Keys to Good Cooking By Harold McGee, Penguin, 2010. Paperback. $20; 552 pagesThe odd thing about McGee’s epic book of kitchen wisdom: It’s as enjoyable when read as a book as it is used as a reference. Sure, it’s an exceptionally valuable guide. If you’re looking to cook a turkey, the Meat chapter will give the pros and cons of brining and the lowdown on roasting whole birds, as well as a few pertinent and immutable truths about meat cookery in general. This is not kitchen dogma handed down from on high: This is the nation’s preeminent food scientist clearly explaining the hows—and more importantly, the whys—of cooking.
But if you truly love cooking, have an inquisitive mind, and want to broaden your culinary knowledge, it’s an absolute blast just picking a chapter and reading it start to finish. The book is an assembly of excellent tips, sometimes loosely organized, and reads like the CliffsNotes of a culinary master class.
GIVE THIS TO: Cooking nerds looking to up their game. —Tim Cebula