We wanted juicy pork chops slathered with a smoky, tangy barbecue sauce. But how would we replicate the savory crust of a grilled pork chop indoors? We set out to solve this puzzle. We also make a cool, creamy macaroni salad with the perfect ratio of macaroni to dressing.
Recipe: Skillet-Barbecued Pork Chops, Cool and Creamy Macaroni Salad
Equipment: Chef's Knives
Science: The Science of Brining
Layer cakes are desserts to be savored at birthday parties, holidays, and other celebrations. Ideally, the cake’s tender layers offset the bracing, citrusy filling, and the whole is swathed in a glossy, pale frosting. We’ll show you how to make a version that tastes as great as it looks.
Recipe: Lemon Layer Cake
Taste test: Yellow Cake Mixes
Stuffed manicotti makes a hearty and delicious main course, but in most cases its preparation is best left to a practiced and patient Italian grandmother. We wanted a simpler, easier method for making manicotti.
Recipe: Baked Manicotti, Cheesy Garlic Bread
Equipment: Garlic Presses
Taste test: Supermarket Parmesan Cheese
We turn our attention to two favorite cookies: a triple chocolate cookie so chocolaty it’s almost a brownie, and the humble brown sugar cookie, moist, chewy, and packed with butterscotch flavor.
Recipe: Brown Sugar Cookies, Triple-Chocolate Cookies
Equipment: Coffee Makers (Inexpensive)
It’s hard to choose a best-loved style of ribs, but we’d be willing to bet that smoky, sweet Kansas City ribs are a top contender. These meaty ribs are slow-smoked for their trademark flavor—and in traditional recipes they truly do take all day to cook. We wondered if there was a faster way.
Recipe: Kansas City Sticky Ribs on a Charcoal Grill, Smoky Kansas City BBQ Beans
Equipment: Barbecue Thermometers
Taste test: Pickles
Coq au vin’s appeal is timeless, but its preparation can be intimidating for the home cook. We set out to make this dish a little less overwhelming—but just as delicious as we remembered. We also simplify the process of making pot de crème without compromising this decadent dessert’s rich flavor or ethereal texture.
Recipe: Modern Coq au Vin, Chocolate Pots de Creme
Equipment: Dutch Ovens
Science: Cooking with Alcohol
In this episode, the test kitchen perfects two breakfast treats: blueberry scones and rich bran muffins.
Recipe: Blueberry Scones, Better Bran Muffins
Equipment: Commuter Coffee Mugs
Taste test: Strawberry Preserves
We develop a Thai-style chicken soup that uses supermarket ingredients without sacrificing authentic flavors, and we make a vegetarian stir-fry so hearty even carnivores will be satisfied.
Recipe: Stir-Fried Portobellos with Ginger-Oyster Sauce, Thai Chicken Soup
Taste test: Soy Sauce
Holiday Beef Tenderloin Dinner
Add a rich stuffing to beef tenderloin, and you’ve got the ultimate main course, at least in theory. But making a tenderloin through can be a challenge—this is an expensive piece of meat, so you don’t want to risk overcooking it. We also wanted mashed potatoes so rich and decadent, not a drop of gravy would be necessary to enjoy them.
Recipe: Roast Beef Tenderloin with Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Stuffing, Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Equipment: Electric Knife Sharpeners
We don’t have anything against spaghetti and meatballs or pasta with marinara, but the world of pasta and tomatoes extends far beyond these popular standbys. Enter Penne alla Vodka and Pasta Caprese.
Recipe: Penne alla Vodka, Pasta Caprese
Taste test: Penne
Brining is the best way to guarantee a moist turkey, but it isn’t always the most practical way. We rethink our brine-at-all-costs philosophy and find that salting, a kind of “dry-brining” in which we rub the bird with salt and let it rest in the refrigerator for several hours, not only seasons the meat but also helps keep it moist.
Recipe: Roast Salted Turkey, Roasted Green Beans with Red Onion and Walnuts
Equipment: Roasting Pans
Taste test: Turkey
Chicken chili might sound like heresy—after all, isn’t chili supposed to be made with beef?—but this Southwestern dish is a light, bright alternative to tomato-rich beef chili. The key to chicken chili is finding the right cooking method so that the white beans become tender and the chicken doesn’t dry out and turn rubbery.
Recipe: White Chicken Chili, Double-Corn Cornbread
Equipment: Cast-Iron Skillets
Taste test: Tortilla Chips
A tart should be easier to prepare than the typical double-crust American pie. But developing a flaky crust sturdy enough to support the fruit is a bit tricky. And getting the apples to caramelize by the time the crust is baked is also a challenge.
