James Beard’s American Cookery is my favorite kind of cookbook. Light on pictures, and heavy on techniques like “cut off a piece of the fat, melt it down, and combine it with butter.”
I love to cook, and traditional American home cooking is probably my favorite mode. I am so excited to add this book to my collection, so that I can have Bittman vs. Beard face-offs on a near-nightly basis. For example, I looked up “beets.” Both had me cook for about an hour, but Bittman gave me 400 and Beard gave me 325. I went with the 400 because the beets were a little large and because I didn’t have time to go longer than an hour. They came out PERFECT. But I’m left wondering–could they have been more perfect? I mean, Beard made sure to tell me not to scrub my beets because otherwise I could bruise the skin. Then all the juice would leak out, leaving me with a pulpy, tasteless mess. Bittman didn’t think I needed to know that seemingly crucial point. So next time I’ll try the lower temp and see what happens.
I’m so completely looking forward to spending the rest of my life with this book.
Many thanks to Hachette Book Group for the review copy.