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America's Test Kitchen Returns with New Recipes, New Hosts, and Old Friends

Daniel Hautzinger
Sticky Buns and Cast Iron Steak with Herb Butter. (Courtesy of America's Test Kitchen)
Sticky Buns and Cast Iron Steak with Herb Butter. (Courtesy of America's Test Kitchen)

America's Test Kitchen is back. The seventeenth season of the cooking show begins Saturday, January 21 at 2:30 pm, with a previously aired episode at 2:00 pm. Stalwarts Julia Collin Davison and Bridget Lancaster are the new co-hosts, while Jack Bishop continues his taste tests, Adam Ried tells you which gadget is best, and Dan Souza explains the science behind recipes. But those recipes are the main draw. Here are a few to get your stomach rumbling.

Cast Iron Steaks with Herb Butter

Serves 4

Don’t forget to take the butter out to soften at least 30 minutes before you start to cook.

America's Test Kitchen's Cast Iron Steak. (Daniel J. Van Ackere)(Daniel J. Van Ackere)

2 (1-pound) boneless strip steaks, 1 ½ inches thick, trimmed
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position, place 12-inch cast-iron skillet on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Meanwhile, season steaks with salt and let sit at room temperature. Combine butter, shallot, parsley, chives, garlic, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in bowl; set aside.

2. When oven reaches 500 degrees, pat steaks dry with paper towels and season with pepper. Using potholders, remove skillet from oven and place over medium-high heat; turn off oven. Being careful of hot skillet handle, add oil and heat until just smoking. Cook steaks, without moving them, until lightly browned on first side, about 2 minutes. Flip steaks and cook until lightly browned on second side, about 2 minutes.

3. Flip steaks, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, flipping every 2 minutes, until steaks are well browned and meat register 120 to 125 degrees (for medium-rare), 7 to 9 minutes. Transfer steaks to carving board, dollop 2 tablespoons herb butter on each steak, tenet with aluminum foil, and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Slice steaks ½ inch thick and serve.

Red Lentil Soup with North African Spices

Serves 4 to 6

Pair this soup with a salad and bread for lunch or a light supper.

America's Test Kitchen's Red Lentil Soup. (Carl Tremblay)(Carl Tremblay)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, chopped fine
Salt and pepper
¾ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch cayenne
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
10½ ounces (1½ cups) red lentils, picked over and rinsed
2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus extra for seasoning
1½ teaspoons dried mint, crumbled
1 teaspoon paprika
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add coriander, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in broth, water, and lentils and bring to simmer. Simmer vigorously, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft and about half are broken down, about 15 minutes.

2. Whisk soup vigorously until it is coarsely pureed, about 30 seconds. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and extra lemon juice to taste. Cover and keep warm. (Soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Thin soup with water, if desired, when reheating.)

3. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in small skillet. Remove from heat and stir in mint and paprika. Ladle soup into individual bowls, drizzle each portion with 1 teaspoon spiced butter, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve.

Korean Fried Chicken Wings

Serves 4 to 6 as a main dish

A rasp-style grater makes quick work of turning the garlic into a paste. Our favorite rasp-style grater is the Microplane Classic Zester Grater. Gochujang, a Korean chile-soybean paste, can be found in Asian markets and in some supermarkets. Tailor the heat level of your wings by adjusting its amount. If you can’t find gochujang, substitute an equal amount of Sriracha sauce and add only 2 tablespoons of water to the sauce. For a complete meal, serve with steamed white rice and a slaw.

America's Test Kitchen's Korean Fried Chicken Wings. (Carl Tremblay)(Carl Tremblay)

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon garlic, minced to paste
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1¾ cups water
3 tablespoons sugar
2-3 tablespoons gochujang
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 quarts vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 pounds chicken wings, cut at joints, wingtips discarded

1. Combine sesame oil, garlic, and ginger in large bowl and microwave until mixture is bubbly and garlic and ginger are fragrant but not browned, 40 to 60 seconds. Whisk in ¼ cup water, sugar, gochujang, and soy sauce until smooth; set aside.

2. Heat vegetable oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat to 350 degrees. While oil heats, whisk flour, cornstarch and remaining 1 ½ cups water in second large bowl until smooth. Set wire rack in rimmed baking sheet and set aside.

