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I am thrilled that this journalist turned cook and food writer is currently working on a new series of technique books. How to Roast came out in the fall, and How to Braise came out this month. I don't yet have the braising book, but I hope to acquire it pronto.
Anyway, can there be any easier way to cook than roasting? It goes like this: season the food, stick it in the oven, wait awhile, then eat. So if it's that simple, how come more people don't roast stuff more often and how did Ruhlman manage to write 150 pages about it? Ahhhh, well, you see, there are some tips and tricks and basic knowledge that will help your success in the kitchen, and Ruhlman shares that knowledge generously.
One of the things I love about How to Roast is that Ruhlman stresses the importance of getting to know your own oven, paying attention to temperatures and times and smells and sounds whenever you roast or bake. No matter how confident you are in the kitchen, be sure to sit down and read the chapter "The Basics." Here's where you'll learn why you shouldn't be a slave to a recipe's time/temperature recommendation and how you can determine what's going on in your own oven, so you can make adjustments. As Rulhman notes:
[W]hen you're cooking, you're using all your senses, the most important of which is common sense. And that just means paying attention. (p. 4)He goes on to tell us how to do just that, by providing practical advice mixed with entertaining stories.
Graduates of culinary school, like Ruhlman, stress that one of the keys to good cooking is perfecting a few basic techniques. I think learning to roast (essentially baking things in the oven) is a great place to start. As Ruhlman implies throughout the book, roasting works wonderfully both for an everyday family meal and for a holiday celebration.
The recipes cover poultry, fish, meat, and desserts. (Roasted pineapple? Yes, please.) And each one is introduced with a bit of commentary, accompanied by multiple photographs, and finished with tips called "The Finer Points." Ruhlman isn't about being a dictator or director, he wants us to know why something is done or why he uses a particular kind of oil or pan. And he doesn't leave us stranded when we pull that roast out of the oven, he explains the resting, the saucing, the carving, and the serving.
How to Roast, is a book that deserves a place of pride on your cookbook shelves. Michael Ruhlman has something to teach all of us--from the most seasoned cook to the rank beginner. I feel confident in saying that you'll turn to this book time and again through the years. The recipes here are simple and classic, and they'll carry you through a lifetime of dinners, giving you the confidence to adapt them to your own style.
For some of Rulhman's recipes, check out his Food! board on Pinterest. You'll find his recipe for roasted root vegetables (from the book) over at his website. You can also follow him on Twitter and like him on Facebook. NOTE: the photograph was scanned from How to Roast; the copyright remains with Ruhlman Enterprises.
Published by Little, Brown, 2014
Source: Review (see review policy)
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