n- store roasted turkey breast ( $ 1 0 per pound) purchased from a Whol e
Foods Market, whi ch-to our surpri se-tasters rejected as bl and and i ncredi bly dr. Why di d "real " turkey perform
so poorly? Processed turkey breast is i njected with water, sal t, and seasoni ngs. Because turkey breast meat is natu
rl ly dr, some extra moisture is desi rbl e-even necessar-to produce a pal atabl e product.
DE Ll HAM: The processi ng of del i ham i s more i nvolved than that of del i turkey, maki ng the choi ces more con
fusi ng. " Boi l ed" hams are forced i nto a mol d before bei ng cooked . and the gaps are fi l l ed i n wi th an emul si fed
puree of water, fat, and pork tri mmi ngs. Tese hams. easi ly i dentifi abl e by thei r rectangul ar shape and pal e pi nk
exterior, are generl l y cheaper than baked or smoked hams. but tasters di sl i ked thei r wet, pl astic texture.
Baked or smoked hams are generl ly i njected wi th sal t. water. and phosphates but retai n the texture of a real
ham. At the del i counter. these hams sport an i mpressive variet of l abel s, i ncl udi ng baked, smoked, Vi ri ni a,
mapl e, Bl ack Forest. and honey. What the names real ly i ndi cate, however, i s merely the parti cul ar flavoring bl end
that has been i nj ected i nto the ham. We tasted seven hams i n thi s categor and uncovered a wi de variet of
flavors-some sweet, some smok, some spi cy-but most of the sampl es were qui te good. Baked ham costs a bi t
more than boi l ed ham, but the money i s wel l spent. - S. L.
BEYOND H ORR I B LE
Tasters utterly rejected
presl i ced ham.
P RETTY BAD P RETTY G OOD
A square boi l ed ham from the del i
counter was not much better.
A baked Vi rgi ni a ham from the del i
counter was the best choi ce by far.
jar (7ounces) arti choke hearts packed in water,
drai ned, each heart halved (see note)
8 ounces hard sal ami , sl i ced 1/4 inch thick and cut
i nto 2- i nch-l ong matchsti cks
8 ounces del i turkey, preferably pepper-crusted,
sl i ced 1/4 i nch thi ck and cut i nto 2- i nch- l ong
matchsti cks
8 ounces mi l d Asiago cheese, crumbl ed (see note)
11 cup kal amata ol ives, pi tted and chopped coarse
reci pe Garl i c Croutons (reci pe fol l ows)
1 . FOR 1M VNAGR11 Whisk ingredi
ents in medium bowl until combined.
2. FOR1M SALAO Toss romaine, watercress,
parsley, and fennel in large serving bowl. Add a
but 1 tablespoon dressing and toss to combine.
Sl i ce l t Thi ck
Del i meat s houl d be cut thi ck
enough to prevent cl umpi ng i n
the bowl but tri m enough to be
easi ly i ncorporated i nto the sal ad.
At the del i counter, ask for ham
and turkey sl i ced 1/4 i nch thi ck.
At home, cut the del i meats i nto
matchsti ck pi eces that measure
1/4 i nch thi ck and 2 i nches l ong.
M A Y c J U N E 2 11
'
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss peppers
and artichokes in remaining dressing, then arrange
around perimeter of greens. Arrange salami, tur
key, and cheese over center of greens; top with
olives and croutons. Serve immediately.
GARLI C CROUTONS
MAKES ABOUT 1 1
/
1 CUPS
large garl i c cl ove, mi nced to paste or pressed
through garl i c press (about 1 1/4 teaspoons)
1/s teaspoon salt
1 11 tabl espoons extra-vi rgi n ol ive oi l
6 sl i ces (6ounces) good- qual i t white sandwich
bread, cut i nto 11- i nch cubes ( 1 11 cups)
Adjust oven rack to middle positon and
heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine gar
lic, salt, and oil in small bowl; let stand 20
minutes, then pour through fne-mesh
strainer into medium bowl. Add bread
cubes and toss to coat. Spread bread
cubes in even layer on rimmed baing
sheet and bake, stirring occasionally,
until golden, about 1 5 minutes. Cool
on baking sheet to room temperatre.
( Can bC COVCiCO JHO SlOiCO Jl iOOm
temperature up to 24 hours. )
Oven-Barbecued Chicken
The idea-barbecued chicken straight from your oven-is a great one. Unfortunately, the
real thing is dry and tough, with a tasteless, baked-on sauce. Could we save this recipe?
1` E RIN MCM U R R E R WIT H ADA M R I E D E
W
hen you hear the phse
"hospital food," what
do you see in your
mind's eye? That's
right-plain baked chicken, the very
portrait of bland institutional fare, a
culinary yawn. The need to dress up
this dull, workaday recipe probably
inspired the idea of oven-barbecued
chicken, which should, in theory at
least, add sweet, tang, spicy favors
to tender chicken by way of a rich,
tomatoey sauce in the classic Kansas
Cit stle. In our experience, though,
the idea remains just that-a theory.
As expected, the fve initial recipes
we tried in the test kitchen delivered
tough, rubbery, or unevenly cooked
chicken in sauces ranging fom past
and candy-sweet to greasy, stale, U
or commercial tasting.
a whirl and were delighted to fnd that
they made for a dramatc improvement.
The chewy skin became a nonissue, and
we discovered an extra beneft in that
both sides of the chicken meat were now
coated with sauce.
Buil ding Ba rbecue Fl avo r
We were next determined to achieve
our goal of a fesh, lively sauce with a
properly thick and sticky texture. Could
we find it in a bottled sauce? Hoping
for an easy out, we tried several tpes,
from supermarket standards to fancy
mail-order products. We had the best
luck with Bull's-Eye, a sauce that won
a blind tasting here at Cook1s last year,
but we stil felt that a homemade sauce
could m this recipe fom prett good
to great.
Monumental as these problems
seemed, we were inspired by the chal
lenge. Surely this dish would be
worthwhile if the chicken was juicy,
tender, and evenly cooked and the
sauce tasted fresh and multidimen
sional, clinging to the chicken in a
thick, lightly caramelized cot.
A large ski l l et, a super easy homemade sauce, and an i ngeni ous cooki ng method
produce superi or oven- barbecued chi cken-i n j ust hal f an hour.
That certainly didn't mean that the
sauce had to be complicated. We began
with our own Simple Sweet and Tangy
Barbecue Sauce, a quick-cooked num
ber from the July/August 2000 issue.
Although this sauce took about half
Ch oosing and Prepping t he Chicken
The recipes we scoured indicated that our
chicken options were wide open, as they called
for, variously, half chickens, quarter chickens,
whole chickens cut into serving pieces, bone-in
breasts, thighs, drumsticks, and wings, and even
meat that was cooked, boned, shredded, and
mixed with barbecue sauce, a Ia pulled pork.
To methodically test each option, we cobbled
together a basic baking procedure: Bake the
chicken at 350 degrees until partially done, coat
wth barbecue sauce-a bottled brand from the
supermarket for now-and continue baking until
the chicken is cooked through, basting with the
sauce several times along the way.
Success was elusive. The halved and quartered
chickens cooked unevenly and were awkward to
eat. Butchering d whole chicken was more work
than we saw fit to do for an easy Tuesday-night
supper. Of course, purchasing cut-up serving
pieces eliminated the work, but time and time
again we found them to be sloppily butchered or
even mismatched. Using a single cut of chicken,
such as all breasts or thighs, helped with the
evenness of cooking, at least, and we confrmed
that tasters preferred the mild white meat of the
breasts as a backdrop for the sauce. Shredding
the cooked chicken to mix with tl1e sauce was a
messy, tedious process, so we settled on breasts as
our best option.
One of the frst problems to solve was tl1e skin,
which was consistently fabby, rubbery, and fatt.
Any fat that rendered fom the skin during cook
ing lef the sauce not thick and clingy but greasy
and loose, so it slid right off the skin. To cover
our bases, we tried cooking the chicken skin-side
down in a preheated pan, slashing tl1e skin lightly
to expose extra surface area and expedite render
ing, and air-drying the chicken prior to cooking.
In the end, we rejected all of tl1ese methods as
either not successfl enough or too fssy for a
quick weeknight dinner.
The solution, we hoped, would be to jettison
the skin entirely. We gave skinless, boneless breasts
C O O K
'
S I L L U S T R A T E D
I
an hour to prepare and required the
use of a food prcessor and strainer, \\
did offer both fesh, balanced favors and a thick,
cling texture.
Rther than building a new recipe fom the
ground up, we tried stripping this one down to
make it even faster and simpler. Afer dozens of
tests, we learned that ketchup, Worcestershire,
mustard, molasses, chili powder, and cayenne
were absolutely necessary, as w
e
re maple syrup
and the tang of cider vinegar. We substituted
grated onion for the onion juice in the original
recipe and eliminated the hot pepper sauce,
garlic, and liquid smoke. Only four minutes over
medium heat were needed to blend the favors,
which became frther concentrated when the
sauce cooked again on the chicken.
We tied a few other favoring tricks, includ
ing rubbing the chicken with a dry spice rub and
marinating it overnight in the sauce before cook
ing it, but none was worth the effort. Brining was
also a bust. The extra seasoning was superfuous
in the face of the assertively favored barbecue
sauce, and the extra moisture in the meat from
the brine tended U thin the sauce.
O
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b L N G : The Probl em with Pckaged Chi cken Breasts
TH ESE BREASTS LOOK TH E SAME . . . BUT OUT OF TH E PACKAG E , TH EY ARE QU I TE DI F F ERE NT
Uniforml y si zed chi cken breasts wi l l cook more evenly than breasts of varyi ng si zes. Unfortunately, i t' s di ffi
cul t to di scern size of i ndivi dual breasts when they' re squi shed i nto a supermarket package (see l eft photo) .
Once we removed the breasts from thi s package (see ri ght photo) and wei ghed them. we di scovered that
one breast wei ghed ounces, two wei ghed 6 ounces, and one wei ghed j ust +' z ounces. To prepare oven
barbecued chi cken, we recommend buyi ng a fami ly pack wi th at l east s i x breasts and then freezi ng the l argest
and smal l est breasts for future use i n a stir-fry, where size won' t matter.
Co oking BBQ Chi cken with out a G ri l l
In terms of cooking temperature and method,
we ted dousing the chicken with sauce and then
baking it as well as dredging the chicken in sea
soned four and pan-fying it before undertaking
an intricate dance of baking and basting. Both
approaches failed.
From there, we focused on oven mechanics,
testing various oven rack positions, various com
binations of low and high temperatures (fom
325 to 500 degrees), and additions of sauce
at various points during cooking. Alas, despite
the moniker "oven-barbecued," none of these
oven-based methods worked, although we did
learn that lower oven temperatures cooked the
irregularly shaped chicken breasts evenly and
that higher temperatures helped to concentrate
the sauce.
Standing in the kitchen, scratching our heads
afer the umpteenth test, we looked at the skillet
of waiting barbecue sauce and an idea fashed.
We remembered a method we had used to make
maple-glazed pork roast in the March/ April
2003 issue. It involved searing the roast in a
skillet, reducing the glaze in the same skillet, and
then fnishing the roast in that already hot skillet
in the oven. Would a similar technique help us to
master our current challenge?
The frst attempt showed promise, but it
wasn't perfect because the exteriors of the breasts
were dry fom aggressive pan-searing. The solu
tion was to sear the chicken breasts only very
lightly, just until tl1ey began to color and develop
a slightly rough surface to which the sauce could
adhere. The chicken was then removed from the
pan, tl1e sauce made, the chicken added back and
coated with sauce, and tl1e pan slipped under tle
broiler. The results were good, but the heat of tl1e
broiler had dried out the chicken a bit. The solu
tion was to start tl1e skillet in a 325-degree oven
and then fnish it under the broiler. The chicken
was now j uicy and thickly coated with a perfectly
concentrated sauce.
SWE ET AND TANGY
OVE N- BARB E CUE D CHI CKE N
S E RVES 4
Real maple syrup is preferable to imitation syrup,
and "mild" or "original" molasses is preferable
to darker, more bitter types. If you are content
to use bottled sauce, we had the best luck with
Bull's-Eye Original, winner of a blind tasting
held last year. Use 1 3/4 cups of sauce and, in step
2, reduce the sauce cooking time fom 4 minutes
to 2 minutes.
Oven- Barbecued Chi cken, Rei nvented i n a Ski l l et
I. Ughtly brown chi cken.
trnsfer pi eces to pl ate, and
pour of fat from ski l l et.
2. Add sauce i ngredi ents to 3. Return chi cken to ski l - 4. Bake chi cken and suce
empt pan and cook unti l l et. turn to coat with sauce, i n ski l l et, broi l to carmel ize
heatproof spatul a l eaves then spoon more sauce suce. and then sere.
cl ear tri l . over each pi ece.
M A Y c J U N E 211

