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Please recommend pressure cooking cookbooks

t
topeater Feb 4, 2014 09:22 AM

I recently purchased a pressure cooker. Everything I've tried so far has been incredible! I'm in love. I've been using recipes that I've found on line, but now I would like to start my cookbook pressure cooking library. I know Lorna Sass' books are supposed to be good, but which one to start with? Also, are there other books that are also good?

  1. m
    mwk Feb 4, 2014 09:26 AM

    I have Lorna Sass' "Pressure Perfect". It's a great starter book and has all the basic instructions for cooking in the pressure cooker, along with some nice recipes.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mwk
      t
      topeater Feb 4, 2014 03:16 PM

      Thanks for the recommendation. I couldn't decide between Cooking Under Pressure VS Pressure Perfect. I thought maybe Cooking Under Pressure might be better as it is newer (2009 VS 2004).

      1. re: topeater
        AmyH Feb 4, 2014 07:10 PM

        I have both and use Pressure Perfect much more. It has a lot of variations for each recipe, whereas Cooking Under Pressure just has complete recipes without the variations. I like to be able to adapt to whatever meat I happen to have on hand or whatever flavoring (southwest vs Italian vs Cajun, for example) I feel like eating. I also like the charts and basic information for cooking beans, grains, vegetables, meats, etc. It's a very useful book. That's not to say that Cooking Under Pressure is bad in any way, and it does have great recipes, it's just not as versatile.

        1. re: AmyH
          e
          ePressureCooker Feb 4, 2014 08:06 PM

          I concur. I use "Pressure Perfect" more than I do "Cooking Under Pressure" - it also has some very nice pressure cooking timetables that would be especially useful for a newbie. ;D

    2. AmyH Feb 4, 2014 09:33 AM

      My two most-used books are Pressure Perfect by Lorna Sass
      http://www.amazon.com/Pressure-Perfect-Twenty-Minutes-Cooker/dp/0060505346/

      and Pressure Cooker Perfection from America's Test Kitchen
      http://www.amazon.com/Pressure-Perfection-Editors-Americas-Kitchen/dp/1936493411/

      I also highly recommend this blog (I have no relationship, I just really like it) http://www.pressurecookingtoday.com/

      This blog has some interesting stuff, too, but you can't copy the recipes to another format or print them, so I never cook from it.
      http://www.hippressurecooking.com/

      4 Replies
      1. re: AmyH
        t
        topeater Feb 4, 2014 03:17 PM

        Thanks for the link to the blogs.

        1. re: AmyH
          m
          Miss Priss Feb 6, 2014 12:05 PM

          If you like the recipes and ideas on hippressurecooking.com, note that its proprietor, Laura Pazzaglia, is also the author of The Everything Healthy Pressure Cooker Cookbook. I bought it based on my admiration for her website and have found it to be a nice complement to the site. I believe she's also working on another cookbook.

          1. re: AmyH
            c
            CookingAdventurer Feb 15, 2014 07:57 PM

            (hippressurecooking.com) Laura recommends using http://www.printfriendly.com/ to create a print-friendly copy of a web page.

            1. re: CookingAdventurer
              AmyH Feb 17, 2014 05:05 AM

              Thanks. I'll give it a try next time there's a good recipe on her site.

          2. e
            ePressureCooker Feb 4, 2014 01:03 PM

            I second the recommendation for Pressure Perfection as your first Lorna Sass PC cookbook.

            I don't recommend Pressure Cooker Perfection for newbies because there are some problems with the recipes in terms of the volume of water added (at least with electric pressure cookers, some recipes add too little and the machine turns off to protect itself - wait until you have more experience then you'll know to adjust the recipes in advance).

            But to give you other recommendations, let me ask this: what do you like? Are you a gourmand? Are you fond of vegetable / vegetarian dishes? Do you like traditional comfort food or Southern food? The more I know about your tastes, the better a recommendation I can make.

