Preview of Next Week's (Special) Themes

March 26, 2010

In case you missed it, back in the fall the food surgeons at Cook's Illustrated challenged young and scrappy food52 to a recipe duel. At the heart of their provocation was the question of whose methodology creates better recipes: theirs (rigorous, scientific recipe testing by professionals) or ours (crowd-sourcing and curating, a celebration of individual cooks' voices). After months of negotiations we've reached consensus (sort of) and are plowing ahead with a contest. Here's how it will work: we'll proceed with our regular contest schedule -- naming two themes and coming up with winning recipes. These winners will then face off with Cook's Illustrated's thoroughly tested recipes. The dueling recipes will be posted on Slate and put to a public vote sometime in May.

The winner will take home fame and glory, and hopefully everyone will be enriched by the conversation about recipe creation. As always, we have full confidence in your ingenuity, cooking abilities, voice and clarity. So let the games begin!

And the themes are .... (drumroll).....

Shop the Story

Roasted Pork Shoulder

You can use a boneless or bone-in cut, and picnic or Boston butt. You can brine it, marinate it, or finish it with a sauce. You can season it with rosemary or lard it with garlic. Just make sure you cook it in the oven -- and let us in on the details of your best technique.


Chewy Sugar Cookies

It doesn't matter what flavors you use or how you get from flour and sugar to baked treat, just make sure your cookies are good and chewy! We'd love to know all your tips and secrets that lead to an exceptional cookie.



See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • katehill
  • thirschfeld
  • pierino
  • Amyrinco
  • coffeefoodwrite
Food52 (we cook 52 weeks a year, get it?) is a food and home brand, here to help you eat thoughtfully and live joyfully.


katehill April 2, 2010
I'm throwing in the French PIG's smothered onion, prune and armagnac pork shoulder I roasted last week for recipe testing. hard to beat great artisan produced French pork!
pierino April 2, 2010
Iowa pigs from La Quercia might argue. "Dez your pig baht?"
thirschfeld March 30, 2010
I don't usually think of sugar cookies as chewy but it depends on what you call a sugar cookie. I think of snickerdoodles as chewy but I wouldn't put them in the category of sugar cookie either. Never the less I have created one and both daughters love them so it really doesn't matter we will make them again.
pierino March 30, 2010
Okay, I've now blogged the throw down at Feel free to comment there too.
Amyrinco March 29, 2010
What a wonderful challenge!!!! I love both food52 and Cook's Illustrated and am staying neutral. Hoping to make each of the 4 recipes to judge fairly.
Amanda H. March 29, 2010
Sounds like a good plan to us!
coffeefoodwrite March 29, 2010
Just read all the comments here and this is such a WONDERFUL inspiring group. So glad to be a part of it! Can't wait to see what everyone comes up with. How great!
Sandy S. March 29, 2010
It's on!!!
Lizthechef March 28, 2010
And don't smile too much - take everything very, very seriously...
thirschfeld March 28, 2010
I have been rumaging for my bowtie. I thought it might give me the proper perspective.
pierino March 28, 2010
Make sure you put enough starch in your apron.
Brenna March 28, 2010
I wonder if it's appropriate to wear a lab coat for this week's contest, rather than my usual apron. Will I instantly become a proper kitchen scientist and formulate an unstoppable recipe guided by my usual efforts? I am willing to put this to the test.
pierino March 28, 2010
Only if you want to be a lab rat.
Brenna March 28, 2010
That's silly, pierino. Rats don't wear coats.
NakedBeet March 28, 2010
Does the pork shoulder have to stay whole when it's done or can it be shredded?
Amanda H. March 28, 2010
Yes, it can be shredded.
spiced N. March 29, 2010
Well, shredded pork is an entirely different beast from roasted pork shoulder. One eludes to barbecue while the other could be interpreted as something that has a crispy fat cap and sliceable meat. I think you should be more clear what the goal is.
pierino March 29, 2010
"crispy fat cap" is exactly where I'll be going. I've got my picnic shoulder ready to go.
Amanda H. March 29, 2010
Spiced Nuts, we're thinking about this and will be back in touch later today.
Amanda H. March 30, 2010
Spiced Nuts, we think shredding is ok because it's just the way you serve the meat. If you roast the meat in such a way that it can be shredded, then great.
TheWimpyVegetarian March 28, 2010
How fun this will be this week! We've got a lot of Food52 talent on our side of the stove (or oven, as the case may be) and I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with. This is just the ticket to get everyone's creativity bubbling. No question in my mind which team will win! You guys really know how to keep life exciting.
Kayb March 28, 2010
I am a Southerner. We learn to cook pork shoulder before we start kindergarten. If we were allowed use of a grill/barbecue pit, I could guarantee you a win for Food 52. But I've got a few good ones for the oven as well. (However, I am not a big cookie baker, so y'all are on your own there.)
Amanda H. March 28, 2010
Tlo7 March 28, 2010
I can't wait to add my pork picnic recipe! This should be fun.
Amanda H. March 28, 2010
Looking forward to it!
dymnyno March 28, 2010
I don't usually use real fatty cuts of a pork loin roast legal?
Merrill S. March 28, 2010
Sorry, pork shoulder was the settled-upon cut for the contest. We're trying to keep the playing field as level as possible.
mrslarkin March 27, 2010
Here's more background on CK's original challenge:

