The Science of Cooking a Turkey, and Other Thanksgiving Dishes
Christopher Kimball, the bow-tied host of America’s Test Kitchen and founder of Cook’s Illustrated magazine, knows the difference between good cooks and great cooks. Great cooks—and he has built his empire on this premise—understand the scientific principles involved in their techniques. They are fluent in the different modes of heat transfer: radiant heat, convection and conduction. They can explain how diffusion and osmosis maintain equilibrium in their recipes. And, perhaps most impressively, they harness this scientific knowledge to defy gravity—when making soufflés and other baked goods rise.
In a recent presentation at the National Museum of American History, Kimball flashed a photograph of Albert Einstein. “Einstein was so smart not to get involved,” he said. “The science of cooking is actually much more complicated than particle physics.”
Luckily, Kimball and his crew of editors, test cooks and food scientists at the actual test kitchen, a 2,500-square-foot culinary laboratory just outside of Boston, unpack the science and serve it to us in bites we can chew on. I’ve found that the team’s latest book, The Science of Good Cooking, offers helpful tips in explaining the science behind some Thanksgiving favorites.