3. Place half of wings in batter and stir to coat. Using tongs, remove wings from batter one at a time, allowing any excess batter to drip back into bowl, and add to hot oil. Increase heat to high and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent wings from sticking, until coating is light golden and beginning to crisp, about 7 minutes. (Oil temperature will drop sharply after adding wings.) Transfer wings to prepared rack. Return oil to 350 degrees and repeat with remaining wings. Reduce heat to medium and let second batch of wings rest for 5 minutes.

4. Heat oil to 375 degrees. Carefully return all wings to oil and cook, stirring occasionally, until deep golden brown and very crispy, about 7 minutes. Return wings to rack and let stand for 2 minutes. Transfer wings to reserved sauce and toss until coated. Return wings to rack and let stand for 2 minutes to allow coating to set. Transfer to platter and serve. 

Sticky Buns

Makes 12 buns

These buns take about 4 hours to make from start to finish. For dough that is easy to work with and produces light, fluffy buns, we strongly recommend that you measure the flour for the dough by weight. The slight tackiness of the dough aids in flattening and stretching it in step 6, so resist the urge to use a lot of dusting flour. Rolling the dough cylinder tightly in step 7 will result in misshapen rolls; keep the cylinder a bit slack. Bake these buns in a metal, not glass or ceramic, baking pan. We like dark corn syrup and pecans here, but light corn syrup may be used, and the nuts may be omitted, if desired.

America's Test Kitchen's Sticky Buns. (Carl Tremblay)(Carl Tremblay)Flour paste

⅔ cup water
¼ cup (1⅓ ounces) bread flour


⅔ cup milk
1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
2¾ cups (15⅛ ounces) bread flour
2 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened


6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ cup packed (3½ ounces) dark brown sugar
¼ cup (1¾ ounces) granulated sugar
¼ cup dark corn syrup
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons water
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped (optional)


¾ cup packed (5¼ ounces) dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. For the Flour Paste: Whisk water and flour together in small bowl until no lumps remain. Microwave, whisking every 25 seconds, until mixture thickens to stiff, smooth, pudding-like consistency that forms mound when dropped from end of whisk into bowl, 50 to 75 seconds.

2. For the Dough: In bowl of stand mixer, whisk flour paste and milk together until smooth. Add egg and yolk and whisk until incorporated. Add flour and yeast. Fit stand mixer with dough hook and mix on low speed until all flour is moistened, 1 to 2 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes. Add sugar and salt and mix on medium-low speed fro 5 minutes. Stop mixer and add butter. Continue to mix on medium-low speed for 5 minutes longer, scraping down dough hook and sides of bowl halfway through (dough will stick to bottom of bowl).

3. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter. Knead briefly to form ball and transfer seam side down to lightly greased bowl; lightly coat surface of dough with vegetable oil spray and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise until just doubled in volume, 40 minutes to 1 hour.

4. For the Topping: While dough rises, grease 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan. Whisk melted butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, corn syrup, and salt together in medium bowl until smooth. Add water and whisk until incorporated. Pour mixture into prepared pan and tilt pan to cover bottom. Sprinkle evenly with pecans, if using.

5. For the Filling: Combine sugar and cinnamon in small bowl and mix until thoroughly combined; set aside. 

6. Turn out dough onto lightly floured counter. Press dough gently but firmly to expel air. Working from center toward edge, pat and stretch dough to form 18 by 15-inch rectangle with long edge nearest you. Sprinkle filling over dough, leaving 1-inch border along top edge; smooth filling into even layer with your hand, then gently press mixture into dough to adhere.

7. Beginning with long edge nearest you, roll dough into cylinder, taking care not to roll too tightly. Pinch seam to seal and roll cylinder seam side down. Mark gently with knife to create 12 equal portions. To slice, hold strand of dental floss taut and slide underneath cylinder, stopping at first mark. Cross ends of floss over each other and pull. Slice cylinder into 12 portions and transfer, cut sides down, to prepared baking pan. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise until buns are puffy and touching one another, 40 minutes to 1 hour. (Buns may be refrigerated immediately after shaping for up to 14 hours. To bake, remove baking pan from refrigerator and let sit until buns are puffy and touching one another, 1 to 1 ½ hours.) Meanwhile, adjust oven racks to lowest and lower-middle positions. Place rimmed baking sheet on lower rack to catch any drips and heat oven to 375 degrees.

8. Bake buns on upper rack until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Tent with aluminum foil and bake until center of dough registers at least 200 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Let buns cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes. Place rimmed baking sheet over buns and carefully invert. Remove pan and let buns cool for 5 minutes. Using spoon, scoop any glaze on baking sheet onto buns. Let cool for at least 10 minutes longer before serving.