Hands-Free Seafood Supper
Mussels are cheap and quick to prepare, with tender flesh and a briny-sweet, built-in broth created by the merging of the mussels and their steaming liquid. Their flavor is distinct but still tame enough to pair with a wide variety of aromatic ingredients. But many people believe that mussels are hard to clean and it’s difficult to figure out if they’re safe to eat. Fortunately, these misconceptions are easy to dispel. Most mussels these days need very little cleaning. The vast majority are farmed, which leads to less sand and grit and fewer of the stringy beards that cling to the shell. As for figuring out whether a mussel is safe to cook, this couldn’t be more straightforward. Your first clue is smell: A dead mussel smells very bad, whereas a live mussel should smell pleasantly briny. To come up with a basic recipe for making mussels at home, we turned to the classic French method of steaming mussels. To prevent overcooking, we steamed them in the gentle, enveloping heat of the oven, and took care to use a large roasting pan, so the mussels aren’t too crowded.
What Good Cooks Know
Never before has America’s Test Kitchen collected, in one volume, the enormous and indispensable wealth of information we have amassed in 20 years of teaching people how to cook. What Good Cooks Know is a fully illustrated almanac of food and cooking that includes everything you need to master your kitchen.
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Tuscan Shrimp and Beans
"In Italy, Tuscans living in rural areas were once referred to as mangiafagioli, or 'bean eaters,' a reference to their consumption of economical bean dishes. The most traditional preparation is an ultrasimple wintry one in which dried cannellini beans are simmered with herbs and garlic until tender and then drizzled with olive oil for serving. But recently I came across a dish making the rounds on cooking blogs that pairs cannellini with shrimp, a combination that adds up to a nice, warm-weather stew. Deeply flavorful and on the table in less than half an hour, this was the kind of quick dinner I could whip up on a weeknight and the kind I want to tuck into on a lazy Sunday."
Slow and Easy
Searching Out the Best Slow Cookers
A slow cooker promises to be a little fantasy grandmother who sits in the kitchen all day cooking for you, but use the wrong cooker and that dream could fizzle. A cooker might run hotter than expected, drying out the food or turning it mushy, or slower than you want, so dinner isn’t ready when you are. Then there can be issues with hot spots, which make food cook unevenly. And what if operating your machine is so confusing that you have to pore over the manual each time you use it? For the ideal machine that would deliver a properly cooked meal and be absolutely simple and intuitive to use, we went shopping. Previous experience taught us that glass lids were a must, as they allow you to see progress without losing heat. So were oval-shaped crocks, as these can accommodate large roasts and offer more versatility than round crocks. We also wanted a generous 6- to 7-quart capacity. With these criteria in mind, we rounded up eight models priced from $39.99 to $148.71.
The Complete Make-Ahead Cookbook
The experts here at America’s Test Kitchen have eliminated the guesswork of cooking in advance with 500 recipes that spell out all the make-ahead options. And with everything from family-friendly one-dish suppers to company-worthy appetizers, roasts, and desserts, you’ll never again be stuck playing short order cook in your own kitchen.
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The Prep Station
An organized, tidy food prep station creates a foundation for safe, clean, and successful cooking. In our test kitchen, “setting up your board” means setting up your cooking station before you begin to prep and cook. Setting up your board at home is just as important.