What are the advantages of pressure cookers?
What really sets pressure cookers apart from other pieces of kitchenware, notes food writer Katherine Phipps, is their versatility. “I don’t see it as a tool, just a saucepan with a specially adapted lid,” says the author of Modern Pressure Cooking. “You can use them in everything you’d use in a regular saucepan, and so much more, plus you also reduce 70-75% of your cooking time.”
Adds Stefano Artori, from the Italian home cooking blog: “I can make dishes that would take hours [stews, chickpeas] In a fraction of the time, with no loss of flavour—in fact, pressure cooking makes things taste even better.” And all for a fraction of the cost, too: “It’s a great ally in reducing water and energy consumption when cooking things like vegetables, because you need very little. from either.”
However, the type of pressure cooker you choose depends on how you cook, how much food you eat, and what room you have available. “If you’re really short on space, get one you can leave on the stove,” advises Phipps. “You can then use it as a frying pan, too.” Meanwhile, electric pressure cookers may suit those who “have a lot of countertop space, and are used to slow cookers or multicookers like this cooking method”; They also come with several accessories, like air fryer lids and yogurt makers, if they’re up your alley. However, “if you want to use it primarily as a pressure cooker, you’d better buy a stovetop model.” In terms of size, bigger is often better, Phipps says, because it gives you more options; I cooked up to 500g of dried beans in my 4 1/2 liter pressure cooker, and as little as 50g of rice.
It would also be wise to follow recipes designed specifically for pressure cookers, “because they’re obviously not intuitive,” says Phipps. “You’ll soon get to a point where you can make educated guesses, though.” For example, rice, pasta, and legumes, which are cooked by soaking, are a game of proportions: Phipps uses a 2:5 rice:liquid ratio for risotto, while basmati requires equal amounts of rice and water. Meanwhile, chickpea stew is a favorite of Artori’s: “Soak dried chickpeas in cold water for 12 hours, then drain and transfer to a pressure cooker with fresh water until barely submerged.” Add the salt, olive oil, and aromatics (garlic, laurel, rosemary, and/or Parmesan peel), then cook at high pressure for 10 minutes: “Wait until the pressure drops naturally, then taste.” If the chickpeas aren’t quite soft, cook them for a few more minutes, then set them aside, covered, for 30 minutes. “Pour them and a little of their golden gravy over the toast.”
Pressure cookers are also useful for getting vegetables on the table quickly. In the case of sprouting tops, kale, and broccoli, for example, Phipps puts a “spot of water in the pressure cooker,” adds just-washed greens, increases the pressure, then turns them off. “Quick release and done, often in seconds.” There’s no compromise on taste, either: “I often cook broccoli in demonstrations and people say, ‘I’ve never had cauliflower taste like this before,'” she says. “Pressure cookers are very good at preserving flavor.”