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What's the story on pressure cookers?

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Any recommendations? Wondering if there's any staple recipes that people have that make the purchase of a good pressure cooker justifiable. Also, any quriks or need-to-knows?

Thanks

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  1. If you do a search on the Home Cooking board for "pressure cooker" you'll find lots of great info about cooking w them including this thread where there are almost 100 posts on favourite pc recipes:

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/836307

    btw, though I have a pressure cooker, I've only used it once. I just prefer other cooking methods.

    1. In addition to searching the Home Cooking board as suggested by Breadcrumbs, search this board (Cookware) as well. There have been many informative pressure-cooker threads here in the past few years.

      1. I have a Fagor. Kuhn Rikon gets very good reviews for its pressure cookers. Modern pressure cookers are very safe. For me, I use my pressure cooker to make stock (chicken mostly) and it help to significantly reduce the time.

        1. Not a huge fan, mostly because they don't suit my cooking style. Traditionally, they are a go to for braises, soups and stews because they cut cooking time substantially. I expect you may have to adjust your recipes to get the flavor you expect. Also, as more folks are trying to add more dried beans and whole grains to their diet, they are finding the pressure cooker a real time-saver. The newer models are miles ahead of the pressure cookers you may remember from your childhood...way safer and easier to use.

          1. Recipes: stock, beans, soup, stew, chili and anything with liquid, including curries.

            One of the best affordable cookers is the Fagor. There are a number of models to choose from. The best one for all around is the Duo which has 2 pressure settings.

            Be sure to buy a stainless steel cooker. I prefer those without a jiggler which are the old fashioned type of cooker.

            Staple recipes, depends upon what you eat. For me it's legumes of all types because they cook so quickly.

            1. I have a 15+ years old 5L KR, good as new, + a newer 7L KR. I think the initial investment is well worth given that KR will last forever and the bottom is excellent -- no problem sauteeing ingredients prior to pressure cooking. Check prices on AMZN (with eg camelcamelcamel.com), there are occasional sales. There are almost no KR accessories, but most KR are 22cm diameter, a popular size so you can use other manufacturers. The only one I found useful is a WMF Perfect Plus 8-3/4-Inch (22 cm) Insert set = a basket and a trivet, no fooling with improvised handles made of foil if you want to steam stuff.

              Recipes: Stock (mostly chicken and veal), beans, lamb & beef stew, polenta, risotto, beets, anything that usually takes a long time and/or a lot of stirring. There are many good books -- a late (& expensive) addition is Modernist Cuisine @ Home, but start with the classics or even just the "free" KR cookbook that comes with your unit. (BTW, IMHO the best way to make polenta (real, not instant) is to simply put all ingredients in a 1 Qt Pyrex measure and steam it all under pressure. No stirring, no lumps!)

              When you can easily make one-two quarts of stock, you can always have some in the freezer -- big, big change in quality of sauces.

              Of course some recipes are silly -- no need to use a PC to save 5 min out of a 10 min task, but this is common to all "single implement" cookbooks.

              HTH, -- cf

              1. Not a fan of Kuhn Rikon, pricy and mine broke horribly.

                I LOVE my 8 qt Presto and it is much less expensive the KR:

                http://www.walmart.com/ip/Presto-8-Qu...

                1. We got our pressure cooker about six years ago and have used it sporadically. Ours is a cheap, 6-quart aluminum Presto. If I had it to do over again I would spend more money and get one of the 8 or 12 quart stainless steel models recommended on some of those other threads. I don't make stock with it because it is too small. I make stock in a 12 quart kettle low and slow. I have started to use the pressure cooker more in the last couple of years. It's good to speed up a braise. I have beef stock in the freezer. I wanted to make vegetable beef soup with barley and mushrooms. I took a frozen sirloin steak out of the freezer. I put it in the pressure cooker with a couple cups of beef stock for ten minutes. I chopped the vegetables while that was going. I took the meat out and cut it up. I added the vegetable and meat to the pressure cooker and it went for ten minutes. After it was done, I put about 4 cups of cold water and 4 more cups of cold beef stock. The soup was now cool and it went into the refrigerator. Then I cooked the barley in the pressure cooker and put that in the refrigerator. The next day I sauteed the mushrooms and add them and barley to finish the soup. It sounds like a lot of work but it took way less time than if I used a regular soup pot. I usually make corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick's Day. I would not cook it any other way than using a pressure cooker.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: John E.

                    The 8 Qt stainless presto is still reasonably priced and a great product.

                    1. re: StriperGuy

                      I've noticed that, however if I was going to buy a new pressure cooker it would be 12 quarts. We bought the little one just to try it out because we had never used pressure cookers before.
                      I had always heard they are dangerous but after using one I don't know what all the fuss was about.

                      1. re: John E.

