Sunday, March 13, 2011

Thai-Style Chicken and Rice and a Cookbook Review

I spend a lot of time reading recipes, and while I have a few trusted sources, the ones I like best often come from America's Test Kitchen. Why? Because they are incredibly reliable, thanks to diligent testing (as the name implies) by the recipe developer and the ATK team. (And because Christopher Kimball, fearless leader of the Kitchen, always wears a bowtie. But I digress.)

Which is why I'm pleased to be reviewing three America's Test Kitchen cookbooks (provided by ATK). And why I'm happy to offer all you fine readers a chance to win one later this week. (More about that later in the post.)

Light & Healthy 2011 is a well-rounded collection of (you guessed it) better-for-you recipes. It gives nutrition information for each recipe (something you don't normally get with ATK) and the instructions are easy to follow. It's broken up into 12 main sections, including appetizers, soups and stews, pizza and pasta, meat, breakfast, and even desserts (although when it comes to desserts, my personal philosophy is "Light, shmight -- go for the gusto").

The Best One-Dish Suppers is acompendium of, yes, one-dish suppers. I like the word "supper" because it feels cozy and comforting -- which is the kind of food this book focuses on. Dutch oven dinners, casseroles, one-pot pasta: how could you go wrong? Plus, for those of you who don't have a dish fairy like I do (his name is Ben and he is VERY good at what he does), one-dish suppers make cleaning up from the meal very easy. Maybe not as easy as eating the meal, but easy enough. The book gives great step-by-step details and even has sidebars on equipment recommendations and essential kitchen skills.

So what's not to like about these books? If I have one complaint, its the lack of color photos. I love to see what something SHOULD look like when I'm done (I think of it as aspirational cooking), so a few more pictures would have been most welcome. But there are plenty of illustrations and black-and-white inset photos to guide you, so fear not.

The recipe I made, Thai-style chicken and rice, comes from Light & Healthy 2011 (but it's also a one-dish meal, so it's really the best of both worlds). Please don't tell Mr. Kimball, but I made a few modifications -- not because I don't trust him but because I just didn't have all of the ingredients I needed on hand.

Thai-Style Chicken and Rice
Modified from a recipe from America's Test Kitchen
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 T fresh ginger, minced
  • 4 T fish sauce
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 t. canola oil
  • 1 c. brown rice, rinsed
  • 1 1/4 c. chicken broth
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
  • 2 cups edamame
  • 2 t. lime juice

Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Combine half the garlic, 1 T ginger and fish sauce in a large bowl. Add chicken and toss to coat. Set aside.

Combine the oil, onion and pinch of salt in a dutch oven. Cover and cook over medium heat about 8 minutes, until onions soften. Stir in remaining garlic and ginger and the rice and cook about 30 seconds. Add the broth.

Place the chicken over the rice mixture. Bring to a simmer, then cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for about 40 minutes, then add carrots and edamame. Cover and continue to cook until most of the broth is absorbed -- 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven.

Transfer the chicken to a place. Cover the rice and allow to steam for about 10 minutes. Shred the chicken and stir into the rice. Plate and squeeze lime juice over each serving.

About 390 calories per 1 1/2 c. serving.

Now, about winning a cookbook of your own.

Later this week, I'll be reviewing a third cookbook from America's Test Kitchen. Check back in -- you'll have a chance to win your choice of any of the three books mentioned on this blog. Hold on to your bowties, folks.

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