Chicken: A Fresh Take on Classic Recipes is a solid cookbook – a large selection of recipes from around the world giving new perspective on a meat staple. For me, however, I found the book frustrating to follow and a bit too advanced (I had neither the equipment nor the knowledge to follow many recipes). The formatting of the recipes and lack of images keep this at a four star rating but I appreciate that for more experienced cooks, this is definitely a 5 star book.
The book gives a great introduction on the history of chicken but also how to buy, prepare, and cook it. It’s basic info but a good reference for those who might have holes in their cooking education dealing with chicken. It’s the one part of the book I found the most useful. The recipes are meant to give us something new – adding in the latest popular foods e.g., kale and quinoa and showcasing how different cultures use chicken. The book is arranged in 3 main sections: Weekday meals (light and main meals), Weekend meals (light and main meals) and then Dinners and Celebrations (appetizers and main meals). At the end are basic recipes (e.g., chicken stock) and accompaniments.
The layout of the cookbook was a bit problematic for me. Recipe instructions are given in paragraph form. That makes it very difficult to continually follow and then reference back – it’s easy to get lost when it is all words stuck in 8-9 paragraphs. I always prefer steps to be numbered in block form for easier reference when actually cooking. As well, all ingredients are listed on the right of the page – when you have 25 ingredients, it gets a bit hard to reference. Those could also have been broken down into types (e.g., spices together, vegetables together, herbs together, etc.). The entire page is monochromatic – color keying or even using different fonts/type/italics would have helped make the recipes easier to look at and follow. Especially since there are so few pictures so I had no idea what I was preparing was supposed to look like or how it was to be presented.
The recipes are quite interesting – a lot far more interesting than my family is probably going to invest in eating (or that I want to buy all the ingredients for/prepare). For that reason, this felt very much like an old fashioned ‘cook’s’ cookbook – written by and intended for those who love cooking. Since I don’t fall in that category and just wanted interesting inspirations for family dinners, I probably fell very much out of the intended audience for the book.
Those that love cooking will fall in love with the diversity and depth of the recipes listed. There is a world class list of recipes here – from chicken waterzooi to smoked chicken, mango, and asparagus verrine. So although this isn’t a cookbook I can use much, I can readily attest that this is a very good recipe and cookbook for the cooking aficionado. This will challenge what you have done with chicken in the past and give you fresh new ideas for the modern chicken meal.
Reviewed from an ARC.