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Pressure Cookers

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  • E_M Apr 23, 2011 05:47 AM
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So having just laughed my a$$ off at my parents who were storing two pressure cookers in their kitchen--which haven't been used in 3 decades--I just read a whole lot of reviews for the Kuhn Rikon and Fagor pressure cookers on amazon. If what I'm reading is true, you can cook succulent meat in 20 minutes, as opposed to 2 hours. Is this like a braise on fast-forward? Because if so...I think I may eat crow and buy one.

Do any of you have experience with pressure cookers versus braises/long-cooked grains? What about how they compare to a Miele speed oven?

Thanks.

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  1. Can't speak for the speed oven, but my Fagor PC will always have a place on my stove. I don't use it every day, but often enough to justify storage space in my seriously space impaired kitchen.

    1. Well, 20 minutes for stew. Longer for roasts, depending on the weight. You also need to figure in time for bringing the pot up to pressure, and for reducing the pressure after cooking. Nevertheless, with tough cuts of meat it's still a significant time-saver. I just made a delicious 2.5-pound brisket in my Fagor and the whole operation took a little more than an hour from start to finish. That included browning the meat, reaching high pressure, cooking at high pressure for about 40 minutes, and letting the pressure drop naturally for about 10 minutes before completing the process by running cold water over the pot. It's said that quick-releasing the pressure has a negative effect on the texture of meats, but I've been happy with the results even when I've done that, so could have saved 10 more minutes on the brisket if necessary. I don't cook meat often enough to have a strong opinion about the pressure cooker versus stovetop or oven braises; all I can say is that it has yielded good results for me. As for long-cooking grains, I almost always use a pressure cooker for brown rice and steel-cut oats, and again am happy with the results. Takes about half as much time as in a regular pot, start to finish. Brown rice tends to come out a little wetter than when I steam it on the stovetop, but that may be due to the method I use. The pressure cooker is also great for dried beans, even unsoaked ones. Sorry, no experience with a Miele speed oven.

      Why not borrow one of your parents' PCs and give it a try? If they're 30 years old, I'm assuming they're of the basic jiggle-top variety; but if you like the approach, you can (and in my opinion should) step up to a more modern type. Sounds like you have nothing to lose, and potentially much good food to gain. There are now a lot of YouTube videos on how to use various kinds of pressure cookers, so it may be helpful to take a look at some before getting started. In any case, please let us know what you decide!

      1. It's entirely different cooking between a pressure cooker and a speed oven. The speed oven accelerates cooking by mixing microwave with a convection oven, which is better with dry roasting methods than with long low-temp braises. The pressure cooker for all intents and purposes is "wet braise" cooking all the time.

        If you were making something like pork shoulder, both would come out cooked at the end but the speed oven version would be rather tough and chewy because the fat and collagen will not have had an opportunity to melt (chances are everything will render out quickly) while the pressure cooker would be rather tender.

        Consider the pressure cooker to be an addition to the kitchen and keep the speed oven for the application it's designed to shine with.

        1. If your parents will lend you one of their pressure cookers, you could try it to see if you like using it. The old cookers are simpler, and not as failsafe as the Fagors, but I used old cookers for a long time before owning a Fagor.

          I use mine for soup and beans. I also cook chicken in mine, when the object is chicken stock.

          You could easily do chili or stew, although I've only ever done stew in my cooker. If I am making a lot of mashed potatoes, I use it to cook the potatoes. I put the potatoes in the basket, and keep the water lever fairly low. That way the potatoes aren't too soggy .

          At any rate the pc is a good kitchen tool. Find a good up to date cookbook, and have a look at what can be done with one.

