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A New York Times Bestseller
Winner of the James Beard Award for General Cooking and the IACP Cookbook of the Year Award
"The one book you must have, no matter what you’re planning to cook or where your skill level falls."—New York Times Book Review
Ever wondered how to pan-fry a steak with a charred crust and an interior that's perfectly medium-rare from edge to edge when you cut into it? How to make homemade mac 'n' cheese that is as satisfyingly gooey and velvety-smooth as the blue box stuff, but far tastier? How to roast a succulent, moist turkey (forget about brining!)—and use a foolproof method that works every time?
As Serious Eats's culinary nerd-in-residence, J. Kenji López-Alt has pondered all these questions and more. In The Food Lab, Kenji focuses on the science behind beloved American dishes, delving into the interactions between heat, energy, and molecules that create great food. Kenji shows that often, conventional methods don’t work that well, and home cooks can achieve far better results using new—but simple—techniques. In hundreds of easy-to-make recipes with over 1,000 full-color images, you will find out how to make foolproof Hollandaise sauce in just two minutes, how to transform one simple tomato sauce into a half dozen dishes, how to make the crispiest, creamiest potato casserole ever conceived, and much more.
The managing culinary director of the Serious Eats website, editor, and author of the James Beard Award nominated column that informs this massive investigation into the best methods for preparing a litany of foods, Lopez-Alt takes a deep dive into classic recipes and their best preparation methods. Lopez-Alt's experience as test cook and editor at Cook's Illustrated magazine clearly comes in handy, as he recounts the many steps he took in order to determine the best way to pan-sear a steak, whip up a quick tomato soup, scramble an egg or make the best French fries. Though he's hardly the first to tackle the topic of a more scientific approach to cooking the ghosts of Cook's Illustrated, Harold McGee, and Alton Brown loom large for the most part he deftly manages to hold the reader's interest and educate without devolving into arcane ingredients or overly complicated instructions. Yes, there are sous-vide cheeseburgers, and his four-step process for cooking steak fries will test many a relationship, but helpful tips on pan-searing a steak (frequent flipping is fine, and might even be the best way), taking the armwork out of risotto, and whipping up a flavor-rich homemade chicken stock in under an hour are genuinely informative and sure to help home cooks of all skill levels. Lopez-Alt's writing style is friendly and informative; he's genuinely interested in his material, and that enthusiasm shines through. Given the book's breadth and depth, this is a remarkable piece of work that stands up to its culinary comrades, and is a terrific starting point for home cooks interested in perfecting their techniques.