08 March 2014

Weekend Cooking: Pressure Cooker Perfection by America's Test Kitchen

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Pressure Cooker Perfection by America's Test KitchenAs you might remember, Lorna Sass has long been my go-to guide for pressure cooker dishes (see my earlier pressure cooker post). Apparently I'm in good company, because Christopher Kimball, of America's Test Kitchen (ATK) fame, also used Sass's books when he first experimented with cooking under pressure.

Because pressure cooking has been gaining in popularity, ATK decided to investigate. They spent a year testing the techniques and recipes collected in their Pressure Cooker Perfection. The result is 100 fail-safe dishes that just might change your life, or at least your dinner table.

I know, I know. You've heard horror stories of pressure cookers exploding, and you're scared of the hiss and steam. Or maybe you just don't believe that you'll have a flavorful chicken broth after only about an hour of cooking. I've never quite understood the fear, but I promise you that modern-day cookers are safe, and they will, as the subtitle to Pressure Cooker Perfection notes, "change the way you cook." I use my cooker at least once a week, and I couldn't live without it.

© America's Test KitchenIf you are totally new to the concept of pressure cooking, this book is a fine place to start. ATK takes you through everything you need to know. They introduce you to the vocabulary, offer step-by-step guides, provide cooking charts, and even suggest brands of cookers. After reading the opening sections, you'll feel as if you had gone to pressure cooker school--and I mean that in good way.

True to ATK form, the recipes in Pressure Cooker Perfection have been tested and retested to guarantee success. Each one is accompanied by photos, clear instructions, easy-to-find ingredients, and even a troubleshooting section. Beginners will feel confident with this book by their side, and experienced pressure cooker cooks will appreciate picking up a few new tips and techniques.

 The recipes are quite basic and are designed to help you feel comfortable with the pressure cooker and learn general procedures that you can use later when adapting your own recipes. The broths, soups, chilies, roasts, pasta sauces, risotto, and side dishes all look tasty would be welcome by most home cooks.

© America's Test KitchenI was particularly attracted to the pasta sauces, soups, and roasts, which are standard pressure cooker fare. New to me is the concept of indoor barbeque recipes, some of which rely on liquid smoke. Now I'm curious about making ribs and wings in the cooker and definitely plan to give them a try. Once you taste a juicy, flavorful whole chicken made in under an hour, you'll be adding it to your weeknight table

Near the beginning of Pressure Cooker Perfection you'll find detailed guides for cooking meats, beans, grains, and vegetables. These charts are the key to adapting your own recipes for the pressure cooker; you'll turn to the charts again and again over the years. And of course you can trust ATK's timing recommendations because they are based on solid, practical experience.

If you've toyed with the idea of getting a pressure cooker or if you have one that you've been too afraid to use, pick up a copy of Pressure Cooker Perfection and embrace the modern world of pressure cooking. You'll be surprised at how easy the cookers are to use and how delicious your food will be. (Note on the photos: the photos were scanned from the cookbook; all rights remain with ATK.)

You might remember that I made a curried split pea soup in the pressure cooker a few weeks ago. I love that I got all-day flavor in under an hour. What could be better for busy cooks? Take a look at the following short video to find out what some restaurant chefs have to say about using the pressure cooker (video made by ATK and available on YouTube). Then lose the fear and start cooking under pressure.

America's Test Kitchen, 2013
ISBN-13: 9781936493418
Source: Bought (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Marg 3/8/14, 6:06 AM  

I have never owned a pressure cooker. It's on my one day list!

jama 3/8/14, 6:47 AM  

Wow, I'm psyched! You've quelled my fear of exploding vegetables :). Great video, too. I love the idea of infusing flavor in foods in short periods of time. Will have to look for this book.

rhapsodyinbooks 3/8/14, 7:18 AM  

I'm still totally intimidated by pressure cookers! even the name...

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 3/8/14, 7:27 AM  

I always see these things on Iron Chef!! And, I admit I am intimidated because I always see the Iron Chefs struggling to open their cookers or have one malfunction. However, I am interested and would like to try it one day!

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity 3/8/14, 7:39 AM  

You have me curious! Especially as sauce and soup are common in my house and we also love a good BBQ. I could do another Operation Kitchen with the pressure cooker. LOL!!

Clarissa 3/8/14, 8:48 AM  

Thank you! I got a pressure cooker for Hanukkah but haven't found a cookbook I loved yet. This might be it!

bermudaonion 3/8/14, 9:40 AM  

I remember my mom's pressure cooker. I'm not sure why I've never investigated one.

(Diane) bookchickdi 3/8/14, 11:41 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
(Diane) bookchickdi 3/8/14, 11:42 AM  

We used to have a HUGE pressure cooker at our Mexican restaurant to cook the refried beans and it scared the heck out of me.

Anonymous,  3/8/14, 12:29 PM  

Both my mum and grandma use pressure cookers so it never even occurred to me that they could be intimidating. However, I'm not quite sure why I never used one.

Joy 3/8/14, 12:48 PM  

Thanks for this! It just took me one step closer to getting a pressure cooker. I think that would suit our lifestyle and tastes really well.

Joy's Book Blog

Gilion at Rose City Reader 3/8/14, 12:59 PM  

Now I want to try a pressure cooker too!

Carole 3/8/14, 1:22 PM  

I'm not sure I'm ready for pressure cooking - my memories of my mother's food from the pressure cooker are pretty dire! Cheers

Tanya @ Moms Small Victories 3/8/14, 11:08 PM  

yes, I'm very afraid of a pressure cooker. the blender itself frightens me. But you do have me curious to watch someone else cook with one. My mom used to have one when I was a kid, wonder what she did with it?

Thanks for hosting!

Couscous & Consciousness 3/9/14, 9:38 PM  

This is a great post, Beth. I was always terrified of my mother's pressure cooker when I was a kid, but I've certainly found modern ones much more user friendly. I think I'm still more of a slow-cook girl, though you've really peaked my curiosity with the idea of indoor barbeque.

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