            7 Replies
            1. re: ePressureCooker
              t
              topeater Feb 4, 2014 03:14 PM

              Such a strange thing to ponder….what kind of food do I like. I would say my palate is fairly developed and I enjoy a variety of foods, so it would be hard to label myself. Lately, I've been short on time (hence the pressure cooker) & I've been cooking a lot of dishes from the Bonne Femme Cookbook by Wini Maranville and also her ebook on braising. It's been so cold this winter, we've been having lots of soups and warming foods. I've lived in NYC, New Orleans and Austin to give you a little background eating history. Not sure if this answered your question or not. I'm not afraid to try cooking different types of foods and the only food that we tend not to eat is Indian as there's something in the combination of spices that does not sit well with my husband's digestion which is strange because we eat sichuan, Thai and spicy Mexican!

              1. re: topeater
                e
                ePressureCooker Feb 4, 2014 03:47 PM

                Actually, topeater, I don't find that so strange that you like sichuan, Thai and Mexican, but your husband doesn't tolerate Indian food so well - the first three are heavy on chiles, on heat, on capsaicin, whereas Indian food is very heavy on spices per se. I have members of my family who have the same sort of food preferences / aversions as your husband.

                In that case, I would recommend Pressure Cooker Gourmet as well as Pressure Perfect - its heavy on European cuisine, but there's some gourmet stuff, some Mexican, and even some Asian dishes. That seems the most in line with your palate preferences.

                1. re: ePressureCooker
                  t
                  topeater Feb 4, 2014 07:52 PM

                  Wow, all of that makes sense. I'll check out Pressure Cooker Gourmet. Thanks for the info.

                  1. re: ePressureCooker
                    t
                    topeater Feb 4, 2014 07:57 PM

                    Everything I've cooked so far has been incredible, except for a pork chop recipe where the pork was tough. Now, I'm wondering if I cooked the pork too long or if the recipe was just not too good. The chicken, beef, lamb & rice dishes that I have tried have spoiled me. I have never had such flavor and tenderness from meat. Plus, I've done a few veg soups with rice that have been amazing and have taken about 9 minutes. I cannot believe how incredible cooking is with a pressure cooker. It's funny that all my friends that I talk with about this say the same thing (which is also what I used to say),"I'm afraid of a pressure cooker." We all have bad memories of the old pressure cookers blowing up. I guess that dates us!

                    1. re: topeater
                      e
                      ePressureCooker Feb 4, 2014 08:15 PM

                      I used to be very intimidated by pressure cookers. The first pressure cooker I worked up the courage to buy, I read the instruction manual, chickened out, and gave it to my sister. Then she bought an electric pressure cooker, and she loved hers so much, and raved about it so much, I bought the same model.

                      As for that pork chop recipe, there's a likely explanation for that. Pressure cookers work best with meat cuts that have a lot of connective tissue and fat, thinking working muscles, the cuts in parts of the animal that bear weight like the shoulder and neck, or are involved in locomotion and movement, like meat cuts from legs. In the pig, pork butt and pork shoulder are ideal, ham will work, lean, drier cuts like pork chops (which come from the middle of the pig and contain little in the way of connective tissues) are much less ideal.

                      That's not to say you can't cook pork chops in the pressure cooker, but like turkey breasts, you have to be careful with them, and baby them more than you would other cuts of pork or turkey legs. Choose the thickest cuts of pork chops you can find. Brine them (soak them in a salt water solution) for at least 24 hours before cooking them. The salt will not only flavor the meat, and denature (soften) the proteins, but will help a little bit with moisture retention. You also have to be careful not to cook pork chops too long, because the softening of the meat happens really quickly, and if you go too long, the pressure cooker will do a really good job of driving all the moisture and fat out of the meat. And always be sure to use natural release, not quick release - apparently abrupt pressure changes can toughen the meat.

                      (It hasn't been easy, but I have managed to figure out how to get a tasty moist turkey breast out of the pressure cooker.)

                      1. re: ePressureCooker
                        t
                        topeater Feb 6, 2014 06:59 AM

                        Wow! Thanks for such a clear explanation. I'm going with the pork butt next time for tacos. Great idea about brining.

