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Favorite Pressure Cooker recipes

I just had to make 2 batches of chicken soup in one afternoon so I did one on the stovetop, and the other in my pressure cooker. I was genuinely surprised that all ingredients being equal, the pressure cooker soup clearly had more flavor than the stovetop version. It had a noticeably richer chicken flavor.

I guess its true that a pressure cooker really does infuse the flavor, and nutrients, into the food, as opposed to some of those same flavors and nutrients typically being cooked out of the food during conventional cooking. So now I'm eager to try more recipes in my PC (up until now it was mostly used for those 15 minute artichokes during the season).

I'm sure there are Chowhounds who already know and appreciate pressure cooking and I'm wondering if you have any recipes you would suggest for this novice PCer?

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  1. I recently replaced my long-misplaced old aluminum pressure cooker that had the petcock I had to set on top of it and that would wobble and hiss during the whole cooking process. So glad I couldn't find it because the new one is stainless steel, silent, and much safer than the old guy. The SOLE disadvantage of the new pressure cooker is that I'm not using my Sous Vide Supreme that much any more. Except for steaks and eggs... Can't get perfect "ryokan style" sous vide eggs in a pressure cooker OR stove top, no matter how hard you try!

    I'm finding a LOT of old recipes such as Boston baked beans, bean soup, split pea soup, as you say, chicken soup, just about ANY soup is fast and easy in a pressure cooker. I picked up a fresh smoked ham hock the other day, and I have to say that adding ham hock WITH SKIN in diced form to bean soups, pea soups, and the Boston baked beans is just terrific. The pork skin, which has always come out rather "chewy" (to say the least) with stove top recipes comes out velvety soft and lush in the pressure cooker, with a texture very reminiscent of traditional Chinese pork belly recipes such as dong po rou. When I use the ham hock in the Boston baked beans and bean soup recipes, I completely eliminate using any oil because all of the ingredients, including onions or a mirapoix, go in right from the start and don't have to be sautéed. Feel free to experiment to find out what works best for your taste buds!

    Even traditional sauces such as marinara sauce, seem to work well for me with the dump-it-all-in-and-go-for-it pressure cooking method. I don't know that I'd do it that way if I was having some old Italian friends over for dinner, but for everyday it works just fine. Better than jarred sauce, and in only ten minutes! What is working well for me so far is to just put everything in the pot all at once and pressure cook for an appropriate time. So far, things that I would "layer" with flavors if I were cooking the traditional stove top method come just as flavorful, if not more so, with the one step "dump it all in" and cook method a pressure cooker allows, including sauces in which I use wine.

    There are a few things for which I cool and open the pressure cooker and add ingredients, then re-close the pan and bring back up to pressure for the shorter term ingredients such as potatoes when I don't want them to deteriorate into the sauce. These include dishes such as "New England boiled dinners," short ribs, and such. A pressure cooker also makes GREAT oxtail stews! One of my favorites is oxtails with barley, and for it, I do use the two-session method so the pearl barley doesn't get overcooked. Come to think about it, I don't think I would do this with the old pressure cooker because the "quick release" method on it was to carry the whole thing to the sink and run cold water over it. With this new pressure cooker, it has a valve on top I turn to vent the steam quickly for quick release. I hadn't given it much thought, but this is a great safety feature!

    There is only one thing I have discovered so far that I will NEVER use a pressure cooker for again: grass fed beef. I found a recipe online that said it produced the greatest grass fed pot roast anyone could ever put in their mouth by using a pressure cooker, so I put my lovely grass fed chuck roast in the pan, followed his directions and produced the driest most inedible pot roast I have ever cooked in my entire life! But it's my fault for believing him. Grass fed beef cooks very differently than corn/grain fed beef, and I have a life time of experience with grass fed beef. NOT pressure cooking it should have been a no brainer! Shame on me.

    I will add I have NOT used it for things like artichokes... I'm afraid they would come out brown looking, but never having done it, how would I know? Do they come out that "dead green" color I'm so afraid of? And how do you cook them? Thanks!

    40 Replies
    1. re: Caroline1

      I remember your post about the grass-fed pot roast becoming shoe leather, Caroline. While I've never used a pressure cooker (nor owned one) I don't think I would have gone the PC route with grass-fed beef either.