Some notes on equipment: First, to grate the
onion, use a Microplane grater or the fne holes
of a box grater. Second, resist the temptation
to use a nonstick skillet; most nonstick skillets
are not broilersafe. Third, and most important,
you should make this recipe only in an in-oven
broiler; do not use a drawer-type broiler. Finaly,
be aware that broiling times may differ fom one
oven to another. For instance, in one editor's
powerfl professional-style oven, the chicken
took just 4 minutes to reach 1 60 degrees, so we
urge you to check the chicken for doneness afer
only 3 minutes of broiling. You may also have to
lower the oven rack if your broiler runs very hot.
cup ketchup
2 tabl espoons fi nely grated oni on
2 tabl espoons Worcestershi re sauce
2 tabl espoons Dijon mustard
3 tabl espoons mol asses
2 tabl espoons mapl e syrup
3 tabl espoons ci der vi negar
teaspoon chi l i powder
'/ teaspoon cayenne
4 bonel ess, ski nl ess chi cken breasts, 6to 7ounces
each (with tenderl oi ns). patted dr with paper
towels
Sal t and ground black pepper
tabl espoon vegetabl e oi l
1 . Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position,
about 5 inches fom upper heating element; heat
oven to 325 degrees. Whisk ketchup, onion,
Worcestershire, mustard, molasses, maple syrup,
vinegar, chili powder, and cayenne in small bowl;
set aside. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
2. Heat oil in heavy-bottomed, nonreactive,
1 2-inch ovenproof skillet over high heat until
beginning to smoke. Brown chicken skinned
side down until very light golden, 1 to 2 min
utes; using tongs, turn chicken and brown untl
very light golden on second side, 1 to 2 minutes
longer. Transfer chicken to plate and set aside.
Discard fat in skillet; of heat, add sauce mixture
and, using a wooden spoon, scrape up browned
bits on bottom of skillet. Simmer sauce over
medium heat, stirring fequently with heatproof
spatula, until sauce is thick and glossy, and spatula
leaves clear trail in sauce, about 4 minutes. Off
heat, return chicken to skillet, and turn to coat
thickly with sauce; set chicken pieces skinned
side up and spoon extra sauce over each piece to
create thick coating. Place skillet in oven and
cook until thickest parts of chicken breasts reg
ister 1 30 degrees on instant-read thermometer,
1 0 to 14 minutes. Set oven to broil and continue
to cook until tllickest parts of chicken breasts
register 1 60 degrees, 5 to 1 0 minutes longer.
Transfer chicken to platter and let rest 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk to combine sauce in skillet and
transfer to small bowl. Serve chicken, passing
extra sauce separately.
Foolproof Brown Rice
Forget the i nstructi ons on the back of the bag, u n l ess you want scorched or mushy ri ce.
M
ost cooks know shun brown rice,
classifing it as wholesome yet
unappeaing sustenance for pen
niless vegetarans, practtoners of
macrobiotcs, and the like. But I'm not sure why.
I fnd it ultmately satsfng, with a nutty, gutsy
favor and more textural personality-slightly
stcky and just a bit chewy-tha white rice. ^
ideal version should be easy to come by: Just thow
rce ad water in a pot and set the tmer, rght?
Yet cooks who have attempted to prepare brown
rice know it isn't so simple. My habit, born of
impatence, is to cran up the fame in an efort
to hurry along the slow-cooking grains ( brown
rice takes roughly twice as long to cook as white) ,
which inevitably leads to a burnt pot and crunchy
rice. Adding plenty of water isn't the remedy;
excess liquid swells the rce into a gelatnous mass.
I pulled out an expensive, heavy-bottomed pot
WUa tght-fttng lid (many recipes cauton against
using inadequate cookware), fddled with the tra
ditonal absorton method (cooking the rice with
just enough water), and eventually landed on a
workable recipe. Yet when I tested the recipe wth
less than ideal equipment-namely, a fimsy pan
with a ill-fittng lid-I was back to bunt, under
cooked rce. Wth the very best pot and a top-notch
stove, it is possible to cook brown rice properly, but
I wated a surefe method that would work no
matter the cook, no matter the equipment.
I wondered if the microwave might work well
mthis instance, gven that it cooks food indirectly,
without a burner. Sady, it delivered inconsistent
results, with one batch turning brittle and aother,
prepared in a d erent microwave, too stick. A
rice cooker yielded faultless brown rice on the frst
PROBLE M : PROB LE M:
_ B Y R E B E C C A H AYS E
try but many Aericans don't own one.
I set out to construct a homemade cooker that
would approximate the controlled, indirect heat
of a rice cooker-and so began to consider the
merits of cooking the rice in the oven. I'd have
more precise temperature control, and I hoped
that the oven's encircling heat would eliminate the
risk of scorching. My frst try yielded extremely
promising results: With the pan tightly covered
with aluminum foil, the rice steamed to near per
fection. Fine-tuning the amount of water, I settled
on a ratio similar to that used for our white rice
recipe: 21 cups of water to 1 1 cups of rice, falling
well short of the 2: 1 water-to-rice rato advised
by most rice producers and nearly every recipe
consulted. Perhaps that is why so much brown
rice turns out sodden and overcooked.
My next task was to spruce up the recipe by
bringng out the nutty flavor of the otherwse plain
grains. Toastng the rice dy in the oven imparted
a slight of favor. When I sauteed the rice in ft
before baking, the grains fayed slightly; tasters pre
ferred rce made by adding ft to the cooking water.
Psmall amount (2 teaspoons) of either butter or oil
adds mild favor while keeping the rice fuf.
To reduce what was a long baking time of 90
minutes at 350 degrees, I tried startng with boil
ing water instead of cold tap water and raising the
oven to 375 degrees. These steps reduced the bak
ing tme to a reasonable one hour. (A hotter oven
caused some of the fagile grains to explode. )
No more scorched or mushy brown rice for me,
and no more worrying about fnding just the right
pan or adjusting the stovetop to produce just the
right level of heat. Now I can serve good brown
rice anytime, even to a meat lover.
PE RF E CT:
WET & S O U PY B U RNT & C RU N CHY F LU F FY & CH EWY
We found that fol l owi ng the di recti ons on the back of the bag usual ly results i n wet, porridgel i ke ri ce ( l eft) .
Many reci pes cal l for too much heat, and, unl ess you use a very heavy pot, the ri ce wi l l scorch (center) . By usi ng
less water than is tpi cal and taki ng advantage of the even heat of the oven, you can turn out perfectly cooked
brown ri ce ever ti me (right) .
C O O K
'
S I L L U S T R A T E D
I ?
F OOLPROOF OVE N- BAKED BROWN RI CE
S E RVES 4 TO 6
To mze any loss of water through evapora
tion, cover the saucepan and use the water as
soon as it reaches a boil . ^ 8-inch ceramic bak
ing dish with a lid may be used instead of the
bang dish and foil. To double the recipe, use a
1 3 by 9-inch baking dish; the baking tme need
not be increased.
1 11 cups l ong- , medi um- , or short-gri n brown rice
2 11 cups water
2 teaspoons unsalted butter or vegetabl e oi l
1 1 teaspoon sal t
1 . Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat
oven to 375 degrees. Spread rice in 8-inch-square
glass baing dish.
2. Bring water and butter or oil to boil, cov
ered, in medium saucepan over high heat; once
boiling, immediately stir in salt and pour water
over rice. Cover baking dish tightly with doubled
layer of foil . Bake rice 1 hour, until tender.
3. Remove baking dish fom oven and uncover.
Fluf rice with dinner fork, then cover dish WU
clean kitchen towel; let rice stand 5 minutes.
Uncover and let rice stand 5 minutes longer;
serve immediately.
BROWN RI CE WI TH PARMESAN, LE MON,
AND HE RBS
1. Heat 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in medium
nonstck skilet over medium heat untl foaming;
add 1 small onion, minced, ad cook untl translu
cent, about 3 minutes. Set onion aside.
2. Follow recipe for Foolproof Oven-Baked
Brown Rice, substituting chicken broth for water,
omittng butter or oil, reducing salt to teaspoon,
ad strring onion mixture into rice aer adding
broth. Cover and bake as directed. Aer removing
foil, str in teaspoon ground black pepper, cup
minced fesh parsley, V4 cup chopped fesh basil,
l cup grated Parmesan, 1 teaspoon gated lemon
zest, and l teaspoon lemon juice. Cover with
clean kitchen towel and contnue with recipe.
COOK'S EXTRA gives you free recipes online. For
two more variations on our brown rice recipe, visit
ww .cooksi l l ustrated. com and key in code 3043. Tese
recipes wi l l be available unti l J une | 5 , 2004.
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Rescuing Steak Diane
Reduced to the l evel of bad dinner theater, this legendary tableside showpiece was
in need of a revival. Could we give this tired classic a new life at home?
W
hy would anyone want
to make steak Diane-a
pan-searedsteakdemand
ing a rch sauce based on
an ail-day veal stock reducton-at home?
Fif years ago, it was a hot menu item
at fancy restaurants, prepared tableside,
and it included a burst of pyrotechnics
supplied by a match and some cognac.
To rescue this outdated piece of culinary
showmanship, I needed some motiva
tion, and I found it when I considered
the everyday skillet steak. Transforming
this simple recipe into a Saturday night
special, more black tie than blue jeans,
would, I hoped, be worth the efort.
3 B Y DI ANE UNG E R - M A HONE Y <
richest "roasted" favor possible. To
enhance the meaty favor, I cut back on
the chcken broth, doubled the beef broth,
and added red wine, fesh thyme, bay leaf,
and a hefy amount of black peppercorns.
Then I let that mixture reduce for 35
minutes. I had now distiled 54 ounces of
watery liquid to 1 0 ounces of concentrated
stock, and the results were wortl1 the wait:
The favor was dead on. But I wasn't done
yet, as the sauce was still thin.
To thicken the sauce I experimented
with cornstarch, arrowroot, gelatin, and
four. Cornstarch and arrowroot gave the
sauce the gluey substance of bad takeout
Chinese food. Gelatin turned it into some
thing resembling beef Jell-0. It turned out
that a small amount of four, sprinkled over
the browned vegetables, added the perfect
viscosity without masking favors. I now
had an intensely favored foundation with
a consistency siar to serious veal stock
reductions. Not as good as the real thing,
to be sure, but outstanding considering
the modest investment in time.
Getting t o the Meat
Aer reviewing 27 recipes and testing
fve, however, my enthusiasm quickly
waned. Recipes were consistent in requir
ing a sauce based on a labor-intensive veal
stock reduction, an abundance of butter
and cream, and varying amounts of shal
lot, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce.
They vared widely when it came to what
cut of steak to use (sirloin shell, rib eye,
strip, or tenderloin), how to prepare
it (paper-thin or as thick as it comes),
and how to cook it (some were lightly
browned, some deeply caran1elized, oth
ers practically stewed in butter). My goal,
Fl am bei ng the cognac is a key step in devel opi ng a restaurant- qual i t sauce
for steak Di ane.
Of the four cuts of meat I had cooked for
my frst tests, I ruled out sirloin shell for
I then decided, would be to develop a recipe for a
quick stock, to slim down the sauce, and to deter
mine the best cut of steak and a foolproof method
for cooking it. In tle end, I hoped to sit down to
a dinner of tender, perfectly cooked steak napped
in a deeply satisfing pan sauce-having done it all
in less than an hour.
Finding a Stand- In f o r Veal St ock
The cornerstone of the sauce for this dish is veal
stock, which imparts a silky texture and deep favor.
Because homemade veal stock-a staple in any half
decent restaurant-was out of the question, I had
to come up wth a good stunt double tl1at could be
made in less than an hour. (See page 14 for tips on
buying veal stock.) I started my testing by brown
ing onions, carrots, and garlic to develop favor
and then deglazing the pan with red wine. Because
pror tastings in the test kitchen had revealed that
caed beef broth on its own tastes tinny and
watery, tred equal parts beef and chicken broths
(botl1 low sodium) and reduced the mixture by
half The result? The color of tllis concoction was
murky, its consistency watery, and its favor lacking.
Progress, it seemed, would be slow.
I revisited some tried-and-true French cook
books and was reminded that veal stocks typically
contain tomato in some form. I wondered what
would happen if I sauteed tomato paste in oil
before adding tl1e vegetables to the pan. The
tomato paste lost its neon color and turned a
deep reddish-brown, and when the vegetables
were added it coated them with rich favor. The
only problem was tlat the paste began to burn
before the vegetables were flly browned. The
solution that came to mind was water.
I added 2 tablespoons to the pan just as tl1e
paste was about to burn and then scraped the
browned bits fom the pan bottom. I let tl1e deep
red liquid reduce almost to tl1e point of no return
and then added another 2 tablespoons of water.
The flavors intensifed each tine, giving me the
M A Y c J U N E 211
I
its toughness and rib eye for the mass of
trimmings that ended up in the garbage. Both
tenderloin and strip steaks were well liked, but
tasters preferred tle flavorfl strip to the some
what boring tenderloin. I wanted to be able to
cook four steaks quickly, so I trimmed them of
excess fat and tested a range of thicknesses, from
'/8 inch to 1 inch. The deciding factor turned out
to be tle diameter of the bottom of my 12-inch
skillet (I was using a traditional skillet with fared
O Y | N C . Shoppi ng for Stri p Steak
Watch out for steaks from the si rl oi n end of the stri p,
whi ch may have a thi ck l i ne of gri stl e i n the center .
Prepari ng the Steak
U NTRI M M E D TRI M M E D TRI M M E D & POU N D E D
The steak on the lef has not been tri mmed. To keep the sauce from becomi ng too fatt, trim al l vi si bl e fat from
the peri meter of the steak, as has been done with the steak in the mi ddl e. To ensure even cooki ng, use a meat
pounder or mal l et to pound the steak to an even 'h i nch thi ckness, as i n the steak on the right.
sides, meaning that the measure across the top
was greater than across the bottom) , which let
me cook two 41z -inch-wide steaks at a time. This
meant that I could pound each of the steaks to
a half-inch thickness . Unfortunately, the steaks
were not browning as evenly as I had hoped. I
discovered that weighting them with a heavy
bottomed skillet or Dutch oven as they cooked
on the second side gave me the color I was
looking for and added more fond, or favorfl
browned bits, to the pan bottom.
Finis hing the Sauce wi th a Flou ri s h
With the steaks cooked, it was time to take my
faux veal stock and create a sauce. Because the
sauce base included red wine, I tested Madeira,
sherry, white wine, and brandy. Madeira and
sherry were too sweet, and white wine made
the sauce too acidic. Brandy was the wnner, so
I went on to taste cognac and Armagnac, both
straight up and in the sauce. Armagnac had a bit
ter afertaste, so I settled on cognac.
I had now reached the denouement of recipe
development for steak Diane: It was time to
introduce the fambe. Once I finished cooking the
steaks and removed them fom tle pan, I added
minced shallot and 6 tablespoons of cognac and
tipped my pan toward the gas burner. The fames
shot up into the ventilation system. I cut back to 4
tablespoons of cognac, allowed the alcohol vapors
to evaporate slightly, and then tipped my pan
toward the fame. This time I got what I wanted: a
nice fambe, wth no need for tl1e fre extinguisher.
But I wondered, was tl1e fambe crucial to te fa
vor of tl1e dish, or was it just for show? To answer
this question, I conducted a head-to-head blind
tasting of two sauces, one flamed, one unfamed.
The clear wnner was the fambeed sauce, which
was more balanced and slightly sweeter. The ques
tion now was, why? A bit of scientifc exanination
was in order. (To see what we found out, read "Is
a Flambe Just for Show? " on page 1 5 . )
Once the cognac had been famed and the
browned bits scraped fom the skillet, I added the
faux veal stock I had prepared earlier and focused
on the fnal seasonings. Dijon mustard was well
received, but tasters took issue with tl1e quantity
of Worcestershire sauce used i most recipes, so I
reduced it to a mere teaspoon. Aer sampling sauces
fnished with cream, butter, and a combination
T A s T N G : Veal Stock
of the two, I realized that while cream may add
body to a pan sauce wth a Ubase, it was diluting
the favors of my base. A simple fnish with butter
added luster and sheen.
Finally, I plated the steaks individually and
spooned just enough of the sauce over the center
of each to moisten them, not to drown them. A
colorfl sprinkling of fesh chives, and my skillet
steak was ready for formal wear.
SAUC E BAS E F OR STEAK DI ANE
MAKES | ' /CUPS
This recipe yields a sauce base that is an excellent
facsinlile of a deri-glace, a very labor-intensive
and time- consuming classic French sauce base.
Because the sauce base is very concentrated, make
sure to use low-sodium chicken and beef broths;
otherwise, the base may be unpalatably salty. The
sauce base can be made ahead and refgerated for
up to three days.
2 tabl espoons vegetabl e oi l
4 teaspoons tomato paste
2 smal l oni ons, chopped medi um (about I 11 cups)
medi um carrot, chopped medi um (about 11 cup)
4 medi um garl i c cl oves, peel ed
114 cup water
4 teaspoons al l -purpose fl our
I 1 1 cups dry red wi ne
3 11 cups low-sodi um beef broth
I 314 cups low-sodi um chi cken broth
2 teaspoons bl ack peppercorns
8 spri gs fresh thyme
2 bay l eaves
1 . Heat oil and tomato paste in Dutch oven
over medium-high heat; cook, stirring constantly,
Real restaurant- qual i t veal stock takes hours of roasti ng and si mmeri ng. al l of
whi ch resul ts in a hi ghly reduced stock referred to as ei ther a demi gl ace or gl ace de
vi ande. (Stri ctly speaki ng. a demi gl ace i s a reduced brown sauce, whereas a gl ace
de vi ande i s si mpl y a meat stock that has been reduced to a thi ck syrup. ) We tested
four demi gl ace products and three that were l abel ed "gl ace de vi ande. The demi
glace oferings were universal ly di sl i ked by tasters. Typi cal comments were " no meat
flavor and "vegetal and sour. The demi -gl aces al so had i ngredi ent l i sts that were as
l ong (and confusi ng) as a four- star chef reci pe. The gl ace de vi ande products (al so
cal l ed gl ace de veau) were far superi or. no doubt because they conti ned recognizabl e
i ngredi ents. Our favori tes were Provi mi and Cul i nArte' Bonewerks. Both compani es
offer frozen I pound envel opes for about $ 1 4 each. See Resources on page 32 for
detai l s. -D. M.
OUR TWO FAVORI TES
r rZr. . .KI. Fd .KZ. rI
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- _
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+

PROVI MI Gl ace de Veau


"Sweet and meat and " balanced.
CULINARTE' Bonewerks Gl ace de Veau
"Strong meat flavor and "herbaceous."
MORE THAN
GOURMET
Gl ace de Vi ande
"Way too salt" and
"artificially sweet.
TH E REST O F TH E PACK
AROMONT WIWAMSSONOMA CULINARTE' MORE THAN
Demi Gi ace Veal Demi Gi ace Bonewerks GOURMET
"Gluey," "salty," and "Thin and Demi Gi ace Demi Gi ace
"tastes burned. vinegary," "metallic," " Butterscotch favor "Sour," "vegetal," and
and "chickeny. and "weak meat flavor. "yeast."
C O O K
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s I L L U S T R A T E D
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until paste begins to brown, about 3 minutes.
Add onions, carrot, and garlic; cook, stirring fe
quently, until mixmre i s reddish brown, about 2
minutes. Add 2 tablespoons water and continue
to cook, stirring constantly, until mixmre is well
browned, about 3 minutes, adding remaining
water when needed to prevent scorching. Add
four and cook, stirring constantly, I minute.
Add wine and, using a heatproof rubber spatula,
scrape up browned bits on bottom and sides of
pot; bring to boil, stirring occasionally ( mixmre
will thicken slightly) . Add beef and chicken
broths, peppercorns, thyme, and bay; bring to
boil and cook, uncovered, occasionally scrap
ing bottom and sides of pot with spatula, until
reduced to 2l2 cups, 35 to 40 minutes.
2. Strain mixture through fne-mesh strainer,
pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as
possible; you should have about 1 1/4 cups.
STEAK DI ANE
SERVES 4
If you prefer not to make the sauce base, mix l
cup glace de vande ( see the veal stock tasting on
page 14) with :4 cup water and cup red wine and
use this mixture i place of the base i step 2. For
tis recipe, use a traditonal skillet. The steaks leave
behind more fond ( bed bits) than they do i a
nonstck skilet, and more fond means a richer, more
favorfl sauce. A superb embelshment for Steak
Diane is a drizzle of white trufe oil just before
serving. If you do not wsh to fambe, simmer the
cognac i step 2 for 10 to 1 5 seconds for a slghtly
less sweet favor profle.
Steaks
2 tabl espoons vegetabl e oi l
4 strip steaks (about 1 2 ounces each) , tri mmed of
all excess fat and pounded to even 11- i nch
thi ckness (see photos on page 1 4)
Salt and ground bl ack pepper
Sauce
I tablespoon vegetabl e oi l
I small shal l ot, mi nced (about 2 tabl espoons)
1/4 cup cognac
reci pe Sauce Base for steak Di ane (see note)
c
2 teaspoons Di jon mustard
z
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
u teaspoon Worcestershi re sauce
g 2 tabl espoons mi nced fresh chives
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1 . FOR 1M S1AKS Heat 1 tablespoon oil
in 12-inch heavy- bottomed skillet over medium
high heat until smoki ng. Meanwhile, season
steaks with salt and pepper. Place 2 steaks in skillet
and cook untl well browned, about 1 l minutes.
Following illustrations at right, fi p steaks and
weight with heavy- bottomed pan; continue to
cook until well browned on second side, about
1 l2 minutes longer. Transfer steaks to large
b L t M L t Is a Fl ambe j ust for Show?
A fl ambe looks i mpressive and i s eas enough to execute, but we wondered if i t really i mproves the favor of a sauce
and. if so. why. Bl i nd taste tests qui ckly reveal ed that fl am bei ng the sauce for steak Di ane did i ndeed i mprve its
favor; a famed sauce was ri cher and sweeter than a sauce that had not been i gni ted. To get a handl e on why it was
better, we l ooked i nto the sci entific pri nci pl es i nvolved.
A fambe is the ignition of the al cohol vapor that l i es above the pan. a reaction that genertes signifcant amounts of
heat. To measure this heat, I used an infrred thermometer and di scovered that the temperture at the surface of the
cognac quickly cl i mbed past 500 degrees; thi s heat woul d i ndeed afect the cognac bel ow. Curi ous to know whether
the high heat sered to remove all of the al cohol from the pan. I sent smpl es of the fambeed cognac as well as the
compl eted sauce to a food l ab for al cohol analysis. Tests reveal ed that the fambe removed 79 percent of the alcohol
from the cognac. (e si mmering of the suce that followed the
flambe removed al most al l of the remai ni ng al cohol . ) So the
flambe ws removing most of the al cohol , but what efect Wthe
high heat having on favor?
Many of the great, favor-boosting chemical reacti ons of
cooking requi re high heat. Reacti ons i nvolvi ng sugar, such as
carmel ization and browni ng, occur at tempertures higher
than 300 degrees. Because the surface had reached above 500
degrees, we noticed some of thi s tpe of favor devel opment. A
si mmered cognac, in contrst, mai ntai ns a steady temperture
of about 1 80 degrees at its surface. Another beneft
of the fambe is that at ver high heat, mol ecul es can
absorb enough ener to isom:riz:,or change shape.
The consequences of thi s reconfgurti on mi ght
i ncl ude i mproved sol ubi l i t and changed favor
percepti on.
The mystery was sol ved. A fambeed sauce burns of most
of its al cohol and gai ns flavor from severl high- heat cooki ng
reacti ons. The fi nal resul t i s a sauce wi th a hi nt of al cohol and
great depth of favor. -john Ol son, Sci ence Edi tor
F LAM E
rI G N I TI ON
S OURCE
ALCOHOL
VAPORS
COG NAC
PAN
SAU CE
platter and tent with foil. Add 1 tablespoon oil
to now-empty skillet and repeat with remaining
steaks; transfer second batch of steaks to platter.
2. FOR T SA\C Off heat, add 1 table
spoon oil and shallots to now-empty skillet; using
skillet's residual heat, cook, stirring fequently,
until shallots are slightly sofened and browned,
about 45 seconds . Add cognac; let stand until
cognac warms slightly, about 10 seconds, tl1en
set skillet over high heat. Using chimney match,
ignite cognac; shake skillet until fames subside,
then simmer cognac until reduced to about 1
tablespoon, about 1 0 seconds. Add sauce base
and mustard; simmer until slightly thickened
and reduced to 1 cup, 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in
butter; off heat, add Worcestershire sauce, any
accumulated juices fom steaks, and 1 tablespoon
chives. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
3. Set steaks on individual dinner plates, spoon
2 tablespoons sauce over each steak, sprinkle with
chives, and serve immediately, passing remaining
sauce separately.
STL F Y STL F K|\h l h| 1 Hl b 1lPKb
The fol l owi ng method yi el ds wel l - browned steaks. I t al so l eaves behi nd, over the enti re surface of the pan. lots of
crust browned bi ts, or fond, whi ch make for a ri chly flavored sauce.
I. Pl ace two steaks i n hot pan ,
si de by si de, and cook unti l wel l
browned.
2. Turn steaks over and rotate 90
degrees to ensure that enti re pan
surface wi l l be covered with fond.
M A Y [ J U N E 210