                        1. re: topeater
                          e
                          ePressureCooker Feb 6, 2014 10:12 AM

                          You're welcome. Pork butt is GREAT for tacos, and you won't have to brine it, well, unless you really want to. A big old 5 or so pound piece can fit in my electric pressure cooker (maybe more in yours, if you have a stovetop PC). Cut it up into just three or four pieces to help it along, what I've recently started doing is cutting it in half height wise, to keep those shreds shorter, and then cutting it in half the other way. Should take about 50 - 55 minutes under pressure (more if you live at altitude) and the meat will be meltingly soft and tender, you can shred it with your finger tips. You can even use the cooking broth to make soup - I like to make either split pea or bean with bacon soup with it.

              2. j
                jammy Feb 4, 2014 03:19 PM

                I've been getting great use from Pressure Cooker Perfection, but I haven't made a single recipe from it. I've been using the timing and techniques for the various dishes, subbing in my own sauces, spices, stocks...you get the picture. It's the food I already was cooking done super fast using the steps and quantities in this book. So far everything from brisket to pulled pork to ribs has turned out fabulously. It's a worthwhile investment.

                5 Replies
                1. re: jammy
                  e
                  ePressureCooker Feb 4, 2014 03:59 PM

                  Don't get me wrong - there's some useful stuff in that particular cookbook. I've just found it a very contradictory and frustrating experience using the recipes as written. The first couple I tried, BBQ beans, pulled pork, mac n' cheese, weeknight chili, all turned out really well, and I thought, gee I don't understand all the bad reviews on Amazon. Then I tried additional recipes that did not work so well. The chicken and rice recipe, the minute I read it, I said that's not enough liquid, that's going to run out in about 3 minutes as the rice absorbs all the water, but since I was doing the recipes to review the book, I did it as written. Sure enough, the machine shut off pressure 3 - 4 minutes in. I tried the chickpea and artichoke tagine, it was a little watery for my taste, but it was OK. Tried the 15 bean soup and it was OK, the family liked it well enough, but I felt they used the wrong technique for the sausage, it was rubbery, and had been cooked so long all the flavor was in the soup, and none left in the sausage. Then I tried the meatloaf recipe, and I said to myself oh boy, I think this is done in such a way the machine is going to turn off for lack of liquid, and ten or fifteen minutes in, it did just that, even though I had followed the instructions scrupulously.

                  So its a mixed bag, and it would really help to have some experience with your pressure cooker to have a better idea when the liquid included in the recipe will be insufficient.

                  1. re: jammy
                    tcamp Feb 17, 2014 02:57 PM

                    I have Pressure Cooker Perfection, recently acquired from a book sale, and have made 3 recipes in the last several days from it. I'm a fan.

                    Previously, my pressure cooker was used primarily for beans, artichokes, and chicken stock. I'm liking the ability to make complete entrees. Beef short ribs in there as I type.

                    1. re: tcamp
                      e
                      ePressureCooker Feb 17, 2014 03:16 PM

                      As I said, it can be hit or miss, and maybe some of the "miss" has to do with stovetop v. electric pressure cookers, but I find it helps to have some experience with pressure cookers, and your own in particular, when going through the recipes to know how you should adjust the recipes for best results. (And mind you, I have one of the electric pressure cookers they rated the highest, so its not like I have a bad machine.)

                      If you have to have experience to know how to adjust the recipes, that doesn't make it optimal for beginners. In their reviews of electric pressure cookers, they even remarked that one or more of the brands of electric pressure cookers turned off while cooking - well, yes, they'll do that if you don't put enough water in, that's a feature, not a bug. (I never had a similar problem with even one recipe from any of the other pressure cooker cookbooks I have tried.)

                      1. re: ePressureCooker
                        tcamp Feb 17, 2014 06:40 PM

                        Yeah, I only know my ancient Mirromatic stovetop model and have zero experience with electric models. I tuned out all instructions having to do with electric. Unfortunately, the book has me wanting to buy a larger stovetop model. I love my 4 qt. baby but.....need a bigger one to fit a turkey breast.

                        1. re: tcamp
                          e
                          ePressureCooker Feb 17, 2014 06:45 PM

                          Oh yeah, 4 quarts is a very limiting size. You wouldn't be able to do a whole chicken or big pot roast or pork shoulder, or do a decent sized amount of beans, or a large stew. And to make your own stock, you'd want at least a 6 or 8 quart pressure cooker.