      But reading your post now makes me want to buy one. I've *never* wanted one because of all of the horror stories I heard about the old versions with the vent cap exploding. They scared me! But I've got several GCs to Williams-Sonoma that I've just not known for what I wanted to use them - I was thinking maybe Le Creuset? Maybe not. But hmmm...a pressure cooker? Then again, I don't want another big appliance that I won't use. (The bread machine is sitting in the garage.) It *is* just for myself...but I love the idea of using it for things like short ribs and stew. Will have to ponder...

      1. re: LindaWhit

        it's amazing for stocks as you've said, octopus, and tripe (don't over do or you will have amazingly flavoured stock and some jelly-like substance that dissolves when you try and fork it. i love it for tongue. makes the meat so easy to peel after, and really infuses the flavour of any spices that you add much better than slow braising (i use yellow and brown mustard seeds, caraway, and star anise).

        note: a lot of recipes will omit this, but when doing any sort of larger meat, make sure you let the PC come down to temperature naturally with the meat sitting in it's own juices. maybe it's just psychological, but i feel it doesn't "stress" the meat as much with the sudden temp change and it stays more tender

        1. re: downtownfoodie

          Please tell me more about tongue in the PC. I have a frozen tongue and a PC and really want to introduce the two of them.

          1. re: tcamp

            let the tongue defrost completely and just bung it in the PC with whatever spices you want to use (you might want to bundle them in some cheesecloth so that you don't have to pick through for little pieces of star anise or cinnamon etc at the end).

            use the minimum amt of liquid (i use a little white wine, some chicken/veg stock and depending on what i want to use it for, sometimes a good slug of cola...don't tell anyone).

            blast it on high for 40mins and then let it come to regular pressure at it's own pace.

            take it out while still hot and peel. i then strain the liquid, skim excess fat and pour back over the tongue while it cools to room temp.

            refrigerate until you're ready to use it. remove from liquid and slice really thinly, while warming the cooking liquid on the stove. add the shaved tongue into the warm liquid to bring it up to temp and then pile it on some good hearty bread with some really good aged cheddar or other cheese (i layer them so the cheese melts into the tongue.

            if i'm doing it for another use (just made an octopus and tongue terrine), then I cut right back on the spices and just use some light stock and water.

          2. re: downtownfoodie

            downtown, when I first read your remarks about letting the pressure drop naturally with beef, I thought, "aHA! Maybe it was my fault!" But then I remembered I have used the quick cool method with grain fed beef with no apparent harmful effects. But I WILL try the natural cool method next time I do grain fed. I'm just never ever going to trust a pressure cooker with precious grass fed beef again. '-)

          3. re: LindaWhit

            Linda, for what it's worth, this is the pressure cooker I bought, and this is where I bought it:

            http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0009MGNO6/r...

            My original intention was one of those twice or thrice the price upscale models that have one pan and one lid and that's all you get. When I saw this one that is really two different sized pressure cookers -- 4 quart and 8 quart -- plus a steamer basket for pressure steaming OR that can be used as a spaghetti cooker, well, it was just too damned versatile to pass up! Plus, Amazon has an incredible return policy. When I bought the Belgian waffle maker to replace my old old treasure a housekeeper ruined by putting the plates through the dishwasher, the new one from Amazon was even worse because it had fixed hinges and my waffles couldn't rise properly. When I sent it back, they refunded my account the minute they got confirmation from UPS that I'd turned it over to them with the return shipping label. Absolutely hassle free. But if you have credits at W-S....??? '-)

            1. re: Caroline1

              Your pressure cooker (see your link) is the one I use. Day before yesterday I used it for collards which were perfect! I have used it for grass-fed beef in this pressure cooker that I've bought from the farm; no problems. I have also used the slow cooker for grass-fed beef with no problems. I like the smaller pressure cooker that goes with this set for vegetables. The only thing wrong with the set is the bottom steel 'gadget' that keeps the steamer basket off the bottom and its contents out of the water; it won't stay put in one position. I called Fagor and the person gave me advice "It's never happened to me." Have you used it successfully?

              1. re: Rella

                Yes, I've used it, but it's hard to figure out at first because there doesn't seem to be any directions of its use in the owner's manual. Or maybe I just don't read owner's manuals very well? Anyway, you have to set it in the pan with the "cut ends" of the wire frame touching the bottom of the pan, not the bottom of the steamer basket. I also stretched the legs at the wide end of the "V" to spread them farther apart for greater stability. Admitedly, it is a pretty flimsy support bracket, but hey, once you adjust it and figure out how to seat it in the pot, it does work... '-)

                Good luck! And hope this works for you!

