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Pressure Cooker Users Unite!

How many of you use a pressure cooker on a regular basis? What are your favorite recipes and what kind of cooker do you use? I have a 6 quart presto from the 40s. Cook everything from Chicken Paprikash to Stuffed Cabbage and Soups. Quickest way to get a meal done in my opinion!

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  1. Did you know that almost every kitchen in India sports a pressure cooker? It is very energy efficient and for most of our food that's cooked to fall-apart-doneness, it is ideal. One of the most important items an Indian immigrant-to-be is advised to get from the home country is a pressure cooker. We use it to cook rice, lentils/pulses/beans, boil potatoes, steam dhokla and idlis (don't really need a *pressure* cooker for these) etc. almost on a daily basis.

    I don't cook as much Indian food as I used to, but I still use a pressure cooker for rice and certinly for bean based soups and stews.

    9 Replies
    1. re: sweetTooth

      It's funny you should say that because the only person my age (mid twenties) who has a pressure cooker is an Indian whose mom said she couldn't let her daughter be without one. The rest of us are still wondering if it's really necessary.

      She's had luck making risotto in it, but I remember my Chinese mom always using it to make boba.

      1. re: sweetTooth

        I read this somewhere. It got me interested in getting my pressure cooker out and functional again. I haven't used mine for years but it should shorten the time for cooking dals by a lot.

        1. re: sweetTooth

          I'm curious about the cooking rice thing -- what's the procedure, how long does it take to make various kinds? Brown rice takes me 45 minutes to cook; if I could pare that down to thirty I'd be ecstatic.

          1. re: themis

            I wish I had an answer for you regarding brown rice cooking times. I've only tried cooking brown rice in my cooker twice. The first time it didn't cook all the way because I guess I didn't realise it would take longer to cook. Duh! The second time I added too much water thinking for some reason that brown rice would absorb more water. It didn't. I still have that bag of brown basmati rice from Trader Joes sitting around somewhere. These days I just use the frozen box of microwavable brown rice TJs sells. I will try again though and let you know. Somebody suggested soaking the rice in water for an hour before cooking.
            White rice - I wash the rice in 2 changes of water, drain completely and add twice as much water by volume, for a soft texture. For a fluffier texture probably 1.75 times as much water. Once the pressure builds up, I let it hold for 3 to 4 minutes and then lower the heat to very low for about 5 minutes and then turn off the heat. While the pressure drops, I try not to disturb the cooker - this seems to be critical when cooking pulses. I dunno if it's residual heat from the gas burner even after switching it off or what. Once the pressure drops all the way, rice is ready. This is with my Indian cookers - Hawkins or Prestige brand. I haven't used any of the other brands mentioned here.

            1. re: themis


              I just cooked a pot of basmati in my pressure cooker for the first time. It took about 15 minutes, so it wasn't as exciting as I thought it would be. But my TFal Sensor may not be 15PSI...

              According to what I read, brown rice would take about 15 minutes - lots better than 45! but I have not tested it yet.

              Cooking time varies depending on the PSI of your pressure cooker - it will help if you know ahead of time what yours is.

              -- I forgot that I probably needed to cook the rice longer because I'm at a higher altitude ... that's a factor.

              1. re: themis

                Well, I cook brown rice in my PC all the time. To save on washing up, I put the brown rice in a pyrex serving bowl that fits in the PC, and put this on a trivet above boiling water. I put the brown rice in the bowl with boiling water (proportion: 1 1/2 cups boiling water for every cup of brown rice). Then cover the bowl, and bring to pressure. Keep there for 15-20 minutes, and the rice is done perfectly. :)

              2. re: sweetTooth

                sweetTooth, maybe you can unravel a mystery for me (Ive asked this question before). Indian recipes say to cook food for a number of "whistles". What does that mean? Ive always figured it means that the cooker has come up to pressure and steam is coming out. but Im not sure . Please, please explain.

                1. re: jen kalb

                  Heh heh heh. DH always teases me about this. (usually when I am leaving him in charge of turning off the heat. In his mom's kitchen, you never let the cooker whistle.)
                  When you use any Indian made pressure cooker, once the pressure builds up, the weight valve at the top makes a whistling sound as it lets out a blast of steam to reduce pressure. If you don't turn off the heat, after some time pressure builds up again and the cooker whistles again. Presumably this will keep happening as long as there is water in the bottom of the cooker to turn into steam, and there is a heat source. The number of whistles after which to turn heat down or off is probably used as a more accurate indicator of pressure having built up enough to cook the contents, versus how many minutes to cook which may vary by make of pressure cooker, age of the rubber gasket, BTU of burner, etc. Thus for cooking rice, I turn down heat all the way to minimum after 1 whistle and then turn off after the second. For daal, I turn heat down after 2 or 3 whistles and then turn off after the 4th. Hope this helped clarify things. :)

                2. re: sweetTooth

                  hi sweet tooth, I would like to add to your comment that almost every kitchen in Venezuela sports a pressure cooker too, I am in my early 30s and use it almost daily even after moving to the US 12 yrs ago. I married an American and all his family is always amazed of me using it to make all meals including baby food, flan, beans, lentils, all veggies, use it as a steamer.... and the best to get the chicken breast frozen from the freezer and have them as a dish on the table in about 17 minutes.

