So you have a new pressure cooker, now what? On today’s Tuesday’s Tip with The Kitchen Whisperer, I’m sharing with you some of my best pressure cooker tidbits!
Pressure Cooking, while it’s been around for decades, really didn’t come to life again until a few years ago. I’ve been a PC fanatic for the past 4-5 years and have been preaching about it since then. I have a bunch of PC recipes and have told you guys that most meal recipes can be converted to the PC.
With that I though I’d put together some tips about your new pressure cooker that will hopefully help you out.
But is it safe???
Yes! The ones you buy today are NOTHING like what our mothers and grandmothers had. No lids flying off, food hitting the ceiling and you need to wear a kevlar body suit to use them. Almost all the ones I’ve seen have a double locking mechanism where you cannot remove the lid until the pressure has been released and it’s safe to do so.
Liquid? How much is too much? How much is not enough?
Pressure cooking requires liquid, at least a cup. You never want to fully submerge your items in the pot – you’re not boiling the items. Since everything is pressure sealed you have very little evaporation. Never, EVER go more than half full with liquid. The less liquid the more concentrated the flavor. But you MUST use enough liquid. Always follow the recipe people!
How much can I fit in it?
Well first read your instructions that came with it. The folks that created it will tell you for certain. Second, all of the new ones have guidelines inside the pots with something like “MAX FILL LINE”. Don’t go above that, period. Even though steam takes up no room, you need that headroom to actually build up the steam and pressure. This is one reason why if you’ve ever used your and it just isn’t building up pressure – check to see that you didn’t go above the max fill line.
Natural Release vs. Quick Release? Huh?
Yeah I get it, it’s confusing but it’s pretty simple once you think of it like this:
Natural (NPR or NR)- this is where, after your food has finished cooking you want the steam to just release on its own. You simply shut the machine off or shut the heat off of it and let the pressure subside. This takes about 10-20 minutes. This type of release is used for tough cuts of meat ( beef, pork and so forth).
Quick Release (QPR or QR) – this is where you want to stop the cooking process as fast as possible. Now this is about the only scary part about pressure cooking. You have to turn the valve to release the pressure. What this means is that that super hot/wet steam will spew out fast and hard so never put your face or body part near that. What I do is put a tea towel over top and use tongs to release the steam. It’ll hiss like a cat but it’ll subside quickly. This is used for quick cooking vegetables or delicate meats (like lobster or shrimp).
Most pressure cookers today have a browning function whether yours is electric or stovetop. Take FULL advantage of this, especially when you’re pressure cooking meats. Caramelization is HUGE here! That gorgeous crust helps seal in the flavor and adds such a deep level of complexity. Now what you must do, just like if you were cooking something on the stove is deglaze the pot. Once the meat is brown, deglaze the pc pot with some stock/wine or what not to scrape up those little tidbits of flavor that are stuck. Once unstuck, add your meat and so forth and continue with your recipe!
When to add stuff?
Not all foods require the same amount of time under pressure. For example I just modified my crock pot Guinness Corned Beef & Veggies for the pressure cooker. Since the corned beef takes 90 minutes to cook I don’t want to add the veggies in with the meat. What I’ll do is once the meat is done, do a natural release then remove the meat. I’ll add in my veggies, set the timer for a few minutes on high and let it cook. Since it’s already hot, it’ll build up steam fast and while the meat is resting, the veggies are cooking and when I’m ready to slice the meat the veggies are done!
Is there anything else I need?
I would say the only additional item I would invest is are small round rack to fit inside of your pressure cooker. These are awesome when you want to elevate your food up off of the liquid or set a pan down in it; i.e., a cake pan. yes you can make cake and cheesecake in a pressure cooker. BUT if you want you can always make your own rack with rolled up aluminum foil.
Okay I don’t have one but I want one, what do you recommend?
I would recommend any one of these as they are awesome and I use them:
For stove top go with: For Electric go with either : or