Over the last decade, I must have heard the myth that pressure cooking food is bad for your health thousands of times. Not only in the comment sections of pressure cooker review sites, but also by self proclaimed nutritional experts. It is a myth that I never believed but one that seemed to persist despite my objections.
All of these objections were based on the assumption that cooking at higher temperatures somehow damages the nutritional value of food. That mankind has been cooking at relatively low temperatures over an open fire for thousands of years and therefore could only ingest foods cooked at lower temperatures. Which I always believed to be completely ridiculous.
Now science has confirmed my belief that pressure cooking isn’t bad for human health. In fact, it has even taken it a step further. It has proven that it is actually a healthier form of cooking. In a recently published scientific study, it has been shown that pressure cooking actually preserved most of the nutrients destroyed by traditional cooking methods. It showed that pressure cooked broccoli retained over ninety percent of its vitamin c. Contrast this with steaming (which only preserves seventy-eight percent of vitamin c) and boiling (which only preserves sixty-seven percent of vitamin c), and you can clearly see pressure cooking is the best method of cooking food.
That might seem counter-intuitive since pressure cookers do cook at a higher temperature than other cooking methods, but it makes sense when you really think about it. It might use a higher temperature, but it uses it for a much shorter period of time. Which means that the foods aren’t exposed to these high temperatures long enough for their nutrients to break down. Sure, if you overcook your food to the consistency of baby food, then you are going to use a lot of nutrients. However, that is true of any cooking method. When used properly, pressure cookers retain the nutritional value of foods better.
Another advantage that pressure cookers have over traditional cooking methods is they use less water. Water is usually the main culprit when you talk about nutrients being removed from your vegetables. That is why experts say that you should steam your veggies instead of boiling them because water leeches vitamins and minerals from food. Well, I am here to tell you that you should probably be pressure cooking them instead.
If you’ve just read this article and need more proof that pressure cooking is better for you than previously thought, then I will cite one more study. A study done in the nineties that said that it was better to pressure cook peas than boiling them because pressure cookers break down Phytic acid and make the peas more digestible. Do you need any more reasons to break out your best pressure cooker and using it to make all of your meals? I don’t think so. These devices can be a great tool to help you manage your health by helping your food retain more of its nutritional value.
A lot of people think that pressure cookers can only be used to cook stews or roasts. At least that is what I gather from reading many of these people’s comments in pressure cooker reviews. However, I am here to shout to the world that the pressure cooker is a lot more versatile tool than that. It can be used to cook just about anything. One thing that cooks beautifully in one of these cookers are eggs. Now, You wouldn’t think that eggs and pressure cookers would go together, but in fact they do. These cookers are perfect for making hard and soft boiled eggs, and for making the brunch favorite, oeufs en cocotte. Here are the easy steps for making both of those egg delicacies.
Soft And Hard Cooked Eggs
Fill your pressure cooker with about a cup of cold water, and insert your cooker’s basket. If you have a heat proof egg stand, then you can insert the egg on top of this and place it inside the basket. If not, then you can just place the egg in the basket. It’ll be fine.
If you have an electric pressure cooker, then set it to low and turn it on. For the stove top models, place it on a burner on high heat. When it has reached low temperature, lower your heat and start timing it. Cook it for six minutes for a hard boiled egg and three minutes for a soft cooked egg.
When it has finished cooking, then use the cold pressure release system (this method can be found in our quick guide pt. 2). Once the pressure has been released, then you can remove them from the cooker, place them in a bowl and run them under cool water for about a minute. They are now ready to serve.
Oeufs en Cocotte (Eggs In Pots)
To make this recipe, you are going to need the best presser cooker with a basket, as well as some ramekins. If you don’t have ramekins, then you can use any type of small, heat-proof cup.
Start by placing oiling the inside of your ramekins with oil. Then place a slice of your favorite vegetable or lunch meat in the bottom of the ramekin. Then crack your egg on top of it. Then top it off with your favorite cheese and herbs. Cover the top of it with foil and its now ready to be cooked.
Add one cup of water into your pressure cooker and put the basket into it. Now place the ramekins inside the basket and close the lid. Set the cooker’s pressure to low and place it on a burner set to high. When it reaches its low temperature setting, then lower the heat and cook for four minutes.
