Just how many recipes does a home cook have to master in order to feel confident as a gourmand? The editors at America’s Test Kitchen have pegged the number at 20.

It’s a good thing that America’s Test Kitchen has come out with five times that number in the new cookbook “100 Recipes: The Absolute Best Ways to Make the True Essentials” (America’s Test Kitchen; $40), so people can pick and choose which “essential” recipes they can work to master.

“If you can cook 20 of the recipes in this book without referring to the instructions, then you are now a serious cook and more accomplished than 99 percent of your friends and neighbors,” Christopher Kimball, founder and editor of Cooks Illustrated said in the introduction. “It’s really that simple.”

Tested time and again

“Researched” is too light of a word to describe the recipes that come out of America’s Test Kitchen. They are positively obsessive when it comes to finding the best — and often far different than the established normal — way to create dishes. Cooks in the 2,500-square-foot kitchen just outside of Boston are almost obsessed with finding out the best possible way to prepare a dish. Editors swear they really do test a recipe, 30, 40, 50 or even 100 times before it’s published.

The new book focuses on the essentials, but even that is a little misleading. It’s broken down to 37 recipes called “The Absolute Essentials” and that includes recipes for rice pilaf, pan-seared chicken breasts, steak, chili and a blueberry pie. Another 32 are categorized as “The Surprising Essentials” — recipes you didn’t know you needed, the editors explain. They run the gamut from pulled chicken, to a cheese souffle, polenta, and apple pie. Finally the remaining 100 are “The Global Essentials,” recipes for items including pot stickers, tandoori chicken , lo mein, and schnitzel.

Such a variety of foods, explained simply puts a cornucopia of worthwhile dishes right at a person’s fingertips. And along the way the home cook gets helpful tips throughout including a better way to make chicken stock, a more effective way to shape bread dough and an easier way to mince garlic.

Recipes from all over

“We wanted the book to feel more modern and fresh — not all scrambled eggs and pancakes, said Jack Bishop, editorial director of America’s Test Kitchen. We wanted a more diverse set of recipes.”

The idea came out of conversations with staffers about home cooking. From recipes around the world, organizers looked to pack the book with foods “that make the most sense” to regular people who make meals at home. Bishop started with about 120. More were added along the way before Bishop pared down the list to the magic 100.

Along the way there are recipes that go against common thinking — lasagna noodles are broken into pieces for a delicious one-pan meal; a grilled cheese is elevated by taking a tip from fondue with a splash of wine and a creamy Brie addition. And there’s a recipe for risotto that involves virtually no stirring.

It’s all about understanding the techniques, Bishop said. And as far as his favorite. It’s the tinga, a Mexican-style shredded pork dish that calls for browning braised shoulder until crisp and then adding it to a spicy tomato sauce.

“It’s the recipe I make the most often,” he said. “My family adores that recipe. It’s just unbelievably good. If you love pork and you love Mexican food, it’s just an out-and-out winner.”

Roast Beef Tenderloin

From “100 Recipes: The Absolute Best Ways to Make the True Essentials”

Center-cut beef tenderloin roasts are sometimes sold as Châteaubriand. Ask your butcher to prepare a trimmed center-cut Châteaubriand, as this cut is not usually available without special ordering.

1 (2-pound) center-cut beef tenderloin roast, trimmed

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Flavored butter (recipes follow)

1. Using 12-inch lengths of kitchen twine, tie roast crosswise at 1 1/2-inch intervals. Sprinkle roast evenly with salt, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees.

2. Pat roast dry with paper towels. Sprinkle roast evenly with pepper and spread unsalted butter evenly over surface. Transfer roast to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Roast until meat registers 125 degrees (for medium-rare), 40 to 55 minutes, or 135 degrees (for medium), 55 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes, flipping roast halfway through cooking.

3. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Place roast in skillet and sear until well browned on all sides, 4 to 8 minutes total. Transfer roast to carving board and spread 2 tablespoons flavored butter evenly over top of roast; let rest for 15 minutes. Remove twine and cut roast crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Serve, passing remaining flavored butter separately. Serves 6.

Shallot and Parsley Butter 

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/2 shallot, minced

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients in bowl. Makes about 1/2 cup.

Chipotle and Garlic Butter with Lime and Cilantro 

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 tablespoon minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce plus 1 teaspoon adobo sauce

1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon grated lime zest

1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in bowl. Makes about 1/2 cup.

Per serving (with shallot parsley butter): 326 calories; 22 g fat (11 g saturated fat; 61 percent calories from fat); 1 g carbohydrates; 0.2 g sugar; 126 mg cholesterol; 819 mg sodium; 31 g protein; 0.2 g fiber.

