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The Best 30-Minute Recipe Hardcover – October 1, 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 150 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Most quick recipes deliver speed but not flavor. They often rely on silly shortcuts (no, you can’t stuff bell peppers with raw ground beef and onions) and second-rate convenience -products (think canned soup). No wonder most "quick" recipes are fast but forgettable. In The Best 30-Minute Recipe, America’s Test Kitchen turns its crew of test cooks loose on the world of quick cooking in an effort to find flavor, not just convenience.

Many dishes are naturally quick—stir-fries, hearty salads, skillet sautés, and simple pasta dishes—but they also need to be full-flavored and foolproof. We have streamlined these -dishes, subtracting an ingredient or shortcutting a cooking method, to make them memorable and dependable.

But some recipes seem impossible to make in a mere 30 minutes. How about a richly flavored chicken stew that typically takes more than an hour at best? Parcook chicken thighs in the microwave to jump start the cooking. Meatloaf? Downsize one large meatloaf into four individual servings and brown them in a skillet. Baked ziti? Make the entire dish in a skillet, where the pasta cooks in a richly seasoned tomato sauce instead of a big pot of boiling water. And forget about second-rate supermarket shortcuts. Once you try our Quick and Crunchy Breaded Pork Chops, you’ll never be tempted by a store-bought breading mix again. Our recipe has all the convenience of the shake-and-bake version, but it tastes worlds better.

We also discovered that many "quick" recipes fail to include prep times. In The Best 30-Minute Recipe, every test cook used a timer to be sure every recipe really can be prepared, cooked, and on the table in 30 minutes or less. And if a recipe was cutting it close, we looked for acceptable shortcuts. When we couldn’t make a creamy chicken and rice casserole in 30 minutes, we turned to instant rice (sautéed in butter to improve the rice’s texture and flavor) with excellent results.

Special features include "Got Extra Time?" which provides suggestions and recipe alterations that will make a good dish even better if you have a few extra minutes to spend in the kitchen. Other features like "Making the Minutes Count" and "Kitchen Shortcuts" help you prep and cook more efficiently, -giving you skills you can use for a lifetime of cooking.

Organized around the most logical ways to think about quick cooking, The Best 30-Minute Recipe will lead you right to the type of dish you feel like making. Want to make an entire meal in a skillet? Turn to "Skillet Suppers" for dishes like -Skillet Steak Fajitas and Skillet Paella. Feel like preparing a simple, flavorful sauce while your pasta boils? Choose from dozens of options in "While the Pasta Cooks." You can also check out "Skillet Pasta," recipes that cook the pasta right in the -skillet with the sauce, saving you time and leaving you with just one pot to wash. -Another chapter, "Starting with Leftovers," offers -appealing ideas for turning last night’s dinner into a -completely new meal, such as Asian Spicy Noodles with Beef and Spinach or Curry in a Hurry.

The test kitchen also evaluated dozens of popular -convenience foods important to quick cooking, from ready-to-use minced garlic and jarred tomato sauce to preshredded cheese, precooked bacon, and more. If a product didn’t make the cut, you won’t find it in our recipes.

Put disappointing quick recipes behind you. The Best 30-Minute Recipe will help you get dinner on the table -quickly—a dinner that you can really enjoy! Fast food isn’t good food -unless you use just the right ingredients and the right combination of techniques. So don’t sacrifice flavor. Don’t sacrifice the pleasures of the table. Let America’s most trusted test kitchen show you how to cook both quickly and well. With The Best 30-Minute Recipe, satisfying, home-cooked meals really are just minutes away.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 278 pages
  • Publisher: Cook's Illustrated; 1st edition (October 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0936184981
  • ISBN-13: 978-0936184982
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 8.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (150 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
If this is your first cookbook from the ATK/Cook's Illustrated crew, I can almost guarantee you will be very happy with it. It's a very thorough and accessible approach to some cracking good recipes. The prose style is entertaining and informative and helps a less experienced cook get some insight into the tastes and textures that make a "good" recipe.

But if you want to learn more or get further into the style, you may find that you get less geniunely new material with each subsequent purchase. While any one of their books is very much worth having, they tend to endlessly repackage and reissue their recipes in various formats. That's a little problematic for someone who is a fan of the ATK approach, but also is in no way a collector of cook books. If a cook book has 3 or 4 recipes that I haven't seen before and genuinely want to try, I'll be satisfied, and each new ATK issue just barely satisfies that criterion. But the relatively high cost of acquiring these new recipes along with the 5th iteration of, say, mashed potatoes, Chicken Parmesan and skillet tamale pie, may irritate and exasperate some buyers.