                        My grandmother nearly killed herself with one. Making mushroom barley soup, a pearl of barley was stuck in the vent tube, she did not do any of the obvious checks to see if the pressure was down. Opened it under pressure, barley and mushrooms stuck to the ceiling, and a good burn for grandma. Fortunately nothing really serious.

                        Today's pressure cookers have so many redundant safety features and pressure releases that it is much harder (but still not impossible) to hurt yourself.

                        1. re: StriperGuy

                          The presure cooker I have is similar to the one your grandmother used with the rocker weight on top. It does have the locking mechanism so that it cannot be openee under pressure. I guess I should have pointed out that the danger I was referring to was the thing exploding on the stove, not operator error.

                          1. re: John E.

                            I don't understand this 'exploding on the stove' thing. I have an old Mirromatic cooker, must be at least 30 years old. A jiggler type. I can see misusing it and causing the vent to ??? overflow but it is so easy to check if pressure has reduced or not. I have no doubt that newer cookers have nice features and I'll get one eventually but I really don't see mine as a deathtrap and it works great a couple times each week w/o incident.

                            1. re: tcamp

                              Mine works fine as well. I was referring to comments that I heard years ago about the dangers of pressure cookers.

                              1. re: John E.

                                Agree with both of you, old one, new one are all pretty fundamentally safe if you don't do anything dumb. Most of the new ones also have an emergency blow out valve so in the incredibly small chance that the main jiggler hole plugs you can't blow the thing up, which is at least theoretically possible with an older pressure cooker. For example the newer prestos have a rubber plug designed to blow out if the thing exceeds some very high pressure.

                                http://www.totalvac.com/9915.html?zma...

                            2. re: John E.

                              I have two Presto models from 1976. One has a lid interlock, the other does not. Also that interlock required only minor changes to the pot itself. That indicates that they starting adding that safety feature about then.

                              StriperGuy's example is one of the few that actually has details. Most people just repeat some friend-of-a-friend vague story of explosions. I suspect most real stories have to do with user-errors, practices that clog the main vent, causing the safety valve to blow, or trying to open the pot under pressure.

                              If you suspect a clog, especially on an older PC, the safe thing to do is let it cool down before trying to open it. My mom nearly always cooled the PC under a running tap.

                              1. re: paulj

                                Yah, the cool it under the tap is the safe way to go for sure if you are at all concerned.

                                I did have a Kuhn Rikon that got stuck on me, just couldn't get the darned thing open. But I got rid of it and now use a much preferred Presto 8 Qt stainless.

                    2. Lately, I'm all about making rice in mine. I have a Kuhn-Rikon (which I adore). I heat a bit of oil up, saute 2 cups of rice to toast it and then add 3 cups warm broth. I close it up, bring it to high and cook for 3 minutes. I let it come down naturally for 7 minutes and my rice is perfect. You don't have to toast the rice I just like it for my fried rice I make. :)

                      Most recipes lure you in with the "cooks in 3 minutes!" type of comments, and it does but it takes time to get to high pressure and it takes time to bring it down to pressure. I like the texture of the rice better in the PC than in a rice cooker.

                      Start to finish last night it took 15 minutes for me to prepare my fried rice. Not too shabby.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: eperdu

                        I might cook brown rice in a pressure cooker, but white rice is so easy to cook in about 18 minutes on the stove I don't seen enough of an advantage.

                        1. re: John E.

                          It's all preference. I've never cooked rice on the stovetop outside of a PC. I have to use a pot for either method and I just choose the PC.

                          This is the best part of cooking---we all do what works best for us. The question was about why to use a PC, so I said why *I* use one. It's not the right way or the only way, it's just my way.

                          1. re: eperdu

                            I'm going to give your method a try. Like John E, I go for the stovetop pan when I'm cooking white rice but I did switch to pressure cooked beans after using both slowcooker and stovetop previously. I liked the way the PC method led to almost no broken beans. So sometimes an old dog (er, that would be me I guess) can learn new tricks.

                            1. re: tcamp

                              Let us know how it goes. My rice chart indicates the following:

                              1 Tbs oil or butter
                              1 cup rice long-grain, basmati, or converted white rice
                              1 1/2 cups water
                              1/2 tsp salt, or to taste (omit if using brother)

                              Toast the rice in the oil and add the broth. Lock on the lid.

                              Bring to high pressure. Reduce to maintain pressure and cook for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the pressure to come down naturally for 7 minutes. Quick release any remaining pressure.

                              If rice is not tender, replace the lid and let it steam in the residual heat for a few more minutes.

                              Other measurements:

                              1 1/2 cups rice + 2 1/4 cups liquid
                              2 cups rice + 3 cups liquid
                              3 cups rice + 4 1/14 cups liquid
                              4 cups rice + 5 cups liquid

                              The cooking time is the same for all the measurements