Saturday, March 5, 2011

Weekend Cooking..A Review of "Slow Cooker Revolution" [16]

Slow Cooker Revolution by The Editors at America's Test Kitchen
Boston Common Press, ISBN 978-1933615691
February 15, 2011, 336 pages

Yes, I am a fan of America's Test Kitchen. I love their TV show on PBS, I love their magazine, Cook's Illustrated, and I love their cookbooks. And there is none I love more that their new one, one that takes on the slow cooker. If you are a fan of the slow cooker...or someone who has one gathering dust on a pantry shelf...this is a book you will like. For fans, it will add a wide variety of well tested recipes to the favorites you are already making. For those of you that are not using your slow cooker at much as you might like, for any number of reasons, this book will answer all the questions that may be holding you back.

In that very particular, rather geeky way that I love, ATK starts at the beginning with how to buy a slow cooker and the keys that will make your recipes a success. Then it is into the 200 recipes, broken down into categories- Soups, Stews, Braises, Chilies, Barbecue, Pasta Sauces, Meatballs and Meatloaves, Enchiladas and Tacos, Casseroles (Mac and Cheese, using uncooked pasta), On the Side, Eggs and Brunch,  Desserts (Nutella Bread Pudding..oh, be still my heart) and ends with Basics, which covers things like jam, applesauce, gravy and four different broths. There is quite a range of recipes here, and since the vast majority use fresh ingredients, some prep is needed in many. But there is also a number marked "Easy Prep" that are, well, easy prep.

This is a very attractive book, every each recipe on a full page, many with a full page, full color photograph opposite. I tell you, if you look at the photos in this book, there is no way you will not want it.
But this is ATK, so you know they are going to throw in a lot of practical, useful information as well. A nice full page article of how to use the microwave to help out that slow cooker,  others like "All About Herbs" and "Pasta 101" are a couple of other examples. Many pages, in addition to the recipe, will have one of ATK's "Smart Shopping Tips",  like the best brand of canned beans, jarred tomato sauce or coconut milk, and "Quick Prep Tips", showing the best way to cut stew meat, prepare your hearty greens or use lemon grass. And many recipes will have a nice little On The Side box on the page, giving a quick, easy recipe for something that would go perfect with the slow cooker dish, like Easy Mashed Potatoes, Caesar Salad or Cheese Toasties. Golly, they sounds so good....

And I love that ever recipe starts with a paragraph explaining "Why This Recipe Works", where they show what they learned in testing. Why use high or low heat in this recipe, why add this or that ingredient, and techniques to use that will really make the dish turn out it's best.

I have a long way to go with my slow cooker. Soup, especially a great sound onion soup with a surprise ingredient, may be my next attempt. Then something I would never think of, like the delicious cooking Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna (they use a foil collar and foil sling for easy removal of their lasagnas, like the sausage one on the cover). Or how about Coconut Rice Pudding? Did I mention the Nutella Bread Pudding, which a reviewer on Amazon said was excellent?

But I am a bit of a coward...and I love the first recipe I tried was yummy sounding, more classic, braised Pork Loin with Cranberries and Orange.
If my SIL posts a comment, this can be her's for Sunday dinner!

 Pork Loin with Cranberries and Orange
  • 1 (4 1/2 to 5- pound) boneless pork loin, trimmed and tied at 1 inch intervals 
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 (14-ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 (3-inch-long) strips orange zest, trimmed of white pith
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Dry pork with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in 12- inch skillet over medium high heat until just smoking. Brown pork well on all sides, 7-10 minutes.
2. Stir cranberry sauce, cranberries, orange juice, orange zest, and cinnamon into slow cooker. Nestle browned pork into slow cooker. Cover and cook until pork in tender and registers 140 to 145 degrees on instant read thermometer, about 4 hours on low.
3. Transfer pork to cutting board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. Let braising liquid settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using large spoon. Discard orange zest. Transfer braising liquid to saucepan and simmer until reduced to 2 cups, about 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Remove twine from pork, slice into 1/2-inch-thick slices, and arrange on serving platter. Spoon 1 cup sauce over meat and serve with remaining sauce.

This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


  1. Even though I don't eat meat I think that dish looks mouth watering. And Nutella Bread Pudding? Bring it on!

  2. Wow, that looks beautiful. And the thing is, it looks like it could EITHER be a pork loin that's really good, or a cinnamon/caramel/cherry goopy breakfast bread that would be really good!

