Why a pressure cooker can save time and money | Food

What are the advantages of pressure cookers?
charlie lincoln
What really sets pressure cookers apart from other pieces of kitchen equipment, notes food writer Catherine Phipps, is their versatility. “I don’t see them as a gadget, but as a saucepan with a specially adapted lid,” says the author of Modern Pressure Cooking. “You can use them for everything you would with a regular casserole and more, plus you’re also cutting cooking time by 70-75%.”

Stefano Arturi, from the Italian Home Cooking blog, adds: “I can make dishes that would otherwise take hours. [stews, chickpeas] in a fraction of the time and with no loss of flavor; in fact, pressure cooking intensifies the flavor of things.” And all for a fraction of the cost, too: “It’s a great ally for reducing water and energy use when cooking things like vegetables, because you need so little of either.”

Which pressure cooker you choose, however, depends on how you cook, how many you’re feeding, and what space you have available. “If you have very little counter space, buy one that you can keep in the kitchen,” advises Phipps. “You can also use it as a casserole.” Meanwhile, electric pressure cookers may be suitable for those who “have a lot of counter space, are used to slow or multi-cookers, and like that way of cooking”; They also come with a multitude of accessories, such as fryer lids and yogurt makers, if you like them. That said, “if you want to use it primarily as a pressure cooker, you’d better buy a glass-ceramic model.” In terms of size, bigger is usually better, says Phipps, because it gives you more options; she has cooked up to 500g of dry beans in her four and a half liter pressure cooker and just 50g of rice.

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You’d also be wise to stick to recipes designed specifically for pressure cookers, “because they’re obviously not intuitive,” says Phipps. “However, you will soon reach a point where you can make an educated guess.” For example, rice, pasta, and beans, which are absorption cooked, are a play on ratios: Phipps uses 2:5 rice:liquid for risotto, while basmati calls for equal parts rice and water. Soupy chickpeas, meanwhile, are Arturi’s favorite: “Soak dried chickpeas in cold water for 12 hours, then drain and transfer to pressure cooker with fresh water until just submerged.” Add salt, olive oil, and aromatics (garlic, bay leaf, rosemary, and/or a Parmesan rind), then cook on high pressure for 10 minutes: “Wait for pressure to drop naturally, then taste.” If the chickpeas are not very soft, cook for a few more minutes, then set aside, covered, for 30 minutes. “Put them with a spoon and a little of their golden broth on toast.”

Pressure cookers are also useful for getting vegetables on the table quickly. In the case of sprouted collards, kale, and broccoli, for example, Phipps puts “a drop of water in a pressure cooker,” adds freshly washed greens, turns the pressure up, then turns it off. “Fast launch and go, often within seconds.” There’s no compromise on flavor, either: “I often cook broccoli in demos and people say, ‘I’ve never tasted broccoli that tasted so much like broccoli,'” he says. “Pressure cookers are so good at preserving flavor.”

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