Pros: Well written, interesting and comprehensive
Cons: Difficult at times to locate what your looking for (index not the best)
The Best Recipe is quite simply one of the best (and most enjoyable) cookbooks I have read in a while. Although it sports a rather lofty title that I am sure many would challenge, I found the book to be an excellent resource on cooking. One of the better features of this book is that the editors of Cooks Illustrated (the authors) talk about the testing process that each recipe went through in order to make their list, and why they choose a certain method or ingredient. It is clear from the first pages that The Best Recipe is a worthy cookbook for any food lover's shelf.
As I made my way through the book I found myself fascinated with the detailed explanations that accompany most all of the recipes. Written much in the same manner a group of scientists might write when taking notes during the experimentation process, the notes and explanations are straightforward and easy to read (no science degree needed). It is in reading the explanations that you will find out just how they were able to develop a very flavorful chicken stock recipe that (according to writers) only takes twenty minutes. Of the recipes that I tested from the book (tomato sauce, white rice) I found them to be very flavorful and easy to prepare. Whether they are the best recipes I will leave to you to decide, but they were without a doubt extremely flavorful. It is interesting that on more than one occasion I found that it wasn't some complicated mix of spices or exotic ingredient that was the secret, but rather the actual technique that they use for making a particular dish. For perfect white rice they recommend toasting the rice grains, and when adding the cooking liquid it should be swirled in, not stirred with a spoon.
The Best Recipe is over 500 pages in length, and has 700 recipes. Starting off with the most basic the book covers all the bases of cooking from soups and stocks, to salads, vegetables, meat, poultry, and breads and pastries. Going above and beyond, the authors take the time to explain a particular ingredient and how it should be handled if needed. Some recommended ingredients were not so easy to find, but there are suitable substitutes from the authors.
If you are looking for an excellent all around cookbook that will give you a good base of recipes then I highly recommend The Best Recipe. I mean, who in the world would test 38 different versions creme caramel just to get it right? Only Cook's Illustrated would.