The Chicken Bible, by America’s Test Kitchen
This is a fantastic book. If you like to cook (and eat) chicken, and you appreciate having a lot of recipes and options for dishes that show evidence of and provide plenty of encouragement for trial and experimentation, this is a book that deserves to be in ones library. Alas, I have to return this one to the library, but it’s well worth getting for oneself. The authors manage to perform a difficult task in both encouraging people who appreciate basic and straightforward (but not boring) recipes while also containing a lot of recipes for hipsters and those who have more daring tastes. My own tastes are fairly basic, admittedly, but I have to admit that there are a lot of dishes here that I would be very interested in trying that I have somehow not managed to try. The authors even manage to do something in their recipes and explain why the recipe works, and how it works, and what about it wouldn’t work, giving some important guidance not only to the ingredients of a dish but also preparation. This is excellent work and it deserves to be appreciated. This is a large book and a complex one, but it is one whose size is warranted and whose importance is pretty clear if you have adventurous tastes and simultaneously love eating chicken.
This book is a large one at nearly 500 pages and it consists of 500 recipes for easy chicken dishes, sometimes even including bonus recipes for foods to make alongside the chicken, which is definitely appreciated as those recipes (such as for brussels sprouts and asparagus, to give two examples) are solid themselves. The book begins with an introduction to America’s Test Kitchens as well as an introduction to the book as a whole and how to prepare chicken well. This is then followed by a variety of chapters. The book begins with a set of chapters that looks at chicken in easy dinners, salads, sandwiches and related dishes, soups, and stews/curries. These chapters give a lot of basic (and some not very basic) recipes that are useful for many circumstances. After that comes another set of chapters that deal with chicken dishes that are classic braises, simple sautes and stir-fries, roasted dishes, baked and broiled dishes, breaded and fried dishes, as well as savory pies and casseroles.
One of the more notable aspects of this book that deserves appreciation is the way that the authors provide variety through variation. This variation is done in multiple ways. For one, there are a great many cases where there are a lot of similar dishes that are cooked in slightly different ways to end up with different results. So there are quite a few chicken noodle soup recipes and chicken pot pie and fried chicken and chicken wing recipes and the like, each of them that is different depending on what someone wants. Similarly, the authors deal with variety by providing a lot of different rubs and sauces and the like to spice up dishes and make them more interesting. This is very good thinking. The variation in this book helps keep the reader aware of how one might be able to make dishes for people who have different preferences–or in the case of quite a few gluten-free recipes–have different dietary restrictions. And if not every dish in this book is something that I would appreciate for one reason or another, there are still hundreds of dishes in this book that I either have enjoyed or would definitely enjoy, and that is enough to give this book a warm recommendation.