                  2. s
                    sedimental Feb 5, 2014 04:34 AM

                    I use my pressure cooker almost daily. It is greatly under appreciated and not well understood in the US. I think it is a BBQers best friend...blasphemy, I know, but the results are what counts.

                    Lorna sass is good, but I have found quite a few new ideas by using google. Like searching for "apple sauce, pressure cooker". More and more food bloggers are discovering the pressure cooker. Yay! I am adding "pressure cooker" on the end of all my recipe searches these days and am having good luck.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: sedimental
                      e
                      ePressureCooker Feb 5, 2014 11:13 AM

                      No BBQ blasphemy involved, or there shouldn't be: the pressure cooker is a great way to make baked beans, potatoes for potato salad, your own BBQ sauce (without the high fructose corn syrup), and to precook things like short ribs and chicken to be finished off on the BBQ.

                      As for bloggers discovering the pressure cooker, you don't say? ;D

                      1. re: sedimental
                        daislander Feb 6, 2014 12:08 PM

                        why a bbqer's? beans?

                        1. re: daislander
                          e
                          ePressureCooker Feb 6, 2014 04:21 PM

                          Not just beans. You can make potatoes for potato salad in it, corn on the cob, lots of other sides, but that's not all, either. You can make your own sauces, you can for example precook short ribs in the pressure cooker and then finish them off on the grill, etc.

                      2. eatzalot Feb 11, 2014 01:48 PM

                        A general reply to the original query here, just in case anyone wasn't aware of this history:

                        The pressure cooker's great US heyday was the years around 1960, when it was the sole home speed-cooking technology. (Microwave ovens were years away from common home use, to say nothing of convection ovens.) Check out popular cookbooks of that era, like those I'll mention -- they're cheap, too, on the used market.

                        Besides specialty books that inevitably appeared, many general cookbooks from around the early 60s highlight pressure-cooker uses and tips (and the familiar phrase "Process at 15 pounds for xx minutes"). Including Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," which came from that era. The common 1964 "Joy of Cooking" edition has a special symbol to identify recipes suitable for speeding up this way. And a general section on pressure cooking, mentioning how the higher temperatures can affect proteins in meats and soups, leading to toughness and off flavors sometimes.

                        By the 1970s, pressure cooking was starting to seem old-fashioned, and appliance makers had new toys to push, like food processors and microwave ovens, so the technique settled into the background of mainstream cooking. After enough time had passed, I guess, manufacturers and the cookbook industry decided to promote it a bit more, for a newer generation of home cooks who did not grow up with the method. (Not long ago, an older relative's household sale got rid of no fewer than THREE pressure cookers that had been around for decades.)

                        One also "blew up," more spectacularly than harmfully, in a friend's kitchen circa 1968. In a more or less unattended batch of meat-and-vegetable stew, a bit of food had blocked the steam outlet, where the usual weighted pressure top sits and hisses away. Normally, you'd notice if a pr.-cooker stopped its normal hissing, but no one was present at the time. Once the pressure built high enough, the emergency relief cap blew off, as they are designed to do in this situation. Result: several pounds of otherwise promising stew (meat, vegetables, and all) was forced under cataclysmic pressure through an orifice barely a quarter-inch wide, and made a laser-like jet to the ceiling, doing a little paint damage. I suppose that might be a novel way to make purees...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: eatzalot
                          b
                          blaireso Feb 21, 2014 05:47 PM

                          Having a PC "blow up" brings back such memories! My MIL had one, and so we got one as young marrieds in 1970. I had a number of batches of split pea soup land on the ceiling before I figured out the trick of keeping the pressure valve squeaky clean and monitoring the pressure carefully. Nowadays we have electric PCs and don't have to listen for that gentle rocking and dangerous stoppage. I just got a new, 6 qt. PC and look forward to trying many new recipes!

                          PS: The first thing the new PCs tell you is to NOT try to cook split pea soup! A lot we knew!