              2. re: Caroline1

                Thanks for the info, Caroline. So yours is stovetop; I checked W-S and found several Fagor brands. But also a Cuisinart electric version for $100 that got good reviews. BUT....just noticed that someone said it only cooks at 10 PSI vs. 15. Plus some issues with some not working.

                I'll keep thinking about it. :-)

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  I think you will love it if you ever decide to get your feet wet. But I understand the fear. I once had my old pressure cooker turn into Old Faithful. That was SCARY...! Fortunately, no one was burned. Also more fortunately, that kind of accident can't happen with this pressure cooker. But I would never settle for less than 15 pounds of pressure. The lower the pressure, the longer it takes, so how much of an advantage is ten pounds of pressure over flat-out stove top cooking? I don't know. I've never cooked at 10 pounds of pressure. Anyone else know?

                  1. re: Caroline1

                    I have an electric pressure cooker, the Fagor 3-in-1 pressure cooker, slow cooker and rice cooker. I only use it for the pressure cooker because the slow cooker doesn't cook at high enough temperature and I like my regular rice cooker (although the Fagor is great for risotto). It cooks at about 10 psi and I can honestly say I've never had a problem with any regular PC recipe. Do not believe what that Miss Vickie says on her website about needing to cook things for an extra 40% time. It's simply not true. My mechanical engineer husband did the calculation for me, and you really only need about 1 extra minute for every 10 minutes of cooking time the recipe calls for. Often I don't even bother adding it on, especially for things like soups. But for a brisket or other big hunk of meat it's worth adding a couple of extra minutes on.

                      1. re: AmyH

                        AmyH, I agree. I prefer 15 lbs psi because most American recipes are written with that in mind, and I've never used an electric PC, but I've used European stovetop pressure cookers whose "high" pressure is 11.9 PSI and your husband's calculations are consistent with my trial-and-error results. And despite what many PC cookbooks imply, cooking time can't be predicted with complete accuracy anyway, at least not for stovetop cookers. Many things can affect timing, including the size, shape, and construction of the PC, the temperature of the contents when you lock the lid, the speed at which the particular model loses pressure when removed from heat, etc.

                        1. re: AmyH

                          Most (if not all) electrics actually regulate the temperature, not the pressure. According to literature for one brand, it brings the temperature up to 240F, and then cycles the heat off and on so it stays within a degree or so of that. The boiling point at 15psi (sea level) is closer to 250F. One blogger explored hacking the controls of an electric PC, allowing him to run the cooker at a higher pressure. Of course he was voiding its warranty.

                          The exact effect a 240 v 250 cooking temperature has on cooking time may vary with the food item. Some vegetables seem to be quite sensitive to temperature, taking for ever to cook at 200F (in the mountains), much shorter under pressure. Meat doesn't seem to be quite as sensitive. Few cooking processes respond linearly to temperature.

                          1. re: paulj

                            True. The problem with what Miss Vicky has on her website (and it's still there despite my informing her of the error) is that she did the ratio of the pressures, not the temperatures. The ratio of the temperature is much smaller, and even smaller still if you convert to absolute temperature. But that's strictly an engineer thinking without consideration of the substance that is being heated.

                        2. re: Caroline1

                          I'm looking at a recipe for a braised dish that says 3-4 hours and 45 minutes for a pressure cooker. Going from 15 psi to 10 psi would increase the pressure cooking time to about an hour, since the cooking time should increase by about 33%.

                          1. re: FoodPopulist

                            Why 33%? Because 5psi is 33% of 15psi?

                            I'd suggest looking in the booklet that came with your cooker for a recipe that has similar ingredients. In this case I look for a similar cut of meat (whole beef chuck?)

                            A couple of recipes for corned beef in an electric PC call for 45-50 min for the meat, and another 10 after adding the vegetables.

                            1. re: paulj

                              I agree. For a recipe that calls for 45 min at 15 psi, I'd probably cook it 50 min at 10 psi.

                              1. re: AmyH

                                Also, with meat you want to use natural release, which will add another 20 minutes or so onto the end. It lets the fibers relax.

