Book Review: Knife Drop, by Nick DiGiovanni

Knife Drop includes Nick’s expert advice on equipment, ingredients, and techniques, so home cooks of any ability level can pick up some new skills.

A comprehensive cookbook with a wide range of dishes and plenty of helpful tips.

Feature image credit: Penguin Books Australia

As one of the youngest finalists in MasterChef history, Nick DiGiovanni was always destined for great things in the culinary world. Since ranking third place in the show’s 10th season when he was just 22 years old, DiGiovanni has grown his fanbase to millions. Knife Drop, a tome full of “creative recipes anyone can cook” is his first cookbook, heralded by a foreword from the one and only Gordon Ramsay. 

There’s a decent range of recipes here, many of them inspired by New England cuisine (think Browned Butter Lobster Rolls), along with those dishes that have gone viral on the author’s social media accounts—Viral Pasta Chips is definitely on my kitchen bucket list. There are also plenty of good old staples, including Perfect Jammy Eggs and Pasta Dough. 

In the Kitchen Basics chapter, DiGiovanni includes lists of Must-Have Equipment, Must-Have Ingredients, Tips and Tricks, and a QR Code Library that gives readers access to visual content. This section provides beginner cooks with a good foundation and a little confidence with which to start cooking, and also makes cooking accessible for readers who are visual learners. 

After the Fundamentals chapter (where you’ll find said Pasta Dough), there is a wide variety of coverage: Snacks and Dips, Breakfast, Soups, Sandwiches, Chicken, Meat, Seafood, Pasta, Carbs, Salads and Veggies, Sweets and Treats, and Recipes From My Friends. The latter contains guest recipes, including Soft Pretzels from Robert Irvine and Asparagus and Parmesan Risotto from Ken Oringer. 

Overall, the recipes I went with were easy to make and easy to follow, with the option to include homemade-from-scratch ingredients (the recipes for which could be found in the Fundamentals chapter. There are lots of tips and pieces of advice weaved through the book, which will definitely come in handy for nervous cooks. 

Fall-Apart Oven Ribs (page 133)

Americans seem to know best when it comes to ribs, so this recipe jumped out at me. I found that the baby back pork ribs at my butcher were a lot smaller than those I have had in the US, which may be why the end result was a little overpowering and salty. As American ribs tend to be larger, the ratio of ingredients in the rub may have been calculated with meatier US ribs in mind. But to the book’s credit, the quantity of meat (bones included) needed is listed in pounds and in kilos.

I really appreciated the tip about removing the membrane—and the QR code that brought me to a video of someone demonstrating how to do this—because I would have had no idea. The recipe was easy to follow and the final result was fall-part tender.   

Breadcrumb Caesar Salad (page 217) and Garlicky Croutons (page 46)

We love a Caesar salad! As someone who hates anchovies, I appreciated that the anchovy oil was optional. This was another super easy recipe and quick enough to whip up a few minutes before serving the ribs (not including toasting the croutons from scratch). 

I loved the addition of the croutons and the simplicity of this salad. It’s a good one to adapt with your own preferences, whether that’s with the suggested egg and anchovy oil, or with something else entirely. You could easily add chicken. The dressing was slightly oily, but it was a refreshing change from the overly creamy Caesar salad dressing that you tend to find in cafes. I would definitely make this again with a little less oil in the dressing. 

Reviewed by Vanessa Elle
Instagram: @vanessaellewrites

The views expressed in this review belong to the author and not Glam Adelaide, its affiliates, or employees.

Distributed by: Penguin Books Australia
Released: June 2023
RRP: $49.99

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