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What to do with a pressure cooker


derricks
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My mom got me a pressure cooker (fairly small) for my birthday, and I'm looking for ideas on what to do with it. She uses hers for stock, but I suspect that wouldn't be useful if I wanted clear stock. Mine can also do small canning batches. And it's sold as a risotto cooker, so presumably it can do that as well (I've heard of this technique but don't remember the details).

Anyone have thoughts on the pros and cons of using a pressure cooker for any of these things or for other things? The cooker came with a book called "Pressure Perfect" but who knows how reliable it is. So any recs on good books for figuring this little guy out would be useful as well.

Thanks all!

Derrick Schneider

My blog: http://www.obsessionwithfood.com

You have to eat. You might as well enjoy it!

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My Mom loves her pressure cooker! She is a tiny 80 yr old European woman. She loves to make veg in it. For example - she will place a BIG pile of potatoes in the cooker and presto (no pun intended) she has cooked them in 1/3 of the time in less water which makes better gnocchi. Also she swears by it for long stewy things....example her osso bucco, and her lamb shanks are gloriously melting and delicious in half the time. My Aunt in France also loves it but for a slightly more direct reasons - gas like other utilities is expensive cooking in this way is more efficient in winter and cooler in summer.

Recently I gifted a friend with a pot and the "curries" coming out of there are outstanding.

Hope that helps

Life! what's life!? Just natures way of keeping meat fresh - Dr. who

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  • 2 months later...

I thought I'd report back on the stock thing. I decided to give it a try when I made dinner on Christmas Eve (so it took me a while). I made risotto, figuring that if the stock wasn't clear, well, no big deal.

More about the dinner, if you're interested.

As we all guessed, the pressure cooker didn't create a nice clear stock. I don't know how much turbulence there is in the pressure cooker, but it's probably more than "one bubble should break the surface every few seconds". On the other hand, it had a great depth of chickeny flavor, and was more gelatinous than a base stock, without losing volume from reducing. And it took two hours to make.

I'd probably do it again if I knew the stock wasn't going to go into a sauce or soup, as I did in this case. I haven't used it for anything else, though, so I'll get back to you. I do have a dinner party tomorrow where I'm planning on serving risotto, but I don't think a dinner party is the time to experiment with something on those lines.

Derrick Schneider

My blog: http://www.obsessionwithfood.com

You have to eat. You might as well enjoy it!

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the main bonus of a pressure cokker is that it can reach higher temperatures than normal. so it can cook things faster. so if you to make a braised item or a stew you just put all the ingredients in the cooker and instead of a couple hours you can have it down in about 45 minutes

bork bork bork

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Stock is actually great in a pressure cooker because it never boils. As long as you take care to heat it up gently and let it cool completely, you get crystal clear stock. Make sure to pre-boil your bones first to get rid of scum though.

PS: I am a guy.

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Stock is actually great in a pressure cooker because it never boils. As long as you take care to heat it up gently and let it cool completely, you get crystal clear stock. Make sure to pre-boil your bones first to get rid of scum though.

Ah, interesting. I will try that. It never boils, eh? Clearly I need some brushing up on the various P T V equations. Hmmm.

Thanks for the tip.

Derrick Schneider

My blog: http://www.obsessionwithfood.com

You have to eat. You might as well enjoy it!

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Pressure cookers are also fabulous for cooking beans and brown rice, two long-cooking food items that really profit from the cooker's ability to speed things up.

In fact, if you have a stainless steel or other heatproof bowl that can fit easily inside your cooker, and one of those folding steamer basket contraptions, you can cook the rice and beans together-but-separately in the cooker (learned this trick from Diet for a Small Planet , back in my twenties when I was trying my best to be a macrobiotic granola-head :biggrin: ).

1. Put a cup of dry beans (cleaned and washed) in the bottom of the cooker. Add water until the level is an inch over the surface of the beans. Add any seasonings you want to cook into the beans (bay leaf; piece of kombu; whatever).

2. Insert the steamer basket.

3. Place the stainless steel bowl in the steamer basket.

4. Place a cup of brown rice plus about 1.25 cups water into the bowl. Add any seasonings you want to cook into the rice (a little soy sauce, etc.)

5. Lock on the cooker's lid, bring up to pressure, cook at pressure for about 30-35 minutes (experimentation will teach you how long it takes your cooker to handle different kinds of beans--chickpeas take a little longer than average, black beans take a little less than average).

6. Dump steam/depressurize according to your cooker's directions, unlock the lid, and taa-daa--almost-instant complete protein. :biggrin:

Dunno about cooking risotto/arborio rice in the cooker, though. I'd be concerned it would get all gummy, and maybe also gum up the steam-release mechanism. At least with the admittedly cheapo cookers I have owned, the directions have warned againt cooking anything very starchy for that reason (like split peas or farina, for instance). Since your cooker is marketed as a risotto-maker, they either must have solved that problem--or perhaps proven it's an old wives tale? What says your cooker's instruction book?