After the cooking time has elapsed, you can then use the quick release method to release the steam. If you have an electric cooker, then just use the quick release valve to release pressure. Now you can remove your eggs and enjoy your Sunday brunch.
There is a myth circulating the Internet that says that a pressure cooker can’t be used to make chicken or beef stock. That stock has to be slow cooked for hours on end to get the best results. Well, I am here to tell you that is simply not true. I have cooked many batches of stock in my pressure cooker and have always been pleased with the result. It turned out great with a nice consistency and good flavor. And it’s quick and easy as well. All you have to do is take a little bit of time with it and it’ll turn out great.
Before you start however, you will need to have the right kind of pressure cooker. Be sure to read pressure cooker reviews and choose one that is easy to operate and has a decent capacity. You’ll need one that has at least a 6 quart capacity; 8 quarts is even better. Once you do have procured the right cooker, then you can turn to actually starting the stock. A process I am going to detail to you right now. The recipe I am going to give you should make approximately 7-8 cups of broth. Enough for just about any cooking project.
1 Chicken Carcass – This can be bought at just about any butcher shop. I never have to buy chicken bones because I save all of the bones from every chicken dinner I make. I clean them, place them in a freezer bag and put them in the freezer. They will stay good in there for at least a year.
8 cups water
2 medium carrots
2 Celery Stalks
2 Whole Cloves
½ teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon rosemary
½ teaspoon savory
1 Bay Leaf
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1 tablespoon salt
Take your chicken carcass (it doesn’t have to be thawed) and place it in your pressure cooker. Add your 8 cups of water and all of your chopped up vegetables. Secure the lid and place it on a burner with the heat on high. Turn on a second burner to medium heat. This is the burner we are going to move the pressure cooker to when it has come to pressure.
Heat the cooker until it has 15 psi of pressure. Now move it to the second burner and cook it for approximately an hour to an hour and a half. After this period of time has elapsed, move the cooker off of the burner and allow it to cool down naturally. If you are in a big hurry, you can use the quick-release method to depressurize the cooker. When the cooker is depressurized, pour the stock through a strainer to remove the bones and all of the herb remnants. Allow the stock to cool and then place it in an airtight plastic or glass container and move it to the refrigerator. Let it sit in the fridge overnight.
After the stock has sat overnight, take off the lid and skim the layer of fat that has congealed on top of it. Your best pressure cooker stock is now ready for any recipe you need it for.
Now that you have poured over pressure cooker reviews and have decided on a model that is highly rated, and has the composition and size you need, it is now time to further narrow down your selection by choosing one that has the right features for you.
It is absolutely necessary that you buy a pressure cooker that has a safety valve. These valves keep steam from building up in your cooker to critical levels and basically turning it into a bomb. However, what you might not know is that there are several different types of safety valves. Let’s go over some of the most common ones, so we can choose the right one for our needs.
Weighted Valves-This type of valve is placed on top of a vent pipe and is rated for about 15 PSI of steam. When these type of pressure cooker reaches temperature, the weighted valves will begin to perform a rocking motion. When it has reached temperature, it will also start to make a whistling sound. If the sound stops while cooking, then you know that you need to fix the problem before it reaches the critical condition. Cookers with this type of valve are usually fairly inexpensive.
Modified Weighted Valves-This type of valve is connected to the machine and doesn’t perform the characteristic rocking motion that weighted valves do. This valve also maintains a pressure of 15 PSI but it does it by releasing steam on an intermittent basis. You can tell this machine has started cooking when it begins to release steam. However, since it doesn’t have an audible warning like the weighted valves do, and it can be difficult to see the steam beginning to be released, these cookers generally need to be watched closer than models with weighted valves. There is one more thing to consider: Price on models with this type of valve are usually more expensive than weighted valve models.
Here are a few more features that you need to consider before putting money down on your new pressure cooker:
Cooking Rack-Some models come with a cooking rack that keeps the food above the liquid level and segregates them from each other.
Secondary Release Valves- If possible, you should also consider buying a pressure cooker with a secondary venting system. This will serve as an additional safety feature that will prevent the cooker from exploding if somehow the main vent pipe is stopped up. It’s not likely the main vent pipe will become stopped up, but it’s nice to have the peace of mind that if it did, then your pressure cooker wouldn’t become a dangerous weapon.