                3. I use mine all the time. Soups and stews mostly.

                  I worked as a personal chef for a few years...used my pressure cooker all the time when I was doing that.

                  1. I've been using a pressure cooker for about 10 years. It took me a little while to get comfortable with the process, but I really came to love it. My first one was a Fagor, which was pretty good; I also now have a Kuhn Rikon, which is even better. Despite owning several excellent PC cookbooks (most of them by Lorna Sass), I usually don't get terribly creative with it, but rely on it for quick versions of almost anything that can be cooked with moist heat and isn't too delicate: chicken fricasee, beef stew, pot roast, pork chops, soups and stocks, risotto, carrots, winter squash, potatoes, etc. Poaches a whole 4-lb. chicken in 20 minutes or so, which is great for those of us who don't turn the oven on until after the autumn solstice. All in all, a terrific invention!

                    1. All great posts, thanks! I didn't know how popular the pressure cooker was with Indians that's very interesting, but makes a lot of sense.

                      As a user for the past 16 or so years, I'm still amazed at not only how quickly you can make an entire meal, but also how tasty the food actually is. Have any of you ever cooked carrots in your cooker? They come out so sweet and just incredible.

                      1. I had a Fagor cooker for years before the handle fell off. Need to get a bigger one for canning.

                        One thing I tried was a Portugese shank stew recipe. Basically, you get some pork and beef neckbones (really cheap), dredge them in seasoned flour, and brown them in batches. Put them in the cooker with some liquid (I used canned consomme, but water or stock is fine), and cook for around 30 minutes. Add a few carrots, parsnips, or potatoes, cook another 10, and serve over noodles or rice.

                        1. I also love my old Presto which I received as a wedding gift in 1978 and I still use it frequently. A favorite recipe lately is from Epicurious...Short Ribs with Asian Flavors, delicious even without the prunes! Jacques Pepin offers a few good recipes also in his book "Fast Food My Way."

                          1. I was always afraid to use the--all the hissing and spitting and all. A childhood incident where one exploded doesn't help the matter either.

                            2 years ago I purchased a Magefesa online, and WOW. What a great piece of kitchen gear. When Alton Brown, pulled his pressure cooker out on Good Eats, I had to chuckle because my Magefesa is so superiorly designed and engineered.

                            My wife is Brazilian and we are constantly making beans with it. We also love making stews and broth/stock.

                            1. I also got mine as a wedding gift in 1978. We use it to make artichokes (mmm..tender!) and corned beef. It's great for corned beef because most of the fat is rendered out, and it's also less salty. I'd like to try it for risotto.

                              1. Love my Kuhn Rikon. I know it's still summer, but sometimes I get a hankering for wintery foods like goulash, carbonnade and such. The pressure cooker works its magic quickly, and without heating up the kitchen.

                                1. I got introduced to my pressure cooker when I lived in France. My room mate always cooked with an SEB. Back in the states I picked up a Presto and got the variable weight attachment for it so I can cook at 7.5, 10 or 15 lbs. Lower preasures take longer but softer things like potatoes don't come out like mush

                                  1. HURRAH!!! We christened the pressure cooker yesterday and made beef stock with shanks and oxtails. When we saw it this morning to skim the fat, it was like beef jello... YUMMMMMMMM


                                    1. We have a microwave pressure cooker from Nordicware.com that consistently cooks brown rice in 20 minutes with a 900 watt microwave. It also works great with beans. We've had one for about 12 years. It was starting to wear out we use it so much, it's all plastic. We just bought a replacement!

                                      1. Hey guys, this thread is a godsend. I am looking to buy a stainless steel Presto pressure cooker in Toronto. Anyone knows where I should go? Any help is appreciated.

                                        1. mmck - great idea. When my dtr moves out, she is getting one of those! I rec'd a Presto in 1979 when we got married. Have used it off and on ever since. I love it. You need some chicken stock? Zap it. Need a stew? Zap the meat (all by itself) and then simmer in the rest of the veggies, etc. Need dal? Cook em up quick and season how you like. It's a wondermous thing. I think I replaced my gaskets and pressure plugs... twice? maybe? Oh, and I also ran my pressure regulator down the garbage disposal.. so it .. well, let's just say, it's a little smaller than when it came from the factory. But it works!