Recipe: Apple Galette
Equipment: Bakeware Basics
Science: Flour Types
It’s not a surprise that so many cooks turn to chicken breasts for dinner. They’re convenient, low in fat, and, when made right, juicy and satisfying. To keep boredom at bay, one of our simple skillet recipes features a flavorful drizzling sauce, another a golden Parmesan crust.
Recipe: Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Cutlets, Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts with Potatoes
Equipment: Inexpensive Instant-Read Thermometers
We set out to develop a better-than-takeout pizza in which the crust gets equal billing with the toppings and each is full of flavor—not grease.
Recipe: Pepperoni Pan Pizza, Antipasto Pasta Salad
Equipment: Toaster Ovens
Taste test: Frozen Pizza
Bakery versions of crumb cake often fall short. The crumb topping can be skimpy or dry and brittle. And the cake can suffer too, baking up too dry or not sturdy enough, so that the crumb topping simply sinks into the cake. We tackle these issues to develop the ultimate crumb cake.
Recipe: New York-Style Crumb Cake, Blueberry Boy Bait
Equipment: Square Cake Pans
Taste test: Hot Cocoa Mix
Cutting into a steak to find that the rosy meat is confined to a measly spot in the center—with the rest a thick band of overcooked gray—is a great disappointment. Our surefire method for pan-searing thick-cut steaks delivers both a flavorful crust and juicy, rosy meat throughout.
Recipe: Pan-Seared Thick-Cut Strip Steaks, Garlic and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes
Equipment: Slotted Spoons
Science: Tender Steaks
Skipping dessert or eating a piece of fruit is an obvious way to cut calories, but where’s the fun in that? We set our sights on lowering the fat and calories in two favorite chocolate desserts—chocolate mousse and brownies.
Recipe: Low-Fat Chocolate Mousse, Fudgy Low-Fat Brownies
Taste test: Light Vanilla Ice Cream
Fish fillets might look innocent, but once their delicate flesh hits the grill, there’s no getting them off without a fight—simply put, fish sticks. And because fish is delicate, in comparison to meat, the flesh easily dries out. We decided to take the fear out of grilling fish by tackling these two recipes: blackened grilled snapper and glazed salmon.
Recipe: Charcoal-Grilled Blackened Red Snapper, Sweet and Saucy Charcoal-Grilled Salmon with Lime-Jalapeno Glaze
Equipment: Barbecue Mitts
We develop home-cook-friendly versions of two Indian favorites: vegetable curry and chicken tikka masala.
Recipe: Indian-Style Curry with Potatoes, Cauliflower, Peas, and Chickpeas, Chicken Tikka Masala
Taste test: Crushed Tomatoes
We’ve always enjoyed roasting game hens and thought the grill might deliver even more flavor to the tender meat, grilling poultry is full of challenges—especially whole birds.
Recipe: Grill-Roasted Cornish Game Hens on a Charcoal Grill, Rice Salad with Oranges, Olives, and Almonds
Equipment: Chimney Starters
Taste test: Basmati Rice
Easy Skillet Suppers
Streamlined methods for Beef Stroganoff and Baked Ziti condense all the steps into one skillet—yes, even the noodles.
Recipe: Skillet Baked Ziti, Skillet Beef Stroganoff
Equipment: Can Openers
Taste test: Supermarket Extra-Virgin Olive Oils
The problem with four-cheese lasagna? Too often it’s heavy, greasy, and bland. Watch as we create an elegant lasagna with the right combination of cheese and a smooth and creamy sauce.
Recipe: Four-Cheese Lasagna, Spicy Salad with Mustard and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Equipment: Box Graters
Taste test: Balsamic Vinegar
We explore two elegant approaches to shrimp—one hot dish and one cold—and find the best way to prepare each.
Recipe: Garlicky Shrimp with Bread Crumbs, Shrimp Salad
Equipment: Kitchen Timers
Taste test: Tuna
Food safety concerns have many of us now grilling burgers to medium-well and beyond. Unfortunately, grilling burgers for so long results in disappointingly dense, dry meat. We weren’t yet ready to omit burgers from our backyard menu, so we set out to solve the problem.
Recipe: Oven-Fried Onion Rings, Well-Done Hamburgers on a Charcoal Grill
Taste test: Cheddar Cheese
Science: All About Panades
Most of us think of the slow cooker as a kitchen workhorse best reserved for weeknight simple stews, hearty soups, and the like. But what about pulling the slow cooker out for entertaining?
Recipe: Beef Burgundy, Beer-Braised Short Ribs
Equipment: Slow Cookers