3. Place heavy Dutch oven or ski l let
on top of steaks and conti nue cook
ing until wel l browned.
Mastering the Art of Saute
From proper pans and equipment to perfect techniq ue, we take the guesswork
out of this often confusing cooking method.
O1 /' cV /.
Sauti s a vaguely defi ned cooki ng method i n whi ch vegetabl es, thi n pi eces of meat
or fi sh. or shel l fi sh are cooked over moderately high heat wi th a mi ni mum of fat. I t' s
a bui l di ng bl ock i n some reci pes-thi nk vegetabl es for a soup or sauce-but makes
for a fi ni shed di sh in others-sauteed cutl ets or a vegetabl e saute. Most cooks under
stand the techni que i n theory but fai l i n practi ce. Fol l ow the ti ps and techni ques
bel ow for cri sp, tender vegetabl es and browned, j ui cy cutl ets.
E QU I P M E NT
Cookare: Pans desi gned for sautei ng come in two di sti nct stl es: strai ght si ded and sl oped si ded. Through testi ng. we have
found that strai ght si des i nhi bi t moi sture evaporti on , al l owi ng foods to "stew." Sl oped-si ded pans al l ow for qui cker evaporati on
and faci l i tate the saute "snap, " that fi ck of the wri st that sends food up and over i tsel f i n a smooth arc and evenly redi stri butes
it i n the pan (see "The Saute Snap" at the bottom of page 1 7) .
Dependi ng o n the manufacturer. a sl oped-si ded pan may be cal l ed everythi ng from omel ette pan to a ski l l et to a fr pan. For
the sake of standardizati on. we refer to any sl oped-si ded shal l ow pan as a ski l l et. For a l i st of our favorite ski l l ets-trdi ti onal ,
nonstick, and best buys-check out Resources (on page 32) .
I l l -Suited for Sauteing
Stright-si ded pans i nhi bi t evaporation
and don' t faci l i tate the saute "snap. "
They are best used for pan-fri ng and
shal l ow brai si ng.
Traditi onal vs. N onstick Skil lets:
When to Use Which f o r What?
Trditional or nonsti ck? It's a question we
often ask ourelves in the test kitchen.
Nonstick ski l l ets faci l i tate cl eanup and
mini mize the need for l ubricating fat-defnite
bonuses-but what is the downside? A di r
four- letter word: ond. Nonstick coatings
i nhi bi t the bui l dup of those crust stuck-on
bits that. when deglazed with a splash of l i qui d.
dissolve and add deep favor and col or to pan
suces. Wetasted our Steak Diane suce (page
1 3) prpard i n both trditional and nonstick
skillets and found the latter verion downright
anemic i n terms of favor and color.
SUTEED DI SHES BES PREPARED I N
A TRADITI ONAL SKI LLET:
Steak
Chops: pork, l amb, or veal
Cutl ets with pan sauce: chi cken, turkey,
or pork
SAUTEED DI SHES BES PREPARED I N
A NONSTICK SKILLET:
Cutl ets without pan sauce: chi cken,
turkey, or pork
Seafood: fi sh steaks or fi l l ets, scal l ops.
or shri mp
Perfect for Sautei ng
Sl oped si des al l ow for qui ck evapora
ti on of moisture-preventi ng foods
from stewi ng i n exuded j ui ces-and for
a smooth "snap. "
Measuring a Ski l l et
The i ndustr may not agree on what to
cal l a sl ope-sided pan. but ther is agree
ment on sizing conventi ons. Al skillets are
measured outer l i p to outer l i p.
The Right Tool s: To maneuver food i n a ski l l et as i t sautes, you need the fol l ow
i ng tool s. See page 32 for more i nformation on our recommended model s.
TON G S R UB B E R S PATU LA F I S H S PATU LA
Tongs ar a heatproof extensi on of your hand and are i nvl uabl e whether moving cutlet
or stirring vegetbles (when closed, they work l i ke a spoon or spatul a) . Mer testing a
variet of brnds and stles, we found model s from Oxo and Edl und to be our favorites
because they opened wi de, had a firm yet comfortble spring tensi on, and had scal
loped-not serrted-ti ps that gripped securely without damaging food. Medi um-length
( 1 2- i nch) tongs are the most vertile size.
Heatproof rubber spatulas will do all of the work of wooden spoons but also
do a much better job of scrping up stuck-on bits of food. Mer testing 1 0 popul ar
brnds (through baki ng tsks, generl scrpi ng chores, and an abuse test) , we found
Rubbermai d' s High Heat Scrper to be the best of the bunch.
Fi sh spatulas maneuver del i cate foods with ease. Matfer's Slotted Pelton Fi sh Spatula
was our favorite i n a recent test. Fr the ful l rsults of the test. visit Cook's E d
ww . cooksi l l ustrted. com and key i n code 3044. Tis information wi l l be avai l abl e until
June I S, 2004.
C O O K
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S I L L U S T R A T E D
I
OI L
Best Choi ce: After sautei ng chi cken
i n a vari et of di fferent oi l s, from $48
per l i ter extra-vi rgi n ol ive oi l to cheap
canol a oi l . we found favor diferences
to be vi rtual ly i mpercepti bl e. That
sai d, we avoi d unrefi ned oi l s such as
extra-vi ri n ol ive oi l because they
have a l ow smoke poi nt and are thus
an i naccurate gui de to the ski l l et' s
temperature. Butter, too, burns fairly
easily unl ess mixed wi th oi l .
For sautei ng. a vegetabl e- based oi l -soy,
corn, peanut (not roasted peanut oi l ,
however) . ol ive ( not extr-vi rgi n) . or
canol a-i s the best choi ce.
Heat unti l Shi mmeri ng: With
proper temperture critical to a suc
cessful saute. how do you gauge when
the ski l l et i s hot enough? We've tri ed a
l ong l i st of eccentri c tests-from water
dropl ets skittering about to crumbs
browni ng-and found the only defi ni
tive answer resi ded i n oi l temperture.
We heat the ski l l et over medi um-
high heat wi th a mi ni mum of oi l (as
sautei ng di ctates) ; as soon as the oil is
shi mmeri ng, the pan i s ready to go.
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SAUT
E
TROU BLES HOOTI N G
Over the years, we've found
that the fol l owi ng probl ems
are most l i kel y to cause poor
results when sautei ng.
Warped Ski l l et: I t' s nearl y
i mpossi bl e to brown cutl ets
evenly i n a ski l l et with an
uneven, warped bottom. If
you are unsure of your ski l l et' s
evenness , rest the pan on a
fat surface. Does i t rock to
and fro? Does water pool
i n a parti cul ar spot? Addi ng
extr oi l to the ski l l et wi l l
hel p " l evel " the pan and can
i mprove browni ng, but i t' s
no guarantee. Warped pans,
however, are fi ne for sautei ng
vegetabl es because they are
moved frequently.
Uneven Heating: Make sure
your pan is properly sized to
the burer and vice vera. If the
ski l l et is too big for the burer,
only the center wi l l ful ly heat;
if i t' s too smal l , the pan may
become excessively hot.
Tin Pns: Thi n, i nexpensive
pans heat and cool more
rpi dly than thi cker, heavy
bottomed pans and thus
demand more attenti on.
Gauge the browni ng speed
and adjust the burner tem
perture accordi ngly.
TH E SAUT
E
S NAP
F OOD PRE PARATI O N
Proper equi pment and temperature are hal f the battl e; preparati on and techni que
make up the rest. For the best resul ts, fol l ow these ti ps.
Cutlets: To ensure even cooki ng, l i mi t
spl atter, and promote a cri sp crust,
make sure meat and fi sh are thoroughl y
bl otted dry between paper towel s and
any excess coati ng (four or breadi ng) i s
shaken free.
VOLU M E
Vegetabl es: For uniform cooki ng, veg
etabl es must be cut to the same size;
large pi eces wi l l remai n crunchy and
taste vegetal ; smal l bi ts wi l l overcook
and l ose flavor.
Avoid overrwding the pan, which will cause food to steam and therby afect favor, color,
and textur. Choose the right pan size and don' t add mor food than will ft comfortbly.
The Dangers of Overcrowdi ng: Pl ace only as many cutl ets as wi l l fi t i nto the
ski l l et wi thout touchi ng and wi thout crawl i ng up the si des of the ski l l et; otheri se,
the cutl ets may expel j ui ces (and steam) , fuse together, and/or cook unevenly.
Three chi cken cutl ets fi t perfectly i nto a 1 0- i nch ski l l et (as shown) wi th space on al l
si des, but j am a fourth cutl et i nto the same pan and there i s a good deal of overl ap.
Tongs and a spatul a wi l l get you only so far; fi ppi ng the food wi th a qui ck snap of the wrist evenly redi stri butes food
stufs with j ust one smooth moti on. Food that was on the bottom of the pan i s repl aced by that si tti ng on top and
vice versa. The "snap" takes some practi ce-somethi ng we recommend first tri ng outdoors wi th some dri ed beans or
ri ce, not the night' s di nner. Thi s techni que shoul d be empl oyed wi th an absol ute mi ni mum amount of oi l ; otheri se,
hot oi l may spl atter.

I. Securel y grasp the ski l l et handl e
with your thumb posi ti oned on top,
poi nti ng toward the ski l l et. I f the
ski l let i s heav, use both hands.
2. Wi th a fl ui d moti on , snap the
pan forard and then j erk i t toward
you , whi ch wi l l send the food sl i di ng
forard and up.
'
3 _ Ti p the back of the pan (that i s
cl osest to you) sl i ghtl y forward, as i f
to receive the food. Repeat as
necessar to di sperse food evenly.
M A Y c J U N E 20 0
I /
SAUT
E
TIPS
sautei ng more than a few i tems, as with scal
l ops. i t' s easy to forget whi ch i tems went i nto
the pan first. To keep track, we posi ti on the
items in a cl ockise ci rcul ar pattern, starting at
1 2 o' cl ock and worki ng our way around. When
i t' s ti me to begi n fi ppi ng them, start once
agai n at 1 2 o' cl ock and workyour way around.
I tems shoul d come out of the pan i n the same
order in whi ch they went i nto the pan.
Stuck- On Foods: If cutl ets fuse to the ski l
l et, try thi s ti p for freei ng them. Di p a fexi bl e
spatul a i nto col d water and sl i de the i nverted
spatul a bl ade underneath the cutl et. The cool ,
wet spatul a bl ade breaks the bond beteen
ski l l et and meat.
Determi ni ng Done ness of Cutl ets,
Chops, and Steaks: i nstant-read ther
mometer del iver the most accurate readi ng
of doneness, but the "ni ck-and- peek" method
al so works in a pi nch. When you thi nk the food
is neari ng doneness, make a smal l ni ck hal fay
through the meat with a pari ng knife. If there i s
a bone, ni ck next to the bone for an cc
readi ng (the area al ong the bone takes the
l ongest to cook) .
Family-Style Macaroni and Cheese
Neither dull nor excessi vely rich, macaron i and cheese should please a multitude of
palates. Could we find a simple way to make this dish appealing to adults and kids ali ke?
W
ith the possible excep
tion of meatloaf and fied
chicken, few dishes are as
personal as macaroni and
cheese. Baked or stovetop, custard based
or little more than white sauce and pasta,
with or without toasted bread crumbs,
there must be a million recipes out there,
surely enough to satisf nearly everyone.
Unfortunately, no one of tese recipes can
satisf everyone at the same time. Sure, the
kids would be fne wit the contents of the
blue box brand, but for me this ready-mix
mac and cheese lost its appeal soon afer
I learned how to boil water. Conversely,
decadent recipes replete wth cream, eggs,
and a who's-who list of pungent cheeses are
decidedly adults-only; just try to serve them
to the kds and you'll get upturned noses
and pushed-back plates.
= BY B R ! DG E T LANCAST E R <
To get my bearings, I scoured the afore
mentoned million recipes ( or at least 40),
starting wth our own recipe, published in
January/February 1 997. A custard-style
macaroni and cheese, ts recipe uses eggs
and evaporated milk ( as opposed to the
more traditional whole milk) to prevent
Great macaroni and cheese doesn ' t have to be di fi cul t, and i t
doesn ' t requi re fancy cheeses.
the custard fom curdlg ( a common occurrence
in recipes wth eggs) . Although a long-standing
test ktchen favorite, this dish is incredibly rich. I
wanted sometng simpler-but, as my next test
revealed, not too simple. When I layered cooked
pasta and cheese into a casserole dish, poured u
over the lot, and put the dish in the oven, the fat
fom the cheese separated and the result was a
greasy mess. I concluded that the cheese needed
some sort of binder-ither eggs or four.
Bec hamel Basics
I was now left with the path chosen by the
vast majority of recipe writers: bechamel sauce.
Bechamel is a white sauce made by cooking four
and butter to form a light roux. Milk is gradually
whisked in, and the bechamel is cooked until it
thickens . Combined with cheese and partially
cooked noodles, the mix is then poured into a
CssCtOC dish and baked.
Traditional recipes incorporate the cheese into
te bechamel before stirring in parcooked pasta
and then bake the dish until the sauce is bubbling
hot and thick. It sure sounds easy. But no matter
how much attention I paid, I just couldn' t pull
a great baked macaroni and cheese out of the
oven. Sometimes the pasta was overcooked-a
result of just one minute too many of boiling on
the stovetop. Even worse were the batches made
with undercooked noodles . I tried to remedy
these by keeping the dishes in the oven longer
( anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes) , but afer a
while the bubbling cheese began to separate and
the dishes took on an oily, grainy feel.
Frustrated, I pushed aside the idea of using the
oven and started working solely on the stovetop.
Maybe I could better prevent the overcooking
( and undercooking) of the pasta.
I made the next batch of sauce and boiled my
pasta on the side. I cooked the pasta until it was a
few minutes shy of being done, tossed it in with
the sauce and cheese, and simmered it until the
pasta was tender, which took a good 1 0 minutes.
To my dismay, this batch had begun to separate,
just like my oven-baked experiments, and the
parcooked pasta released its starch into the sauce,
giving it a gritty feel . Next I cooked the pasta
until very tender and quickly mixed it with the
C O O K
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S I L L U S T R A T E D
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cheese and sauce. This time tasters thought
that the noodles needed more time to absorb
the sauce. I needed to cook the pasta less at
the outset. Boiled until just past m dente, the
noodles still had enough suucturc to std
up to the heat of te sauce for a few minutes
without turning mushy, and the cheese sauce
flled every nook and cranny.
F o ray into M o rnay
I next decided to work on the correct propor
tions of butter to four to m_ reasoning that
the wg combination would provide the
desired silk sauce. Bechamel recipes tat used
more butter than flour lacked cohesion. Those
using equal parts butter and four seemed
heavy and dull . I had much better luck using
slightly more four than butter ( 6 tablespoons
to 5 tablespoons, respectively) . Just this litte
change cut enough of the richness that was
trying to avoid, and, when I added 5 cups of
whole m_ there was a plenttude of sauce
with which to smother the noodles.
Technically speaking, as soon as I added
cheese to my white sauce, it turned fom
bechamel to NOtnay. kew that choosing
the right cheese would affect not only the
favor of the dish but also its texture. Indeed, an
unpleasant grainy feel was introduced by hard
cheeses such as Parmesan, Gruyere, and some
aged cheddars, to say nothing of their overly ds
tinct favor. On the other hand, incredibly mild,
sof cheeses such as mascarone and ricotta con
tributed no flavor, and their creamy texture pushed
the macaroni and cheese right back into sickly
territory. What worked best were two cheeses:
sharp cheddar for favor and Monterey Jack for
creaminess. For a more detailed explanation of
these choices, see "Two Cheeses Are Better Than
One" on page 19.
How much cheese to use? Many recipes caled for
twce as much cheese as pasta (I was using 1 pound
of pasta) . The result was a stcky, strngy macaroni
and cheese that was of the charts in terms of rch
ness. More fugal recipes seemed designed around
an impending cheese shortage, using merely l
pound of cheese to a pound of pasta. The result was
more macaroni and mthan macaroni and cheese.
I found that 1 pound of cheese was the perfect
amount for 1 pound of pasta-just the right texture
and flavor, and easy to remember, too.
U

