Sunday, December 4, 2016

Experiments in Pressure Cooking

I finally got brave enough to order and use this pressure cooker from Presto. Following the recommendations from America's Test Kitchen, I got a stovetop model in stainless steel (for the far-off day when I get an induction cooktop).

So far, I've cooked pasta, potatoes, and lentils in the cooker. With those experiments, I'm ready for a few recommendations.

  • Don't accidentally knock off that little part in the center unless you want steam shooting up 8 feet in the air.
  • If you're using a pressure cooker to save energy or time, it's best used for things that take a long cooking time rather than a shorter cooking time. There may be other reasons to cook Brussels sprouts in a pressure cooker, but you won't save time. Think pot roasts, stews, soups, stocks, etc.
  • Experiment with small amounts of food and short cooking times first. 
  • Read a bunch of blogs and other people's advice, but remember, Your Mileage May Vary.
  • Read the instruction book.
  • Read the instruction book. (This bears repeating.)
  • Don't believe everything you read.
If you want pasta in the pressure cooker, you need to put in much less liquid than you would for cooking pasta in sauce, because, remember, almost all the liquid gets retained and goes into the pasta. You'll still probably need to drain some out.

Potatoes came out great. I used potatoes that were 1-2 inches in diameter, cooked perfectly in eight minutes (but there was a little too much liquid left in the pressure cooker at halfway up the potatoes, as originally advised. I tried browning the potatoes in a little olive oil first; I don't think I let them brown long enough the first time. There's a little bit of discoloration on the bottom of the pressure cooker from that, but hey, in my kitchen, stuff gets used.

I let lentils cool naturally and I think they were well beyond overcooked at 3 minutes. Also they were a little watery, but then I used soaked lentils instead of bone-dry ones.

I'll keep everyone updated as I try more things after the holidays!

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