Kitchen Essentials – Pressure Cookers
What cooks meals in a fraction of the time, tenderizes tough cuts of meat and requires next to no fat? A pressure cooker, of course. It may be the perfect answer to the modern dilemmas of lack of time, expensive cuts of meat and health concerns.
Pressure cookers (as you no doubt already know) cook food at much higher temperatures than normal. That’s why that delicious lamb stew you’ve been thinking about all day will be ready in record time. While the slow cooker will take six or more hours to cook food at barely a simmer, the pressure cooker basically sears food at a temperature of 121°C, (To put it in perspective, boiling occurs at 100°C, at the height of summer, the Sahara desert can reach 50°C. Quite balmy, don’t you think?) That heat produces an incredible amount of pressure that’s regulated by the heat emanating from the burner and by a valve controlling the release of steam. Sounds complicated, but it’s actually very easy to operate. The only drawback to pressure cookers is that not all foods are suited to that kind of cooking. Applesauce, cranberries, oatmeal, pasta, barley and split peas, for example tend to foam up as and block the vent as they cook. If that happens, the safety valve could fire out, leaving a bullet-like hole in your ceiling. For best results, stick to food that can be braised or steamed, and make sure you read the manufacturer’s instructions.