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Back in the Oven


I was done, right? Wrong. Many of my tasters
wanted at least the option of adding a toasty,
golden topping of bread crumbs-a fl ashback to
the baked versions. To keep to my stovetop com
mitment, I tossed homemade bread crumbs with
melted butter and toasted them on the stovetop,
then portioned them out over indvidual servings
in generous amounts. But these crumbs seemed
more like an aferthought than part of the dish. I
wasn't about to go back to baking the macaroni
and cheese, but I wondered if instead I could
use the broiler for a quick blast of heat. I placed
fesh buttered bread crumbs atop my next batch
of macaron and cheese and placed it under the
broiler. This was it. The broiler concentrated the
heat right on the bread crumbs, turning them a
deep, golden brown. Better still, the process took
only a few minutes-yet it was just enough time to
let the bottom of the crumbs sink into the cheese
sauce and seem baked right in.
Finally, I had a macaroni and cheese that more
than passed muster, at least with my test kitchen
colleagues. But would it please my toughest critics,
the kids? I made one more batch at home, passed
it around the table, and held my breath. With
comments like "Yum, " "Oooh," and "Not bad,
Mrs. Lancaster," I was victorious. Of course, one
young taster asked, "How come it's not orange? "
I guess you can't please absolutely everyone.
CLAS S I C MACARONI AND CHE E S E
S E RVES 6 T O 8 AS A MAI N COU RSE OR
1 0 T O 1 2 AS A S I DE DI S H
It's crucial to cook the pasta untl tender-just past
the a dente" stage. In fact, overcookig is better
than undercooking the pasta. Whole, low-fat, and
skim milk all work well in ths recipe. The recipe can
be halved and baked in an 8-ich-square, broier
safe baking dish. If desired, ofer celery salt or hot
sauce (such d Tabasco) for sprg at the table.
Bread Crumb Topping
5 sl ices {about 5ounces) good-qual i t white
sandwich bread, torn i nto rough pi eces
3 tabl espoons cold unsalted butter, cut i nto
5 pi eces
Pasta and Cheese
I pound el bow macaroni
tabl espoon pl us I teaspoon salt
5 tabl espoons unsalted butter
5 tabl espoons al l -purpose fl our
I 11 teaspoons powdered mustard
'/ teaspoon cayenne (opti onal )
S cups mi l k (see note)
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (2 cups)
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)
l . FOR 1M BRAO CR\MBS Pulse bread
and butter in food processor until crumbs are no
s c 1 E N c E : Two Cheeses Are Better Than One
Why are some cheese sauces velvet smooth whi l e other have a texture
l i ke grit followed by a grease chaser? Because macaroni and cheese is
nothi ng absent a great sauce, thi s questi on had to be ansered. I n
testing vari ous cheeses for our reci pe. we came upon a di chotomy:
Monterey Jack could provide appeal i ng texture but only modest
favor, whi l e cheddar brought the best favor but rough texture.
Curi ous about thi s. I started diging for answer.
A maj or di sti ncti on between Monterey Jack and cheddar i s
moi sture content. Government regul ati ons al l ow Jack cheese to
have 5 percent more total moisture than cheddar, and more moi s
ture makes a cheese easi er to bl end i nto a l i qui d. Moreover, cheddar
cheese has more fat than Jack cheese. Ai de from fat and water con
tent, age al so has a profound efect on how a cheese behaves when
H OW CHE E S E M E LTS
mel ted. Monterey Jack i s never aged for more than a few months. but
cheddar can be aged for year. A cheddar ages, casei n, the pri mar
protei n i n cheese, cl umps and breaks down. and the strong flavor
compounds we associ ate with good cheddar devel op.
When cheddar is melted, right, the
fat separtes from the cheese.
Monterey Jack, l ef, has a hi gher
moi sture content and look creami er
when mel ted, wi th l ess separati on.
What does thi s difference i n age mean for cheese sauce? Cheddar,
parti cul arly ol der cheddar, is gri tt because the casei n structure has been broken down . In contrast, Monterey
Jack is creamy because the casei n structure is more i ntact and therefore better abl e to retai n fat and moi sture.
We l earned that the combi nati on of young Jack cheese and moderatel y aged cheddar gives you good texture
and good flavor. -j ohn Ol son . Sci ence Edi tor
larger than /8 inch, ten to fieen ! -second pulses.
Set aside.
2. FOR 1M AS1A AO CMS Adj ust
oven rack to lower- middle position and heat
broiler. Bring 4 quarts water to boil i n Dutch
oven over high heat. Add macaroni and l table
spoon salt; cook until pasta is tender. Drain pasta
and set aside in colander.
3 . In now- empty Dutch oven, heat butter
over medium-high heat until foanling. Add four,
mustard, and cayenne (if using) and whisk well
to combine. Continue whisking until mixture
becomes fragrant and deepens i n color, about
l minute. Gradually whisk in milk; bring mix
ture to boil, whisking constantly ( mixture must
reach fll boil to flly thicken) . Reduce heat
to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally,
until thickened to consistency of heavy cream,
about 5 minutes. Off heat, whisk in cheeses and
l teaspoon salt until cheeses are flly melted. Add
pasta and cook over medium-low heat, stirring
constantly, until mixture is steaming and heated
through, about 6 minutes.
4. Transfer mixture to broiler-safe 9 by 1 3-inch
baking dish and sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs.
Broil until crumbs are deep golden brown, 3 to 5
ninutes, rotating pan if necessary for even brown
ing. Cool about 5 minutes, then serve.
MACARONI AND CH E E S E WI TH HAM
AND PEAS
Cut 8 ounces baked deli ham, sliced /4 inch thick,
into l -inch squares. Follow recipe for Classic
Macaroni and Cheese, adding ham and l cup
fozen peas to cheese sauce along with pasta.
MACARONI AND CHE E S E WI TH KI E LBASA
AND MUSTARD
Cut 8 ounces smoked kielbasa lengthwise into
quarters, then cut each quarter crosswise into vz
inch slices. Follow recipe for Classic Macaroni and
Cheese; in step 3, add l medium onion, chopped
fne, to foaming butter and cook, stirring occa
sionally, until onion begins to brown, about 6
minutes. Add four to onion and continue with
recipe, reducing salt in sauce to /z teaspoon and
adding kielbasa and 4 teaspoons whol e- grain
Dijon mustard to cheese sauce along with pasta.
R E c 1 P E r E s r 1 N G . Some Fai l ed Experi ments
O I LY AN D S E PARATE D C U RD LE D AN D C LU M PY RI CH AN D C LOYI NG
Some early tests reveal ed common probl ems with macaroni and cheese. When we layered the noodl es, mi l k.
and cheese (without first cooki ng them) in the pan . the fat separated from the cheese and the macaroni and
cheese was oi ly (l eft) . When we added egs to the reci pe, they curdl ed and produced a l umpy sauce (center) .
An overbundance of cheese made the macaroni so ri ch you coul d eat only to or three spoonful s (right) .
M A Y c J U N E 211
I '
The Problem with Chicken Stir- Fries
Tired of dr, string chicken in your stir-fr? We have the solution .
J
he most common, and probably
most appealing, stir-fy is made wth
chicken. SOtmds easy, right? Well, it
turns out that a good chicken stir
is more difcult to prepare than a beef or
pork stir-fy because chcken, whch has less
fat, inevitably becomes d and strngy when
cooked over hgh heat. I was afer a stir-fy
that featured tender, juicy, bite-size pieces of
chicken paired with just the right combinaton
of vegetables in a simple yet complex-flavored
sauce. Ad because this was a stir-fy, it had to
be firly quick.
In the past, we've used a marinade to
impart favor to meat destined for stir-fries.
Chicken was no exception. Tossing the pieces
of chicken into a simple soy-sherry mixture
for 10 minutes before cooking added much
needed flavor, but it did nothing to improve
the texture of the meat.
BY K E RI F I SHE R
and slimy when cooked in tl1e sauce.
Our science editor explained that the corn
starch was absorbing liquid fom the sauce,
causing the slippery fish. He suggested cut
ting me cornstarch wim four, which created
a negligible coating-not too thick, not too
slimy-that stil managed kccpjuccsinside
the chicken. Substituting sesame oil for pea
nut oil added a rich depth of favor.
Aer trying everything fom pounded to
cubed chicken, tasters voted for simple flat 14-
inch slices, which were athe more easy to cut
afer feezing the breasts for 20 minutes. These
wide, fat slces of chicken browned easily. I
cooked them in two batches, frst browing
one side, then turning them over to quickly
brown me second side rather than constantly
stirring ( or "stir" -frying) as so many other
recipes suggest. Athough choosing not to
stir-fy seemed counterntuitve, I found mat
the constant motion of that method detracted
fom me browning of the chicken.
The Finis h
The obvious solution to dry chicken
was brining, our favorite method of adding
moisture to poultry. A test ofbrined boneless
breasts (preferred over thighs) did in fact con
frm that this method solved the problem of
dry chicken. However, a ha hour or more of
brning time followed by 10 minutes of mari
natg was out of the question for a quick mid
week stir-fy. It seemed redundant to soak the
chicken frst in one salty solution ( brine) and
A spri nkl e of sesame seeds is the fi ni sh i ng touch for a sti r-fry fea
turi ng a hybri d bri ni ng/mari nati ng method that adds flavor and
moi sture to l ean chi cken.
P for the vegetables i n my master recipe, a
combination of bok choy and red bell pep
per worked well with me chicken. Other
favor combinations worked well as varia
tions, including a pairing of green beans
and shiitake mushrooms. For me sauce, the
then another ( marinade) , so I decided to combine
the two, using the soy sauce to provide the high
salt level in my brine. This turned out to be a key
secret of a great chicken stir-fy. Now I was turning
out highly flavored, juicy pieces of chicken-most
of the time. Given the fcky nature of high-heat
cooking, some batches of chicken still occasionally
turned out tough because of overcooking.
The Velvet Gl ove
I next turned to a traditional Chinese
technique called velveting, which involves
coating chicken pieces in a U cornstarch
and egg white or oil mixture, then parcooking
in moderately heated oil . The coating holds pre
cious moisture inside; that extra juiciness makes
the chicken seem more tender. Cornstarch mixed
with egg white yielded a cakey coating; tasters
preferred the more subtle coating provided by
ClBSJlCh mixed WU Oi! . JhiS velveted chicken
was supple, but it was also pale, and, again, this
method seemed far too involved for a quick week
night dinner.
I wondered if the same metl1od-coating in a
cornstarch mixture-would work if I eliminated
tl1e parcooking step. It did. This chicken was not
only j uicy and tender, but it also developed an
attractive golden brown coating. Best of all, the
entire process took less than five minutes. The only
problem was that tl1e coating, which was more of
an invisible barrier than a crust, became bloated
R E c 1 P E K E Y : Choosi ng the Ri ght Pn
TH E BE ST CHOI CE : A ME DI OCRE CHOI CE :
NONSTI CK S KI LLET FLAT- BOTOME D WOK
test kitchen has found that chicken broth, rather
than soy sauce, makes the best base because it
is not overpowering. Hoisin and oyster sauce
work nicely as favoring ingredients. We have also
tested the addition of cornstarch to help me sauce
coat tl1e meat and vegetables and have found mat
a small amount is necessary. Otherwise, the sauce
is too U and does not adhere properly.
A BAD CHOI CE : TH E WORST CHOI CE :
TRADI TI ONAL S KI LLET S MALL S KI LLET
When sti r-fri ng, a 1 2- i nch nonsti ck ski l l et is large enough to accommodate food wi thout any steami ng or
sti cki ng. A flat- bottomed wok i s better than a regul ar cured wok but sti l l has less surace area in contact with
the stovetop than the completely flat- bottomed ski l l et. The batter on the chi cken sti cks and burns in a conven
ti onal 1 2- i nch ski l l et. A I 0-i nch ski l l et i s so smal l that food steams as i t cooks.
C O O K
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S I L L U S T R A T E D
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The basic stir-fy method was developed several


years ago in the test kitchen. Aer the protein (in
this case, the chicken) is cooked and removed fom
the pan, the vegetables are stir-fied in batches,
garlic and ginger ( the classic stir-fry combina
tion) are quickly cooked in the center of the pan,
and then the protein is returned to the pan along
with the sauce. This fnal mixture is cooked over
medium heat for 30 seconds to fnish.
In the end, a great chicken stir-fry doesn' t
really take more time to prepare than a bad one.
It does, however, require more attention to detail
and knowledge of a few quick tricks.
MARI NATED VELVETED CHI CKEN FOR STI R- FRY
To make the chicken easier to slice, freeze it
for 20 minutes, until it is frm but not fozen.
Prepare the stir-fy ingredients while the chicken
marinates.
'I cup soy sauce
'I cup dry sherry
cup water
pound bonel ess, ski nl ess chi cken breasts,
tri mmed of excess fat and prepared accordi ng to
i l l ustrations I through 3 , above
2 tabl espoons Aian sesame oi l
tabl espoon cornstarch
tabl espoon al l -purpose fl our
I . Combine soy sauce, sherry, and water in
medium bowl; add chicken and stir to break up
clumps. Cover with plastic wrap and refigerate
for at least 20 minutes or up to 1 hour.
2. Mix sesame oil, cornstarch, and four in
medium bowl until smooth. Drain chicken in
strainer; press out excess liquid. Toss chicken
in cornstarch/flour mixture until evenly coated.
Use immediately in one of following recipes.
GI NGERY STI R- FRI E D CHI CKEN AND BOK CHOY
SERVES 4 AS A MAI N DI S H WI TH RI CE
'I cup low-sodi um chi cken broth
2 tabl espoons dry sherry
tabl espoon soy sauce
tabl espoon oyster-favored sauce
'h teaspoon Ai an sesame oi l
teaspoon cornstarch
teaspoon sugar
'I teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 teaspoons mi nced fresh ginger
(from I 11-i nch pi ece)
medi um garl i c clove, mi nced or pressed through
garl i c press (about I teaspoon)
Peanut or vegetabl e oi l
reci pe Mari nated Velveted Chi cken for Sti r- fr
smal l head bok choy (about I pound) , stalks and
greens separated, stalks cut on bi as i nto
'/-i nch sl i ces and greens cut i nto 11- i nch stri ps
small red bell pepper, cut i nto '/-i nch strips
STL F Y STL F lKl lPKl h| | Hl | Kl h |K A b1l K- KY
I. Separate tenderl oi n from breast. 2. With fat side of knife, press
Starti ng at thi ck end, cut i nto each sl i ce to an even '/ i nch thi ck
'/ i nch sl i ces. Stop sl i ci ng when you ness and then cut sl ices i nto l - i nch
3. Use same techni que for ten
derl oi n, fatteni ng i t with si de of
knife and then cutting i nto l - i nch
pi eces. reach tapered tri angl e end. squares.
1 . Whisk broth, sherry, soy, oyster-favored
sauce, sesame oil, cornstarch, sugar, pepper fakes,
and 2 teaspoons gnger in small bowl; set aside.
Combine remaining 2 teaspoons ginger, garlic,
and 1 teaspoon peanut oil i n smabowl; set aside.
2 . Heat 2 teaspoons peanut oil in 1 2-inch non
stick skillet over high heat until smoking; add half
of chicken to skilet in fat, even layer. Cook, wth
out stirring, but gently separating pieces, until
golden brown on frst side, about 1 minute; turn
chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned on
second side, about 30 seconds. Transfer chicken
to clean bowl . Repeat with additional 2 teaspoons
peanut oil and remaining chicken.
3 . Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil to now-empty
skillet; heat until just smoking. Add bok choy
stalks and red bell pepper; stir-fry until beginning
to brown, about 1 minute. Push vegetables to
sides of skil l et to clear center; add garlic/ginger
mixture to clearing and cook, mashing mixture
with spoon, until fagrant, 1 5 to 20 seconds, then
stir mixture into stalks and continue to cook until
stalks are tender-crisp, about 30 seconds longer.
Stir in bok choy greens and cook until begin
ning to wilt, about 30 seconds; return chicken
to skillet. Whisk sauce to recombine, then add to
skillet; reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring
constantly, until sauce is thickened and chicken is
cooked through, about 30 seconds. Transfer to
serving platter and serve immediately.
S P I CY STI R- F RI E D S ESAME C HI CKE N WI TH
G RE E N B EANS AND S HI I TAKE MUS HROOMS
S E RVES 4 A S A MAI N DI S H WI TH RI CE
1 1 cup low-sodi um chi cken broth
3 tabl espoons soy sauce
2 tabl espoons dry sherry
I tabl espoon pl us I teaspoon Asi an chi l i sauce
tabl espoon pl us I teaspoon sugar
teaspoon cornstarch
tabl espoon white sesame seeds, toasted in smal l
dry ski l l et unti l gol den, about 4 mi nutes
2 teaspoons Asi an sesame oi l
3 medi um garl i c cl oves, mi nced or pressed through
garl i c press (about I tablespoon)
teaspoon mi nced fresh gi nger
M A Y c J U N E 2 11
Z I
Peanut or vegetabl e oi l
reci pe Mari nated Velveted Chi cken for Sti r-Fr
with I tabl espoon whi te sesame seeds added to
fl our mixture
pound green beans, cut on bi as i nto l - i nch pi eces
8 ounces shi itake mushrooms, stems removed,
caps sl i ced 1/o i nch thi ck
1 . Whisk chicken broth, soy, sherry, chii sauce,
sugar, cornstarch, 2 teaspoons sesame seeds,
1 teaspoon sesame oil, and 1 teaspoon garlic
in small bowl to combine; set aside. Combine
remaining 2 teaspoons garlic, ginger, and 1 tea
spoon peanut oil in small bowl; set aside.
2. Heat 2 teaspoons peanut oil in 1 2-inch non
stick skillet over high heat until smoking; add half
of chicken to skillet in fat, even layer. Cook, with
out stirring, but gently separating pieces, until
golden brown on frst side, about 1 minute; turn
chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned on
second side, about 30 seconds. Transfer chicken
to clean bowl . Repeat with additional 2 teaspoons
peanut oil and remaining chicken.
3. Add 1 tablespoon peanut oi l to now-empt
skillet; heat until just smoking. Add green beans
and cook, stirring occasionally, 1 mjnute; add
mushrooms and stir- fry until mushrooms are
lightly browned, about 3 minutes . Push veg
etables to sides of skillet to clear center; add garlic
and ginger to clearing and cook, mashing mixture
with spoon, until fagrant, 30 to 45 seconds; str
mixture into beans and mushrooms. Continue
to stir-fy until beans are tender-crisp, about 30
seconds longer; return chicken to skillet. Whisk
sauce to recombine, then add to skillet; reduce
heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly,
until sauce is thickened and chicken is cooked
through, about 30 seconds. Transfer to serving
platter, drizzle with remaining teaspoon sesame
oil, and sprinkle with remaing teaspoon sesame
seeds. Serve immediately.
COOK'S EXTRA gives you free recipes online. For our
Sweet , Sour, and Spicy Stir-Fried Orange Chicken and
Broccoli with Cashews, visit ww .cooksi l l ustrated.com
and key in code 3045. Thi s recipe wi l l be avai l abl e until
J une 15, 2004.
Extra-Fruity Fruit Sherbet
Un l i ke i ce cream, store- bought sherbet i s usua l l y th i rd - rate. I f you want
a real l y good fru i t sherbet, do you have to make i t you rsel f? Yes .

