Cooks Illustrated Shows Cooking's Adventurous Side

The folks at Cooks Illustrated can sometimes make you snort at tales of their visits to failure, along the highway to success.

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By John Aloysius Farrell, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

“As it jerked me off my feet and started dragging me across the ground, it occurred to me that having a deer on a rope was not nearly as good an idea as I had originally imagined.”

It is rare that one gets a laugh from a cookbook. But aside from furnishing nifty culinary tricks, the folks at Cooks Illustrated can sometimes make you snort at tales of their visits to failure, along the highway to success.

The conceit at Cooks, I surmise, is that Julia Child's kitchen is in the Smithsonian for a reason. So they take a standard, like roasted chicken or barbecued ribs, and update, using new kitchen toys and technology, ingredients, and suggestions from their readers. They fill you in on their disasters, as well as their triumphs, and you learn from the journey. It is part food porn, and part “Hints from Heloise.”

Which brings us to the deer on the rope. One at-large contributor from Vermont (Larry, or maybe his brother Darryl, or his other brother Darryl?) decided that capturing a deer and feeding it corn might make for a juicier venison steak. Since deer are as plentiful as chipmunks (ask your local State Farm adjuster) in the Eastern woodlands, our intrepid contributor had no problem getting Bambi on the leash. And, in true Cooks Illustrated voice, he detailed what happened. “Did you know deer bite? They do! I never in a million years would have considered this possibility.”

The story is told by a hunter, who generously concedes that the animal lovers and vegans out there will get as big a kick from it (“I screamed like a 5-year-old girl, turned, and ran”) as his fellow carnivores. I recommend it. And the cookbook.

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