                                1. re: AmyH

                                  Maybe that's where I went wrong with my grass fed beef. I did do a quick release and the roast was like a roast army boot! I might give it one more try with slow release to see if there is a difference. But this time it will be a SMALL roast! '-)

                                  I'm curious whether you (or anyone) has used a large pressure cooker to make beef stock? I sent in an order today for some dry aged grass fed organic beef (allergies can be expensive!) and added some soup and marow bones to the order. I'm debating whether to make the stock the old fashioned tried and true way or giving it a shot in the pressure 8 quart cooker. Anyone ever done this? Was it better or just okay? I'm particularly curious about whether it will be more gelatinous (good) or less (bad)?

                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                    I once made beef stock for pho in the pressure cooker and it was delicious, but I've never made it on the stovetop so I can't compare.

                                    1. re: AmyH

                                      Good enough for me! Thanks! Now, if that shipment would just hurry up and get here! '-)

                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                        Here's a recipe that one can adapt that might make a beef stock a little more flavorable.

                                        http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes...

                                        i.e., See #1. = 70 minutes roasting in the oven before going into a stock pot (or the pressure cooker, if you so prefer.)

                                        I've made this recipe with grass-fed beef bones in a stockpot . I'd probably make it next time in the pressure cooker - if I didn't have too many bones.

                                        1. re: Rella

                                          Thanks!

                                          BUT......!

                                          Ouf of curiosity (it's just the kind of person I am; can't help it!) I thought I'd see what Julia has to say. I ignored the protests of my arthritic hands and pulled down her Mastering the Art, Vol I (is this available on line? It would be so much easier to handle!) and SHE says.... the flavor extraction maxes out in a pressure cooker at about 45 minutes for a standard brown (beef) stock and you still have to simmer it for an hour or two more to develop the desirable flavor profile and texture. As for chicken stock in a pressure cooker, she says don't. The flavor is less than satisfactory. Sooooo.... I guess I'll just go the stock pot route from start to finish. Who needs to wash an extra pan? This should make the whole house smell hungry! '-)

                                          EDIT! My bad! I should have told you that that Burgundian beef stock recipe looks like a keeper! I think I'll pretty much go that route sans pressure cooker. Thanks!

                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                            The CookingIssues blog has explored PC stock making
                                            http://www.cookingissues.com/2009/11/...

                                            They were the ones who hacked an electric PC to cook at higher temperature (and pressure).

                                            1. re: paulj

                                              Interesting article, Paul. Thanks. One of the more interesting factors is that Julia Child says chicken stock in a pressure cooker has a much poorer flavor than chicken stock made using the standard method, and chicken stock is what they choose for their testing because its less complicated than beef. Interesting indeed! And now, back to reading the article! Thanks again!

                                              1. re: paulj

                                                On reading more of the article, those guys aren't exactly standing tall in the logic department! Because the stock in the open pot cooked down more than the stock cooked in the pressure cooker, they added water to the open-pot stock so they'd have the same amount for taste comparison. WHAT are they thinking! For an accurate test, you tast them "as is," not by penalizing one by dilluting it because it had better condensation opportunities. I don't think I'm going to finish the article. These guys are just game playing. Which is not to say I'm not grateful for your effort to share, Paul. Not your fault they're dumb! '-)

                                                1. re: paulj

                                                  As of Nov 30/12, beware of the cookingissues.com website, as it appears to have been hacked with evil online pharma links.

                                                2. re: Caroline1

                                                  Interesting and surprising! I've heard others (including other chefs) say that any stock in the PC is better and richer than on the stovetop.Something about the high pressure pulling out more of the flavor molecules.

                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                    I'm glad you are making a decision. It was hard for me to decide what to do with my precious bones.

                                                    1. re: Rella

                                                      Boil, Baby, boil! mmmm... Correct that. Simmer, Baby, simer! '-) I've about decided that when my bones get here, I'm going to make a really good stock with them, then proceed to turn it into a demi glace. That stuff freezes just fine!

                                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                                        Keep everyone/me posted on your timing for the demi-glace. That's a project for a dedicated cook.

                                                        1. re: Rella

                                                          Will do. Gotta get the bones first. They're coming by UPS.

                                                        2. re: Caroline1

                                                          Please link your demi-glace thread here - I'm a buyer of that, not a maker. But would love to hear about it!

                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                            Good grief! You guys are spooking me. It's been a few years since the last time I made a demi glace, OR a sauce Robert, for that matter. As I recall, the latter is a lot more bother than the former. *IF* my memory hasn't lost all of it's sticky, I'll have to make a drawn butter roux for the demi glace, then add... what? some wine or cognac or something like that and a bit of tomato paste? And simmerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.... For a long time. I think. Gosh, I'd better go crack the cookbooks! Will I need to get in shape for this?

