09 July 2022

Milk Street: The World in a Skillet by Christopher Kimball (Weekend Cooking)

Book cover of Milk Street: The World in a Skillet by Christopher KimballI've gushed written about Milk Street cookbooks several times here, so you can imagine how happy I was to receive their newest release, The World in a Skillet by Christopher Kimball, from Voracious Books as part of their Voracious Ambassadors review program.

This cookbook is an especially good match for me because I love one-pot meals. When you don't own a dishwasher, anything that saves on cleanup is always welcome. The recipes in The World in a Skillet are based on a general everyday 12-inch pan. Though some dishes require the skillet to go from stovetop to oven, your pan can be stainless, no-stick, or cast iron.

The Milk Street team gathered skillet recipes and inspiration from more than 30 countries, so you can indeed travel the world via your cooking. Some of the countries represented are Lebanon, Japan, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Spain, Korea, Italy, and Peru. The World in a Skillet is a bit meat and fish heavy, but vegetarians and vegans will find some recipes to suit, like Braised Potatoes and Mushrooms with Garlic and Parsley, Hot-and-Sour Stir-Fried Cabbage, and Skillet-Baked Eggplant with Tomatoes and Mozzarella.

The cookbook is arranged first by time (60-, 45-, and 30-minutes meals) and then by other categories, such as "One-Pan Pastas," "Skillet Sides," and "Hearty Grains." Every recipe, in typical Milk Street style, includes extensive tips and notes, which expand your knowledge, offer possible ingredient substitutions, provide serving ideas, and lead to a great final dish.

Photo of a blue bowl with lentil stew in itI have so many recipes marked to try that I don't think The World in a Skillet is going to leave my kitchen for months. Here a few things I've made: Chicken Curry with Tomatoes and Bell Peppers, Lentil and Eggplant Stew with Pomegranate Molasses (see photo), Toasted Pearl Couscous with Zucchini and Herbs, and Georgian-Style Braised Chicken with Tomatoes and Herbs. Everything was delicious. The recipes are easy enough for everyday dinners and tasty and impressive enough for company.

I have only one minor complaint. I had a hard time meeting the "start to finish" times provided for each recipe I tried. It took me 15 or so extra minutes to complete the dishes. This isn't at all a problem for me, but some cooks are pressed for time and need a 30-minute dinner to take no longer than that half hour. The issue may be that it takes me longer than it does Kimball to prep the ingredients. Or maybe my home stovetop and oven aren't as powerful as his professional or high-end appliances. Whatever the case, I thought I should point this out.

Note too that some of the recipes call for less common ingredients, like specialty spice mixes or sauces. I had no trouble buying what I needed at my local grocery stores, even here in a small town. So don't be thrown off by the berbere spice mix or the lemongrass: either you'll be able to find it at a store near you or you can use one of the suggested substitutions.

Broccoli and tofu on a white platterRecommendation: Most cooks will find a number of appealing dishes to try from The World in a Skillet by Christopher Kimball. The cookbook is a good match for those who like learn about new dishes, try new flavors and ingredients, and like to expand their culinary horizons. Vegans and vegetarians will need to look before buying.

The recipe I'm sharing today is one I haven't tried yet, but I hope to soon. The dish is inspired by Mexican tinga poblana, but can be completed (according to Kimball) in 30 minutes start to finish.

From the headnote: (1) Mexican oregano is often found with the other Mexican ingredients rather than in the spice aisle. Use equal amounts of dried marjoram if you can't find it. (2) Serve the meat in tacos or on tostadas. (3) Don't add the pork to the pan until the sauce is at a full boil to ensure quick cooking. Remove the pan from the heat as soon as the pork is no longer pink, to avoid overcooking and toughness.

Pork Tenderloin in Tomato-Chipotle Sauce
30 minutes
Pork and Tomato dish in a skilletServes 4

  • 1¼-pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • ½ medium white onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 bunch cilantro, stems minced, leaved chopped, reserved separately
  • 2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, chopped, plus 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon packed light brown sugar
In a medium bowl, toss the pork with salt and pepper. In a 12-inch skillet over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is softened, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the oregano, cumin, and cilantro stems; cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds.

Stir in the chipotle chilies and adobo sauce, the tomatoes, broth, and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high, then cover, reduce to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are fully softened and the mixture is saucy, about 8 minutes.

Uncover, increase to medium-high and stir in the pork. Cook, uncovered and stirring often, until the pork is no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then stir in the cilantro leaves.

Note: The recipe and scans are used in the context of a review; all rights remain with the original copyright holders. The photo is my own.

Shared with Weekend Cooking, hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader (and Baker)


Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 7/9/22, 7:05 AM  

Yes, this is a cookbook I'd buy and use. Convenient. Fast. Flavorful.

gluten Free A_Z Blog 7/9/22, 8:14 AM  

Wow! You don't own a dishwasher? I really depend on mine. However, my refrigerator dead died about 10 days ago and the earliest delivery replacement in still 10 days away. I have a small one in my basement which I am VERY grateful for right now. I love the idea of one skillet meals, but probably would find it limiting for vegans.. thanks for the review.

Jackie McGuinness 7/9/22, 9:11 AM  

Since my dishwasher died a few months ago and a replacement is hard to find due to the size requirements and supply chain issues, we have been doing dishes by hand.
This book is available at the library, I've put it on my wish list there.

Melynda@Scratch Made Food! 7/9/22, 9:51 AM  

No dishwasher the past 8 years, so any skillet meal is a friend of mine!

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