America’s Test Kitchen has a huge archive of excellent, tested recipes, and it frequently cherry-picks from them to make specialized cookbooks. Across the board, these books are smart and helpful, yet this one does something different. Yes, the answer is in its title, but the team at ATK being the team at ATK, the book formalizes their—and our—relationship with plant-based meat. The approach focuses on getting us to use it just like we might for ground beef or ground pork; the art on the front and back of the book features photos of meat-lover classics like a burger, chili, tacos, pizza, banh mi, and lettuce wraps.
Two things I appreciated were basics about plant-based meat that I hadn’t yet internalized: You should cook it less, especially for burgers, as the texture is best when it’s cooked to about 130-135 degrees (you’re on your own after that). And you can embellish it just like real ground meat. For example, I made a chorizo seasoning to mix into Impossible Burger for excellent tacos with potatoes and salsa verde. Change up the herbs and spices and create meatballs, breakfast sausage, and sweet Italian sausage. These aren’t groundbreaking recipes, but repertoire-builders that normalize an ingredient that’s relatively new to all of us. Can I get an amen? One note: You’ll want to experiment to find your favorite brand of meat. I find Impossible Burger—ATK’s favorite—solid across the board, but Beyond Beef—the runner-up—is not my thing, so shop, taste, and make sure you’re cooking with one you like.
(Bonus: For more earth-friendly barbecue, check out Argentine chef Francis Mallmann’s Green Fire.)
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