By the editors of Cook’s Illustrated, America’s Test Kitchen, 2004. Hardcover. $35; 1,028 pages
There’s an intensity, at times slight mania, on every page in this book. Each recipe begins with a dense preamble, detailing the arduous trial-and-error testing process. The upshot: The pros tried every possible avenue to produce each recipe and present you with their most desirable and reliable version of the dish. In other words, you learn from their mistakes without having to make them yourself—and, if you want, you can read all about the process of discovery. This book is nothing if not thorough. It can, sometimes, wear a cook down. But the knowledge is encyclopedic, and the voice lies somewhere beyond authoritative—in the land of bow ties and test-kitchen brigades.
GIVE THIS TO: Perfectionist cooks of all skill levels who like a thorough, if slightly nerdy, approach. —JG