Per serving (with chipotle butter): 346 calories; 24 g fat (12 g saturated fat; 62 percent calories from fat); 2 g carbohydrates; 1 g sugar; 131 mg cholesterol; 921 mg sodium; 31 g protein; 0.2 g fiber.

Cheese Soufflé

From “100 Recipes: The Absolute Best Ways to Make the True Essentials”

Serve this soufflé with a green salad for a light dinner. To prevent the soufflé from overflowing the soufflé dish, leave at least 1 inch of space between the top of the batter and the rim of the dish; any excess batter should be discarded. The most foolproof way to test for doneness is with an instant-read thermometer. To judge doneness without an instant-read thermometer, use two large spoons to pry open the soufflé so that you can peer inside it; the center should appear thick and creamy but not soupy.

1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)

1/4 cup (1 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

Pinch ground nutmeg

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/3 cups whole milk

6 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)

6 large eggs, separated

2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8-inch round (2-quart) soufflé dish with vegetable oil spray, then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons Parmesan.

Combine flour, paprika, salt, cayenne, white pepper, and nutmeg in bowl. Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour mixture and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk and bring to simmer. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened and smooth, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and whisk in Gruyère and 5 tablespoons Parmesan until melted and smooth. Let cool for 10 minutes, then whisk in egg yolks and 1 1/2 teaspoons parsley.

Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and whip until stiff peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes. Add cheese mixture and continue to whip until fully combined, about 15 seconds.

Pour mixture into prepared dish and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon Parmesan. Bake until risen above rim, top is deep golden brown, and interior registers 170 degrees, 30 to 35 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon parsley and serve immediately. Serves 6.

Per serving: 337 calories; 25 g fat (14 g saturated fat; 67 percent calories from fat); 8 g carbohydrates; 3 g sugar; 249 mg cholesterol; 515 mg sodium; 10 g protein; 0.2 g fiber.

French Potato Salad with Mustard and Herbs

From “100 Recipes: The Absolute Best Ways to Make the True Essentials”

For best flavor, serve the salad warm.

2 pounds small red potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

2 tablespoons salt

1 garlic clove, peeled and threaded on skewer

1 1/2 tablespoons champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 small shallot, minced

1 tablespoon minced fresh chervil

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

1 tablespoon minced fresh chives

1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon

Place potatoes and salt in large saucepan and add water to cover by 1 inch; bring to boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium. Lower skewered garlic into simmering water and partially blanch, about 45 seconds. Immediately run garlic under cold running water to stop cooking; remove garlic from skewer and set aside. Continue to simmer potatoes, uncovered, until tender but still firm (thin-bladed paring knife can be slipped into and out of center of potato slice with no resistance), about 5 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water, then drain potatoes. Arrange hot potatoes close together in single layer on rimmed baking sheet.

Press garlic through garlic press or mince by hand. Whisk garlic, reserved potato cooking water, vinegar, mustard, oil, and pepper in small bowl until combined. Drizzle dressing evenly over warm potatoes; let stand 10 minutes. (Potatoes can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.)

Toss shallot and herbs in small bowl. Transfer potatoes to large serving bowl; add shallot-herb mixture and mix gently with rubber spatula to combine. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

Per serving: 206 calories; 9 g fat (1 g saturated fat; 39 percent calories from fat); 29 g carbohydrates; 2 g sugar; 0 mg cholesterol; 822 mg sodium; 3 g protein; 3 g fiber.

French Potato Salad with Arugula, Roquefort, and Walnuts

Omit herbs and toss dressed potatoes with 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped coarse, 1 cup crumbled Roquefort cheese, and 3 ounces baby arugula, torn into bite-size pieces (3 cups) along with shallot in step 3. Serves 6.

Per serving: 334 calories; 20 g fat (5 g saturated fat; 54 percent calories from fat); 30 g carbohydrates; 2 g sugar; 17 mg cholesterol; 1,167 mg sodium; 8 g protein; 3 g fiber.

French Potato Salad with Radishes, Cornichons, and Capers

Omit herbs and substitute 2 tablespoons minced red onion for shallot. Toss dressed potatoes with 2 thinly sliced red radishes, 1/4 cup rinsed and drained capers, and 1/4 cup thinly sliced cornichons along with red onion in step 3. Serves 6.

Per serving: 208 calories; 9 g fat (1 g saturated fat; 39 percent calories from fat); 29 g carbohydrates; 1.5 g sugar; 0 mg cholesterol; 1,026 mg sodium; 3 g protein; 3 g fiber.

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