Taste Testing 101

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Taste Testing 101

By Julia Sayers

Here at Cooking with Paula Deen, taste testing is an important part of our job. We wouldn’t publish any recipe that didn’t taste delicious, so each one goes through a rigorous testing process. Every recipe you see in each issue has been tasted by myself and others from our editorial team.

Finding the Perfect Pizza
Our editorial line-ups and themes are established much earlier than the actual recipe development process in each story. We hand over the themes and topics of each column, and then the culinary staff in the test kitchens takes over. They focus on one column at a time and create the recipes based on our input. Let’s take the grilled pizza feature (Pizza Fresh From the Grill) from the May/June issue for example. We wanted them to create several recipes for pizzas using fresh ingredients that were both trend-forward and traditional flavor combinations. Once they do their research and start cooking, we receive a call and head down to the kitchens to see and taste. They have the dishes lined up, and on this day there were seven grilled pizzas. We take a couple bites (OK, maybe more depending on how hungry we are) of each type of pizza and then discuss the recipe with the test kitchen staff member who developed them.

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It’s All About You!
We talk about the ingredients used, the method, the overall taste (does it need more cheese, less sauce, more flavor, etc.), and if the recipe tastes the way you assume it would, meaning does Bacon-Cheeseburger Pizza actually taste like a bacon cheeseburger and does the Baked Potato Pizza have all of the elements of a baked potato? But most importantly, we think about you, our readers. Is this pizza something the readers would like? Would they actually make it, and is it simple enough for a home cook to make on any given night? We also want to make sure the recipe fits in with the other recipes in the issue and that it is consistent with the type of recipes Paula has shared in the past.

The Final Touches
If a dish passes all of these tests, it is good to go and will be moved along and marked as ready for photography. But if the recipe needs adjusting, it will be remade for a second tasting until it is up to par with the others in that story. Sometimes recipes just don’t work out at all, which is why we often test more than the number of recipes allocated per page in the issue. Sometimes the extra ideas end up tasting better than the ones we originally slated. You never know until you test them, which is why it’s so important. We want you to have only the best, and it’s not such a bad job—actually we are happy to chow down on all of Paula’s yummy recipes!

To do a taste testing of your own, check out a few of the grilled pizza recipes here, and pick up a copy of the May/June issue, on newsstands now, to get the rest.

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