Hummus Wars, Part II: The Winner Is Revealed

Cook\'s Illustrated\'s Ultimate Hummus

As promised, I have completed my hummus recipe smackdown. Last weekend I tested Food & Wine’s recipe for hummus masabacha, and this past Sunday I whipped up Cook’s Illustrated’s Ultimate Hummus. With such a title for its recipe, Cook’s must have been feeling pretty confident in its chickpea prowess. I whirred up the food processor and got ready to determine if the magazine was all bluster and intimidation, or if it really had the hummus goods.

In terms of the actual cooking process and ingredients list, there is little difference between the two recipes. Both start with dried chickpeas that are soaked overnight, although Cook’s doesn’t soak them with baking soda. Instead, Cook’s adds the baking soda while the chickpeas are cooking on the stovetop the next day. Both recipes use lemons, garlic, cooking water, tahini, and cumin, although in slightly different quantities. In the most significant differences between the two, Cook’s Illustrated eschews the lemon tahini sauce utilized by Food & Wine, and purees the cooked chickpeas and dry ingredients on their own before adding the liquid ingredients to the food processor in two separate stages.

Even though the differences in the recipes are slight, Jim and I strongly preferred the hummus from Cook’s Illustrated. It was mild but slightly nuttier in flavor than the Food & Wine batch, and was somehow much creamier as well. Also, the Cook’s recipe creates a more moderate batch of hummus than Food & Wine, perfect for us to share over the next couple of days without fear of wasting it.

So, I hereby declare Cook’s Illustrated the winner of my hummus cook-off. But really, there are no losers here. Both magazines produced perfectly good recipes for one of my favorite Middle Eastern spreads, and both versions are much better than the pre-packaged stuff from my corner bodega. And anyway, since I have been able to eat fresh hummus for a week straight, I think I am the real winner here. That’s all that counts.

(Unfortunately I cannot link directly to the recipes on the Cook’s Illustrated website; you have to be a member of the website to see them.) 


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