                                                            Well, me getting "in shape" is simply out of the question. I'm OLD! '-)

                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                              We're counting on you, Rocky - you can make it to the top of those museum steps, we just know it! :-)

                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                LOL! Well, the bones may not be here yet, but I've been doing some research. Way way back, when I was under the tutelage off my chef-mentor, demi glace was always made using a roux made with clarified butter and very slowly allowed to sidle its way into becoming a nut brown color. Always the hardest part. For that, I would have to use my gas hot plate because both electrics -- radiant and induction -- have hot spots and I don't need a burnt bitter roux! Not only that, but a burnt roux won't thicken properly.

                                                                Julia says the clarified butter/flour roux is classic, but also says it takes hours, whereas using corn starch, arrowroot, or rice starch will work in minutes and is just fine for "everyday" cooking.

                                                                Escoffier (at least in his The Escoffier Cook Book) expects me to know how to make a demi glace, and don't bother him with the small stuff. Or maybe it's the French index for an English translation that is my downfall, and I just can't find the right page?

                                                                Careme says to just make the simple but rich brown stock, super strain it, spike it with a few mushrooms and truffles, boil it some more, then super strain it again and boil the hell out of it for hours stirring with a special wooden spoon. Well, aren't ALL of my wooden spoons special? He says it's how long you boil (and he makes no mention of simmer but calls for a full robust boil) and reduction that turns the trick in the end. AND he uses NO roux. La Rousse Gastronomique doesn't make clear how much stock he started with in the first place, but judging by the amount of time he boils and the amount of demi glace he ends up with after those several days, I figure he had to have started with about ten gallons of stock. I ain't gonna go THAT far! But the whole key, all the way, seems to be reduce, reduce, reduce. So I have a BIG pot sitting on my cook top for a couple of days. What could be easier than that? But I may have to pick up a bottle of Madeira. I don't have any on hand... Party time!

                                                                And itt appears I have also discovered the secret to taming one's girth that comes with age is to become a demi glace; Reduce, reduce, reduce! If only it was as easy as sitting on the stove for a couple of days..... Well, a COLD stove, of course. '-)

                                                                Addendum by edit: There is NO mention of tomatoes, paste or otherwise, in Careme's method.. On the other hand, tomato paste is one hell of a lot cheaper than the fresh Perigord truffles he uses! Guess I'll pick up some Contadina.

                                  2. re: LindaWhit

                                    LindaW and Caroline, my stovetop Fagor has settings for either 10 or 15 lbs. pressure. The 10 lbs. is intended for when you do something like pot roast, and don't want it to shred down to nothing; I think like the upthread post of what can happen to tripe, etc. if done too long at too high a pressure.

                                    I mostly use mine at 15lbs./full pressure, but there are lot's of recipes from Fagor that do 2 stages, second stage at lower pressure, and I think this is so not to blow food like potatoes, carrots, roast that has become tender into bits, while still cooking to concentrate flavors.
                                    Love that pot, have had for 10 years, and just ordered a new seal in January that has it humming along like new again. It had started to leak water, and not pressurize fully. Back in tip-top form!

                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                      I've got the Cuisinart electric PC and I love it!

                                2. re: Caroline1

                                  If you're using a quick-release method on any form of meat, you're likely inducing toughness in your meat that way. Always let meat products de-pressurize naturally (i.e., take it off the burner and wait for the safety locks to open).

                                  Oops, I see that someone else suggested this upstream.

                                3. any kind of soup, partiularly those with beans and whole grains.
                                  risotto
                                  brown rice pilaf
                                  stews

                                  I don't usually use recipes, or else I use a regular recipe and just "adapt" it for the pressure cooker. I would advise starting with things that are hard to overcook, like soups and stews. Here's a link to a pressure cooking blog, and one for pressure cooker risotto, which is my favorite way to make risotto because it never comes out gummy.

                                  blog: http://www.hippressurecooking.com/
                                  risotto: http://www.cooking.com/Recipes-and-Mo...

                                  also, while this recipe isn't for a pressure cooker, i make it in there all the time and it comes out great:
                                  http://www.ochef.com/r208.htm

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: missmasala

                                    missmasala, that tagine recipe looks terrific! Do you pressure cook it all in one fell swoop, or do you open and reseal the pressure cooker to add ingredients during you overall cooking time? Thanks!