rozen sherbet i s an American


invention of pure refreshment,
the perfect foil to summer' s
heat. But quintessential ( or even
pretty good) sherbet can be hard to fnd.
The standard triple-favored packages of
rainbow sherbet sold in the supermarket
have only one redeeming quality: They are
cold. A quick tasting in the test kitchen
reminded us of just how bad these com
mercial sherbets can be. Why was orange
sherbet the color of a neon light? Why dd
lime sherbet smell like frniture polish?
And why was raspberry sherbet so saccha
rine that the only detectable favor was not
fuity but sweet, very sweet?
B Y E R I KA B R U C E F
without corn syrup had a brighter favor and
a smoother texture. The only efectve addi
ton to the m was alcohol. Triple Sec or
vodka in the amount of 2 teaspoons created
a smoother, more refned CAUC wU no
of flavors.
Although I had made a lot of progress,
the sherbet remaned heavier than I liked.
Then I reazed that I could whip me heavy
cream before mixing it wii the other ingre
dients. I held my breath as tasters sampled
sherbet made with whipped cream. To my
delight, every taster preferred its lighter,
smooier texture. Interestingly, these
textural differences were more apparent
when the sherbet had sofened slightly afer
removal fom me feezer. From this I dis
covered mat sherbet has an optimal serving
temperature ofbetween 1 2 and 1 5 degrees.
Its smooth, creamy texture is compromise.d
when served too col d.
The perfect sherbet is a cross between
sorbet and ice cream, containing fruit,
sugar, and dairy but no egg yolks. Like its
foreign cousin, sorbet, sherbet should taste
vibrant and fesh. In the case of sherbet,
however, its assertive favor is tempered by
the creamy addition of dairy. Ideally, it is
as smooth as ice cream but devoid of ice
cream's richness and weight.
Te End of the Rinbow
A si mpl e reci pe solves the ri ddl e of icy, i nsi pi d sherbet. Ours is creamy.
smooth. and bursti ng wi th frui t flavor.
My last tests were about favor. Many
recipes add orange zest, but tasters found
mat me bits of zest interfered wii ie otherwise
smooi texture. Straining out ie zest removed
most of its favor. 1ct yII_ many meiods
( using large amounts of zest, leaving the zest in
ie juice overnight, and macerating ie oranges,
rind and all , wii the sugar) , I fnally came upon
ie right one. Processing a tablespoon of zest
wii me sugar in a food processor released its
essential oils and resulted in ie perfect orange
favor-intense without being harsh. The
second step was to add the juice to the food
processor and to men strain out any unwanted
pieces of zest. To brighten me orange favor, I
tested various amounts oflemon juice and found
3 tablespoons to be just right. Finally, I added
teaspoon of salt, which heightened boi favor
and sweetness.
Te Texu re Tests
To hammer out a basic recipe, I decided to
start with orange sherbet and used the simplest
of ingredients: orange juice, sugar syrup made
fom equal parts sugar and water boiled together
(known, appropriately, as simple syrup) , and
half-and- half From the recipe tests, I knew
that the freezing method made a difference,
so I tried making sherbet with and without an
ice cream maker. The latter, in which ingredi
ents were mixed, poured into a container, and
fozen, was noticeably more icy and grainy than
the former. There was simply no competing with
the smooth, even- textured sherbet produced
by the slow feezing and consistent churning of
an ice cream machine.
P with sorbet, the texture of sherbet hinges
on the concentation of sugar in the recipe ( see
"The Role of Sugar in Frozen Desserts" on page
23) . But even when I used twice as much sugar
syrup as orange juice, I could not get the smooth
texture I was looking for. The proportion of water
to sugar was still too high. To reduce the water
content, I eliminated the sugar syrup entirely and
dissolved the granulated sugar directly in the
juice. Now I had better texture, improved favor,
and a sin1pler recipe.
Next I tested dairy, makng the sherbet with
heavy cream, half- and-half, whole milk, skim
milk, evaporated milk, condensed milk, butter
milk, sour cream, soy milk, and yogurt. While
whole milk alone did not yield a bad product, it
was more like a sorbet. Increasing tl1e milk merely
resulted in an icy, diluted product. Half- and-half
produced a creamier favor, but tle texture was
still too icy. I fnally settled on heavy cream-a
modest ~ cup. Other dairy choices either clouded
the favor or failed to improve tl1e texture.
A common technique in sherbet making is the
addtion of whipped egg whites, either raw or i
the fashion of an Italian meringue, in which te
whites are beaten wth boiling sugar syrup. To my
surprise, neither did anything to improve texture.
In fact, they made the sherbet more icy, a result
I attributed to the water added by means of te
egg whites. Adding gelatin, which is ofen used to
stabilize sorbets and sherbets, was labor-intensive;
what's more, it did little to improve the texture.
Happy to discard it, I tried corn syrup, a much
simpler ingredient that is ofen used to sofen
fozen goods. Again, no luck. The sherbet made
C O O K
'
S I L L U S T R A T E D
? ?
Wil the recipe for orange sherbet nailed
down, it was time for me to try lime and rasp
berry. Because lime j uice is more acidic man
orange juice, I had to add water to dilute it and
COOK'S EXTRA gives you free informat ion onl ine.
For the results of our test ing of ice cream makers , visi t
www.cooksi l lustrated.com and key i n code 3046. This
informati on wi l l be avai lable unt i l june | S , 2004.
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1Hl b l | Kl1b 1| |Kl A1-1Ab1l h| b Hl K l1
I. Pul se sugar and zest. Add
j ui ce in steady stream.
2. Stri n zest and pul p, add
l i quor, cover, and chi l l .
3. Whi p heavy cream to soft
peaks in chi l l ed bowl .
4. Pour chi l l ed j ui ce mixture
agai nst bowl whi l e whi ski ng.
5. Pour mixture i nto runni ng
ice cream machi ne and chum.
more sugar to balance its tartness. And because
lime is not everyone's favorite, I tried substituting
lemon for lime. This variation was also a success,
although the favors were notably more delicate
and foral. For my last variation, I found that gen
tly cooking raspberries with a little water and all
of the sugar served to break down the berries and
release their juices. Passing the mixture through
a sieve eliminated the seeds.
FRESH ORANG E S HE RBET
MAKES ABOUT I QUART
If using a canister-style ice cream machine, feeze
the canister for at least 12 hours or, preferably,
overnight. If the canister is not thoroughly fo
zen, the sherbet W not freeze beyond a slushy
consistency. For the freshest, purest orange fa
vor, use freshly squeezed unpasteurized orange
juice ( either store-bought or juiced at home) .
Pasteurized fesh-squeezed juice makes an accept
able though noticeably less fesh-tasting sherbet.
Do not use juice made from concentrate, which
has a cooked and decidedly unfesh favor.
tabl espoon grated zest from I to 2 oranges
cup (7ounces) sugar
1/s teaspoon salt
2 cups orange j ui ce, preferably unpasteurized
fresh-squeezed (see note)
3 tabl espoons j uice from I to 2 1 emons
2 teaspoons Tri pl e Sec or vodka
/ cup heav cream
1 . Process zest, sugar, and salt in food processor
until damp, ten to feen 1 -second pulses . With
machine running, add orange juice and lemon
juice in slow, steady stream; continue to process
until sugar is flly dissolved, about I minute.
Strain mixture through nonreactive fne- mesh
strainer into medium bowl; stir in Triple Sec, then
cover with plastc wrap and chill in feezer until
very cold, about 40 degrees, 30 to 60 minutes.
(Alternatively, set bowl over larger bowl contain
ing ice water. ) Do not let mixture feeze.
2. When mixture is cold, using whisk, whip
cream in medium bowl until soft peaks form.
Whisking constantly, add j uice mixture in steady
stream, pouring against edge ofbowl. Immdiately
start ice cream machine and add j uice/ cream mix
ture to canister; churn until sherbet has texture of
sof-serve ice cream, 25 to 30 minutes.
and substitute
3
cup l i me j ui ce combined with
1 vz cups water for orange and lemon juices.
FRES H RAS PBE RRY S HE RBET
3. Remove canister from machine and transfer
sherbet to storage container; press plastic wrap
directly against surface of sherbet and freeze until
frm, at least 3 hours. ( Can be wrapped well in
plastic wrap and frozen for up to one week. ) To
serve, let sherbet stand at room temperature until
slightly sofened and instant-read thermometer
inserted into sherbet registers 12 to 1 5 degrees.
In-season fresh raspberries have the best flavor,
but when they are not in season, frozen raspber
ries are a better option. Substitute a 12-ounce
bag of frozen raspberries for fresh.
FRESH LI M E S HE RBET
Be sure to use freshly squeezed ( not bottled) lime
juice. For lemon sherbet, substitute lemon juice
and zest for the lime j uice and zest.
Follow recipe for Fresh Orange Sherbet, making
these changes : Substitute lime zest for orange
zest, increase sugar to 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons,
In medium nonreactive saucepan, cook 3 cups
fresh raspberri es,
3
/4 cup water, 1 cup sugar,
and v teaspoon salt over medium heat, stirring
occasionally, until mixture just begins to simmer,
about 7 minutes. Pass mixture through fne-mesh
strainer into medium bowl, pressing on solids to
extract as much liquid as possible. Add 3 table
spoons lemon juice and 2 teaspoons Triple Sec
or vodka; cover with plastic wrap and chill in
feezer until very cold, about 40 degrees. Do not
let mixture freeze. Follow recipe for Fresh Orange
Sherbet fom step 2, substitutng raspberry mixture
for orange mixture.
s c 1 E N c E : The Rol e of Sugar i n Frozen Dessers
A mi croscopi c vi ew of sherbet woul d reveal smal l grai ns of i ce l ubri cated
with syrup, fat. and bubbl es of ai r. The si mpl e churni ng of an i ce cream
machi ne can add l ots of ai r. The other pi ece of the chemi cal puzzl e-the
trnsformati on of the sherbet from l i qui d to sol i d-i s more compl icated.
Sugar, i t turns out, i s the medi ati ng factor beteen the two.
Water freezes at 32 degrees, but the addi ti on of sugar makes i t harder
for water mol ecul es to form i ce crystal s and thus lowers the freezi ng tem
perture of the mixture. The higher the sugar concentrti on (that i s, the
more sugar there i s i n proporti on to water) . the greater thi s efect wi l l be.
A the temperature of the sherbet mi xture drops bel ow Jz degrees, some
water starts to freeze i nto sol i d i ce crystal s, but the remai ni ng water and
sugar, whi ch are i n syrup form, remai n unfrozen . more water freezes,
the sugar concentrati on in the remai ni ng srup i ncreases, maki ng i t l ess and
l ess l i kel y to freeze.
Unfrozen, hi ghly concentrted sugar srup al l ows the sherbet to be scooped
stright from the freezer, as seen i n the bottom photo. (Without the sugar, the
sherbet woul d be as hard as ice, as seen i n the top photo. ) Sugar also reduces
the size of the ice crtl s, phyical ly interfering with thei r grwth. Smaller ice
crtals trnslate into a less griny texture. Sugar, then, not onl y makes sherbet
sweet but also makes it smooth and scoopabl e. -John Ol son, Sci ence Editor
M A Y c !J^| 211
Z
N O S U GAR AD DE D:
Hard and I cy
C U P S U GAR ADDE D:
Somewhat Softer
2 C U PS S U GAR /OD E D :
Smooth and Creamy
Putting the "Coconut" in Cream Pie
Most cocon u t cream pi es are no more than cocon u t- dusted van i l l a cream pi es. Others
use arti fi ci al favori ng and taste l i ke su ntan l oti on . We wan ted honest cocon ut favor.

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CREAM OF
COCON UT
COCON UT
M I LK
Shredded coconut is sol d both sweetened and unsweetened. For coconut cream pi e, we prefer the latter
because i t has more coconut flavor, better texture, and does not add more sweetness. Cream of coconut may
work in a pi ia col ada, but we found that i t gave our pi e fi l l i ng a sl i my texture. Coconut mi l k has a sol i d coconut
flavor and won' t harm the texture of the pi e as l ong as you cut i t wi th some whol e mi l k.
C O O K
'
S I L L U S T R A T E D
?4
Starch, however, is not the only thickener at
work in a cream pie. Eggs serve the purpose as
well, but to a lesser extent. Eggs' more important
fnction is to give the flg richness of favor and
texture. Fillings with whole eggs turned out to be
inferior; they were insubstantial in favor and had
a faintly gluey and pasty feel. Success lay in the
fat- and protein-rich yolks. A fve-yolk flling was
supremely lush and luxurious; six was too much
of a good thing (in a word, "eggy").
The flling, poured hot into the baked and
cooled pie shell, had only to chill before it met its
pouf of whipped cream. I decided on a generous
endowment of whipped cream, sweetened with
a little sugar and favored with a touch of vanilla.
Aer topping the pie, I dusted it with toasted
coconut shreds. At long last, I had made a coco
nut cream pie with good, honest favor, great
texture, and a crisp coconut-favored crust.
COCONUT CREAM P I E
MAksON 9 - | NC | , s kv| NG8 1 O| o
Light coconut milk lacks rich coconut favor, so
skip it in favor of regular coconut milk.
Crust
5 ounces ani mal crackers
2 tabl espoons unsweetened shredded coconut
tablespoon sugar
4 tabl espoons unsalted butter, mel ted and cool ed
Filling
I can (1 4 ounces)coconut mi l k
cup whole mi l k
1 h cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1h cup pl us I tablespoon sugar
teaspoon salt
5 large egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tabl espoons unsalted butter, cut i nto 2 pi eces
teaspoon vani l l a extract
Whipped Cream and Garnish
1 11 cups col d heavy cream
2 tabl espoons sugar
1h teaspoon vani l l a extract
tabl espoon unsweetened shredded coconut,
toasted i n smal l dry ski l l et unti l gol den brown
1 . FORT CR\S1Adjust oven rack to lower
mddle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. In
food processor, pulse animal crackers, coconut,
and sugar to fne crumbs, eighteen to twenty
1 -second pulses; then process untl powdery, about
5 seconds. Transfer crumbs to medum bowl and
add butter; stir to combine until crumbs are evenly
moistened. Empty crumbs into 9-inch glass pie
plate; using bottom of ramekin or l cup dry
measuring cup, press crumbs evenly into bottom
and up sides of pie plate. Bake until fagrant and
medium brown, about 1 5 minutes, rotating pie
shell haay through bakng time. Set on wire rack
and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
2. FOR 1M FLLNG Bring coconut milk,
whole milk, shredded coconut, / cup sugar,
and salt to simmer over medium-high heat, stir
ring occasionally to ensure that sugar dissolves.
Following illustrations 1 through 6, whisk yolks,
cornstarch, and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar
in medium bowl until thoroughly combined.
Whisking constantly, gradually ladle about 1 cup
hot milk mixture over yolk mixture; whisk well
to combine. Whisking constantly, gradually add
remaining milk mixture to yolk mixture in 3 or 4
additions; whisk well to combine. Return mixture
to saucepan and cook until thickened and mix
ture reaches boil, whisking constantly, about 1
minute; fg must boil in order to flly thicken.
(To determine whether flng has reached boil,
stop whisking; large bubbles should quickly burst
on surface. ) Off heat, whisk in butter and vanilla
until butter is fly incorporated. Pour hot flling
into cooled pie shell and smooth surface with
rubber spatula; press plastic wrap directly against
surface of fg and refrigerate until frm, at least
3 hours and up to 1 2 hours.
3. FOR 1M WO CRA Just before
serving, beat cream, sugar, and vanilla with elec
tric mixer until sof peaks form, 1 vz to 2 minutes.
Top pie with whipped cream (see tip on page
31 ) and then sprinkle with coconut. Cut pie into
wedges and serve.
LI ME - COCONUT C REAM P I E
Follow recipe for Coconut Cream Pie, adding
1 1/ teaspoons grated lime zest to flling along
with vanilla and butter in step 2.
BANANA- CARAME L COCONUT CREAM P I E
WI TH DARK RUM
This variation is a test kitchen favorite. You may be
lef wth V
3
cup or so of flling that Wnot ft into
the crust because of the caramel and banana.
1 . Follow recipe for Coconut Cream Pie
through step 1 to make crust; while crust cools,
bring l cup sugar and 3 tablespoons water to boil
over high heat in small heavy-bottomed saucepan.
Cook until dark amber, 5 to 8 minutes, occasion
ally swirling pan once sugar begins to color. Off
heat, add 3 tablespoons heavy cream (caramel
V bubble vigorously) and pinch salt; whisk to
combine. Whisk in 2 tablespoons unsalted butter.
Pour caramel into pie shell, tilting pie plate to coat
eveny; set aside to cool.
2. When caramel is cool, peel 2 slightly under
ripe medium bananas (5 to 6 ounces each); slice
each crosswise into 3/s -inch-thick rounds. Arrange
slices in single layer on top of caramel; set aside.
3. Continue with recipe from step 2, adding 2
teaspoons dark rum to flling along with vanilla
and butter in step 2.
S TE P - BY- STE P lAb1KY L KlAN 1 U 1
Pstr cream i s the fi l l i ng for most any cream pi e as wel l as many tarts and other desserts. Pstry cream i s not hard
to prepare, but i t does requi re attenti on to detai l .
I. After heati ng mi l k and most of
sugar, whi sk eg yol ks , cornstarch,
and remai ni ng sugar together.
4. Pour mixture back i nto saucepan
and cook, whi ski ng constantly, unti l
thi ckened.
2. Temper yol ks by grdual ly
pouri ng/l adl i ng hot mi l k mixture
over yolks whi l e whi ski ng constantly.
5 . Of heat, whi sk in vani l l a extrct
and butter unti l butter i s mel ted
and ful l y i ncorported.
M A Y c J U N E 211
Z '
3. Add remai ni ng hot mi l k to yol k
mixture i n J or 4 batches, whi sking
constantly unti l combi ned.
. Pour hot fi l l i ng i nto cool ed pi e
shel l and chi l l unti l frm.
Bringing Home the ( Best) Bacon
Does i t matter wh i ch brand of supermarket bacon you buy ? Absolutely. Should you pay
z'.percent more for premi um, gourmet bacons? We' l l l et you deci de.

