Series: Cook's Illustrated Cookbooks
Hardcover: 504 pages
Publisher: Cook's Illustrated; First Edition edition (October 1, 2012)
Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 1.3 x 10.6 inches
Shipping Weight: 4.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (936 customer reviews)
Best Sellers Rank: #4,237 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) #16 in Books > Science & Math > Agricultural Sciences #81 in Books > Cookbooks, Food & Wine > Cooking Methods #89 in Books > Engineering & Transportation
Having relied on Cooks Illustrated recommendations for many of my favourite kitchen tools, buying this book was a no brainer. Needless to say I had high expectations going in, and this book did not disappoint.I'm an avid cook, and while I've had great success with certain types of food, I've been frustrated by inconsistent results in others. (I can't seem to get a consistently moist pot-roast -- reason: my cooking temperature was probably too high; wrong cut of meat + oven braising is better than stovetop since it heats more evenly in more directions)The Science of Good Cooking breaks down why food cooks a certain way, and which techniques are best for what purpose. The book is organized into 50 concepts with recipes reinforcing each concept. There's a section called "why this works" following each recipe, which breaks down the science behind each step -- for instance why use a certain type of marinade, cooking technique, take extra steps, etc to achieve a desired outcome. It's nice that it's not just a list of recipes.Experiments back each concept. Meats were weighed, measured, smashed to determine tenderness, and moisture loss. They came up with a range of ideal resting times for various meats based on actually measuring the amount of juices lost at various times, and they sent food to the science lab to analyze their structure. They even stuck bones on mashed potatoes to test out whether keeping bones on makes food taste better. This book debunked some assumptions I had (acid does not actually make food more tender), and helped me understand other ones better - why salt directly applied on skin makes it more crispy, but if you brined the skin you'd get a different outcome.
I still consider myself an advanced beginner when it comes to cooking so I LOVE cookbooks like this where they explain WHY recipes are they way they are. Things I liked about this book:1. They have 50 cooking concepts that are discussed in detail. These range from "A covered pot doesn't need water" to "starch helps cheese melt nicely." They tell you the concept, then explain the science behind it. Often the explanation comes with illustrations, tables and details of the experiments they did in the test kitchen. There were a lot of things I had never read/heard of before like how salt added to meat makes it more juicy, but salt added to vegetables takes the water out.2. The book is brimming with tips, tricks and information. The index has information on how to pick out kitchen equipment like knives, pots and pans and tools; emergency ingredient substitutions are also given. The front of the book goes over basics like meat temperatures that indicate doneness, definitions of common cooking terms. (I now know what to do if a recipe calls for chiffonading herbs!)3. The book has lots of recipes and a good variety of types. It really has a little bit of everything.4. The book is very well put together. The pages are glossy, the binding is tight. Feels like it can withstand years of being used.Things I didn't like:1. The biggest pet peeve I have with this something many people will NOT have to worry about. I happen to have the The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook: 2,000 Recipes from 20 Years of America's Most Trusted Cooking Magazine and many (if not all) the recipes are the same.
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