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Aug 7, 2011 12:41 AM

Best technique cookbook?

HI all.
I'm on the lookout for a really good go-to technique cookbook that teaches the fundamentals of cooking, not 'recipe book'. After doing my homework, I've narrowed down to Complete Techniques by Jacques Pepin, The Way to Cook by Julia Child and Sauces by James Peterson. If you can only buy one book, what would it be? Any recommendation outside those mentioned above is welcome.

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    1. re: ninrn

      Still think the Pepin Complete Techniques is best, but another possibility for solid explanation of classic European technique La Varenne Pratique by Ann Willan.

    2. The French Culinary Institute book in really good as is Madeleine Kamman's The New Making of a Cook.

      4 Replies
      1. re: AAQjr

        Do you mean French Culinary Institute's Salute to Healthy Cooking? That's the only cookbook titled French Culinary Institute on Amazon.

        1. re: pearlyriver

          Or else "Fundamental Techniques of Classic Cuisine":

          My basic cookbook was the 1970s trade paperback version of "Joy," and I found a lot I wanted to cook in "Bon Appetit" magazine from 1978-1983.

          Now I like "The Complete America's Test Kitchen Cookbook 2001-2011." It features the very well tested ATK/CI recipes for practically everything I think is worth eating. If I were learning how to cook, this might be my first choice.

          1. re: Jay F

            Yes, Thank you Jay! That's the one.

            1. re: AAQjr

              Thank you AAQjr and Jay F. That's right up my valley. I don't care about recipes, I believe once I master the techniques I can be on my own.

      2. I'm considering Jacquies Pepin as well - I hear the newer editions have combined the two book technique and method into one? If anyone has any experience with this book I'd be interested to hear.
        I already own a "basic cookbook" which tells you things like how to boil rice or scramble eggs as well as having diagrams of meats and pastas etc but alas it does not tell you how to bone a duck (or anything for that matter).

        1 Reply
        1. re: Xantha

          i have the combined Pepin. It is very direct and has a lot of step-by-step illustrations which are rather small, but when you read the accompanying text it is easy to appreciate what is being depicted.

          Sections of McGee's "On Food and Cooking" are also invaluable in terms of teaching the reasoning for various techniques.

        2. I use "On Cooking". That's what we used in our cooking classes. Each chapter has techniques, information then a few recipes that utilize the techniques for that chapter, (i.e. Meats, Vegetables, etc.). Nothing fancy, just the facts.

          here's the link to Amazon for it. This is just the 3rd edition, but I think they are newer editions.

          1. I thought Food + Heat = Cooking by Alton Brown does a good job explaining techniques rather than recipes. There is a chapter for each type of cooking, like broiling, sauteing, frying, etc. He explains what is happening from a scientific point of view so you understand why one technique vs another may be more appropriate for what you are trying to do. If you a familiar with AB from the Food Network, you know there are diagrams and examples that help him explain things if you are new to cooking. I found this book very helpful in my informal way of learning how to cook.

            2 Replies
            1. re: egbluesuede

              I agree that is a great book, and AB is a great resource, though his book doesn't have many of the more complex, fancier (ie, chefier) techniques, but rather sticks to the basics that home cooks really should have down pat [Not sure if you're looking for one or the other]. Also, the title given above is the subtitle, I'm Just Here for the Food is the title.

              1. re: GardenFresh

                I've just checked out this book from my library and it seems phenomenal. I've been cooking seriously for several years, collecting thousands of recipes without really understanding the whys and hows of cooking. Time to learn the techniques properly.