                        2. Atomic76 Feb 17, 2014 03:48 PM

                          I would suggest checking out Cooks Illustrated (online) as well as their sister site, America's Test Kitchen. They're only like $3 per month for an online subscription, but they also offer a free two week trial. There's a bunch of printable recipes, but also a lot of videos too for pressure cooker stuff. One of the things I like about their recipes are they at they are tested to make sure they work good. Also, when it comes to pressure cookers and slow cookers, they encourage you to not rely solely on the device itself, most of their recipes involve a little browning or other prep first - they're not all "dump it all in the pot and turn it on" recipes, which often don't turn out good.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Atomic76
                            w
                            willownt Feb 21, 2014 04:22 AM

                            I haven't actually ever seen any pressure cooker recipes that suggest throwing everything in the pot, but I do see quite a few slow cooker/crockpot recipes with recipes like that. The problem with the ATK book on pressure cooking is that they are fairly clear about the fact that they basically dislike pressure cookers. I think they just wrote a book to capitalize on the trend, and, of course, to "correct" every other pressure cookbook author/source because, of course, every single one of them is utterly wrong, wrong, wrong about how to use a pressure cooker. I prefer to buy cookbooks from people who are a bit more enthusiastic about their material. It's also worth noting that the ATK book is very meat-heavy, in case you were hoping for much vegetarian food.

                            1. re: willownt
                              m
                              Miss Priss Feb 21, 2014 08:12 AM

                              Willownt, I agree. Not only is ATK merely trying to capitalize on a trend, the very title of the book ("Pressure Cooker Perfection") strikes me as an attempt to lure in customers who are actually searching for Lorna Sass's earlier and far better "Pressure Perfect." I've looked at quite a few recipes from ATK's PC cookbook and not only are they not especially interesting, the cooking times for many of them seem to be way too long. So much for "we found the best method and everyone else has been doing it wrong for decades!" That smug attitude is what finally caused me to drop my Cooks Illustrated subscription, despite the fact that the magazine does, on occasion, contain useful information and very pretty illustrations.

                              1. re: willownt
                                e
                                ePressureCooker Feb 21, 2014 09:54 AM

                                I agree with willownt, it seemed clear to me from reading the book that doing a pressure cooker cookbook was a grudging thing at best, and that pressure cooker of Christopher Kimball's that by his own account had languished on the shelf for lo these many years was only taken back off the shelf because of the cookbook, not because of any great newfound appreciation for pressure cookers.

                                To promise "foolproof" recipes, on the cover no less, and then deliver recipes that are anything but is not good.

                                One of my other big beefs with the cookbook is that while they tout the pressure cooker as a means to cook inexpensive cuts of meat, they then proceed to produce recipes that use anything but. Every recipe with ground beef uses 85/15, which is far more expensive than 80/20. Use the standard, write an extra step and drain the fat. And top sirloin roast, flank steak, pork tenderloin, and tons of boneless short ribs. Not what I would consider budget cuts of meat. Not to mention almost all the herbs are fresh, and that's fine when you have an herb garden, but if you don't, fresh herbs can add a lot to the cost of the dish.

                            2. g
                              Gatorcook Feb 17, 2014 07:24 PM

                              I haven't had any problems with Pressure Cooker Perfection. I use a Fissler 10.5 qt cooker. I also like the Fissler book and use some if the ideas from Modernist Cuisine at Home. The pomegranate short ribs are good as is the Ossi Bucco.

                              1. Robj Feb 21, 2014 01:27 AM

                                I purchased an electric pressure cooker because two stovetop pressure cookers cracked around the top and got scared they would blow. The electric pressure cookers are hands down the best to use. No noisy steam screaming at you, it turns itself to low after finishing and cooks in half the time stovetop ones do. My favourite pressure cooker recipe is Corned beef, yum, yum!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Robj
                                  b
                                  blaireso Feb 21, 2014 05:42 PM

                                  aha! what do you do? this sounds soooo much better than doing in my slow cooker for hours.

                                2. d
                                  Dsmitty Feb 21, 2014 06:50 PM

                                  Steam whole chicken in electric PC 30 minutes for Zheng Ji chicken. (recipe from The New York Times Chicken cookbook).The chicken is moist and juicy.
                                  Try The PC cook by Gina Steer

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