          1. I agree with the poster who said borrow your parents PC.
            See if you like it or not before putting out the $100+ for one yourself.
            They are often at thrifty stores for a few bucks, like under $10, also, just a thought.
            My sister blew the roof off our apartment one day as she was doing hard boiled eggs in it and and had never used one before. Other than the hole in the ceiling, there were eggs everywhere, but more importantly, she has a huge scar on her forearm from the steam that found it's way out via her arm instead of the stem.
            MIL always told me to watch her and watch her closely before she bought me mine.
            I did and have never had a problem.
            For meats they are wonderful. Half time in cooking, I always do my corned beef in there because of the quick time it cooks. Roasts, stewing meats, ribs, etc. All perfect in this kitchen aid.
            Good luck

            1 Reply
            1. re: iL Divo

              I've heard stories about cookers exploding. I believe my mother in law exploded potatoes into the ceiling at one point. If I am not mistaken, these are caused by opening the cooker before the pressure is dropped. Or perhaps there is a malfunction in the seal?

              I used the old fashioned cooker for quite a while, and always brought the cooker down totally before attempting to open. If you are reasonably careful, you shouldn't have any problems.

              I made chicken soup today from a roasted carcass, veggies and a little commercial broth for strength. I do this frequently.

              I am not sure why anyone would hard boil eggs in a pressure cooker, though.

            2. I've had an Innova 10 qt for 20 years but I really only use it for cooking dried beans.

              2 Replies
              1. re: rasputina

                Love anything with dried beans except black beans. Don't like them. Love cranberry and garbanzos!

                1. re: iL Divo

                  Having mucho trouble with Internet connection on the road. Hope it posted. If not no biggie.

              2. For those that use your pressure cookers for meat, have you retired your dutch oven(s) for braises?

                4 Replies
                1. re: E_M

                  Pretty much. I work more than full time, so on weeknights the traditional braise is not an option. I occasionally do a traditional braise in a cast iron casserole on weekends; but as noted above, I don't do it enough to make a real comparison of the methods.

                  1. re: E_M

                    I can't comment on the braising meat issue (I'm vegetarian) but for a whole host of veggie dishes (mainly pulse-based) I just can't justify using a normal stovetop pot. I can do chickpeas in 16 mins in the pressure cooker, vs nearly 2hrs on the hob in a normal pot. I just refuse to pay the gas bill!

                    1. re: serah

                      Agreed. I use my PC all the time to make vegetables, grains, and beans. Much faster, and many vegetables come out much fresher-tasting than with other methods.

                    2. re: E_M

                      E_M asks: "For those that use your pressure cookers for meat, have you retired your dutch oven(s) for braises?"

                      Short answer, no. Long answer: I will give you a recipe that I have used for decades, and that I happened to use just last evening.

                      ONE-POT PORK CHOPS A LA ORANGE

                      o Three or four medium-thick pork chops (about one centimeter thick), preferably boneless
                      o Two medium yams or sweet potatoes
                      o One large or two small navel oranges
                      o Three to four tablespoons orange juice
                      o Two tablespoons olive oil

                      Slice the yams into centimeter-thick slices and place them atop a trivet in a pressure cooker with water up to but not above the bottom surface of the trivet (for this recipe we us a pressure cooker that is the shape of a frypan with low sides). Bring the pressure cooker up to the high pressure level, then turn off the heat, remove the pot from the hot burner area if your range/cooktop is not induction, and let the pot cool without assistance until the lid can be released. Remove the yams and trivet (put the half-cooked yams into a separate bowl) and discard the water. Place the pan back atop the burner and turn up to medium high heat. Put the olive oil into the hot pan and quickly braise the pork chops, just sufficient to brown the outside; do not over-cook.

                      Slice the orange(s) into quarter-inch thick slices and arrange atop the porkchops, and arrange the half-cooked yams atop the orange slices. Pour the orange juice over the yams. If desired, grind some black pepper atop the yams.

                      Place the pressure cooker top back on the pan and bring the pot up to high pressure quickly. Maintain it at the high pressure mark for two minutes, turn off the burner, remove the pot from the hot burner area if your range/cooktop is not induction, and allow it to cool by itself until the top can be released.

                      Serve.