I recently borrowed a few Cooks’ Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks from the library, and made note of the dishes I wanted to try. I mentioned the Sweet and Tangy Barbecue Chicken last week; I’ve also made the Skillet Chili Mac from 30 Minute Meals, and the Chicken Vesuvio from Cooking for Two.
There’s a copy of the Skillet Chili Mac at this blogger’s page, although the version in the book I used was even simpler, with no bell pepper and tomato sauce instead of the diced tomatoes and tomato puree. I used the last of my homemade chili sauce instead of the tomato sauce, which did give it a nice tangy kick but in combination with the brown sugar was just too sweet (I’m sure kids would love it tho). I thought it was just decent – I do like the idea of cooking the pasta in the sauce rather than in water separately, but otherwise it was just mediocre.
The Chicken Vesuvio was better, although I screwed up and also changed some things so my review is probably a bit unfair. It called for dredging the chicken in flour before browning, which I totally spaced and forgot, and then I used different herbs and frozen mixed veggies rather than the peas. The flavor was good, but the sauce was a little thin (probably partially thanks to my forgetting the flour) and I didn’t like the addition of the lemon juice at the end. If you search online for Chicken Vesuvio there are a lot of reputable results, including ones that claim to be the original from Harry Caray’s restaurant in Chicago. I like the idea of garlic and herb-roasted chicken, a white wine and broth sauce with potatoes and peas, so I am sure I will revisit the idea in the future.
I find CI/ATK admirable for their precision and commitment to the science of cooking, but frustrating because most of the things they make are too fussy for my everyday life. I’ll probably stick to buying the “Best of” issue each year rather than subscribing or buying a whole cookbook.