How to Stew in Your Own Juices aka A Pressure Cooker Cookbook Review!

The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book – 500 Easy Recipes for Every Machine, Both Stovetop and Electric

By Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough

My dad got me a very nice pressure cooker a couple years ago. I’ve used it a few times – right after getting it – but it has largely languished in the corner of its cabinet. I love the idea of having a full, balanced meal be ready in half the time it takes to make it conventionally. I love the idea of one-pot meals. But I just haven’t gotten around to making my pressure cooker my friend. Silly, I know, but there you have it!

This cookbook might be the oomph I need to start working my pressure cooker into my regular routine!

The cookbook is simple in its design and illustrations, both on the covers and the inside, but it’s elegant and aesthetically pleasing. The recipes are formatted one right after the other, so there is next to no wasted space in the book, which is a good thing given how big this book is! The center of the book contains color photos of a handful of the recipes.

In the introduction, the authors put forth four pressure cooking personalities: The Ingénue, one clueless about pressure cooking; The Nervous Nellie, one scared by pressure cooking; The Doubting Thomas, one a bit skeptical of pressure cooking’s virtues; and The Culinary Apostle, the one that utilizes every aspect of the pressure cooker. I’m a Doubting Thomas, I suppose. I’ve got a pressure cooker, I just don’t think of using a pressure cooker first when it comes to thinking up meals for my family.

One note that was particularly nice to see, and one that is very pertinent to you readers was the blurb on high altitude pressure cooking. You don’t have to change any of the ingredients or steps of the recipe, but you will need to change the cooking time. As most of you will know, water boils at a lower temperature up in Flagstaff as compared to Phoenix – less atmospheric pressure against the water molecules. This is critical when it comes to pressure cooking because the temperature at which the cooker reaches high pressure is less than it is at sea level. So, to compensate, the rule is this: increase the time spent at high pressure by 5% for every 1,000 ft after the first 2,000 ft above sea level.

So: If you lived at sea level, or up to 2,000 ft above sea level, you could use the times given as-is from the cookbook. Once you reached 3,000 ft above sea level, you would need to start increasing the cooking time in increments of 5%. For those living in Flagstaff, or its immediate surrounding areas (my home in Parks is actually a tad lower in elevation that Flagstaff proper), we need to add 25% to the cooking time. If a recipe says cook for 10 minutes at high pressure, then we would cook it for 12 minutes and then continue with the recipe. Simple, but important! We don’t want undercooked food.

The cookbook had several main chapters and many of those had sub-chapters. There was a whole section on breakfast in the pressure cooker, including making “boiled” eggs! In addition to the first meal of the day, this book has recipes for nearly every other meal: both main-course soups as well as side soups; meats (beef, pork, lamb, and even rabbit!); chicken and other poultry; seafood; vegetables both as sides and vegetarian main courses; rice and grains; beans and lentils; and even desserts!

I was able to find at least one, if not more, recipe from each of the sections, and I’m looking forward to trying some. I plan on making the Apple Maple Oatmeal tomorrow morning – steel cut oats without pre-soaking? Sign me up! And I’ll be making a rabbit dish this week as well.

One of the things that was great about these recipes – yes I did read through nearly every one! – was that the ingredients were mostly “everyday” ingredients. A few recipes had some harder-to-find components, but if they did, there was almost always a substitute listed in the Notes section after the recipe.

If you own a pressure cooker, or have been thinking about getting one, I would highly recommend this book as a way to pump up your pressure cooking repertoire. I think this is going to be a cookbook that I come back to again and again.

I’ll be back later this week with an update on using the recipes in the book, and maybe share a recipe and pictures!

Do you own this cookbook? If so, what do you think of it? What’s your favorite recipe?

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

(This post contains affiliate links)

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