ood enthusiasts and the medi


a
have
made a fracas lately over the fact that
retail bacon sales in America have risen
sharply, nearly 50 percent over the last
couple of years . In fact, in 2003, Americans
spent more than $2 billion on bacon, according
to Chicago market research frm Information
Resources. Unfortunately, much of the inedia
attention has been focused solely on expensive,
artisan-produced specialty bacon rather than on
the mass-produced brand
s
that most home cooks
buy at supermarkets and warehouse clubs. For us,
then, the questions w
e
re: How would 1 0 popular
national brands stack up in a side-by-side blind
tasting, and how would they compare with a half
dozen brands of expensive, premium bacon?
Bac on Prime r
We focused our tasting on the lowest common
denominator-plai n, r
e
gular-cut bacon-leav
ing aside center cut, thick and thin cut, favored,
specialt wood smoked, low salt, reduced fat, pre
cooked, and microwave-ready. We did, however,
include one nitrite-free "natural" sample because
it is popular at our local natural foods market.
^ bacon, with the exception of turkey- and
tof-based products, is made from pork belly.
One fresh belly can weigh fom 10 pounds to
25 pounds, though most fall between 12 and
18 pounds. The spare ribs are removed fom the
belly's interior, the skin is taken off the exterior,
and the remaining slab
I
s trimmed for frther
processing into bacon.
The next step is curing, which is generally
done in one of two ways . Many small producers
of artisan ( aka smokehouse or premium) bacon
choose to dry-cure by rubbing the slab with a dry
mixture of sqsonings ( which always includes salt
and sugar) . Large producers usually inject the
slabs with a liquid brine containing salt, sugar,
and sometimes liquid smoke for favor; sodium
phosphate for moisture retention during process
ing and cooking; sodium ascorbate or sodium
erythorbate to accelerate the curing process and
promote color retention; and a curing salt that
includes sodium nitrite to stave off bacteria and
set favor and color characteristics. Acyou still
hungry for supermarket bacon1 ) Once the cure
has been applied or injected, the slabs are hung.
If a dry cure has been applied, this process could
stretch up to one week. Curing with an i
n
j ected
BY E R I K A B R UCE AND ADA M R I ED
brine can be completed in a mere one to three
hours and so is quite cost-effcient.
The fnal step is thermal processing-which
can take as few as four to fve hours or as many as
24, depending on the processor. During thermal
processing, the cured pork bellies are smoked
and partially cooked to an internal temperature
of roughly 1 30 degrees Fahrenheit, afer which
they fnally merit the term bacon. The bacon is
chilled to approximately 24 degrees, pressed
to square it off for uniform slicing, sliced to
the processor's specifcations, and packaged. A
package of regular- cut bacon usually contains
between eighteen and twenty-two lt 6-inch-thick
slices per pound, whereas a package of thick -cut
bacon, sometimes called country style, contains
twelve to sixteen Y-inch- thick slices per pow1d.
Picking Fav o rites
One product, the nitrite- free Appl egate
Farms Sunday Bacon, took tasters by surprise.
Complaints arose about its unexpectedly pale
color and particularly mild favor, which led to
a rating of "not recommended. " A little knowl
edge of nitrites explains these characteristics.
Sodium nitrite helps fx the red shade of the meat
from its raw state by combining with the pigment
myoglobin. According to Jay Wenther, director
of science and technology for the American
Association of Meat Processors, nitrites also
contribute to bacon's characteristic cured favor.
"Nitrite- free bacon will both look and taste dif
ferent from traditional bacon," he said. It makes
sense, then, that Applegate Farms neither looked
nor tasted the way most tasters expected. Having
conducted hundreds of blind tastings over the
years, our test kitchen has found that most folks
prefer the familiar to the unfamiliar. Although
Applegate received positive ratings from a couple
of tasters, for most of us, nitrite- free bacon is
clearly an acquired taste.
Tasters liked the nine other brands well
enough to recommend tlem all . ( Bad bacon is
sometling of an oxymoron. ) The highes
t
rated
product among them was Farmland, which
tasters picked out as particularly meaty, H fla
vored, and smoky. Furthermore, neither of the
two other proninent favors in this top- rated
bacon-salt and sweet-dominated, and tasters
appreciated the balance.
We wondered why our tasters rated Farmland
C O O K
'
S I L L U S T R A T E D
Z
as the meatiest bacon in the pack ( Oscar Mayer
was rated as the Icastcap Ourcadrcof experts
pointed out that because pork bellies are a natural
product, there is no way to guarantee a perfectly
consistent ratio of meat to fat from pound to
pound to pound of bacon. A simple check of
many packages of the same brands of bacon con
frmed that fact--differences were obvious.
To get an accurate measure of the relative
meatiness of our winning brand, Farmland,
and to see how it stacked up against the least
meaty brand in the group, Oscar Mayer, we
sent both samples to our local food laboratory.
The lab ground 3 pounds of each brand and
then analyzed them for protein (lean) , fat, and
moisture. Sure enough, the lab confrmed our
tasters' observations. Farmland had 1 5 percent
more protein and almost 1 7 percent less fat than
Oscar Mayer.
Smoky favor, which is a defning character
istic of bacon, was another important factor in
Farmland's success. Tasters appreciated assertive
smoke, and Farmland was ranked the smokiest
sample of all, scoring an 8 on the smokiness scale
of 1 to 1 0. Processors can give bacon smoky fa
vor in one ( or both) of two ways: adding liquid
smoke favoring to the liquid brine or applying
real smoke during thermal processing ( the ther
mal processing "unit" is also sometimes referred
to as the smokehouse) . Farmland uses the "real
smoke"
.
method.
Bringing H ome the Bacon
What did we learn fom this tasting? First, bacon,
like wine, is an agricultural product and there
fore subject to variation from hog to hog and
from cut to cut. Would we tally exactly the same
results six months from now if we tested the
same brands? The only way to fnd out would be
to conduct a follow- up tasting-which we'll do
next year and report our fndings. Second, the
ratio of protein to fat as well as the smokiness
factor are key to success. Farmland scored well
in both categories
.
Finally, a good balance of salt
and sugar is important. Texture, however, is a
matter that is largely under the control of the
home cook and therefore hard to j udge based on
brand. If you think you'll be happy with a good
mass-market bacon, piCk Farmland. If you prefer
preniu, m bacon, as we did overall, read "Tasting
Premium Bacons" on page 27.
>
I
2

z
O
D
D
I
2
TASTI NG SUPERMARKET BACONS
Twent-four tasters sampl ed I 0 di ffe rent nati onal ly avai l abl e s upermarket bacons .
l abel ed " regul ar sl i ced" and " hardwood s moked" or " hi ckory smoked. " The bacon
was oven- fri ed per Cook`s reci pe to the same degree of donen ess ( based o n
the browni ng o f the meat) . (To get o u r oven -fri ed bacon reci pe on l i n e, vi si t
w . cooksi l l ustrated. com and go to Cook' s Exra, then key i n code 3047.
The reci pe wi l l be avai l abl e u nti l J un e 1 5 . 2004. ) Di fferent tasters tri ed sampl es
i n di fferen t orders to el i mi n ate the effects of pal ate fati gue . and one sampl e was
repeated twi ce as a control . Tasters rated the bacon on a I 0- poi nt scal e and j udged
sal ti ness, sweetness. smoki n ess. and meati ness. Bacons a re l i sted i n order of pref
erence based on overal l n umeri cal score .
RECOMME NDE D
FARMLAND Hi ckor Smoked Bacon
$ 3. 99/pound
Thi s "ver meat. " "ful l -favored" bacon l ed the pack. Tasters gave
high marks for its favorabl e bal ance of sal ti ness and sweetness.
"good smoke favor," and "crispy yet heart" texture.
BOAR' S HEAD Brand Naturally Smoked Sl iced Bacon
$ 3 . 99/pound
Both flavor and texture were repeatedly descri bed as "meat. "
Tasters appreci ated the "good bal ance" of flavors a n d the thi ck
sl i ces. whi ch some cl ai med were "more l i ke ham than bacon. "
HORM E L Black Lbel Bacon, Original
$ 2. 99/pound
Comments focused l arel y on the " heart. bal anced favor, " wi th
a meati ness (second only to Farml and) that some l i kened to
Serrno ham and prosci utto. A coupl e of tasters noted "sweet, "
"mapl el i ke" flavors.
ARM OU R Original Premi um Bacon, Hi ckor Smoked
$ 3 . 99/pound
For many. "too much sweetness" overshadowed what some
characterized as a "ni ce smok flavor." An especi al ly low sal t score.
whi ch may expl ai n comments such as "qui te bl and. "
SMI TH FI E LD Premi um Bacon, Naturally Hi ckory Smoked
$ 3 . 99/pound
Whi l e many tasters appreci ated the smoki ness of th i s sampl e,
some obj ected to i t, wi th comments s uch as "chemi cal , " "fake
smoke flavor," and " l i ke eati ng a campfi re. "
OSCAR MAYER Naturally Hardwood Smoked Bacon
$4. 99/pound
Nearly as expensive as some premi um bacons. yet sl i ces were con
si dered so thi n that they "di si ntegrte on your tongue. " Di d fi nd
fans for i ts "good salti ness" and "ni ce ful l favor," but others found
i t l acki ng i n meati ness. yawni ng, "pl ai n jane. "
J OHN MORRELL Hardwood Smoked Bacon
$ 3 . 99/pound
Ti pped the scal es i n percei ved fat and consi dered not terri bly
meat. Many taster noted a favorbl e bal ance of sal t and sugar. but
others fel t i t was "too ri ch , " "greasy," and "fatt. "
"
'' " "61 o' '
V
. . .. .
'

.


)



PLUM ROSE Premi um Bacon, Ol d-Fashi oned Hardwood Smoked
$ 3 . 99/pound
Accordi ng to the l abel , thi s bacon had l ess sugar than most others.
Salt fanci ers thought i t had "great favor. " but others found i t "too
salt. " The sl ices were al so too thin for many tasters.
J ON ES Countr Cared, Hickor Smoked Sl i ced Bacon
$4. 49/pound
What some tasters consi dered " bal anced" and "ver mi l d" struck
others as bl and, wi th comments such as "not ver assertive. " Thi n
sl i ces cooked up "ver cri spy" to some and "dr" to others.
N OT RE CO M M E N D E D
APPLEGATE FARMS Applewood Smoked Sunday Bacon
$ 2. 99/8 ounces
The only bacon i n the tasti ngwi thout ni trites, Appl egate' s
"gray-green" col or set i t back. Tough thi s " mi l d, " "meat"
bacon did "taste l i ke pork, " the favor coul dn' t compen
sate for the " muddy" col or and " heavy smoke. "
Tasti ng Premi um Bacons
Uke cheese and chocol ate, bacon i s avai l abl e i n gourmet vari eti es. To fi nd out i f such
bacon real ly tastes better than our supermarket favorite, Farml and, we cooked up six
popul ar smokehouse brands. Al though ever premi um bacon outscored Farml and, i n
some cases the diferences i n scores were mi ni mal . Severl premi um bacons had strong
flavor characteri sti cs, erri ng on the si de of sal t or smok or sweet. whi ch overhel med
tasters who were l ooki ng for meat flavor and bal ance, j ust as they had wi th the super
market brands. That sai d , the top fi ni sher. Ni man Rnch , was a hands-down wi nner over
Farml and. So premi um bacons are better than the best supermarket bacon. But they're
also much more expensi ve-up to 250 percent more-so shop careful ly to match the
character of the bacon wi th your preferences. - E. B. and AR.
H I G H LY RE CO M M E ND E D
N I MAN RANCH DrCured Center Cut Bacon,
OA K LA N D , CA L I F .
$ 8. 00/ 1 2 ounces
Heart, ri ch, bal anced, and smok. One taster sai d,
"Yu m . . . what bacon s houl d be. "
RE CO M M E N D E D
N EW BRAUN F E LS Smokehouse Co mal Countr-Smoked Sl iced Bacon,
N E W B RA U N F E L S , T E XAS
$ 8. 2 5/pound
Deemed overly smok by many tasters, though one sai d, " Has al l the right el ements.
I coul d eat a l ot of this one. "
B URG E RS ' Smokehouse Sl iced Country Bacon, Sugar Cured &Hi ckor
Smoked, C AL l F O R N l A , L .
$ 1 8. 95/2 pounds
Characterized by many as too sal t and l acki ng i n deep meat favor.
NODI NE ' S Smokehouse Apple Bacon, TO R R I N GT O N , C O N N .
$ 5 . 50/pound
Over and over, tasters commented on i ts sweetness, usi ng adjectives such as "cara
mel ized, " "candy-sweet, " and "mapl ey."
N U ES KE ' S Smoked Bacon, WITT E N B E R G , WI S .
$ 1 9. 95/2 pounds
Nearly ever taster zeroed i n on its strong smok character, wi th comments such as
"whoa, smokl " "crazy- smok, " "carbon- l i ke," and "tastes l i ke a campfire. "
E DWARDS Virgi ni a Bacon, Hickor-Smoked, Countr Stl e, Dr Cured,
S U R RY, VA .
$ 4. 00/ 1 2 ounces
"Too sal t. " "way sal t, " "very sal t, " "overpoweri ng sal t, " "sal t l i ke Rufles potato
chi ps. " Get the pi cture?
M A Y c J U N E 211
? /
Grinding Spices at Home
I s it worth the trou ble? Yes. And it' s no trouble at all you choose the right gri nder.
A
few years ago, I spent some time
on the championship chili cookoff
circuit, where most competitors sum
marily dismiss packaged chili powder
in favor of grinding their own dried chiles. I tested
the matter thoroughly and found that grinding
fesh, toasted chiles does indeed give chili con
carne a noticeable depth and complexity of favor.
Having little doubt that fesh-ground spices also
improve other dishes, I recently conducted two
tests to prove my point . I baked plain pound
cakes favored with cardamom and simmered
savory chutneys favored with cumin, coriander,
and cardamom, blind- tasting samples prepared
with freshly ground and preground supermarket
spices side by side. The fresh-ground spices won a
decisive victory for their superior aroma, vibrancy,
and roundness of favor.
The test kitchen standard for grinding spices is
an inexpensive blade-type electric coffee grinder
(which we use for spices only, reserving a separate
unit to grind coffee) , but we had never put it up
against other devices designed specifcally for tl1e
task. Could we be missing out on something? To
determine the answer to that question, I gath
ered 1 3 devices in three basic designs-dedicated
spice grinders that are sinlliar to pepper mills, old
fashioned mortars and pestles ( and variations) ,
and electric coffee grinders ( choosing the models
recommended in our November/December
2001 rating)-and used them to reduce moun
tains of cardamom seeds, toasted whole cumin
and coriander seeds, and chipotle chiles to fi ne
powders . I was looking for a grinder that would
produce the most delicate, uniform powder and
that was easy to botl1 use and clean.
G rinding Th ree Ways
First up were the dedica

