Currently cooking out of Slow Cooker Revolution by America’s Test Kitchen
I know some people think the guys at America’s Test Kitchen are kind of anal and uptight, but I like ‘em. When I open one of their cookbooks (or magazines), I know the recipes in there are going to work. Sure, there will probably be some extra steps, but most of the time, the authors explain why those extra steps are necessary and what will happen if you don’t do them. I appreciate all the work that goes into their testing, and I’ve rarely, if ever, been let down.
This book was no exception. Almost all of the recipes that I tested worked, even if I didn’t exactly like the end product. In most cases, it was my tastebuds that were the problem, not the recipe. The writing is always clear and easy to follow, and the book’s layout and organization (by subject such as soups or braises or casseroles) is clean and concise.
The main thing I’m taking away from this book is the fact, that with a little more effort, you can get really good stuff out of a slow cooker, stuff that has texture and a depth of flavor that slow cooker dishes often seem to lack. If you are looking to expand your repertoire of slow-cooker recipes, I highly recommend this book.
Besides some good recipes, Slow Cooker Revolution is full of niftly tips, like the tip for cooking vegetable for a beef stew in a tinfoil packet on top so the vegetable don’t fall apart. My favorite tip, however, is to microwave onions until they soften. I don’t like raw onions, so this is a great idea that I can use in other dishes when there is a danger that the onions might not soften enough.
I will return again and again to this book. I feel like I barely dented the surface.
My favorite dishes were:
Texas Chili – This was thick and meaty, and it just got better with age.
Hearty Beef Stew – I think this is the best beef stew I’ve made, slow cooker or not. Another dish that gets better with age.
Classic Meatloaf - Tender, flavorful and easy. It also reheated well.
Dishes that fell short for me:
Barbecued Beans – These came up short on flavor, but long on tender beans. Most people who tried them liked them well enough. I just wanted more. Of something.
Farmhouse Chicken Corn Chowder – I needed to make a lot of changes to the dish to like it, but again, that was mostly personal preference.
Easy Pesto Meatballs – To me, these had a strange flavor that I didn’t like, possibly the combination of pesto and tomato sauce. Bryan had no problem with them.