Keep in mind, this is all in good fun. Let's all play nice with the other kids. (tho I can't help myself from channeling my inner Ray Liotta.)
NakedBeet March 29, 2010
Wow, what a thread!
AntoniaJames March 29, 2010
Well, it makes clear that what is "best" depends on your perspective. Some people like and need utterly fool-proof recipes. Others (most of us here, I would surmise) (i) are going to fiddle with the recipe one way or another anyway, (ii) realize that there are a lot of variables (oven performance, (ii) amount of moisture in certain dry ingredients, etc.) that test kitchens can't account for so we rely on our judgment, experience and common sense, and (iii) value creativity that produces interesting and delicious results over technical perfection. I wonder then if this ultimately will be a battle to be won by the camp with the largest posse. ;o)
pierino March 29, 2010
I'm totally on AntoniaJames' team here. Preaching to the choir. There is no such thing as a fool proof home kitchen recipe. You have to understand what you are trying to do and what the end result should be, and how you are going to fix it if it doesn't go right. There are so many variables that can change things: is your oven calibrated exactly to the same temp as mine? It could be off by 25?. How sharp is your knife? How fresh are your ingredients? Are you buying "fresh" fish from a chain supermarket? All of this factors in. Where would Christopher Kimball purchase his fresh sardines?
NakedBeet March 29, 2010
I think it's safe to assume like you, Antonia and Pierino say, the people on this board are into creative altering. Experience gives you perfection, maybe! And I tweak and nerd out on my recipes all the time, but taste is always subjective. I love the idea behind Cook's magazine and enjoy browsing through issues from time to time, but I'm inspired to cook by many different things, not least of which this board and the hugely creative talent on here. Not being a k-a, just speaking the truth. Life would be pretty boring if all it came down to was a matter of oven degrees. Sometimes mistakes reveal deliciousness.
Kelsey B. March 27, 2010
Did someone say cookies? I'm in! I think between Sarah's gorgeous photos and @fineartdaily's watercolors we've got them in the art department, too.
fineartdaily June 29, 2010
Hello, KelseyTheNaptimeChef,
Thanks so much for your kind words!
Fineartdaily (Jean!)
dymnyno March 27, 2010
Team!! Remember that Google is your sure and google to what those guys have been up to in the past. You will be amazed and inspired at their website.
Aliwaks March 27, 2010
Bring it! OOH can we have a logo contest for the T-shirt??? Can think of anything clever right now but I'm sure someone will.
Aliwaks March 27, 2010
Haven't quite figure out if I should roast pork during passover???? Hmm Pork yes, cookies no, my Bubbe would understand.
aargersi March 27, 2010
This is VERY cool, we are definitly gonna open up a can o' whup-ass on CI! Can I say whup-ass here?
Amanda H. March 27, 2010
I think we address "whup-ass" in item 759 of our Terms of Service.
EmilyNunn March 27, 2010
Cooks Illustrated!
You're Fated
To Lose to Food52
Whoo whoo!