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I am not sure about "a pressure cooker never boils". We have used ours for canning for 30+ years, and that is steam coming out the steam valve. Steam comes from boiling. The pressure comes from the fact that the steam builds up pressure because it is being regulated by the valve (retarded) rather than just being allowed access to the atmosphere like an open pot.

We wouldn't be without the pressure cooker. Just yesterday, I found a box in the basement full of homemade ketchup that we canned in 1998. I was a bit skeptical about it still being good, but opened a jar and it was aged like fine wine. Totally excellent.

Also found 4 pints of French Onion Soup that we made with Vadalia onions and canned in 1992. Outstanding tasting.

Some things, we've found, through trial and error, cannot be canned, such as the six 1/2-pint jars of mushroom gravy that had lost their seal and I won't go into the obnoxious odor they gave off when we dumped them out yesterday. They'd been down there only 1 year.

But I have two large open pots that I make beef brown stock in one, and veal brown stock in the other, at the same time. I reserve enough stock to make 1 gallon of Espagnole sauce, and another gallon of reserved stock, so that I can make 1 gallon of Demi-glace by combining the reserved stock and Espagnole Sauce. The rest of the stock gets canned as either beef or veal stock. Always remember to date and label what is in the jar. 1 year later, it's hard to remember what is in there otherwise! (One time, due to a shortage of canning jars, we reduced the remaining stock by 90% and had Glace de Viande, which I keep in the refrigerator or freezer indefinitely---the mention of this is a hint---always have enough jars and new sealing lids---the lids cannot be re-used). The process of canning makes cooking efficient, as once I heat up the oven to brown the bones, I don't have to heat up the oven each time I want a bit of stock for soup or sauces. Another benefit, is that the canning jars, once sealed, don't need refrigeration, and require no energy to store. They just sit there at room temperature, or at least basement temperature where we have many shelves filled with canned stuff we've made.

Spaghetti sauce (with and without meat), condiments like ketchup, mustard, pickles; soups, stocks, pizza sauce, just plain tomato sauce which we make every summer by buying large quantities of Italian plum tomatoes from the farmer's market (and from our small garden); you can even can meatloaf, or even just hamburger (like Walnut Acres sells).

A hint: buy yourself a couple of extra rubber lid seals. They wear out over time, and when your canner is as old as ours, it isn't as easy to find replacements 30 years later!

A canner with a bad seal is not a good thing.

doc

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A clarification: The old style pressure cookers with a bolted on lid meant to be used on the stove WILL boil when it reaches pressure but the rate of boiling can be controlled by adjusting the flame. Adjusted properly, only a tiny bit of steam will escape and the boiling rate will be negligible.

The new style pressure cookers that look like a rice cooker on steroids and is heated by an internal heating element will NOT boil. It may boil a little bit as it comes up to pressure but after that, sensors inside the pot will keep the cooker at a constant temperature. without any escaping steam.

Either one of them, if used properly, should never agitate the stock enough to cloud it.

PS: I am a guy.

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Since your cooker is marketed as a risotto-maker, they either must have solved that problem--or perhaps proven it's an old wives tale? What says your cooker's instruction book?

Reading the manual... That's a clever idea. I'll have to see.

A hint:  buy yourself a couple of extra rubber lid seals.  They wear out over time, and when your canner is as old as ours, it isn't as easy to find replacements 30 years later!

Great suggestion. You do a pretty phenomenal amount of canning, though I'm not sure my wife is ready for me to start filling our one-bedroom apartment with canned goods. I have a few, but we don't have the space for that kind of endeavor.

A clarification: The old style pressure cookers with a bolted on lid meant to be used on the stove WILL boil when it reaches pressure but the rate of boiling can be controlled by adjusting the flame. Adjusted properly, only a tiny bit of steam will escape and the boiling rate will be negligible.

Thanks for that. Mine is a stove top, so clearly I'll have to practice a bit to get the right setting.

Derrick Schneider

My blog: http://www.obsessionwithfood.com

You have to eat. You might as well enjoy it!

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A clarification: The old style pressure cookers with a bolted on lid meant to be used on the stove WILL boil when it reaches pressure but the rate of boiling can be controlled by adjusting the flame. Adjusted properly, only a tiny bit of steam will escape and the boiling rate will be negligible.

Thanks for that. Mine is a stove top, so clearly I'll have to practice a bit to get the right setting.

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I've taken some pics of my PC. We got it as a present from a friend in china.

gallery_18727_906_3457.jpg

This is with the lid open, it's controlled by the dial on the right side. There are different pre-programmed settings which I guess correspond to different times and pressures. It will automatically keep warm something after the pressure cycle is over (at around 50C I'm guessing) and can even cook rice.

gallery_18727_906_5054.jpg

This is with the lid on. The blue button is the pressure release valve.

gallery_18727_906_38638.jpg

The inside looks just like a rice cooker.

PS: I am a guy.