    1. Don't waste your time or money. I spent $20 on pork loin, followed the recipe to a T and was graced with dry, stringy pork. What a disappointment. All that's left is to pull the pork, mix it with some boring bbq sauce and pretend it's cool. Yuk. Angry and disappointed.

  3. Everything looks so good! I love my slow cooker and really should use it more. This book is going on my wish list :)

  4. It looks delicious, that sauce looks amazing, I can just taste it! Thanks for the review of the cookbook, I enjoy the show, I'll have to check out the books!

  5. I am a total Cooks Illustrated fan. I haven't yet seen a copy of this book and now I know I must have it! I love pork lion and cranberries. And I love all the extra bits of information that ATK always give. Thanks for the preview. I *will* be buying.

  6. I've never tried ATK, but my sister loves their cookbooks. My slow cooker tends to be one of those collecting dust, so I'll have to take a look at that cookbook. That pork tenderloin looks divine!

  7. I've got to get this cookbook. I am a slow cooker zealot. If it weren't for mine, my family wouldn't eat during football season. I've got a pretty massive "Crock Pot Cookbook", all recipes with pictures that are in a three ring binder so you can take them out. I find that I also google slow cooker recipes alot too.

  8. Sister in Law is definitely responding because she and Brother and Niece would love to have that for dinner tomorrow night!!! Let us know what time to be there and we won't be late!!

  9. I'm a big fan of everything Christopher Kimball does. I agree with you on the geekiness factor. They do not miss a detail and that's what makes their work so top-notch. And now that they have conquered the slow cooker, it has to be the last word in slow cookers.

  10. This cookbook is a definite must for me. I use the slow cooker quite often for chili, stews and soups. I've got a small slow cooker and a big one for those big batches of things. I'd love to attempt lasagna! The pork recipe is awesome - thanks for sharing. With two of my favorite things - pork and cranberry sauce - I couldn't possibly go wrong.

  11. I use my crockpot at least twice if not three times a week, and I used to subscribe to Cooks Illustrated (got too expensive for me), so this book looks like a perfect one for me :)

  12. That looks delicious! I don't have a slow cooker, but it is on my Someday list. I'll be more confident knowing that this book will be there to help.

  13. I love America's Test Kitchen, all their books and shows. I think that I'd love this book. Thanks for reviewing it.

  14. Have added this book to my wishlist - thanks, Caite!

    I used to subscribe to Cook's Illustrated, but let the subscription lapse. Now I wonder why!? You've reminded me of all the reasons I love ATK.

    p.s. has your SIL commented? If not, I'll make the drive for dinner! :)

  15. That looks positively beautiful. Since about all I use the slow cooker for is to make too-big batches of stew, the book looks like a must-have. Thanks for posting this!

  16. I have been wondering about this cookbook. Great timing.

    This past week I think I have used my crock pots every day, with the exception of today as we had sufficient left overs. I will have to take a closer look at this book.

  17. Though I'm a vegetarian, I do use my crockpot for grain/bean stews and chili. If you are interested they are under 'main meals' in the recipes tab under the blog header picture. How's that for directions?:<)

  18. I am sorry Dawn, but she

  19. Those pics are mouth watering. I didn't know you could use tin foil in the slow cooker - interesting. This cookbook sounds like a must have!

  20. The pork loin looks great, but the nutella bread pudding - wonderful. I just send a jar of nutella to my daughter in China. I can't wait to tell her about the bread pudding.

  21. I really want a slow-cooker and that pork looks/sounds excellent! Nutella bread pudding would be wonderful, too!

  22. happy to see my love of Nutella is shared...

    Kaye, they often use foil in the slow-cooker. another technique they use is to put some veggies in foil packs in the slow-cooker to prevent overcooking.

  23. You had me at Nutella Bread Pudding...

    I love my slow cooker...but it's not like an every week kinda thing which means it only spends some time in the basement, gathering dust.

  24. p.s. The book is at the bookshop, ready for me to pick it up tomorrow. Your review (with photos!) sold me!

  25. I have over 200 cookbooks, but nothing like this. I am so putting it on my list to buy. And thanks for sharing the recipe. I am a huge fan of pork, cranberries and orange so this looks like a winner!

  26. I love this cookbook. I had to come by and see what you made from it. My oh my..that looks delicious! Thanks for visiting my blog. Now I am off to check out your other weekend cooking posts!


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