Just the Essentials with Dan Souza

Why the science guy loves the humble roast chicken.

Published Nov. 2, 2015.

In celebration of 100 Recipes—a book which lists, in our estimation, the 100 most essential recipes in the history of the Test Kitchen—our beloved television personalities have each compiled a list of their five favorite recipes from the book. Below, cast member and Cook's Illustrated editor in chief Dan Souza lists his, including a recipe for the humble roast chicken.

1. Weeknight Roast Chicken

Not much to say here except that this recipe puts one of the all-time best foods in your oven and on your table effortlessly. My good friend Bryan Roof developed this recipe for Cook’s Illustrated before switching teams to lead recipe development for Cook’s Country. It’s so good I almost forgive him for being a traitor.

2. Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder

I’m a pork guy and, for me, nothing beats the flavor and texture of the shoulder (well, maybe the belly). I use this cut in a huge range of dishes, but this recipe really puts it on a pedestal for all to see, smell, taste, and enjoy. Here there’s no smoke, spice, or braising liquid to distract from the crispy fat cap and meltingly tender meat.

3. Rice and Lentils with Crispy Onions (Mujaddara)

Who knew a side dish of rice and lentils could be so exciting or satisfying? The fried onions and yogurt sauce, which would honestly be good on most anything, make this otherwise humble combination pretty special.

4. Indonesian-Style Fried Rice

Fried rice is one of my top comfort foods but I’d never had this version before my former colleague, Yvonne Ruperti, started developing it. It’s arguably my favorite version of fried rice because it offers that addicting balance of sweet and savory. The fried shallots and tender omelet slices put it in a league of its own.

5. Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies—crisp at the edges and chewy in the center—nail that perfect combination of toffee, salt, and chocolate. I see a lot of food come through the test kitchen everyday and nothing gets the same level of attention as these cookies.

The Test Kitchen's True Essentials

100 Recipes

If you could only have 100 recipes at your disposal, what would they be? In 100 Recipes, the editors of America’s Test Kitchen present what they consider the recipes everyone should know how to make—these are the dishes that will give anyone the culinary chops they need to succeed in the kitchen.
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