Pressure Cooker Book Review: Pressure Perfect by Lorna Sass
“ Variations and transformations are really something that make this book stand out.
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Book Review: Pressure Perfect by Lorna Sass
Pressure Perfect -Two Hour Taste in Twenty Minutes Using Your Pressure Cooker
by Lorna Sass
January 2004, William-Morrow
368 Pages, 85 recipes with 185 variations
Earlier this year, I presented my readers with a dilemma. I had an unexpected stack of cookbooks and no time to review them all. So I asked you to choose. Lorna Sass won hands-down.
Before receiving Lorna’s books this summer, I was only familiar with her pressure cooking blog. It was immediately clear that she earned the title of Pressure Cooker Queen with her numerable tomes on the subject. In fact, she was the original hip cook publishing pressure cooker recipes for Sesame Miso Cabbage and Barley Risotto in 1989 in her first pressure cooker tome Cooking Under Pressure (updated and re-released as a 20th Anniversary edition in 2009).
Last year, Lorna shared a recipe on this website from Pressure Perfect – Pressure Cooked Meatloaf with Cheddar Smashed Potatoes and Carrots. What I didn’t realize, until I had my very own a copy of her cookbook, is that this recipe comes with five variations! In the book, the variations listed include Frosted Meatloaf, Stuffed Meatloaf, Tex-Mex Meatloaf, Italian Meatloaf and Meatloaf Parmigiana. And, as you will see in the chapter listing, the variations and transformations just keep coming. Lorna’s Quick-pickled Beets in Horseradish dressing has five and her trademark risotto boasts ten variations.
The flexibility continues giving the cook a choice to use what they happen to have on-hand. Many recipes start with a cooking chart that includes cooking times based on the main ingredient. The recipe for Delectable Meats in Gingered Plum Sauce offers nine options (they continue on the other side of the page pictured below).
Variations and transformations are really something that make this book stand out. Although the official recipe count is 85, add in the variations this book contains over 270 recipes. Add in the swappable main ingredients and… well, it’s alot of pressure cooker recipes! The benefit of using variations, instead of reading the same basic recipe over and over, is that the cook learns one technique that can change the recipe by just swapping a couple of ingredients.
The recipe chapters are distributed as follows:
- Soups and Broths (13 recipes with 32 variations)
- Meat, Poultry and Fish (27 recipes with 58 variations)
- Rice, Risotto and Whole Grains (12 recipes with 28 variations)
- Pasta (5 recipes with 8 variations)
- Beans (9 recipes with 17 variations)
- Vegetables (11 recipes with 25 variations)
- Desserts (8 recipes with 17 variations)
I would call many of the recipes in this book updated classics. The sample recipe, for example, has clear roots in the classic French Cassoulet. All of Lorna’s recipes use whole, fresh ingredients – no flavoring packets, bullion cubes or cans of condensed soup. The flavor is real, whole and without any cheats.
Our cooking philosophies diverge with the legumes. She recommends that almost all of the beans be cooked from dry. I’m a big advocate of overnight soaking or quick-soaking for the even cooking, shorter cooking times and more intact beans (see close-up of beans cooked from dry at the bottom of the page). More importantly, soaking beans removes the indigestible sugars responsible for causing gas.
There are also advantages to not soaking the beans – as Lorna shows in the recipe, below- like being able to cook them along with a roast, or shanks without the need to interrupt the pressure cooking and simplifying the steps to get a whole dinner to the table.
I asked Lorna, and she kindly agreed, if I could reprint a recipe from Pressure Perfect in its entirety to show you the care, detail, and flexibility she has put into this book. Enjoy!
Lamb Shanks with White Beans
For tenderizing beans and tough cuts like shanks, the pressure cooker can’t be beat. When you prepare this classic combination together, the beans absorb the lamb’s robust flavor and taste as if they’ve been simmering all day.
28 minutes high pressure plus natural pressure release
1 tablespoon oil
Recipe and text republished with permission from the author,
I had a particularly large 1 1/2 pound shank, so I sliced it to the bone before pressure cooking. As predicted in the recipe, the beans were not fully cooked when I opened the pressure cooker. I followed the recipe instructions and pressure cooked them for and extra 5 minutes with natural release and they were perfectly cooked.
Note: When calculating the recipes per chapter, I counted what the book calls “Transformations” as variations.
- Lorna’s Pressure Cooked Meatloaf with Cheddar Smashed Potatoes and Carrots
- Sneaky Whole Grains – with Lorna’s Barley Risotto Recipe
- Book Review: Pressure Cooker – Australian Women’s Weekly Magazine
- Book Review: The New Fast Food – The Veggie Queen Pressure Cooks Whole Meals in Minutes
Reviewed by Laura Pazzaglia on
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