PBS continues it’s wacky food adventures leaving behind Jose Andres and finding America’s Test Kitchen’s Chris Kimball.
Chris is our bow-tied head master of the test kitchen, home of Cook’s Illustrated magazine. Here they take a classic dish, do some science and make it perfect.
This is a pretty fascinating show that incorporates gadget testing along with a Letters to the Editor segment. The episodes I saw tested apple corers, barbecue meat trays and kitchen knives. Much of show focuses on barbecues; how to get an even cook, what tools to have and how to take care of the grill itself.
The testers tell us tales of how many times they made potato salad in order to get the perfect recipe. Which potato works best? How much mayonnaise to use? There is also much talk of ‘erbs, ‘erbs, ‘erbs. One tip I have already taken on board is the grating of onions. I’ve only recently got into the groove of finely chopping my onions in a cheffy way, now I have to GRATE THEM? Well, Mr Kimball tells me that it releases extra flavour as the onions are broken down more finely that simply chopping or slicing, a la garlic. A couple of days later I tried this in my delicious lamb ragu and, well, I can’t say that I noticed an improved onion taste it was nice not to come across the odd semi-cooked chunk.
America’s Test Kitchen reminded me of Freaky Trigger’s Food Science Day which I have taken part in once or twice. Once assembled at the host’s abode experiments are tested, recipes concocted and alcohol consumed. Experiments such as ‘what is the most aerodynamic fruit?’ (an apricot if you were wondering) or ‘can you whip marmite until it turns white?’ (you can read that one for yourself) were tried and much fun had.
In conclusion my experiment with ATK has been a success. As my scientific hero Michael Faraday once said “The lecturer should give the audience full reason to believe that all his powers have been exerted for their pleasure and instruction.”