                                          1. I love my pressure cooker. Most often I use it to cook potatoes, regular or sweet (at our altitude, it takes about 11-15 minutes), and artichokes (which tend to take 20-30). It's good for brown rice (once you know how much water to add!). I've even shortened my time for cooking steel-cut oatmeal in it. It is quick, reliable, and efficient. I would still want to brown meats before pressure cooking. Mine's a T-fal Sensor 2. Excellent.

                                            1. My sister in Northern Italy found shortcuts to the local STIR-HEAVY dishes Polenta and Risotto by starting them the normal way and finishing them in a pressure cooker. A time saver for sure.

                                              1. I have a stainless steel Presto pressure cooker. My favorite thing to cook in it is pot roast. And yes, it is cooked to fall-apart-doneness. Try it, you'll like it.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: eliz553

                                                  Does anyone think a 3.5 quart pressure cooker is a good buy? I have a 6 quart and 8 and wonder if it is a good idea to also purchase the 3.5 for smaller amounts of food.

                                                2. We use ours all the time...nearly every day. Anyone know if there's anything we can do to repair/rescue it (instead of buy a new one) once the bottom has begun to split? It's a quality brand but the split of the bottom is the same fate the previous one suffered.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: lgss

                                                    lgss, what exactly is happening to your cooker? From your description, I picture an aluminum disc separating from the bottom of a stainless-steel pot, but that could be completely wrong. In any case, before attempting any repair, why not contact the manufacturer? You say it's a "quality brand," so it may still be under warranty. If it isn't, the manufacturer may still be "quality" enough to replace it, as long as they don't think you've abused it.

                                                    1. re: Miss Priss

                                                      Yep, the disc has begun to separate from the rest of the pot. We should look up the date we purchased it. I have not yet contacted the manufacturer, probably should.

                                                  2. This is my kind of clique! I got a Kuhn Rikon over a year ago and it's revolutionalised my cooking! We're primarily a vegetarian household and we eat a lot of pulses - the PC makes them super speedy and doesn't fill my kitchen with steam. The PC must have paid for itself in the savings I've made on gas.

                                                    I love steaming potatoes in the PC - it takes only a few minutes and they're never waterlogged and taste extra potatoey. It's a great way of getting spuds ready for making breakfast hashes.

                                                    1. TImely thread for me. I finally caved in and ordered a PC today, which should arrive soon. Can't wait to try it out.

                                                      1. Those who use PC and DO. Do you notice difference for the same recipe cooked in PC and DO? I have many LC DO and now moving to Europe where electricity/energy costs more than in the US. I feel I might need a PC as I love slow cooked food so much but I once read somewhere, the texture of meat cooked in DO is better than PC. Do you agree with this? Do you have any incidents either one is better other than the obvious difference in cooking time?

                                                        13 Replies
                                                        1. re: hobbybaker

                                                          I can't help much with the texture of meat as I'm vegetarian but it's very important to watch how much liquid you add to PC stews and casseroles. You don't lose any water through evaporation when using a PC so it's quite easy to have too much liquid when your things are cooked. So you either put up with a soupy stew or reduce it down and risk overcooking other ingredients. Once you've gotten a handle on how much liquid to add, I prefer the taste of stews etc done in a slow cooker.

                                                          1. re: serah

                                                            Thank you serah. How do you decide which one (Presser cooker or Dutch Oven ) to use? Do you have any criteria based on ingredence etc ? Obviously, cooking time is one of the biggest decision factors.. but I am curious how people having both pressure cooker and dutch oven make a decision which one to use.

                                                            1. re: hobbybaker

                                                              If I loved a recipe for braised meat, I wouldn't try to cook the same in a PC. It won't be the same. I use a PC for beans and for making chicken broth mostly. Occasionally I'll make soup or a stew. In the Dutch oven, I tend to braise large cuts of meat. The PC will not produce browned meat. You could conceivably make chili in either, or stew. I don't know the answer for you. You need to decide what sort of cooking you want to do, and then decide on the vessel.

                                                              1. re: sueatmo

                                                                I decided to try a pot roast in the PC. Lorna Sass said "don't brown; it's not necessary. You'll never notice the difference." I said "must brown" so I did and it came out excellent. You can first brown your meat in the PC (or another pot, if you're looking for a really deep sear) and finish the recipe that way. I just can't omit the browning steps for most cooking I do in the PC.

                                                                I braise in my DO as well but it all depends on how much time I have. I must admit, I really enjoy braised brisket in the DO and am leery of trying it in the PC. So, I just plan ahead when I'm making brisket. So, to answer your question, PC or DO depends on how much time I have and what I want to make. I have a 10-qt and have frequently doubled recipes just to have leftovers.

                                                                Lately, I'm partial to chicken stock followed by chicken barley mushroom soup. This fall it was kale, potatoes and various sausage (crawfish and alligator being the top two).