ed spice grinders. Like


pepper mills, tl1ey are torsion-operated, mean
ing that you twist one part of tl1e device ( a glass
or plastic j ar loaded with spices) while holding
a second part steady (a grinder housing screwed
to the jar) . The grinding mechanism consists of
a rotating, grooved "male" head that fts into a
stationary, grooved "female" ring. Wider grooves
where the two meet break the seeds and feed the
pieces down into fner grooves tl1at grind tl1em.
Many manufacturers tout grinding mecha
nisms made of ceramic, which is said to be
superhard and corrosion-resistant. Despite these
alleged advantages, I found that these models
clogged easily with spice residue, essentially
BY A D A M R I E D E
stopping the output of ground spices. The same
was true for steel mechanisms. To keep things
moving, I found myself repeatedly dismantling
the units to clear their grooves with the fne tip of
a bamboo skewer. This routine got very irritating
very fast.
That, added to the exhausting, frustrating,
endless twisting required to wrest ground spices
from these units, made testing six of them con
secutively seem like an act of masochism. Not
that I couldn't use a little extra exercise, but who
wants a grueling upper body workout when try
ing to grind a teaspoon of cumin?
It would be a different story if tl1eir output was
strong and consistent, but I found tl1at even tl1e
best of them, tl1e Genius and the Emsa, fequently
became clogged, especially when grinding oily
spices. On the whole, I'd skip torsion-operated
grinders altogetl1er.
Next up were three versions of the age- old
mortar and pestle, including a Japanese suribachi
with a textured grinding surface to help break
down the contents. As a group, these were no
more effective tlun tl1e torsion-operated grind
ers. To me, the action required to work a mortar
and pestle was less stressfl tlun tl1e repetitive
motion required to work tle torsion- operated
grinders, but it was still too much effort consid
ering tl1e disappointing piles of bruised, mangled
seeds tl1at I produced.
Last up were the electric coffee grinders, which
were, in short, like breatl1s of fresh air. The only
physical exertion required to use them was press
ing a button. No stress, strain, or sore forearms,
and tl1ey produced consistently good results on
all of the test spices. And it only got better: The
coffee grinders were easy to brush or wipe clean
(j ust mind the blade! ) , easy to control for texture
of grind, and no more expensive than the manual
grinders and mortars and pestles.
The Spi n on Cofee Grinders
So the coffee grinders reigned supreme . End
of story, right? Not so fast. We ground on to
compare the four models' performance grind
ing spices in three amow1ts : small I teaspoon) ,
medium ( 1 tablespoon) , and large ( l4 cup) .
I n contrast witl1 the manual grinders' tales of
woe, tl1e four blade-type electric grinders-by
Capresso, Krups, Mr. Coffee, and Braun
whizzed tough tl1e tests with fying colors, pro
ducing fne powders from each amount of each
spice. Along the way, though, I noted that I had
C O O K
'
S I L L U S T R A T E D
Z d
to grind for a Hminute or more (i n short bursts,
and shaking the grinder occasionally to even out
the grind) to achieve a suffciently fne particle
size. Only the lone burr mill, which worked like
a motorized pepper grinder, failed to grind the
spices fely enough, even when adjusted to its
fnest setting. ( I therefore omitted it from the
chart on page 29. )
The lengthy grinding time required by the
blade grinders was a concern, though. When I
tested these grinders with coffee beans back in
2001 , coffee industry experts reported that the
blades, which spin at 14, 000 to 20,000 RM,
can overheat the coffee as it's ground, degrading
its favor. Although tasters were unable to detect
any deterioration in the coffee' s favor as a result,
it takes more time to grind spices than it does
to grind coffee beans, so I was worried-even
though many cooks gently toast spices to bring
out their flavor. Donna Tainter, director of qual
ity, research, and development for Tone Brothers
Spices in Ankeny, Iowa, explained that as with
coffee, too much heat will evaporate, or "fash
off, " the volatile oils that give spices their favor.
"For large commercial grinders, which grind
thousands of pounds of spices per Jot," she said,
"accumulated heat from the grinders can cause a
signifcant threat to favor. " Commercial grind
ers, however, have processes to limit heat buildup
during grinding ( for instance, Tone' s cools some
spices with liquid nitrogen in a process called
cryogenic grinding) . Would overheating from
tl1e spinning blade of an electric grinder pose a
problem for home cooks?
To fnd out, I returned to the cardamom cake
and chutney, this time making one batch of each
with whole spices that I ground manually in a
torsion- operated grinder and another batch with
whole spices ground in an electric coffee grinder.
There were very subtle differences, but botl1 tpes
of grinder produced cake and chutney superior to
those made with commercially ground spices.
concluded tl1at tl1ere's no need to worry about
overheating spices in an electric grinder.
While complex or ethnic dishes such as chills,
curries, and barbecues are natural candidates for
fresh-ground spices, simple savories and sweets
also beneft from tl1e extra measure of favor pro
vided when you toast and grind your own fresh,
whole spices. And there' s no need to pump up
your biceps along the way, provided you bypass
the manual grinders and stick to an electric coffee
grinder. In my book, it's the only way to go.
K/1I| :I|I |KIIK:
We tested | J devices,
i ncl udi ng dedi cated
spice gri nders, mortars
and pestl es, and bl ade
tpe cofee gri nders-al l
referred to as _rtnd:r:
from here on. We fi ne-
Mb
GOOD: ***
r.
FAI R: **
POOR: *
ground whol e spi ces of vari ng
hardness. densi t, shape, and oi l
content-cumi n, cori ander, car
damom, and chi potl e chi l es (tom
i nto rough 11- i nch pi eces) -i n
each and evaluated them accord-
ing to the fol l owi ng criteria.
Gri nders are grouped by tpe
and l i sted i n order of preference
withi n thei r tpe.
PRI CE:
Prices pai d i n Boston-area stores,
nati onal mai l - order catal ogs, and
on the Web.
EAE OF USE:
Ti s rting was rlative. Al of
the electric cofee gri nder were
equal ly-and very-eas to use.
Whi l e none of the torsi on
operted gri nder were a joy to
use, some were much more l abori
ous than other. On the whol e,
however, neither tori on-operted
manual gri nders nor mortars and
pestles were nearly as easy to use
as the el ectric gri nders, and the
ratings refect that fact.
QUAUTY OF FI NE GRI ND:
Our most i mportant test, based
on the composi te of perfor
mance scores earned for fi ne
gri ndi ng each of the test spi ces
(i n amounts of I tabl espoon
for torsi on gri nders and mortars
and pestl es and amounts of I
teaspoon , I tabl espoon, and
' cup for el ectric cofee gri nd
ers) . We preferred gri nders that
produced the highest percentage
of uniformly powdery parti cl es
fi ne enough to pass through
a 40-mesh l aborator screen ,
but we di d not necessarily mark
down a gri nder when only a smal l
percentage of parti cl es was left i n
the screen. If, on vi sual and tac
ti l e i nspecti on, the fi ne-ground
spi ces were j udged excepti onal ly
coarse or uneven, the gri nder
was marked down .
TESERS' COMMENT:
Addi ti onal observati ons about
the devices' desi gn , use, cl eani ng,
or performance i n speci fc tests.
K R UPS B RAU N
LLLPPL ML . LLLL L LL L L MLb
Krups Fst-Touch Coffee Mi l l , Modei 203
PR| CE : S | 9. 95
Brun Aromati c Coffee Gri nder, Model KSM 2B
PR| CE . S | 4. 99
Mr. Cofee Cofee Gri nder. Modei i Dsss
PR| CE . S | 4. 99
Capresso Cool Gri nd
PR| CE . S| 9. 99
G E N I U S E MSA
EAS E OF US E .
F | NE G R| ND.
EAS E OF US E .
F | NE G R| ND.
EAS E OF US E .
F | NE GR| ND .
EASE OF US E .
F | NE G R| ND .
`
WM F
M R. COF F E E CAPRE S S O

TESTE RS ' COMME NTS


Exceptionally fine grind of all spices. leaving very l i ttle in lab screen. Even
material lef in lab screen was fine enough to use.
Fine and even grind in small and medi um amounts. Aso did impressive
job gri ndi ng lare amount of each spice.
Al-around good perforer that required bit of extr grinding to break
down small amount of chi potle. Especially good value.
Required bit of t grinding time to fully process lare amounts of
cumi n and coriander.
OXO S P I CE WI LLI AM
r-S S E NTI ALS--O U N DS
ML LLLPPL ML . Lb LM~ LL L PMLL ML b
Geni us Spi ce Gri nder Set (with four glassiars) EASE OF US E .
P R| CE . S 34. 99 F | NE G R| ND .
Em 5 Wurmuhl e Spi ce Mi l l with Ceramic Grinders EAS E OF US E .
PR| CE . S| 8. 50 F | NE GR| ND.
WMF Gewurmuhl e Cerami I I Glass Spice Mi l l EASE OF US E .
PR| CE . S20. 00 F | NE G R| ND.
Oxo Gri nd I t Spi ce Gri nder EASE OF US E .
PR| CE . S | 4. 99 F| NE GR| ND .
Spi ce Essenti al s Gri nder with Ceramic Mechanism EASE OF US E .
PR| CE . S 27. 9 5 F | NE G R| ND.
Wi l l i am Bounds Spi ce Mi l l EAS E OF US E .
PR| CE . S | 4. 95 F | NE GR| ND .

Did better job than all other grinder of its ki nd, but output wslow
compared with that of electric grinder. Relatively comfortable grip.
One of few grinders of its tpe that processed chi l es. al bei t slowly.
Tester with lare hands found this narrow model uncomforable.
Relatively easy to open, fi ll , and twist. Good job on cardamom but
choked on chiles.
Good grind qual i t, but too eas to accidentally pop grinder housing of
jar while grinding, which sent seeds fying i n ever direction.
Chiles brught it to a gri ndi ng halt. Though not dificult to dismantle.
cleaning was a chore.
Crnk so hard to tum that tester feared onset of carpal tunnel
sndrome and tenni s elbow' Output wmeager.
M ORTAR & PE STLE S U R I BACH I CREATI VE H OM E
ML LLLPPL ML . PLb M LbLLb
Morar &Pestl e, Marbl e
PR| CE . S8. 99
Suri bachi
PR| CE . S| 6.00
Creative Home Marbl e Spi ce Gri nder
PR| CE . S | | . 99
EAS E OF US E .
F | NE G R| ND.
EAS E OF US E .
F | NE GR| ND .
EAS E OF US E .
F | NE GR| ND.
M A Y c J U N E 211
? '

Good job on cardamom and chiles but did not produce stisfactory
grind of cumi n or coriander, even after working them for 30 mi nutes.
Holy flying cardamom' And cumi n' Broke down chiles completely but
w not successful with cumi n. coriander. or cardamom.
Holy hand strin ! Stubby pestle wuncomfortabl e, especially since you
must bear down with considerble pressure to grind anything.
K I TC HEN NOTES
B Y B RIDG ET LANCAST E R <
Keepi ng Your Cool
Have you checked your freezer' s
temperature lately? Maybe you
should. When we asked staff
members to test our fruit sherbet
recipes (page 23) at home, several
had trouble getting sherbets to frm
up, even afer hours of extra freez
ing time. Suspecting that "warm"
freezers were to blame, we sent 1 0
staffers home with freezer ther
mometers ( see page 32) .
According t o food safety stan
dards, a freezer should register
0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
Although about two-thirds of the
freezers we tested hit this mark,
a few tested as high as 7 and 1 0
degrees . ( Freezer compartments
located side by side with the refrig
erator compartment were colder
than those located above or below
the refrigerator compartment . ) A
temperature of 1 0 degrees is warm
enough to affect the sherbet recipe
and quite possibly warm enough
to affect the safety and quality of
CUCi!CCOS.
!flowering the freezer thermostat
( which should always be set to the
lowest temperature) doesn' t bring
the temperature closer to zero, does
that mean it' s time to retire old
frosty to the junkyard? Not neces
sarily. Working with our warmest
freezer ( the top unit of a small, not
so-new refigerator) , we found a few
ways to cool things down.
We found that reducing the num
ber of items stored there helped to
lower the temperature . Shelves also
help. Many freezer compartments
located on the top of the refrig
erator don't have shelves. If food
packages are stacked one on top of
the other, there's little chance for
the cold air to circulate and ensure
a thorough freeze. We found that
inexpensive wire cabinet shelving
placed in the freezer made it pos
sible for us to keep our foods sepa
rate, easily i dentifable, and well
frozen. Finally, it's very important
to keep foods away from the vent
in the back wall of the freezer; this
allows the cold air to circulate more
effciently. With all of these tricks,
our once- faulty freezer cooled
down to a perfectly cold 1 degree.
Now tl1at's cool .
Freezi ng Cheese Bread
Although the recipe title Quick
Cheese Bread ( see page 7) is no
misnomer ( the batter is i n the
pan in 1 5 minutes) , when you add
time for baking and cooling, the
recipe does require a total of two
hours . Luckily, like many of our
other bread recipes , a baked loaf
of cheese bread freezes beautifly,
meaning a warm loaf need be only
minutes away.
To freeze the bread, wrap the
cooled loaf tightly with a double
layer of aluminum foil and place
in the freezer; it will keep for up to
tluee months. When you're ready
to serve the bread, place the frozen,
wrapped loaf on the middle rack
of a preheated 375- degree oven
and heat for eight to 1 0 minutes,
until the loaf yields under gentle
pressure. Remove the foil and return
the unwrapped bread to the oven
for fve minutes to crisp the exterior.
Take tl1e bread out of the oven and
let cool on a rack for 1 5 minutes to
make slicing easier. Enjoy.
PTi p for the Toppi ng
When it comes to cream pi e top
pings, some border on architectural
masterpieces, while others ( more
frequently) look like the whipped
cream was applied by a small dump
truck. In the test kitchen, we've
Use the tip of an i ci ng spatul a to create
an attractive whi pped cream toppi ng
for pi es.
M W 1M 1M 1 1 N 1LM W A Better Butter?
Several new butter products have shown up at the supermarket recently, and
to, in parti cul ar, both from Lnd C Lkes, got our attenti on. The first i s Lnd C
Lkes Ul tr Creamy Butter. With a butterfat content of nearly
having to wai t for i t to soften , but i t produced cooki es and cakes wi th a di sti nctly
greasy feel . I n addi ti on, the cooki es made wi th the Sof Baki ng Butter spread more i n
the oven than di d the cooki es made wi th the other butters.
dJ percent ( up from 80 percent i n the company' s " regul ar"
butter) and a pri ce tag of $2. 89 for 8 ounces (more than twi ce
the pri ce of the regul ar butter) , thi s product i s. desi gned to com
pete with bouti que butters such a s Pl ugra and Cel l es Sur Bel l e.
The second product of i nterest i s Land C Lakes Soft Baki ng
Butter with Canol a Oi l . The name says i t al l . Land C Lakes has
added canol a oi l to thi s butter to bri ng i t to a soft, baki ng- ready
texture strai ght from the fridge-a possi bl e boon to spur- of- the-
moment bakers.
To test these new products, we used them, al ong wi th regul ar
Lnd C Lkes Unsal ted Sweet Butter, i n three appl i cati ons: sugar
cooki es, yel l ow cake, and buttercream frosti ng. We al so tasted
the butters pl ai n . It shoul d be noted that the Soft Baki ng Butter
wi th Canol a Oi l comes only i n a sal ted versi on. We chose the
unsal ted versi ons of the other two butters because unsal ted i s
the standard i n the test ki tchen . We adj usted sal t l evel s i n the
reci pes as necessary.
When it came to the sugar cooki es and the yel l ow cake, we
U LTRA CREAMY B UTTE R
The extra fat i s ofen worth
the extra money.
S OFT BAK I NG BUTTE R:
Addi ng canol a oi l to butter i s
not a good i dea.
A for the buttercream test, the Ul tra Creamy Butter was the
cl ear wi nner, maki ng for frosti ng that was i ncredi bly fl uff and ri ch
tasti ng at the same ti me. The regul ar butter made a very good
buttercream with a straightforward sweet and buttery taste, but
i t was not nearly as decadent. Tasters found the buttercream
made with Soft Baki ng Butter to be "sl i ck" and "sl i ppery, " and
descri bed the flavor as " fake. "
Last, but certai nly not l east, a good butter shoul d taste great
right out of the box. Here the i ncredi bl y buttery and sweet Ul tra
Creamy Butter easi l y ascended to the top sl ot. Not far behi nd
was the regul ar butter. Al though more muted i n favor, i t sti l l i s
a great choi ce for butteri ng toast. Unsurpri si ngly, the soft baki ng
butter came i n dead l ast. The pure flavor of the butter was gone,
repl aced by an overtone of "margari ne. "
I f you pl an to use your butter strai ght up or i n a reci pe where
its ri chness and flavor wi l l be noti ceabl e (such as in buttercream
frosti ng) , you may want to pay for the premi um product from
were hard- pressed to tel l the difference between the Ul tra Creamy Butter and the
regul ar butter. The butter with canol a oi l , on the other hand, was a worl d apart.
Sure, i t was easy to pul l thi s " butter" ri ght from the fri dge and cream i t wi thout
Lnd C Lakes. But when i t comes to baki ng and reci pes where
the flavor of the butter wi l l be di l uted, there' s no need to shel l out the extra dough
regul ar butter works j ust fi ne. for canol a oi l -l et' s l eave i t out of the butter and
keep i t i n the saute pan , where i t bel ongs.
C O O K
'
s I L L U S T R A T E D