                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                      I usually divide the cooking time by 2.5 or 3: 2h30 becomes 45 minutes after the beginning of hissing. I open it at about 30 mn and have a look to make sure everything is okay and add the ingredients that need less cooking time. The pressure builds up again very rapidly. The smell is a good indicator of what's going on, but if it smells burnt, stop it right away as it's generally too late already.

                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                        I open and reseal twice. First I cook the lamb, then I open and add first round of veggies, then open again and add zucchini, yellow squash, and raisins. Think I cook for 30, 15, and 5 for each round, but honestly hard to overcook this, as in north african restaurants they serve this kind of stew with the veggies very soft.

                                          1. re: missmasala

                                            I made a variation of this last night - my recipe said to put it all in together for 45 minutes -- the veggies were a little soft for my taste, but as missmasala said, that's not all that uncommon to find in restaurants.

                                            Good stuff, though - -and since stew beef was on sale, it was with beef rather than lamb (later in the spring when lamb is on sale, I'll make it with lamb...) -- it was the first time I'd actually made couscous rather than ordering it in a restaurant and was pleasantly surprised that except for the raisins, chickpeas and spices, it's a pretty standard-issue stew.

                                      2. I always use my pressure cooker for prepping my chicken for chicken and dressing at holidays. The broth it creates is awesome. Same prep works for any chicken soup base, add noodles later. I actually have two pressure cookers. The one I use most I've had for a number of years, but it's not old old school. It has the emergency valve and a good locking system. Then, this Thanksgiving, my husband was afraid that I wouldn't be able to find the pressure cooker at my daughter's house and bought a huge one 20 something quarts. (Even though incrdibly larger than I needed, and the poor chicken and veggies looked lost in it, it did a great job.)
                                        My mother always used her pressure cooker for Navy Beans and Ham Hocks.

                                        A cookbook I refer to is http://www.amazon.com/Best-Pressure-C...

                                        8 Replies
                                        1. re: debojay

                                          LOL! That 20 quart pressure cooker made me laugh! Is it fair to assume your husband doesn't cook? Or did he just expect your daughter to have 300 people for Thanksgiving dinner? Bless his heart!

                                          Question: What do you mean by "prepping" the chicken for chicken and dressing with your pressure cooker? Do you mean cook the chicken in the pressure cooker, then crips the skin in the oven? If that is what you mean, I've been toying with the idea of doing that based on my traditional Greek method for making chicken dinner with avgolemono "soup" as a first course. I cook the chicken in a fairly tight fitting stock pot covered completely with water and toss in onions and carrots and simmer until the chicken is tender and fully cooked. Then I take out the chicken and put it in a roast pan with the cooked carrots aroud it and brown them quickly in a hot convection oven while I make avgolemono with rice with the chicken stock.

                                          I;m thinking that with a pressure cooker, I could cook the chicken -- maybe even steam it in the steamer basket under pressure -- then brown it quickly in a really hot oven. Is this basically what you mean by "prepping" you chicken? Does it work great? Thanks!

                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                            I'm assuming that debojay is talking about cooking chicken to pull apart and add to her stuffing for the turkey.
                                            But for your Greek chicken dinner, there's definitely a way to do it. Just this past weekend I made the Lorna Sass recipe for whole chicken with balsamic fig sauce. It was great, but you don't need the sauce. There's a similar recipe on Food.com (with all 5-star reviews ) for cooking a whole chicken in the pressure cooker. Basically you season the chicken with salt and pepper (or whatever spices you like), heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in the PC and brown the chicken on all sides. Take the chicken out, put the rack in, add 1 1/2 cups of water or chicken stock, put the browned chicken on the rack, and cook on high pressure for 25 minutes. This recipe calls for quick pressure release but the Lorna Sass recipe calls for 25 minutes cooking with natural release. You might want to try both ways. You'll get plenty of extra juice from the chicken so you should have enough for your soup. And you'll find the chicken to be incredibly moist and perfectly cooked. Since you brown the chicken in the oven after, you might be able to skip the pre-browning step in this recipe. Enjoy!

