Trying Out the America’s Test Kitchen Modern Bistro Cookbook

An American French Bistro Cookbook in France?!

America’s Test Kitchen “Modern Bistro” Cookbook
I recently accepted a sample of the new America’s Test Kitchen “Modern Bistro” Cookbook for review purposes. This was an easy “yes” because:

  • America’s Test Kitchen recipes are always well researched
  • I’m a fan of French cooking in general
  • Bistro style recipes are typically a bit less involved than haute cuisine

There was just one problem: We were soon leaving for an extended trip to France. The PR person got the book in my hands in a few days, I squeezed the book into my suitcase, and off to France it went. An American French cookbook in France? The recipes are aimed at American cooks with ingredients by volume vs. weight, and American names. That’s ok, I can translate zucchini into courgette and eggplant into aubergine.

Disclosure: The Modern Bistro Cookbook was provided as a sample. No other compensation was offered and all opinions expressed are mine.

We had fun trying all three pan sauces for our Chicken Paillard

Chicken Paillard with Pan Sauces
My first foray into the book was Chicken Paillard, a dish featuring pounded-thin slices of chicken breast quick sautéed. Once the chicken is cooked, a pan sauce is made to enjoy with the chicken. On a normal night I would just make one sauce, following the directions by making it after the chicken was out of the sauté pan. Since I was making all three sauces to test out the recipes, I made them in parallel and not after. While I wouldn’t recommend doing all three sauces, picking two would be fun. All three sauces were tasty, our favorites were the mustard-cider sauce and the orange-dill sauce. All the sauces were easy to make and the ingredients lists weren’t more than about 6 ingredients per sauce including pantry basics such as vinegars, oils, butter and flour.

Roussillon and Southwest France
Our wine for dinner was a white wine from the Roussillon region on the Mediterrean in the south of France, almost to Spain. White grapes grown in the region are chosen for the warm climate, so they retain refreshing acidity but also have weight and texture.

Maxime Magnon “La Bégou” Corbieres AOC 2016

Maxime Magnon “La Bégou” Corbières AOC 2016 ($57 in the US )13% abv
Maxime Magnon pursues his vineyard and winery work with utmost respect for the environment and minimal intervention. He is certified organic and works using biodynamic practices in the vineyard. His La Bégou cuvée is made from 50% Grenache Gris, 35% Grenache Blanc, 15% Carignan Gris. No sulfur is used during vinification (only at bottling). The wines are aged in large old barrels for 10 months prior to bottling. The wine had a nice refreshing acidity while showing a medium plus body with a rich texture, very nice at the dinner table.

(click on either photo to view full size, hit escape to return to the post)

Curious about the Modern Bistro Book?
If you’d like to get a feel for the cookbook, the publisher gave me permission to share the recipes for this meal from the book. I’ve tried a couple more recipes and they have remained true to the bistro theme of makeable at home and delicious. The book just launched and can be purchased here or on Amazon.

Chicken Paillard


total time: 40 minutes

Why this recipe works Paillard is a French term that refers to boneless meat that has been pounded thin to tenderize it and help it cook faster. We halve the chicken breasts horizontally and pound them to an even thickness under plastic wrap, so they cook at the same rate and turn out moist, tender, and juicy. To further ensure juiciness, we brown them on only one side. Getting a brown crust is key, but browning both sides dries the meat out. These sautéed superthin chicken cutlets are satisfying midweek fare; they are easy to make and look so good, they evoke the feeling of an evening out. The cutlets can be paired with a number of sauces. We use the sweet, tangy combination of apple cider and cider vinegar with the kick of whole grain mustard. You can also try our leek and white wine pan sauce or dill and orange pan sauce. To make slicing the chicken easier, freeze it for 15 minutes.

Chicken Ingredients
4 (6- to 8‑ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, tenderloins removed and breasts trimmed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

Instructions
1 for the chicken Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Halve chicken horizontally, then cover chicken halves with plastic wrap and use meat pounder to pound cutlets to even 1/4‑inch thickness. Season both sides of each cutlet with salt and pepper.

2 Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12‑inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Place 4 cutlets in skillet and cook, without moving, until browned, about 2 minutes. Using spatula, flip cutlets and continue to cook until second sides are opaque, 15 to 20 ­seconds. Transfer to large heatproof plate. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to now-empty skillet and repeat with remaining cutlets. Cover plate loosely with foil and transfer to oven to keep warm while making sauce.

Mustard-Cider Pan Sauce

Ingredients
1 shallot, minced
11/4 cups apple cider
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces

Instructions
1. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet. (If necessary, add oil to equal 1 tablespoon).
2. Add shallot and cook over medium heat until softened, about 1 minute.
3. Adjust heat to medium-high and add cider and vinegar.
4. Bring to simmer, scraping pan bottom with wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits.
5. Simmer until reduced to 1/2 cup, 6 to 7 minutes.
6. Off heat, stir in mustard and parsley, then whisk in butter 1 tablespoon at a time.
7. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately with cutlets.

Dill and Orange Pan Sauce

Ingredients
1 large shallot, minced
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon orange zest plus 1/4 cup orange juice
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces and chilled
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

Instructions
1. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet. (If necessary, add oil to equal 1 tablespoon.)
2. Add shallot and cook over medium heat until softened, about 1 minute.
3. Stir in broth and orange juice, scraping up any browned bits.
4. Bring to simmer and cook until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 3 minutes.
5. Off heat, whisk in butter, 1 piece at a time, until melted and sauce is thickened and glossy.
6. Whisk in orange zest, dill, vinegar, and any accumulated meat juices.
7. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Leek and White Wine Pan Sauce

Ingredients
1 leek, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced ¼ inch thick, and washed thoroughly
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
¾ cup chicken broth
½ cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, chilled
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon whole-grain mustard

Instructions
1. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from skillet. (If necessary, add oil to equal 2 tablespoons.)
2. Add leek and cook over medium heat until softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
3. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in broth and wine, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any lumps. 4. Bring to simmer and cook until thickened and reduced to ¾ cup, 3 to 5 minutes.
5. Off heat, whisk in butter until melted and sauce is thickened and glossy, then whisk in tarragon, mustard, and any accumulated meat juices.
6. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Comments
2 Responses to “Trying Out the America’s Test Kitchen Modern Bistro Cookbook”
  1. I’m a fan of ATK…As you say the recipes are always well researched.

  2. Lynn says:

    I used to get the magazine, such a great resource. Would love to look through the book when we visit you two, hopefully before your first six months is up!

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