The Ultimate Chicken Cookbook, by Taste Of Home
I must admit that this book disappointed me considerably. To put it very bluntly, this book is not the ultimate chicken cookbook by any stretch of the term. At least according to my own taste, this book does not offer nearly as much as it should. It is pretty clear at least from my reading of the book that the editors of this volume were seeking to encourage as many readers as possible by including a lot of very similar foods, some of them put in different categories so as not to appear overly samey. I have to say, though, that I am not overly fond of the approach of this book when it comes to what brings flavor to the dishes. I am a person of very simple and particular tastes, where less is more and spices are to be preferred to sauces, but the taste of home that these books offer is a taste that I am not all that fond of and that was certainly not the taste I grew up enjoying. Everyone has their own different tastes and different preferences, though, and this book represents a very strong perspective that I do not happen to share although it is one I certainly understand.
This book is a bit more than 300 pages long and is divided into various sections. The book begins with an introduction and a chicken reference guide that give basic information on cooking chicken. I assume that this section, as is customary in cookbooks, is for novices who might need the information. After that the editors include appetizers, salads, and soups (and related dishes), some of which are tasty and many of which add mayo and/or pork to the chicken, which is something I found less than enjoyable. The authors spend some time looking at chicken dishes that are grilled as well as those which are cooked on a skillet and/or stove top. There are lots of casseroles, because nothing says home cooking like a lot of casseroles, some of which admittedly did look tasty. There are plenty of oven-cooked dishes as well as those which can be made in a slow cooker, which has always been a favorite way that I have enjoyed chicken and vegetables myself. The authors then end the book with some sections that included smaller portion sizes for one or two, as well as some quick weeknight favorites that don’t take long to cook and then dishes from around the world, before the index brings the book to a close.
In looking at this book, I have to say that I was very frequently led to ponder what changes I would make to its recipes in order to make them (more) appetizing. This can be a very useful thing to do, but I was a bit irritated at how much I had to do that in this book. When I am reading a book whose main ingredient is something I consume virtually all the time and greatly enjoy, it is less than enjoyable if a huge percentage of the book fails to frame that ingredient in a way that shows it at its best. Indeed, even when this book attempted to be healthy, it did so by trying to offer skim milk or lowfat options instead of going for full flavor. And when it did not contain options that reflect some bad ideas for healthy eating, so many of the recipes, at least at the beginning, contained mayo, an ingredient I simply cannot eat. Fortunately, things did get better after a while, but it took a long while for the recipes to be appealing and that is less than desirable when one is reading a cookbook, after all.