U
"
u
<
z
>
11 B 1LM W 1 Managi ng Your Cutti ng Boards
From Oven- Barbecued Chi cken (page I 0) t o chi cken sti r-fri es ( page 20) , we
cut up a l ot of poul try i n devel opi ng the reci pes for thi s i ss ue. And wi th the
preparati on of chi cken (or any meat, for that matter) comes the i ssue of cross
contami nati on and how to avoi d i t.
I n addi ti on to washi ng and regul arly sani ti zi ng cutti ng boards, the test
kitchen mi ni mizes the ri sk of cross- contami nati on by means of a desi gnated
use system. We reserve whi te boards for preparati on of al l raw meat, poul try,
and seafood and bl ue boards for frui ts, vegetabl es, and i ngredi ents l i ke n uts
and chocol ate . And , to keep odori ferous i ngredi ents such as garl i c, oni ons,
and shal l ots from "contami nati ng" other foods wi th thei r odors, we reserve a
green board for the m. Nowadays, many ki tchen s upply stores carry acryl i c cut
ti ng boards i n many col ors (see Resou rces, page 3 2 ) , maki ng i t easy to set u p a
designated- use system of you r own. To keep boards as cl ean as poss i bl e, make
sure to buy a si ze that wi l l fit in you r d i shwasher.
RAW MEAT: PRODU C E : STI N KY STU F F :
WH I TE BOARD BLU E BOARD G RE E N BOARD
seen them all . Hundreds of cream
pies later, we can recommend a
simple way to present a handsome
cream pie-one that doesn't look
like it was made by an overeager
4-year-old.
Here' s how: Use a large rubber
spatula or spoon to mound the
whipped cream in the center of the
pie. Then, using an offset spatula,
spread the whipped cream to the
very edges of the pie, thereby cre
ating a tal l , evenly sloped mound
of cream. Finally, use the tip of a
metal offset spatula to gently create
swirls and peaks .
Do Water and Rice Mix?
The question of whether rice
should be soaked prior to cook
ing is often up for debate in our
test kitchen. During the testing
of our brown rice recipe ( page
JZ), we decided to put this one
to rest-once and for all . Some
recipes call for soaking brown rice
for three hours, so that's j ust what
we did. We pitted the soaked rice
against rice that was not soaked,
NO S OAKI NG , PLEAS E
We tri ed soaki ng brown ri ce
before cooki ng i t and were
not happy wi th the results
(right) . Soaki ng makes
both white ri ce and brown
rice bl oated and mushy.
usi ng both to make our reci pe,
slightly reducing the water i n tl1e
recipe for the soaked batch. What
did we fnd? To be frank, soaking
was a waste of time. The rice was
overcooked, and tle grains tended
to "blow out . "
This result l ed us t o test the wis
dom of soaking other types of rice.
And when we cooked up batches
of long- grain white rice and bas
mati rice that had been soaked, we
produced nearly identical results :
bloated, overly tender rice.
Does that mean that there' s no
place for water in the world of rice
preparati on? Not necessarily. We
found tl1at tl1e extra step of rinsing
long- grain white or basmati rice in
several changes of water was indis
pensable for a pilaf with distinct,
separate grai ns . Ri nsi ng washes
away starches on these grains and
doesn' t cause the problems associ
ated with soaki ng. What about rins
ing brown rice? Our tests showed
no beneft ( or harm) . Because
the bran is still intact, brown rice
doesn' t have starch on
its exterior. So
rinsing doesn' t
a c c o mp l i s h
anythi ng
except for
wa s t i n g
time and
water.
RE C I P E U P DATE HLPOLH5 HL5MO
LC0CuLu|C
We're prone to addi ng a hi t of fresh aci d, such as citrus or vi negar, toward the end
of the cooki ng process to brighten up a di sh' s favor, and severl readers wondered
why we di dn' t fol l ow this prctice for the l emon curd toppi ng on our Lmon
Cheesecake (May/J une 2003) .
we l earned when we made three batches of l emon curd wi th vari ous com
bi nati ons of l emon j ui ce, addi ng an aci d to brighten the flavor of a sauce for roast
chi cken i s a lot si mpl er than addi ng it to a custard. The origi nal reci pe starts by
heati ng 's cup of fresh l emon j ui ce wi th the eggs and sugar. Thi s curd was pl eas
i ngly citrusy and had a si l k consi stency. For the second curd, we subtracted I
tabl espoon of j ui ce from the i ni ti al 's cup and added i t at the end of cooki ng.
Thi s curd was gri ny and overl y thi ck. The third curd, to whi ch we added an extr
tabl espoon of l emon j ui ce at the end of the cooki ng, had the brightest flavor of
the three but was unacceptably thi n.
For the best bal ance of flavor and texture, l emon curd needs enough aci d (or
l emon j ui ce) up front to hel p set the protei n gel . Addi ng more acid once the curd
i s cooked makes the curd runny.
|C| dSSCSLCCk| CS
I f i t hadn' t happened t o us i n the test kitchen, we woul dn' t have bel ieved i t when
some readers reported that our Molasses Cookies (Januar /februar 2002)
resisted spreadi ng i n the oven and were overly thi ck and dense. We revisited this
reci pe and came up with a few ti ps that wi l l hel p to ensure perfect resul ts.
The first may seem obvi ous, but i t' s worth stati ng: Use of the wrong leavener
baking powder i nstead of baking soda-wi l l produce mounded, rockl i ke cookies
that resist spreadi ng.
I t' s al so i mportant to make sure that
your butter i s at the proper temper
ture for creami ng (65 to 67 degrees)
and that you cream the butter and
sugars for a ful l three mi nutes i n an
el ectric mixer at medi um- hi gh speed.
When done properly, creami ng creates
air pockets that wi l l hel p the cookies
expand i n the oven. I f you undercream,
the cookies wi l l be thi cker and cakier.
Fi nal ly, l eavi ng j ust a tbl espoon or
two of sti ck mol asses behi nd i n the
MAD E WI TH BAKI N G POWD E R
Cookie is too thick and dense.
MAD E WI TH BAKI N G S ODA
Cookie is chew, pufed, and
lined with attractive fissures.
measuring cup wi l l resul t in a dr dough that won' t spread properly. Measure the
mol asses on a scale '/: cup in a l i qui d measure shoul d weigh 6 ounces) and scrpe
out the contai ner thoroughly with a spatul a.
LCW |dI|dSI|yL|Cd0
Can you make low-fat pastr cream? The answer became ver cl ear when we made
three versi ons of the pastr cream from our reci pe for Classic Fresh Fruit Tar
(July/August 2001 ) . We compared the ori gi nal reci pe (made wi th hal f-and
half) wi th a second versi on made wi th whol e mi l k and a thi rd made wi th fat-free
hal f-and- hal f (nonfat mi l k wi th i ngredi ents such as corn syrup and carrageenan
added to give i t body) .
We l i ked the versi on made wi th whol e mi l k al most as much as the origi nal . The
ori gi nal was ri cher, with a more l uxuri ous texture, but the di ference was subtl e.
The pastry cream made wi th fat-free hal f-and- half, however, was terri bl e. I ts l ean
flavor and water texture were a far cr from both the whol e mi l k and regular
hal f- and- hal f versi ons. I f you need a substi tute for hal f- and- half, reach for whol e
mi l k-some fat i s better than no fat at al l . -Compi l ed by Ni na West
IF YOU HAVE A QUESTI ON about a recently publ i shed reci pe, let us know.
Send your i nquiry, name, address, and dayti me tel ephone number to Reci pe
Update, Cook' s I l l ustrated, P. O. Box 470589, Brookl i ne, MA 02447, or to
reci peupdate@bcpress. com.
M A Y c ) L " | 2 11

R E S OURC E S
Most of the i ngredi ents and materi al s necessary for
the reci pes in thi s i ssue are avai l abl e at your l ocal super
market, gou rmet store, or ki tchen suppl y shop. The
fol l owi ng are mai l - order sources for parti cul ar i tems.
Pri ces l i sted bel ow were current at press ti me and do
not i ncl ude shi ppi ng or handl i ng unl ess otherwi se i ndi
cated. We sugest that you contact compani es di rectl y
to confi rm up- to- date pri ces and avai l abi l i t.
CHEESE GRERS
Of the eight models we tested ( see page 7) we can
recommend only two. The Pedrini Rotary Grater
did not clog when loaded wit cheese and comes
with three interchangeable drums. It is available
from Tabl eTool s. com ( 85 Furniture Row, Mi lford,
C 06460; 888- 2 1 1 - 6603 ; w . tabl etool s.com)
for $ 14. 95, item #29072 . We also liked the
KitchenAid Rotary Grater, item #91 3996 from
Kitchen Etc ( 3 2 1 ndustri al Drive, Exeter, NH 03 83 3 ;
800- 23 2-4070; w . kitchenetc.com) . It is avail
able in a wide range of colors and costs $1 9. 99.
This grater is suitable only for right- handed
cooks.
SPLI A AND TNGS
A fexible spatula, ofen referred to as a fsh spatula
or pelton, is perfect for getting under U, deli
cate fllets. The Matfer 12- Inch Pelton was the
least expensive spatula we tested while working on
"Mastering the Art of Saute" ( see page 16 ), and it
possessed the most aggressive ergonomic curve,
making it our top choice. CutlerAndMore.com
( 645 Lnt Avenue, Elk Grove Vil l age, IL 60007; 800-
650- 9866, w .cutl eryandmore.com) sells the
spatula, item #l l 2420C, for $6. 50.
If you are lef-handed, the LmsonSharp (800-
872- 6564; ww . lamsonsharp. com) 3- Inch by 6-
Inch Chef's Turner LH, item #52865 , is a better
option-though a lot more expensive at $30.
Rubbermaid's 1 3 1z - Inch High Heat Spatula
reigns as our winning rubber spatula and is a test
kitchen favorite. Kitchen Etc sells the spatula, item
#439582, for $ 1 1 . 99.
Spring-loaded, locking tongs are an extremely
usefl tool for sauteing and many other tasks. We
recommend two models . The Edlund Stainless
Steel 12- Inch Scalloped Tongs, item #1491 87,
are available from Sur L Tabl e ( 1 9 3 8 Occidental
Avenue South, Seatl e, WA 98 1 34; 800- 243 -085 2 ;
ww .surlatable.com) for $8. 95 . Kitchen Etc. sells
the Oxo Good Grips 1 2- Inch Stainless Steel
Tongs, item #470564, for $8. 99.
SKII Lf
The All-Clad 12- Inch Stainless Omelette Pan i s a
workhorse in the test kitchen and perfectly suited
to cooking Steak Diane ( page 1 5 ) . The pan,
item #1 009064, is available for $ 1 24. 95 from
Cooking.com ( 285 0 Ocean Park Boul evard, Suite
3 1 0, Santa Moni ca, CA 90405 ; 800- 66 3 - 88 1 0;
ww . cooking.com). The only other pan we reach
for as ofen is the 1 2-Inch Stainless Nonstick
Omelette Pan from All-Clad, which is the per
fect choice for a chicken stir-fry (page 2 1 ). This
pan, item #1 0091 06, is also sold at Cooki ng. com,
where it sells for $ 1 39. 95. For tle budget-minded
cook, there are two more reasonably priced
options that rival our favorites, both of which
are available at Cooki ng. com: the Calphalon Tri
Ply Omelette Pan, item #20198 5 1 , which costs
$79. 95, and our frugal nonstick opti on, the
Farberware Millennium 1 8/1 0 Stainless Steel
12- Inch Nonstick Sklet, item #194802, which
costs $29. 99.
ICE CREM CANISERS
In developing the sherbet recipes on page 23, we
found it extremely usefl to have an extra canister
for our ice cream maker on hand. If you can spare
the freezer space, two canisters let you make two
batches ( in different favors, if you like) on the
same day instead of having to wait overnight for
one canister to refeeze. Single canisters-includ
ing those for our two favorite ice cream mak
ers-can be found at Cul i nary Parts Unl i mited
(80 Berry Drive, Pacheco, C 945 5 3 ; 866- PART
HELP; ww. cul i naryparts. com) . A canister for
the Cuisinart ICE- 20 Ice Cream Maker, item
#CUICE- RB, costs $29. 99; a canister for tl1e
Krups 358 Ice Cream Maker, item #K0907778,
costs $35. 99.
BBLENDER
In testing both wire- type and blade- type pastry
blenders ( see page 3) , we ended up preferring the
sturdier blade type-in particular, the Cuisena
Dough Blender. It is available for $6. 99 from
Cooks Corner (P.O. Box 220, 8 3 6 South 8th Street,
Manitowoc, WI 5 422 1 - 0220; 800- 2 3 6- 243 3 ;
w .cookscorner. com) , item #8 1 91 8.
OEN MIT
The Orka Silicone Oven Mitt, reviewed on page
2, offers unsurpassed protection from heat but
can be awkward. We found it most usefl for
moving hot grill racks when adding coals to the
fre. The mitt is available for $1 9. 99 at KitchenEtc,
item #902544.
V SOCK
For traditionalists who may pine for tl1e unctuous
richness of tle real thing, veal stock can now be
mail-ordered. Provi mi Veal Corporati on' s (W2 1 03
County Road V, Seymour, WI 5 4 1 6 5 ; 800- 8 3 3 -
C O O K
'
S I L L U S T R A T E D
?
8 3 2 5 ; www. provi mi -veal . com) Glace de Veau
can be purchased directly or through a vendor
listed on the company Web site. Preferred Meats
(P.O. Box 883 1 22, San Franci sco, C94 1 88- 3 1 22;
800- 3 97- 63 28; w . preferredmeats. com) carries
the CulinArte' Bonewerks Glace de Veau, item
#1 41 02- 1 P. It is available frozen, in 1 -pound
pouches, for $1 4.
FER TERMOMEER
The optimal temperature for freezing our fruit
sherbets ( page 23 ) and other frozen desserts
is 0 degrees Fahrenheit. To see if your freezer
is chilly enough, try Taylor' s Thermometer
Freeze Guide 5925, which can be hung on a
freezer shelf You can order the thermometer,
item #8524, for $6. 99 from Kitchen Kpers ( 3 85
West Lncaster Avenue, Wayne, H 1 908 7; 800-4 5 5 -
5 5 67; w . kitchenkapers.com).
MAIL-ORDER BON
N i man Ranch ( I 0 2 5 East I 2 th Street, Oakland, C
94606; 5 1 0- 808- 0340) offers premium bacon
that was superior to all other contenders in our
bacon tasting ( page 27) . A 1 2-ounce package of
this center- cut bacon smoked with apple wood
costs $8. Many gourmet markets also carry
Niman Ranch products. To fnd such a market
near you, go to the Niman Ranch Web site
(w . ni manranch.com).
COLORE CUTING BORDS
To avoid cross- contaminating food in the test
kitchen, we color- code our cutting boards,
designating a particular color for a particular
food group that is best kept to itself KatchI
produces dishwasher-safe boards in four colors:
white, green, red, and yellow; and a range of sizes.
We recommend purchasing the largest board pos
sible ( that is, the largest that will ft in your dish
washer) . The boards range in size from 12 by 1 0
inches ( $1 0. 95) up t o 20 by 1 6 inches ( $24. 95)
at Cooking. com. Search for "KatchAI" t o view all
of the options.
SPCE GRINDERS
All four of te electric, blade- type coffee mills we
pressed into service as spice grinders ( see page
28) produced excellent results . Considering
the affordability of each one of the models, we
suggest that you buy two: one for coffee and a
second for spices. Amazon.com sells all four mills.
The Krups Fast-Touch, item BOOOOY6.K , costs
$ 19. 95; tl1e Braun Aromatic, item B00005IX9N,
and the Mr. Coffee, item B000050TXN, cost
$1 4. 99 each; and the Capresso Cool Grind, item
B00004SU20, costs $1 9. 99.
RECI PES
May c June Zll
Mai n Di shes
Chefs Sal ad b
with Fennel , Asiago, and
Sal ami 9
Chi cken Stir- Fries
Chi cken for Stir- Fr, Mari nated
and Velveted 2 I
Gi nger Sti r- Fri ed Chi cken and
Bok Choy 2 1
Spi cy Stir- Fried Sesame Chi cken
wi th Green Beans and Shi i take
Mushrooms 2 1
Macaroni and Cheese
Cl assi c 1 9
with Ham and Peas 1 9
with Kiel basa and Mustard 1 9
Steak Di ane I 5
Sweet and Tang Oven- Barbecued
Chi cken I I
Breads
Qui ck Cheese Bread 1
with Bacon, Oni on, and
Gruyere 1
Si de Di shes
Brown Ri ce
Fool proof Oven- Baked 1 2
with Parmesan. Lemon , and
Herbs 1 2
Dessers
Coconut Cream Pi e 25
Banana-Carmel Coconut Cream
Pie wi th Dark Rum 25
Ume-Coconut Cream Pie 25
Sherbet
Fresh Ume 23
Fresh Ornge 23
Fresh Rspberr 2 3
Gam ish and Sauces
FOR CHEF
'
S SALAD:
Garl i c Croutons 9
FOR STEAK DIANE:
Sauce Base 1 4
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Cl assi c Macaroni and Cheese, | 9
Spi cy Sti r-Fri ed Sesame Chi cken wi th
Green Beans and Shi i take Mushrooms, 2 1
Fresh li me, Raspberry, and Orange Sherbet, 23
Steak Di ane, I 5
Qui ck Cheese Bread,
PHOTOGRAPHY: CARL TREMBLAY ( |xC| |1 Ov|H A8|CO| OC| Ck | H: DANI E L J . VAN ACKERE) . STYLI NG: MARY J ANE SAWYER