One reviewer called these folks "A cottage industry gone amok". That has some truth to it, but it may be a little harsh. A more sympathetic reframing might be that they are simply trying to package their recipes in convenient ways so as to meet the demands of a particular segment of the cookbook market: "Best Recipe" vs "America's Test Kitchen companion series" vs "Cook's Illustrated compilation". And "Quick Meals" vs "Light Meals" vs "Vegetables" and "Soups and Stews".
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Format: Hardcover
This is my eighth book in my Cook's Illustrated (CI) collection and I have really enjoyed it. While it is true that many of CI's cookbooks are packed with repeat and/or repackaged recipes as other reviewers have pointed out, this book stands out from the pack in that it offers techniques in streamlining recipes so that you can get a delicious meal on the table in 30 minutes or less. And yes, every recipe I have tried has lived up to that promise (unlike other famed 30 minute cookbooks!). For people familiar with CI, this is quite a change in pace. My only real complaint with other CI books has been that the recipes can be involved and time consuming and leave your kitchen looking like a disaster area when you're finished. The good people at America's Test Kitchen didn't seem to be aware with how much kitchen equipment they had you dirtying with their recipes! This hardly made CI recipes very appealing on those weekdays when you needed a fast and easy meal on the table. This book changes all that! I can finally have delicious CI recipes even on high-stress, fast-paced days!

It is clear that CI had two very distinct goals when they put this book together...(1)every meal truly must take the average home cook 30 minutes or less to prepare, and (2)every meal must taste great. While this may sound like a given, most other 30 minute/quick meal books do not always deliver on those counts. Not only do they usually take the average cook WAY longer to prepare (do they even take prep time into consideration when they are putting together the recipes?) but even more importantly, all too often the shortcuts they take compromise the overall quality of the dishes, leaving them flat and unexciting. This is not so with CI's 30 Minute Recipe.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Have tried four recipes and all have been very quick and easy to make and have been delicious. Have given the book as gifts and plan to give more. An outstanding book in a wonderful series of books. Never a disappointment with Cook's Illustrated books. Highly recommend to beginner or experienced cooks.
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Format: Hardcover
I have yet to find a weak recipe in this cookbook and have used it nightly for several weeks. The recipes are straightforward to follow, use fresh ingredients, and yield excellent results. Highly recommended for any busy person who loves really good food.
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Format: Hardcover
I gave up on cooking many years ago. In the past, I would spend hours in the kitchen to make one dish that would turn out so so. I was so frustrated that my husband took over the cooking in our home. He can make up his own recipes and the dishes would turn out delicious. I do not have that skill. I have been looking for that one cookbook that had easy to prepare recipes that were fast and delicious. This is that cookbook. So far, I have made 3 meals since Christmas and they have all been easy to make and delicious. The recipes have been so good that I am actually looking forward to my next time cooking. I appreciate the written discussion with the recipes to explain some of the ingredient choices and hints to help with the recipe. With me not being an experienced cook, I need all the help I can get. I have been very pleased with this cookbook.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've owned this cookbook for over a month and I can't say enough good things about it. I own several ATK cookbooks, including the big Best Recipe (original and new edition), Best International Recipes, and Best Cover and Bake Recipes (the last one I also highly recommend).

When you cook a recipe from these folks, you're basically guaranteed it's going to come out tasting good. But, at least with the other books, you are often committing yourself to 1.5 hours of cooking. I don't mind that every now and then when entertaining or on a weekend, but that's simply not practical for busy people, i.e. moms, workers, etc.

Not so with Best 30 Min recipe. My husband works long hours in finance and I am a physician in a demanding residency program, but thanks to this cook book, I make about 3 fresh, homemade meals a week. We make it through the rest of the week thanks to yummy leftovers and eating out once or twice. On the weekend, I look through the book, pick 3 recipes, go grocery shopping for the week and then have ingredients on hand for 3 meals that really do only take 30 minutes. A few have taken a few minutes longer, but in general they actually keep to 30 minutes.

As other people have mentioned, the tips on doing things faster or "best jarred tomato sauce" are very helpful. For instance, now when serving pasta, I drain the boiling water into the serving bowl and let it sit until ready to serve. So I now serve my steaming pasta in a hot piece of Polish pottery which keeps the pasta warm at the table.

Here are the recipes I've tried so far and have loved:
1. Skillet lasagna - the noodles are simmered in the sauce soaking up delicious tomato and sausage flavors, and my husband loved only one pan to clean!
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