The Cook's Illustrated Complete Book of Poultry Hardcover – Jul 27 1999
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The Cook's Illustrated Complete Book of Poultry is, bar none, the Great Mother Hen of all poultry cookbooks. If it is incomplete in any way, it is only that the editors have not included poultry recipes from absolutely every culture in the world familiar with the birds. But with this book tucked under your wing, you can check out poultry recipes in cookbooks from all corners of the globe and know exactly how to get the results you want. Thanks to the Cook's Illustrated magazine test kitchen, all possible contingencies have been exhaustively covered.
There are 38 chapters in this book, starting with a guide to buying poultry (the more expensive birds are better than their commercial sisters) and ending with a note on smoking. You won't even get to Chicken Salad until chapter 23. You will find nearly 500 recipes, the perfect roast turkey among them. There are 300 pen-and-ink illustrations demonstrating everything from carving a bird to getting the pit out of a mango. Want to know which is the best canned chicken stock? The best countertop deep fryer? The best roasting rack? The best way to sauté chicken cutlets? It's all in here, in meticulous detail. That stir-fry that has always given you trouble? It's a thing of the past. Always felt intimidated by duck? Forget about it.
Plan on getting lost in The Cook's Illustrated Complete Book of Poultry once you open the cover. You will surface only long enough to go to the grocery store. Your life will never be the same. It's that kind of book. --Schuyler Ingle
From Publishers Weekly
For the moment at least, this is the definitive collection of nearly 500 recipes for cooking chicken, turkey, pheasant, Cornish hens and other birds in a broad variety of ways. While introductory remarks to the 38 chapters (on Fried Chicken, Grilled Chicken Kebabs, Roasted Goose, etc.) echo the somewhat pedantic style of Cook's Illustrated magazine by recounting details of rigorous recipe testing, the recipes are consistent models of clarity and promise meals so boldly flavored that it's difficult to restrain oneself from grabbing a bird to cook. Dishes such as Spinach, Tomato, and Chicken Pot Pie with Parmesan Biscuit Topping and Saut?ed Chicken Cutlets with Rice Wine and Szechwan Peppercorn Sauce exemplify the savory offerings, but also included are such homier dishes as Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls and Stuffed Roast Turkey with Giblet Pan Gravy. Accompanying the recipes are a cornucopia of tips resulting from the editors' extensive testing, including advice on brining a bird before cooking and using a large skillet for stir-frying rather than a stove-top wok because it heats better across the cooking surface. As the title says, this is about as complete as one cookbook can be. Some 300 drawings demonstrate preparation and cooking techniques. (Aug.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
That having been I have to point out that taste is, of course, subjective. For instance, I've found, from trying a number of Kimball's recipes, that he is a salt-a-holic. I prefer to cook with little or no salt, as I find the taste harsh and unpleasant, and if I followed Kimbell's recipes exactly I'd be drowning in the stuff. I prefer pepper and tend to double or triple the often meager amounts Kimbell calls for in his recipes (usually he calls for four or fives times more salt than pepper, and I almost reverse that ratio). But, if your taste is the same as Kimball's when it comes to a particular food, his well-researched and thoroughly-tested recipes will be amazing! (In this particular cookbook he endlessly recommends "brining" chicken before cooking, which means soaking it in salt water. This is something my grandmother has done for years, but with vinegar and water, instead of salt. I still prefer the latter method and use either apple cider or white vinegar--half water, half vinegar--with great success and no salty after taste.)
All of Kimball's "Cook's Illustrated" cookbooks follow the same basic format: a long-winded, but often interesting, discourse on how Kimball views the "perfect" version of whatever it is he's showing you how to cook, including a lengthy explanation of variations he has tried, followed by his "Master Recipe" for the food. I recommend carefully reading this introduction, focusing on what Kimball considers "perfection," before attempting the recipe. If you don't feel the same way about, say, roast chicken as the author, his "master recipe" for roasting a chicken will leave you cold (he likes it quite salty and greasy--though he uses terms like "savory," "succulent" and "moist" to describe what I think of as "salty" and "greasy"). But this can all be easily adapted to create a brilliant chicken you will love. In short, the basics are all there, you just may have to fiddle with the seasonings.
I must also warn cooks that Kimball's cookbooks are books not necessarily made for cooking (odd, isn't it?). They are standard-bound hardcover editions that rarely lie flat (the latest, "The Best Recipe," is a little better than the others) and the index is dreadful--a fairly major gripe when you consider how important an index is to a cookbook when, say, you quickly want to find a recipe for "Chicken Soup" and you can't even decipher where the "Cs" start! There may be six or seven pages under the tiny heading "entrees," five of which may start with "chicken," leading you to believe you're in the "Cs" when you're actually in the "Es." It's very confusing. Many other people have recommended putting dictionary like letter headers (for example "CHI-CLA") at the top of each index page and, after trying it, I have to say I highly recommend this method.
Usually my biggest problem with Kimbell cookbooks is this: If you have one, you have them all. He lifts whole passages and recipes and uses them in multiple books. "The Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook," and the "Cook's Bible," for instance, have at least 50 identical recipes, not to mention verbatim introductions to each section and cookware recommendations repeated word-for-word. "The Best Recipe" features ALL of the recipes (as far as I can tell) from the "Cook's Bible," with the same commentary, which is, in turn, lifted in whole chunks from past issues of "Cooks Illustrated." I'm sure this saves Mr. Kimbell a great deal of time when compiling his cookbooks but it leaves little reason to own more than one edition of his work. The "Complete Poultry" cookbook though, is an exception to this rule. While it does contain exact repeats from other books, it also add a wealth of new recipes and information, making it more than worth your while for anyone who cooks poultry regularly.
While I wouldn't take his meat recommendations too seriously--I'd say that most of us can't REALLY tell the difference between a $90 special-order free range turkey and a $15 Butterball (I did try both and it's not worth the cost)--Kimball's recipes will help you make the best Thanksgiving dinner ever and help answer that near nightly question: 'What on Earth am I going to do with these boneless, skinless chicken breasts this time?'
This book is worth buying just for the praise you would get on holidays from making this recipe.