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Dec 5, 2006 01:22 AM

Hurrah for Pressure Cookers

I have now made peace with mine, and I enjoy using it on a regular basis.

I can cook:
chicken curry in 10 minutes, not 1 hour
boston butt or chuck roast in 45 minutes, not 3-4 hours
chicken or turkey stock in 30 minutes, not 2-3 hours
chili or stew in 20 minutes, not 2 hours
hey, do not forget about braised short ribs...

One word of warning: get a big one. I got mine from Fagor, and it is only 4 quarts. That sounds like a lot, but you can only fill it 1/2 full, so you get 2 quarts or about 4# of food, which comes to 3# of meat and 1 pint of obligatory water. An 8 or 10 quart one is just about right for family. My small one is more suitable for feeding 2 people.

I conciously tried to avoid this thing for most of my adult life, but now I enjoy it on a regular basis and recommend it highly to all you skeptics out there, since I used to be one.

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  1. I don't mean to sound contrary, but I actually enjoy the time it takes to cook stuff. I enjoy the way the house smells when I've got a braise in the oven. I enjoy putting things away to let them do their own thing while I go and read a book/watch a movie/go for a walk with my wife. I enjoy taking two days to make a proper Ragu Bolognese, I enjoy having a beef stock on the simmer overnight.

    Maybe I'll change my mind once we've got kids.

    1 Reply
    1. re: andreas

      I feel the same way, but reserve that extra cooking time for the weekend. Coming home after work, I just brown some meat in the pot, add the ingredients and cooking liquid, lock the cooker, and go about my business. That 3-hour stew or braise is done in a half hour. And you will definitely change your mind once you have kids. They have a habit of taking up your spare cooking time. The good thing is that you can teach them to help make the bolognese.

    2. I enjoy the long cooking process on the weekends too but on weekdays when I have 30 minutes to get food on the table, the pressure cooker sometimes comes in very handy. Soups and stews are done in a quarter of the time! Of course there's a lot of satisfaction in simmering or braising for hours and adjusting the seasoning til you get it just right, but sometimes, you just need to get something quick on the table. So hurrah for pressure cookers, and hurrah for stock pots and braising pots and cast iron. In fact, it's an all around hurrah for a well stocked and well equipped kitchen!

      1. I like both - long, slow braises and the ability to cook dry beans in the pressure cooker in as little as 1/2 hour! Sometimes I just mess around too long and have to get something ready quickly - that pressure cooker is just waiting for me and my procrastination... I agree totally with the advice to get a larger one than you might think you want or need. I too have the smaller Fagor - not much in the way of left overs.

        1. Sbouldn't you be able to fill it 2/3 full except for beans and rice and stuff like that expands a lot?

          1 Reply
          1. re: MikeG

            I find that if I overload it, it can't develop the necessary pressure...

          2. Are they scary in some way, really?

            2 Replies
            1. re: Cinnamon

              When they first became available--my Mom had one in the early 50's--they had a reputation for exploding; hers never did, but there was always a certain amount of nervous laughter when she hauled it out in November to make the annual batch of fruitcake. I gather this problem (if it existed) has been solved, but it seems the old worries still linger.

              1. re: Cinnamon

                Back in the ole days, they used to have a metal plug in the top instead of a rubber one (or a pressure relief valve) like the ones on the market today.

                One day, my Grandmother was using hers with the metal plug and evidently, the exhaust pipe got plugged. The metal plug shot out and actually imbedded in the ceiling. Grandma never used the pressure cooker again.

                I like using mine but a disadvantage for me is that you can't just conveniently open the thing to check to see if things are done.