                                            1. re: AmyH

                                              The only thing is that there is a big diffference in the crispiness of the chicken skin when it's browned first, then steamed or braised, and when it's cooked (boiled orr steamed) then crisped in the oven. The skin just will not stay crisp when browned first and then cooked with any form of moist heat. But Thanks! The fig balsamic sounds delicious. I just wish I had a fig tree because store bought figs and figs fresh from your backyard aren't even close! <sigh>

                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                Right, the skin on my chicken wasn't crisp at all when it came out of the PC. I'm sure yours are much tastier browned in the oven after cooking. But you could start your chicken in the PC instead of boiling it in a pot, and then brown while making your soup as you do now. In fact, I may try this next time whole chickens are on sale. But it does negate the energy savings of the PC when you fire up the oven.

                                                Regarding the fig balsamic sauce, it was delicious. I'm going by memory here, but I believe you sautee 1 1/2 cups chopped leeks until a bit soft (there may have been 2 bay leaves in there, too), add in 2 Tbsp tomato paste and 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, stir a few seconds, then add 1 cup chicken stock. Put the browned chicken on top, strew 12 dried figs (halved) around and on top of the chicken, and cook 20 minutes plus natural release. Afterward, you take out the chicken, you can puree some or all of the sauce after removing the bay leaves, and add some chopped fresh rosemary and some minced lemon zest. I think it was about 1-2 tsp of each. Salt and pepper, too.

                                                1. re: AmyH

                                                  DRIED figs! That certainly ups the attractiveness of the recipe. I was unfortunate enough to grow up with both Mission and Kadota fig trees in the back yard, and when I could beat the birds to the tree ripened figs, they are FABULOUS!!! I'm certain I could enjoy a lot more of today's "in vogue" foods AND supermarket produce if I could just figure out some way to develop selective amnesia for those childhood flavors.

                                                  I have an 8 quart pressure cooker, and I'm thinking that's deep enough and narrow enough to get the same chicken to water ratio I use when I'm making my old fashioned traditional Greek avgolemono that my landlady taught me to make when I lived in Greece. So... I'm thinking that if I get off my duff and just buy a smaller whole chicken than the five and six pound babies I have in the freezer, I could give it a whirl with the pressure cooker! Cooking the chicken in the actual broth used for the avgolemono is part of the ecomonics of the dish. That, plus my oven has several full induction options, and induction, despite the fan blowing and making you think otherwise, is pretty economical to run compared to plain old fashioned radiant heated ovens, whether gas or electric.

                                                  Oh, yeah... Shopping list: one small whole chicken, dried figs... Gotcha! Thanks!

                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                    My PC is 6 qt and a 4 lb chicken fit just fine. You won't have any problems with your 5-6 pounders in an 8 qt. Since they're frozen, you could just lower one (wrapped) into your PC to see how it fits if you're worried.

                                                    I hope you enjoy the recipe! Don't forget to add a big leek to your list. It's really better than with an onion.

                                                    1. re: AmyH

                                                      Thanks! One big leek... Got it! '-)

                                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                                        I just checked the recipe now that I'm home. I was wrong about the bay leaves. It doesn't call for any. I must have been thinking about another recipe. Also, you'll want to use 1/2 to 1 tsp of the rosemary and 1 to 2 tsp of the lemon zest.

                                        2. I have been looking at the pressure cooker cookbooks and two seem to stand out - Vickie Smith's and Lorna Sass's. Does anyone have a preference? Or would you recommend other cookbooks on PC? Do I even need a subjuect matter book to pressure cook?

                                          Many thanks!

                                          15 Replies
                                          1. re: herby

                                            Absolutely Lorna Sass. Any of her books would be great, but Pressure Perfect is the best one for someone who isn't sure they need a book because it has lots of tables for timing, and the recipes have lots of variations. You really should have a reliable source for the timing for different meats and beans.

                                            1. re: herby

                                              Another vote for Lorna Sass. Her most recent book, "Pressure Perfect," is full of good recipes and the timing charts are very handy; but I also like her first one, "Cooking Under Pressure," which is simple and straightforward. Also, her "Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure" is excellent if you like dishes featuring grains or beans. When you're learning to use a pressure cooker, it's very helpful to have a couple of books devoted to the topic. Eventually you'll figure out how to adapt standard recipes to the PC, and even how to improvise (if that's your thing).

                                              1. re: herby

                                                I have four cookbooks dedicated to pressure cooking; two of which are Lorna Sass. I like Lorna Sass's the best.

                                                1. re: Rella

                                                  I agree with Lorna Sass! Love her books. Also, Miss Vickies is a good general cookbook with good p/c tables in it. I have subscribed to this blog and gotten some great recipes from it: http://www.hippressurecooking.com/.