Warranty-Always look for a model with a good warranty. Nowadays, most reputable companies will offer at least a ten year warranty on their pressure cookers, and some even offer 12 year warranties.
And this concludes my two part guide on buying a pressure cooker. Follow this guide and you should be able to find a cooker that fits your needs and your budget.
One of the best pressure cooker recipes I have ever made has to be Cottage Pie. This Irish dish is much like Shepard’s Pie except that it is made with ground beef in lieu of mutton. It cooks up so quickly and easily in your pressure cooker, you will want to make this comfort food everyday of the week.
The way I make cottage pie using my pressure cooker is to start the ingredients in the cooker, assemble it and then transfer it into an oven safe dish for 20 minutes of cooking at 350 degrees. Here is how I do it
Quarter 1-1/2 pounds of potatoes, wash them and set them aside.
Saute 1 large sweet onion in 1 tablespoon of butter. When the onion is soft, add 1-1/2 pounds of ground beef and cook it for 3 minutes. Next you add in 2 diced carrots, 1 cup of peas, 1 cup corn (optional), 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 cup beef stock, 1 teaspoon thyme, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Mix the ingredients together well.
Place your quartered potatoes in your pressure cookers steamer basket onto the meat mixture. Place the lid securely on the cooker and cook it at high pressure for about 13-14 minutes. Quick release the pressure and remove the lid.
Heat your oven to 400 hundred degrees.
Place your potatoes into a mixing bowl and remove the skins, if desired. Then add ½ cup of milk and 1 teaspoon of butter and mash. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt. If you want you can spice these mashed potatoes up a bit more by adding 3 chopped green onions and making Champ, or by turning them into Colcannon by adding a pound of chopped kale or cabbage.
Set the mashed potatoes aside.
Pour the meat mixture from your pressure cooker into a 10”x13” oven-safe dish. Use a fork and add an even layer of mashed potatoes across the entire surface of the meat mixture. Make sure that you mash down the corners of the potatoes where it meets the edges of the pan to form a complete seal. Sprinkle the top with shredded cheese of your choosing (I prefer to use cheddar) and toss into the oven uncovered. Allow to bake for approximately 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the mashed potatoes are brown.
Set the dish aside and allow it to cool for approximately 5-6 minutes. Cut and serve.
And that is all there is to making Cottage Pie in your pressure cooker. Hopefully, you will enjoy making this dish as much as I did. It is certainly unique and one you won’t find in most pressure cooker reviews.
When people think about cooking in their pressure cooker, they often think about preparing dishes such as stews, gravies or roasts. Dishes that I refer to as standard fare. However, some of the best pressure cooker recipes I have seen includes dishes that are a little bit out of the ordinary, or what I would call non-standard fare. I am going to be sharing with you one of these unusual recipes today, so that you can start using your cooker for a wider array of different cooking projects.
The recipe that I am about to share with you is a recipe for bread. I know that it might seem a little strange to cook bread in your cooker, but it is not only possible but creates a bread that is unlike any other bread you are likely to eat. It creates a bread that is soft and delicious.
When you cook bread in your pressure cooker, what you are actually doing is steaming the bread. This results in a light, airy loaf that is soft and delicious. And it doesn’t take as much time as you think it would either. Give this recipe a shot and I think that you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
The first thing you’ll need to procure before you start cooking bread however, is some kind of container that the bread can rise in while it is pressure cooker. You can use a 1 pound coffee can or some other comparable heat proof tin such as measuring cups, cookie tins or even storage containers. You can also check pressure cooker reviews and see if there is some kind of bread container for your particular brand. It is up to you. It just has to be resistant to heat and capable of fitting into your cooker. Once you have obtained the tin, you can then go on to follow the recipe below.
Pressure Cooker Sweet Bread
Yields: 1 small loaf of bread (approximately 6-8 slices)
1 teaspoon oil (preferably olive oil but any vegetable oil will do)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon bicarbonate baking soda
2 cups flour
1¼ cup plain yogurt
Place your steamer basket in your pressure cooker. Take your container, oil it and set it aside.
Take a medium mixing bowl and combine the baking soda, flour and salt. Mix these ingredients together thoroughly and then add your yogurt. Mix into it turns into dough.
Place into your can, add a little oil to the top of it and then cover it with foil.
