Pressure Perfect

Under pressure to get a tasty, nutritious dinner on the table in a flash? Like the idea of preparing fork-tender beef stew in thirty minutes? All this and more is made possibly by the pressure cooker, a magical appliance that produces soul-satisfying, homemade food in one-third (or less) the standard cooking time.

In Pressure Perfect, Lorna Sass distills her two decades of experience into one comprehensive volume. Includes over 200 recipes for preparing soups, meats, poultry, grains, beans, vegetables, and desserts in record time.

“The best pressure cooker book on the market … her beef chart alone is worth the price of admission.”
– John Kessler, Food Editor
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Southern Split Pea Soup with Ham

Serves 6

Making split pea soup in the pressure cooker is a special treat: the peas dissolve into a comforting puree, saving you the nuisance of using a blender. The soup thickens and develops a surface “skin” after standing. Stir well and thin with water or chicken broth, as needed.

When shopping for split peas, look for ones with bright color. Faded peas mean faded flavor.

10 minutes high pressure plus natural pressure release


1 tablespoon butter or oil (needed to control foaming)
2 cups coarsely chopped onions
2 large ribs celery, diced
8 cups water
1 pound (2 1/2 cups) green split peas, picked over and rinsed
1 pound smoked ham steak or pork butt, cut into -inch chunks
2 large bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed
1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried thyme (optional)


Heat butter in a 6-quart or larger cooker. Stir in the onions, celery, water, split peas, ham, bay leaves, and salt.

Lock the lid in place. Over high heat bring to high pressure. Reduce the heat just enough o maintain high pressure and cook 10 minutes. Turn off the heat. Allow the pressure to come down naturally. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow steam to escape.

Remove the bay leaves. Add the thyme (if using) and simmer until its flavor pervades the soup. Stir well, taking care to blend in the peas that have sunk to the bottom. Add additional salt to taste, as much as 1 teaspoon, if needed.

Copyright © 2006 Lorna Sass

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