                                                  Don't be put off by the "horror stories" about pc's; they are made of much better metal, and they don't blow up. LOL

                                                  They only way I can get a great corned beef is to p/c it in the cooker with Guiness. Tender and delicious. I use mine at least once a week. Have a great recipe for farro for the p/c

                                                  1. re: The 1st and only KSyrahSyrah

                                                    Do tell more about your farro recipe - I love farro and there are not many recipes for using it, PC or not.

                                                    1. re: herby

                                                      When cooking farro, make sure the recipe distinguishes between whole and peeled (or pearled) farro, or at least that you can tell the difference. If the recipe calls for cooking it 20 minutes, it must be using the polished stuff, the equivalent of white rice. Many of the Italian sources appear to be pearled. I've also found peeled wheat from Middle Eastern sources. On the other hand American growers (e.g. organic ones in Washington state) sell the whole grain, which takes longer to cook.

                                                      Saas's Cooking Under Pressure has cooking times for various grains, though not farro.

                                                      Modernist Cuisine, the $500 6 vol scientific cookbook, talks about making 'risotto' using a 2 stage process, first cooking the grain in the PC, then finishing with flavorings and dairy in an open pan. This method works with a wide range of grains and seeds. The use of farro in a risotto like preparation is common enough to have its own Italian name, farrotto.

                                                      Saas may be the source of the 'let beef rest with natural release' idea. At least she is most explicit about its benefit. Other meat may benefit from natural release, but beef seems to be most sensitive.

                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                        Even Sass' Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure doesn't mention farro, but Sass commented on a farro recipe on hippressurecooking, making a related caution against soaking pearled or semi-pearled farro. (I can see how that step would help whole farro.) The hip site also includes The Veggie Queen's farro risotto recipe in a review of the book, which calls for semi-pearled farro.

                                                      2. re: The 1st and only KSyrahSyrah

                                                        Thank you all for endorsing Sass's books - I will start with Pressure Perfect and will move on from there. This issue resolved, now the task at hand is to buy the right PC. I like the versatility of Fagor 2-by-1 that Caroline 1 endorsed above. Any thoughts and advice? I probably should check "cookware" threads but would love your opinions:)

                                                        1. re: herby

                                                          In case you missed my endorsement, I will repeat. I use the same one as Caroline 1. Today I used it with 2 lbs. kale chopped (stems, too - which don't have to be cooked extra time first), a little balsamic, garlic, onion, and a couple of other things as I recall, but the receipe calls for only 1/2 cup liquid. But I used a full cup chicken broth, and the broth is luscious, so drinkable and would be a broth of my choice if I were stuck in bed.

                                                          1. re: Rella

                                                            The Fagor Duo Combi wiht a 4 and 8 quart set is great for anyone who intends to cook 2 dishes at close to the same time.

                                                            I have been teaching people how to pressure cook for more then 15 years and once people are hooked on pressure cooking, they often buy the set.

                                                          2. re: herby

                                                            Herby, I encourage you to check the many pressure cooker threads on the Cookware board. That being said: Among my several (perhaps too many) pressure cookers is the same set that Caroline1 has. I wanted an 8-quart PC for stock, and only bought the set because it was on sale for an excellent price, but it turns out that the 4-quart pot gets quite a lot of use because of its relatively wide, shallow shape. It's great for chicken or turkey parts, pork chops, flattish roasts (brisket, corned beef), chili--anything that involves browning or sauteeing before pressure-cooking. The valve only allows for a single pressure setting (15 lbs psi), but I've never felt the need for a lower-pressure option.

                                                            1. re: Miss Priss

                                                              Great advice, everyone -- many thanks!!

                                                              I took Lorna Sass's Pressure Perfect and two bean books out of the library last night. Had a good look at PP and love the book. So easy to use, great layout and well written. I will be ordering the book along with the Fagor Duo to start with. I am intrigued by B/R/K Alpha set but it is almost three times the price - nothing wrong with paying good price if it is three times better and I know for sure that I will be using it at least once a week and I do not this yet.

                                                            1. re: The 1st and only KSyrahSyrah

                                                              Can you elaborate on the corned beef with Guiness? Maybe a recipe? One for the beef, more for the cook?

                                                        2. I can go from dry beans to hummus within an hour using the PC, which is mostly what I use it for. But my roommate made a PC chili last year that was amazingly beefy tasting. The chili itself wasn't good because he's not a great cook, but the beef taste was intense. It was the opposite of what I expected to happen.