Take the can, place it on the steamer rack and then fill the cooker half way up with water.
Close the cooker up tightly and turn it on high. When it achieves pressure, cook for 20 minutes.
Using the natural release method, depressurize your cooker and then remove the loaf can.
Take the loaf from the can and set it aside to cool for 10 minutes.
Slice the bread and butter it. It is now ready to be served. Enjoy.
In the first part of this tutorial we’ve addressed the protocol of preparing food to be used in the pressure cooker. Now it’s time to address actually using the cooker. Something that is asked quite frequently in the comment sections of pressure cooker reviews. So let’s get right into it.
Using The Cooker
Now that you have loaded food into your cooker and the requisite amount of liquid, you can begin cooking it. The first thing that you’ll want to do is to make sure that the lid is properly closed. On some models you have to take the safety valve off to fit the lid. If this is the case, then make sure you return the safety valve once the lid has been fitted.
The next thing you will want to do is put the cooker on a burner and turn the heat to high. If your machine is one of the older weighted valve systems, then it will begin to jiggle when steam begins to be released. Newer cookers will have marks on the valve stem that will indicate the pressure in the cooker.
When the cooker has reached temperature (water is beginning to be converted into steam), then set the burner temperature down so that it will just simmer the pressure cooker. You don’t want the pressure cooker to continue gaining pressure. You just want it to retain pressure already built up. When it has reached its cooking temperature you can then begin the countdown on your cook time.
Reduce The Pressure
When your food has finished cooking, then turn off the burner and release the pressure from the cooker. DO NOT REMOVE THE LID. Release the pressure in the cooker first using one of the following methods:
Cold Water System: This is the fastest way to reduce pressure in your cooker. This method requires that you take the cooker and run it under a cold tap until the pressure falls within the unit. Obviously, this is a method that can only be used for conventional models and not for electric ones.
The Natural System: This is a good method to use if you want to slowly lower the pressure slowly. It is often used for foods that have long cooking times such as roasts and bone-in veal. Just remember that the food will continue to cook while pressure is dropping—which is usually around 20 minutes.
Quick Release System: Most of the best pressure cookers have quick release devices that will release the pressure quickly.
Remove The Food
Once you have determined that the pressure is released, then you can slowly remove the lid. And that is the quick guide for using your pressure cooker.
I am often asked what the best pressure cooker recipe for pork and my answer is always the same. A dish called Apple Pork Sirloin Roast. This is a super tender pork roast that has a slight apple sweetness to it and is perfect for just about any occasion. And what makes this dish even better is the fact that a pork sirloin roast is a pretty inexpensive cut of meat despite the fact that it contains the word sirloin in it. Try out this recipe and I think that you’ll like it as much as I do.
3 pound pork sirloin roast
½ cup of apple juice
1 cup water
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
The first thing you will want to do is to mix all of your spices in a bowl and set that bowl aside. Now you want to take your pork sirloin roast and trim all of the fat off of it. Once that has been done, then take your hands and spread the spice mixture over the sirloin roast completely.
Place your roast in the cooker with the tablespoon of vegetable oil and brown it on all sides. Now you can begin to cook the roast. Add the apple juice and the water to the cooker and place the lid on tightly. If there is an option for high heat select it. If not, then raise the temperature of the cooker by placing it on a burner with high heat and bring the temperature up to high. Once it has reached this temperature, then lower the burner accordingly to keep the pressure cooker at a constant high pressure.
When the temperature has been reached, set your timer for 25 minutes. If your roast isn’t 3 pounds, then you’ll want to lower the temperature accordingly. Only cook the roast until the internal temperature of the meat can be verified with a meat thermometer to be around 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
After the pork roast has been cooked for the requisite amount of time, allow the cooker to cool off naturally. When the pressure has dropped, you can then plate the roast and allow it to rest for at least 5 minutes.
There are a variety of different side dishes you can make with this roast. You can pressure cook new potatoes, serve it with a garlic angel hair pasta or plate it with coconut rice. You can also check pressure cooker reviews to come up with other ideas for side items. Your only limit is your imagination, so find the perfect side dish for this recipe and create a true culinary masterpiece that will impress your friends, coworkers and family.
