Saturday, September 15, 2012

Weekend Cooking...A Review of "The Complete Cook's Country" [77]

The Complete Cook's Country TV Show Cookbook by Editors at Cook's Country
Boston Common Press, ISBN 978-1936493005
September 1, 2012, 400 pages

Are you sick of me telling you how much I like America's Test Kitchen?
Well, tough!
Because they have a new cookbook out and I bought it and I love it and I am going to share!

This one is from the ATK spin-off, Cook's Country. Same folks, same techniques, same great recipes, slightly different emphasis....
"This is real regional American food, from the past as well as the present, and it comes from a real place where it was cooked by your grandmother or my great uncle. As they say in the art business, this food has "provenance"...seeking out lost and regional recipes..and bring them up to date and freshen them up for a new audience."
It is a very attractive book, each recipe covering a two page spread, with a full color picture, a paragraph explaining 'Why This Recipe Works, the recipe and often a B&W box with a lesson in technique, or some historical information about the dish or some buying suggestions. And it contains every recipe from the TV show, all 5 seasons.

There are 11 chapters in all, with titles like Our Sunday Best, Tex-Mex Favorites, Everyone Loves Italian, Great American Cakes and Cookies and Save Room for Pie. Everyone loves pie, right!
Each chapter begins with a charming vintage looking introduction, with some great photographs that took me back to my childhood, and that set up the recipes perfectly. Southern Style Skillet Cornbread..Baltimore Pit Beef...Gumbo..Italian Pot Roast..Monkey Bread..Maine Blueberry Grunt..I could go on and on. There is not a recipe here that does not sound and look delicious.

Then there is what is maybe my favorite part of the book, a 50 page section at the end with two parts, Stocking Your Pantry and Shopping For Equipment. Not sure what knife to buy? Should you spend $150...$200 for one of those Famous Brands. Well no, they say. Their best chef knife is the $30 Victorinox Fibrox 8" Chef's Knife...and I can tell you it is true from personal experience. Best semi-sweet chocolate chips? Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet! I can't disagree.  From curry powder to blenders, it is full of great stuff and great information. This is just one reason this would make a great book for someone just stocking a new kitchen.
I will warn you, this book is rather oddly lacking in vegetable dishes. There are a few, especially if you include potatoes but it is veggie light. If you are looking for veggies, this may not be the best place.

So, I decided to share a recipe. But which one?
So I picked one for a dish I don't really love.
My mother made a good meatloaf, but I never learned the secret and after a few tries, with mushy, or crumbling, or tasteless ones, gave up.
Well, my no-meatloaf days are over! Because this one is good!
My sister-in-law, an actual fan of meatloaf, said it was the best meatloaf she ever had!! EVER.
I though it was pretty darn good myself.

Cook's Country Glazed Meatloaf


  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2/3 cup crushed saltine crackers (about 17 crackers)
  • 1/3 cup whole milk 
  • 1 pound 90% lean ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork or turkey
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
Whisk all the ingredients for the glaze in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Reserve 1/4 cup glaze mixture in a small bowl and simmer the remaining glaze over medium heat until it is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Cover and keep warm.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat lightly with cooking spray. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Cook the onion until golden, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a large bowl.

Process the saltines and milk in a food processor until smooth. Add the beef and pork and pulse until well combined, about ten 1-second pulses. (You can also do this process by hand, although the beef and saltine mixture won’t be as well mixed.) Transfer the meat mixture to the bowl with the cooled onion mixture. Add the eggs and yolk, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, parsley, 1 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper to the bowl and mix with your hands until combined.

Adjust the oven racks to the upper (about 4-inches away from broiler elements) and middle positions and heat the broiler. Transfer the meat mixture to the prepared baking sheet and shape it into a 9- by 5-inch loaf. Broil on the upper rack until well browned, about 5 minutes. Brush 2 tablespoons of the reserved, uncooked glaze over the top and sides of the loaf and then return to the oven and broil for another 2 minutes.

Transfer the meatloaf to the middle rack and brush with the remaining uncooked glaze. Change the oven temperature to bake at 350 degrees and bake the meatloaf for 40 to 45 minutes, until cooked through. Transfer the meatloaf to a cutting board and tent with foil. Let it rest for 20 minutes. Slice and serve, passing the cooked glaze at the table.

Of course, I had to make a little change. I had read another blog post, which I lost  and can not give credit to, which made a switch for the ground pork. I replaced the ground pork with Italian sausage. You could not really tell what that extra flavor was..the SIL did not guess..but I think it added a great little touch and would do it that way again. Also, I was not at my house, did not have a food processor with me, so I just used my very clean hands to mix it up.
The panade, the crackers and milk, just melted in, keeping the loaf moist.  That dash of hot sauce and the vinegar in the glaze was perfect to balance the sweetness.
With some mashed potatoes...they have some great potato recipes too...this would be a perfect everyday or Special Day dinner.

This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


  1. That's a dinner I saw frequently on our table when I was growing up. A staple and DE-licious!

  2. Carl loves meatloaf so I'll have to try that recipe. I think the cookbook will make a great Christmas gift for my sister!

  3. OOOOOHHHHH Yay! I've been wondering about this cookbook. I should have know I could count on my fellow ATK junkie to get a review in. Definitely adding this book to my list.

  4. You really do love ATK :) I do, too! Adding this one to my list as well! The meatloaf looks so good and I'm not even a fan of meatloaf :)

  5. I love ATK and cooks Country too. Here is a link if you would like to sign up to be a tester for Cook's Country. They email you recipes and you cook it and then fill out a survey about it. They do this with each recipe before it goes to print. I am going to make this meatloaf!

  6. I love meatloaf although sadly I can't make it very often since The Child has gone vegetarian on me. This looks like a great recipe.

  7. I do love a good meatloaf but have variable results. Thanks for this one to try. Have a great weekend.

  8. Okay, this looks good, and I'm not even a meatloaf fan. My mother put onions in her recipe growing up, and I couldn't stand onions as a kid. Now that's changed, and I'm realizing I haven't tried meatloaf in ages...

  9. My mother always mixed meatloaf with her hands -- so that seems authentically American to me!

    1. so did mine...but the food processor would have been cool if I had it with

  10. Their crockpot cookbook got some good reviews too. I keep meaning to check it out.

    1. I did a review of that one too!

  11. very good idea when planning ahead for the week as well!

  12. This is going to be my Christmas gift to my sister-in-law this year, it is perfect. I love the last two sections, Stocking Your Pantry and Shopping For Equipment, how useful is that? Meatloaf is a big favorite of my guys, I may have to try this one.

  13. Cookbooks that highlight regional dishes have a special part in my heart. Isn't it wonderful how a newly tested dish becomes an instant favourite? Here's to many more favourites from this cookbook!

  14. I spotted this cookbook at work when it came in and knew it'd be a winner. I may have to treat myself to a copy this Christmas! My husband and I love meatloaf and I have a decent recipe (basically made with meat, milk, egg, breadcrumbs, and seasonings), but this sounds good with the pork/Italian Sausage. I'll definitely add it to my weekly menu! And, yes. I use my hands to mix it together. :)


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