I'm an experienced cook, but fairly new to pressure cookers. However, I'm very interested in learning more about them and incorporating this old technique (did you know that pressure cooking was first invented in the 17th century?) into my modern kitchen. I like the notion of using less fuel and less time to produce delicious food, sometimes achieving even better results than if I had used a more conventional method, or so I'm promised by pressure cooker aficionados. So to begin my journey into Pressure Cooker Land, I turned to those reliable kitchen geeks, America's Test Kitchen, and their new book Pressure Cooker Perfection: 100 Foolproof Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook.
• Who wrote it: America's Test Kitchen
• Who published it: America's Test Kitchen
• Number of recipes: about 65, with the rest of the recipes being cooking times and basic methods.
• Recipes for right now: Vegetarian Black Bean Chili; Macaroni and Cheese; Creamy Mushroom Sauce; Chicken Curry with Chickpeas and Cauliflower; Shredded Pork Soft Tacos; Pulled Pork; Braised Beets with Dill Vinaigrette; Barbecued Beans
• Other highlights: First, it should be noted that this is an American Test Kitchen 'Handbook' and while it retails for $19.95, the truth is, you can probably find it discounted somewhere for about $12.00. In other words, this is not a large, comprehensive cookbook but it is a decent introduction to pressure cooking that can be had for a good price.
One of the hurdles for many people contemplating pressure cooking are the pages and pages of introduction that many cookbooks have, making pressure cooking seem very daunting. ATK manages to consolidate this information into short, one and two page chapters which convey a lot of information in easy to absorb bites.
Beginning with a welcome and introduction, the book moves into short sections on why you should use a pressure cooker; how it works; an illustrated diagram of a pressure cooker's anatomy; a basic step-by-step on how to use it; a guide to buying a pressure cooker; ratings for electric and stove top models; tips and troubleshooting. It goes on to offer basic recipes and cooking charts for making grains and rice, beans, meat, vegetables, and various broths.
The bulk of the book consists of the recipe section: Soups, Stews, and Chilis; One-Pot Pasta and Pasta Sauces; Fast and Easy Suppers; Big Roasts and Fancy Meals; Indoor Barbecue; and Sides. Each recipe comes with a full color photo, number of servings, pressure level, total cooking time and total pressure time, and release method. In addition, most recipes have specific tip and troubleshooting sections, as well as variations. Note: This is a VERY meat-centric cookbook, with only a handful of recipes that do not contain meat.
Pressure Cooking Perfection is a smaller book, with a stiff matte coated cardboard cover. The binding is a little tight, making it hard to lay flat. The pages are well-designed, with many full-color photographs. The book ends with a comprehensive index.
• Who would enjoy this book? People new to pressure cookers looking for a simple, basic introduction and recipes for meat-centric dishes for dinner.
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Pressure Cooker Perfection by America's Test Kitchen
• Visit the author's website: America's Test Kitchen
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.
(Images: Dana Velden)