Book Review: Pressure Cooker by Australian Women’s Weekly

With sample recipe:  Chili Con Carne
pressure cooker book review by an expert
An icon on the cover of  the AWWPC cookbook announced that the recipes therein were triple tested, and a note from the food director, Pamela Clark,  in the introduction assured that she personally tested each recipe, too. The photos were incredibly inviting and…

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Pressure Cooker
by The Australian Women’s Weekly
May 2011, Kyle Books
120 Pages, 62 recipes
Purchase: amazon.com

A week after The Australian Women’s Weekly Pressure Cooker (AWWPC) Cookbook  arrived, I was expected to represent America at an event at my son’s elementary school (we live in Italy). What better food to represent America than Chili and Corn Bread.  But.. I didn’t have a go-to recipe and no time develop or adapt one. My two children were also throwing a birthday party each in their respective classrooms the same morning as International night – and I had to bake two cakes that would feed 30 children each.

I had to  go with a sure thing.  Success the first time – and in large batches to share with the Romanian, Hungarian, Kazakhstani, Pakistani, Nigerian and Italian mommies at the International Night.

An icon on the cover of  the AWWPC cookbook announced that the recipes therein were triple tested, and a note from the food director, Pamela Clark,  in the introduction assured that she personally tested each recipe, too. The photos were incredibly inviting and… who would ever know that I would be bringing an Australian recipe to represent America in Italy?!?

It’s our little secret.

This cookbook contains 62 recipes, most with  generous two-page spread. The recipe is on one page, and opposite a large photograph representing the finished dish.  The instructions include notes for electric pressure cookers – irritatingly it’s the same note at the bottom of each recipe. Missing, are recipe introductions.  You don’t think the notes are crucial until you get to “Butter Chicken” and you wonder if this is Masala sauce – the ingredients seem to indicate as much – or “Lemon Delicious” and wonder why it might be .

The recipes are divided in the following categories:

  • Soups (10 recipes)
  • Chicken (10 recipes)
  • Beef & Veal (11 recipes)
  • Lamb (15 recipes)
  • Pork (12 recipes)
  • Desserts (4 recipes)

The book’s primary recipes are classics, like Minestrone and Coq A Vin, but it also includes a few surprises like Harira (lamb and chickpea stew) and Thai Sour Chicken Curry.

Notably missing are sections on vegetables and grains, but the inside-cover flaps feature  non-pressure cooker recipes for polenta, mashed potatoes, pilaf and more.

Back to the Chili caper. The recipe was spot-on with the flavor, the quantity was a bit of a surprise. The recipe states that it serves 6 – maybe six very hungry Aussie cowboys! One recipe yielded 2.5 liters of chili- or more than 10 one-cup servings.  But, you won’t mind.  I made two batches one day ahead of the event  and the family couldn’t stop eating it.  Let’s just say that I started out with 5 liters of chili but showed-up at the event with only 3 (even there, my son was asking for bowl after bowl).  It was that good.

AWW’s Chili con Carne served with Maple Corn Bread cubes at my son’s school event.
Setting up for the event.

I cut down the chili flakes to half a teaspoon (since children would be eating it, too) and used smoked pancetta in place of the speck (you can use bacon). Having never actually seen a chorizo – I was glad to see they included weight so I could substitute the appropriate amount of cured Calabrian hot-pepper salami.

Pressure cooking beans for 15 minutes and opening the cooker quickly, as directed in the recipe, burst most of the beans. For the second batch, I pressure cooked the beans my way- 7 minutes at high pressure with Natural Open – which altogether took a little longer but yielded more visually appealing, whole, beans.

Vittorio eating chili, Adriana, me (Laura) , my neighbors and good friends David (from New York) and his wife Giuseppina and Emma with their American sweets.

The recipe was a resounding success with everyone who tasted it. Knowing that it was triple-tested gave me the confidence to show up to an event with something I had never pressure cooked, before.

The publishers were kind enough to give me permission to share the recipe with you. Now, you can try their amazing chili for yourself.

Chili con Carne

2 cups (400g) dried red kidney beans
3 small brown onions
1 dried bay leaf
6 cups (1.5 liters) water
4 1/2 ounces (150g) speck, chopped finely
1 cured chorizo sausage (170g), chopped finely
12 1/2 ounces minced (ground) beef
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
2 cups (560g) tomato puree
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 cup (120g) sour cream
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves1  Place beans in large bowl, cover with cold water, stand overnight. Rinse under cold water; drain.Combine beans, one of the onions, bay leaf and water in 6-liter (24 cup) pressure cooker; secure lid. Bring cooker to high pressure, reduce heat to stabilize pressure; cook 15 minutes.  Release pressure using the quick release method; remove lid.  Drain beans reserving 1 1/2 cups (375mls) cooking liquid; discard onion and bay leaf.3  Finely chop remaining onions.  Cook speck and chorizo in cooker until browned.  Add onion; cook, stirring, until onion softens.  Add beef; cook, stirring until browned.  Add garlic and spices; cook stirring until fragrant. Return beans to cooker with puree, oregano and reserved cooking liquid; season to taste.  Bring cooker to high pressure. Reduce heat to stabilize pressure; cook 8 minutes. Release pressure using the quick release method; remove lid. Stand 5 minutes.4  Serve chili con carne with sour cream and sprinkled with coriander.

Serves 6.

Photos by Hip Pressure Cooking. Recipe republished with permission from the publisher.

The Australian Women’s Weekly, Pressure Cooker, ACP Books, RRP $19.95.
Available at bookstores and online at www.acpbooks.com.au

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