I own all 12 volumes of the "Best Recipe" cookbook series as well as all other volumes issued by Cook's Illustrated. I purchased all of them as they were issued. When the fourth volume in the Best Recipe series, "American Classics", was issued, their began to emerge complaints concerning Cook's repeating recipes from volume to volume.The tacit accussation was that Cook's was dishonestly repackaging already published material for additional profits. The review by Hoc Stercus, below. seems to be levelling this same accuasation at the current volume, "Cover and Bake". I would like to put this notion to rest once and for all. Each of the issued volumes (as does "Cover and Bake") has presented a plethora of new recipes and useful culinary information. They have also included pertinent recipes (and other information) tested and presented in previous volumes in the series, as they should. For example the best recipes for stove-top and baked macaroni and cheese were presented way back in the first volume of the series. Since the subject of "Cover and Bake" is just these sorts of recipes, would it be fair of Cook's Illustrated to omit these classic casserole recipes and refer the reader to a previous volume ? This would be the height of dishonesty and profit grubbing. Or do you think perhaps that Cook's, for the sake of novelty, should offer a recipe for mac & cheese other rthan the best the've developed to date? When I want the best recipe for fried chicken, I would be disappointed if it did not appear in the volume "American Classics" simply because it was published at an earlier date in the first book in the series. I expect such classic recipes to appear in all of the volumes to which they are appropriate. There is inevitably some overlap in volume coverage (e. g,. mac & cheese is a casserole and an American classic and a pasta dish. It should and does appear in all of those volumes). It is a matter of convenience and honesty that Cook's does not force the reader to purchase additional volumes just in order to aquire all of the recipes in a given area of the individual cook's interest. If one does have all or many of the volumes in the series, should you really have to use detective work in order to determine in which of the 12 volumes the best recipe for brownies might be? It should be in every volume in which the recipe is appropriate. Thankfully it is.
As an avid home cook and having been associated with professional cooking, in one form or another, for over thirty years, I cannot recomend this cookbook (or any other in "The Best Recipe" series) too highly. Though my library contains well over 1,000 cookbooks, the cookbooks in "The Best Recipe" series are the ones I most highly recommend. I have by now cooked hundreds of recipes from the volumes in this series and have never met with any thing but absolute success. The instructions and testing information for each recipe are so thorough and detailed, that even in areas where you might differ on matters of purely subjective taste (degree of spiciness for example), you'll know precisely the adjustements that need to made without fear of jeapordizing the outcome of the recipe as a whole.
Anthony Bourdain, in his excellent, but rigorous and highly professional new French bistro cookbook, "Les Halles, recommends only three "Source Materials" as further reading. One by Joel Robuchon, another by Paul Bocuse, but also "The Best Recipe-Cook's Illustrated".
If you are interested in casseroles and other one pot dishes that are as easy to prepare as they can be, without compromising taste and having to resort to questionable and unneccessary prepackaged ingredients then do not hesitate to purchase this book. You will be well rewarded, not only because you'll have at your command the multi-tested best classic and neo-classic recipes possible, but also because of all the useful testing results for common supermarket items and kitchen equipment and appliances that you'll have at your disposal