I have to admit that one of the best pressure cooker recipes I have ever come across was a little recipe called pressure cooker beer can chicken. It produces a steamed chicken that is not only beautiful and delicious but is sure to delight your guests. Give it a try and see if you like it as much as I did. I’m sure you will if you follow my simple recipe.
Placing a beer can into a chicken and cooking it is not something new. It is done in countless American homes all of the time. This practice started out in the South when innovative BBQ cooks decided to try inserting a beer can into the chicken while it was on the grill. However, it quickly spread to the rest of the country when people realized that cooking chicken in this fashion resulted in a tender and very good bird. Not long after that, cooks started adapting the recipe for their pressure cookers and an instant classic was born.
Before we start though, I would like to offer a word of advice. Don’t try to follow this recipe in a conventional 4 quart pressure cooker. It’s not going to fit unless you have an extremely small chicken. You will want to procure at least a 6 quart model; 8 quart if at all possible. You can find these size cookers by looking through pressure cooker reviews if you don’t already have access to one.
1 4lb chicken
1 can of beer
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons rosemary
2 tablespoons sage
2 tablespoons thyme
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon lemon pepper
Prepare the chicken by removing the neck and the giblets, running the bird under cold water and drying it with a clean towel. Set the chicken aside.
Mix all of the herbs, the oil and the lemon juice in a bowl. After mixing, apply it to the outside of the chicken.
Brown the chicken in your pressure cooker (with the lid off) until it’s skin has the desired golden brown color. Remove the chicken from the cooker and set aside.
Deglaze the pressure cooker with approximately 1/3 of the beer from your beer can. Place a 1 bay leaf into the beer in the pressure cooker and then place the second bay leaf into the beer can itself. Place the beer can in the middle of the cooker.
Place your chicken into the pressure cooker; slowly lowering it down on the can. When that has been done, close and lock the pressure cooker.
Turn the cooker on high and allow it to come to temperature. When it does, cook the chicken for approximately 22-25 minutes.
After cooking, release the pressure valve on the cooker and allow it to cool down and depressurize.
Remove the chicken. Be sure you remove it by the neck cavity and not by the wings. If you try to lift it by the wings, then they may come off because of the tenderness of the chicken. Allow the chicken to rest five minutes. Your beer can pressure cooker chicken is now ready to be served.
If you have never used a pressure cooker but still want to cook like a pro with it, then I have some good news for you today. I am going to tell you how to cook with your pressure cooker and end up with fantastic results. You may think that cooking with one of these machines is difficult but I assure you it isn’t. All you need to do is make a few adjustments and you’ll be well on your way.
Before we start however, I want to take a few moments to tell you that it is important to get a good quality machine. It doesn’t matter if it is a stove top model or an electric model (although electric models are easier to use). Just be sure to buy the best quality one possible. Check pressure cooker reviews—if necessary—to help you choose the right cooker for you.
When cooking meats in a traditional fashion, many people brown the meat in a pan with oil and then deglaze the pan to help add flavor to the dish, yet they don’t do this when using a pressure cooker. I guess they don’t realize that they can not only do it this way but that they should be doing it this way.
All you have to do is add a little bit of oil to the pressure cooker—preferable a light vegetable or olive oil—and heat it uncovered it on medium high heat. Then when it has heated up, add your meat in small batches and brown it. Then you take the meat out of the cooker and set aside. Now you can begin the deglazing process. Pour a little bit of wine or broth into the cooker and scrap the sides with a spatula. All of those delicious food particles have now been released into the wine and broth. You can now continue on with cooking by placing the meat—and all the other ingredients you plan on cooking with it—back into the pressure cooker and cooking it under pressure.
Cook Different Foods At Different Times
some foods, such as meat, take longer to go than other ingredients, such as vegetables. That is why you shouldn’t throw them in all at one time. If you do, then you are likely to end up with either the meat under-cooked or the vegetables over-cooked. So be sure to start meat first, and then right before it is done, add the veggies.
Keep Two Electric Burners Going For Stovetop Cookers
This is one of the best pressure cooker tips I can give those of you who have a stovetop pressure cooker and an electric stove: Keep 2 burners going at the same time. Since you want to start the pressure cooker on high and then finish up on medium, it is best to have 2 burners going because electric stoves don’t react very quickly. Keep one burner for high heat and the second burner set on medium heat. When the pressure cooker reaches pressure, all you have to do is move it onto the second burner and continue cooking.