                                                                1. re: Dee S

                                                                  Thank you Dee and Sue. It is quite informative. I understand I need to know what I want to cook with pc but on the other hand, I want to know what a PC can do best/better. I know it is a chicken and egg situation but if PC cannot cook braising meat as good as DO I need to think twice if I need it or I need rather smaller pc only dedicated to cook beans/rice/grains/potatoes or soup etc. I am doing research but hearing from the experienced always helps!

                                                                  1. re: Dee S

                                                                    I didn't pick up on this reply in Jan. This is good information. I'll have to try it if I ever feel I can afford a piece of meat again! I love that you tried something to see if it would work, and then shared the information. Thanks.

                                                                    1. re: Dee S

                                                                      I brown too. Not an absolute but my preferred method. I agree that it adds flavors that you don't get without browning.

                                                                      1. re: Dee S

                                                                        I can't understand how anybody can say that you don't need to brown meat before pressure cooking it. For some recipes maybe that's the case, but has this person never heard of the maillard reaction?

                                                                        1. re: benjamin23

                                                                          Maillard reaction is a good way of adding flavor, but it isn't the only one. And browning the meat at the start isn't the only way of producing this reaction.

                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                            Yes you can get the flavors from the Maillard reaction with braising especially if you finish uncovered but if there are ways of achieving the same flavors in a PC with out browning first I would love to learn.

                                                                    2. re: hobbybaker

                                                                      Usually, if it's the first time I'm cooking a "normal" recipe I'll go with the dutch oven and then once I've cooked it I'll then decide whether or not I'll try it in the PC - that way I have the original recipe to compare with. I'm also now increasingly concious of the fuel savings of say, 15mins PC vs 1hr+ on the stove.

                                                                      However, after using my PC for a while and reading around about them, I can usually make a decent stab at modifying a recipe for PCooking straight off the bat. As I said previously, you need to watch out how much liquid you add. As for cooking times, if the recipe only has veggies I'll reduce the cooking time by much more than suggested as veggies can overcook so quickly.

                                                                      For instance, I do a Nigella Lawson sweet vegetable stew which calls for 1hr cooking on the hob, which I give at most 15 mins in the PC - any longer and the vegetables are too soft.

                                                                      1. re: serah

                                                                        sarah, thanks for sharing your experience. I love to braise a roast with a Dutch Oven for weekend especially in Winter. Many of the recipes requires to have DO in the oven for 2-3 hours and it is expensive way to cook in Europe where I am now slowly moving. So I am thinking about PC. but looks like DO can do this better if cooking time and energy are not concern. I am considering to buy 4qt instead of 6qt now mainly for grains. I thought about a set but have a doubt to use 6qt that much if I don't cook any of those meat with pc. I know I am kind of going back and forth with those ideas for a year now :)

                                                                        1. re: hobbybaker

                                                                          HI HB,
                                                                          I know it's been a long time since you posted this but I wanted to share Miss Vickie's Pot in Pan (PIP) method. She sometimes suggests using a vessel inside the PC for smaller quantities, for delicate items or to cook several separate dishes at the same time. I purchased an 8 qt to cook for two and will use a SS bowl on top of a rack inside to cook grains.
                                                                          I also agree that you can brown before or after the PC. I'll cook a whole chicken inside and then brown in the oven. The PC is also awesome for stock and it can be a great pot for cooking pasta as many of them come with a steamer basket which can double as a pasta insert.

                                                                2. I have a 16 quart Presto that I got to can home made soups, and it became slippery slope, leading to making the broth first from a whole chicken or several ham shanks. Then, before I knew it, I was making 1.5-2 gallons of soup at a time. I mean, if you're gonna do it, make it worth while.

                                                                  1. I got one as a gift and I was less than thrilled, but the first time I made short rib ragu with it I was hooked! Now I start all of my "tough" cuts in the PC ... move to the oven for finishing.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: Sharoneonta

                                                                      Sharone - move to the oven for finishing. Save time and energy and finishing in the oven made meat tastier than entirely cooked in the PC? Sounds good way to go for meat. Maybe two pots to be cleaned but it is fine with me. Thanks for your input.

                                                                    2. To add the general knowledge: I had cooked chicken and I had some mixed dried beans. I had a little, but not a lot of time. I soaked the beans as I was doing a deep clean in my kitchen. After a quick boil and 2 hour soak, I drained them, added chicken broth, aromatics and herbs and pressured the whole thing for 20 minutes. I then added the chicken I had pulled off the bone, and voila! Really good soup. So easy with a PC. This is why I love using it. If you have one, you will find ways to use it.

                                                                      1. Pollo a la Broasted in the PC. Flour the chicken, 1/4 cup oil and let her rip for 15 min., keep heat low and be careful to let it cool before opening. Be careful the grease is hotter than water!