Book Report: ‘Slow Cooker Revolution’ and ’More Make It Fast, Make It Slow’

Your slow cooker has been holding out on you. It’s capable of more than chili, short ribs, stews and oatmeal, and it wants to be there for you, year-round.

Two recent cookbooks lay out their options differently. For “The Slow Cooker Revolution” (ATK, 2011; $26.95; 200 recipes), the editors of America’s Test Kitchen devoted six months in the kitchen lab to figuring out what it takes to improve common slow-cooker recipes and coming up with ways to adapt long-cooking dishes to slow-cooker ones.

More Make It Fast, Cook It Slow,” by Stephanie O’Dea (Hyperion, December 2010; $18.99; 338 recipes), keeps a cost-conscious eye on ingredients — although the author draws the line at using condensed soups — and features crowd-sourced recipes that were tested in her home kitchen.

Both offer recipes that prompt head-scratching: Why cook a head of garlic for six hours or take that long to make mashed potatoes, as “Slow Cooker Revolution” directs? Do fish fillets and lemonade benefit from two- and three-hour cooking times, as in “More Make It Fast”? Generally, those foods are done in much less time. The tradeoff is hands-free, low-energy cooking. Both recommend programmable cookers that offer the most flexibility, but you don’t need one to make the most of either book.

I found fewer outside-the-box ideas in O’Dea’s book, and the reviews with every recipe tend to be repetitive in a “yummy” way, but it’s a bonus that her recipes are gluten-free. “Slow Cooker Revolution” has the tips and techniques that add great value.

Recipes

Greek Fish in Foil

Turkey Breast and Gravy

Bonnie S. Benwick has the job most envied among cocktail-party conversations. If they only knew ... Cook with her each week at Dinner in Minutes: washingtonpost.com/recipes.
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