Anyone who reads my posts regularly knows that I'm a huge fan of Cooks Illustrated (CI), and for good reason-- they've quite literally taught me how to cook.
Pre-2006, I was a Trader Joe's "cook", (i.e. combining pre-made ingredients to make something "new") and today I'm a scratch cook. I've found that the vast majority of the Cooks-tested recommended recipes and equipment reviews are accurate, and both my kitchen and my life have been made better because of the test kitchen's hard work and expertise.
Enter Cook's Country (CC), by the same people who brought you Cook's Illustrated. Their focus is supposedly on traditional and regional American cooking, and I love the concept. Those quirky, regional recipes like St. Louis style pizza now have a place to live. (But notice, their magnificent New York pizza recipe is part of CI, not CC.)
I've also noticed that CC recipes are more likely to utilize shortcut ingredients, like strawberry flavored Jell-O or roll-and-bake pie crust (CI is more likely to do a scratch vodka pie crust, or make a strawberry puree reduction with unflavored gelatin, for example.) And of the CC recipes I've made, I've had a few that have not just been bad, but have been failures. (Sweet potato sonker, I'm looking squarely at you). Though there have been some CI recipes I haven't liked, I haven't had any outright failures in any of their post-2006 recipes.)
Having said this, I have noticed that CI's earlier efforts (pre-2000) tend to be a bit rough around the edges. This is definitely an organization that learns from its mistakes and grows, and the earlier recipes are not updated to reflect more current updates. (For example, older pie recipes developed before the vodka pie crust revelation involve very different, more challenging techniques to inhibit gluten development.)
I'm wondering if any other Cooks fans have noticed this phenomenon, and suspected that CC was the place where sub-par CI recipes go.