I’m thinking I’ll do a few gadget posts while I gear up for real cooking sometime soon. I figured I’d start with some of my favorite kitchen gadgets, since this, after all, a cooking blog.
I have quite a few recipes on the blog where I talk about using my pressure cooker. It is absolutely my favorite tool in the kitchen. It takes cooking times down by half on rice and potatoes. And for my rice this is a big deal, because I use brown rices most of the time and it reduces the 45 minute cooking time down to 20 minutes for perfect rice.
Soups and stews cook in 15 to 30 minutes and taste like they cooked all day. Full of flavor, tender and juicy meats, perfect vegetables. It tops my slow-cooker because I don’t have to take time out in the morning to remember to put everything together before I leave for work. Instead I can come home, throw it all in the pressure cooker, bring it up to pressure, reduce the heat and walk away.
I know that using a pressure cooker can be intimidating, especially if you have only used one from 30 years ago when, at least in my memory of them from when I was a kid, they were a time bomb waiting to go off on the stove. The new ones are such a vast improvement, even a skeptic like me has learned to appreciate the value.
Because, you see, I never wanted a pressure cooker. I didn’t even buy this one. It was completely my ex’s idea. The reason was because at this altitude if you want to cook beans, you have to have a pressure cooker, otherwise, no matter how long you soak and cook your beans, they are still crunchy and this frustrated him. So he researched and fussed and finally settled on this one: Kuhn Rikon Pressure Cooker
It was love at first sight for me… well, after I saw what it could do and was convinced it wasn’t going to turn my kitchen into demolition zone. Soon I was using it daily. (Oh, and don’t worry, the ex bought a newer model and took with him.)
Pressure cookers save time, save energy and can make great delicious one-pot meals that people will think you slaved over. If you decide to buy one, buy the best you can afford. Mine is 15 years old and showing no signs of quitting on me. Make sure it comes with a steaming trivet, this is essential for steaming potatoes, meats and vegetables.
Plan on replacing the rubber rings every 3-5 years, depending on how you use your cooker.
If you’ve never used a pressure cooker before, allow yourself some room for learning and errors. Read the directions that come with your cooker – they are all pretty similar in how they work, but each model will have specifics you’ll need to know. Most come with a cookbook for basic items, use it. Once you get the hang of cooking times and styles, you’ll easily be able to adapt other recipes to pressure cooking.
If a pressure cooker appeals to you and you have any questions, hit the comments or send me an email.