YOU ARE HERE >> AmazingRibs » Ratings & Reviews » Ratings Reviews And Buying Guides » BBQ Tools Toys And Accessory Reviews » Books And Magazines » Books on Food Science: The Food Lab, Better Home Cooking Through Science
W.W. Norton & Co., 960 pages, 250 recipes, more than 1,000 photos and charts and illustrations
This is the best cookbook I own. It has also won the Cookbook of the Year from the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and a James Beard Award.
I am a huge fan of Kenji and you will find him cited many times on our pages. He went to MIT, worked in top restaurant kitchens, worked in the test kitchens of Cooks Illustrated magazine and TV, and is the most popular contributor to the extremely popular website, SeriousEats.com. This New York Times Best Seller is much like his SeriousEats articles: Funny, informative, fascinating, creative, and precise. Kenji understands food science and culinary arts, two specialties that rarely inform a single cook at the same time. A self-proclaimed nerd, you will want to make sure you have on hand a digital thermometer, a digital scale, and a sous vide machine will come in handy too.
This huge volume can compete with any other all-in-one cookbook in my large collection. It beats Joy of Cooking, How to Cook Everything, The Gourmet Cookbook, The New Best Everything, La Technique, even Escoffier. He starts with explaining energy and heat transfer, covers pots and pans and knives, and all the basic tools of the trade. The chapter on frying alone is worth the price of admission. Then there are the recipes. He focuses on the beloved American classics and shows that often the traditional methods can be improved upon. His 2 minute foolproof Hollandaise sauce is a revelation.
“We all love potato gratin, correct? The creamy layered casserole of potatoes and cream with a crisp browned top. We also love Hasselback potatoes, those cute side dishes achieved by making thin, parallel slices almost all the way through a potato, stuffing butter and cheese between them, and roasting them until golden brown and crisp. What if I were to combine the two into one gloriously crispy, creamy, crunchy, cheesy casserole?” And so he creates the “Cheesy Hasselback Potato Gratin.” I’ve done it. It. Is. Spectacular.
The book is organized a bit differently than normal. Instead of chapters on, say, chicken, beef, etc., they are sometimes organized by cooking method, sometimes by type of food. After you dive in you see his logic, he is teaching concepts, but I have found myself relying heavily on the index since chicken can be found scattered all over the place.
One of his strengths is his ability to explain complex physics and chemistry in lay terms. “Like grandmothers and movie theatres, some onions smell more than others.”
If you have spent any time on this site, you will understand my admiration for Kenji. We approach food and cooking similarly. We both rely heavily on measuring things, we both do a lot of experimenting, we both take our own photos (seriously), we both have a corny sense of humor, and you will often see our dogs in the kitchen. We are brothers by different mothers.
My only complaint? The white cover is already covered in gravy stains and fingerprints. But that’s on me.
Published On: 6/21/2018 Last Modified: 3/7/2021
These are products we have tested, won our top awards, and are highly recommend. Click here to read how we test, about our medals, and what they mean.
A big part of this site is our unbiased equipment and product reviews. We love playing with toys and we have no problem calling them the way we see them. Some companies pay a finder’s fee if a reader clicks a link on AmazingRibs.com and buys a product. It has zero impact on our reviews, zero impact on the price you pay, and the sites never tell us what you bought, but it has a major impact on our ability to keep this site alive! So before you buy, please click our links. Here’s a link that takes you to a page on Amazon that has some of our favorite tools and toys: https://tinyurl.com/amazingribs
The PK-360, with 360 square inches of cooking space, this rust free, cast aluminum charcoal grill is durable and easy to use. Four-way venting means it’s easy to set up for two zone cooking with more control than single vent Kamado grills. It is beautifully designed, completely portable, and much easier to set up for 2-zone cooking than any round kamado.
The PBC has a rabid cult following for good reason. It is absolutely positively without a doubt the best bargain on a smoker in the world. Period. This baby will cook circles around the cheap offset sideways barrel smokers because temperature control is so much easier.
Napoleon’s 22″ Pro Cart Charcoal Kettle Grill puts a few spins on the familiar kettle design. In fact, the hinged lid with a handle on the front, spins in a rotary motion 180 degrees. It’s hard to beat a Weber kettle, but Napoleon holds its own and adds some unique features to make the 22″ Pro Cart a viable alternative.
GrillGrates(TM) amplify heat, prevent flareups, make flipping foods easier, kill hotspots, flip over to make a fine griddle, and can be easily moved from one grill to another. You can even throw wood chips, pellets, or sawdust between the rails and deliver a quick burst of smoke.
Green Mountain’s portable Davy Crockett Pellet Smoker is one mean tailgating and picnic machine. But it’s also gaining popularity with people who want to add a small, set it and forget it pellet smoker to their backyard arsenal. And with their WiFi capabilities you can control and monitor Davy Crocket from your smart phone or laptop.
Winner of the National BBQ Association’s product of the year award. This 8.5″ x 11″ magnet contains more that 80 benchmark temperatures for meats (both USDA recommended temps as well as the temps chefs recommend), fats and oils, sugars, sous vide, eggs, collagens, wood combustion, breads, and more. Although it is not certified as all-weather, we have tested it outdoors in Chicago weather and it has not delaminated in three years, but there is minor fading.