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Risotto in a pressure cooker:

I read it first in one of Lorna Sass' pressure cooker cookbooks and for about eight years I've made risotto no other way. I know some will think it blasphemy, but give it a try on your guests and don't tell them how you cooked it. You will be surprised.

Heat some olive oil and throw in your shallots. Cook to desired cookedness then toss in about 1 1/2 cups of arborio or carnaroli rice. Toast it a bit stirring it so the grains get a little translucent and smell nice and nutty. Three or four minutes maybe. Pour in a bit of wine - 1/2 cup or so? Stir and let soak in. Then add your stock - you want 3 1/2 cups for 1 1/2 cups of rice. Now lock the lid and bring up to pressure. Go seven minutes at full pressure and quick cool under running water in the sink. Unlock the lid, stir in your cheese and other yummy bits (roasted butternut squash is incredible, asparagus and lemon, peas and a pinch of saffron etc.) If it looks a little thick, add stock. If it looks a little thin, let it sit a minute or two. The pressure method is also nice if you want to use dried mushrooms. They will rehydrate in the cooker.

There are a million variations, but that's the basic recipe. Shallots, 1 1/2 cups rice, 1/2 cup wine, 3 1/2 cups stock, and cheese.

Have fun! I use my pressure cooker at least once a week. It's nice to make hummus on a lark, and soups and stews blend flavors in minutes in that magic pot.

-Linda

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My grandmother cooked all sorts of fresh vegetables (carrots, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, lima beans, swiss chard) in her pressure cooker and I remember them as very good. The raw material usually came right out of my grandfather's garden, so that helped. I imagine they weren't cooking them al dente, so keep that in mind, veggies cook pretty fast in a PC. Granny's rule of thumb was when you smell the veggies in the PC, they're done.

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ps: basically anything you would use a crock pot for

you can do in a pc.

crock pot: low heat for several hours.

pc: quick burst of heat for a few minutes and you're done....

milagai

(edited for spelling)

Edited by Milagai (log)
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Pressure cookers were invented in France. I had heard of them for years but I first encountered one only when we rented a Gite in the French countryside long ago. They were required to be in the Gites by the French Government. They use far less energy because of the pressure. I really loved it when I first tried it. It was like kind of like a microwave in that it could cook things in a fraction of the time, but in the end, I went back to a "take your time and let it steep" style of cooking which I think brings out the flavor better (slower, but better). I must say it makes a wicked beef Bourguignon but you really should cook it at least a day before so the flavors develop fully. I still have one but I rarely use it any more, usually just for beans.

EDIT: If you rush risotto you clearly don't understand it.

Edited by SWISS_CHEF (log)
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Like I said, some people will shout blasphemy to the pressure cooker risotto. For me, it is an incredible time saver. After a twelve hour day a bit of comfort food in a small amount of time is exactly what I want. Since this pot was sold as a "risotto cooker", I'm going to guess that I'm not the only one who is doing the deed. :wink:

Think of the pressure cooker as the busy person's tool to make a decent meal in a short amount of time.

-Linda

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Like I said, some people will shout blasphemy to the pressure cooker risotto.  For me, it is an incredible time saver.  After a twelve hour day a bit of comfort food in a small amount of time is exactly what I want.  Since this pot was sold as a "risotto cooker", I'm going to guess that I'm not the only one who is doing the deed.  :wink:

Think of the pressure cooker as the busy person's tool to make a decent meal in a short amount of time. 

-Linda

Fair enough but what kind of rice do you use?

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I like my pressure cooker for whole grain (natural) rice risottos.

I prepare it like classic risotto (shallots, broth 1.75 times the volume of rice, maybe some dried porcinis or morrels), have it under pressure for 30 minutes and then gently stir it for another 5-10 minutes. Serve it with parmigiano (or sbrinz), chopped parsley and pepper. A great whole grain dish.

Also great: make the risotto pure and the prepare a rice gratin with some parmigiano and tomatoe sauce. Can easily be prepared in advance. Once known as "natural rice Italian style". (Ed, maybe I can offer a try very soon :smile: )

Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

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Although I've never knowingly tasted a pressure cooker risotto, my inclination is to agree with swiss_chef. In my experience, true risotto results only from the repeated application of small amounts of liquid and continual stirring, and that they aren't made that way is the main reason 95% of restaurant risottos suck. So, the skeptic in me wants to know if the pressure cooked version is really a risotto instead of, say, a moist pilaf. In a side-by-side blind tasting, could one distinguish a pressure cooker risotto from the genuine article, assuming identical ingredients were used?

Edited by carswell (log)
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I make a lot of risottos with regular "white" rice (carnaroli, nano) and I'd never do it in a pressure cooker.

However, whole grain rice is a different animal and I like the idea of combining whole grain rice - a prodcut of really excellent nutritional value - with some time saving techniques. I tried whole grain risottos wihout pressure cookers, but actually it's a terrible amount of work and the result is less convincing.

Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

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