Pressure Cooker

But a pressure cooker will blow your whole house to smithereens! (Pressure Cooking 101)

Believe it or not, I’ve been cooking with my electric pressure cooker for six or seven months, and not ONCE have I blown up my house. True fact!

It might be that in the past pressure cookers were a little risky. That’s what my mother would probably tell me anyway. I’d actually never used one and had never seen one used until I received one as a wedding gift from my sister. She told me just yesterday that she’d intended to give us an air conditioner unit, but that in December that seemed like less of a good idea. I’d registered for an Instant Pot, not figuring that anyone would get it for us (we were both well into our 40’s at the time of our marriage, so our wedding was very small and we had no expectations of gifts…after all, we’d just combined homes a year or so before. I registered mostly because people asked). But lo and behold, my sister…the younger but generally wiser and more practical of the two of us…sent what The Pirate fondly calls “the magical pot”. If, by chance, you are trying to come up with a wedding gift for someone, this is a great option. You can find them on Amazon.

Anyway, I’d never used a pressure cooker, electric or otherwise, and had not even one clue what to do with it. Luckily it comes with directions (which I ignored for the most part) and a little recipe book (which I also ignored). Google is your friend here, people. There are so many folks out there who have blazed this particular trail! Here’s the basics of it though.

You need liquid in the pot in order for it to come to pressure. Usually you’ll need at least a cup of liquid in there. This will allow your pot to create enough steam pressure to close the valve, and therefore seal the pot and cook your food.

You need to close the valve. You can have that pot on all day long, and if the valve isn’t closed it’ll never come to pressure.

You can put frozen meat in there. Seriously. Increase the time by a few minutes. It’ll take longer to come to pressure, but it will work.

You can make some crazy things in that magical pot! My favorite unexpected-type things so far are cheesecake, a dulce de leche type caramel, and yogurt. I’ve also done shredded beef/pork/chicken (throw the meat in a stand mixer and it’ll be shredded in seconds), ribs, meatloaf, and spaghetti…just some examples.

…but you can NOT can things in it! The temperature and pressure (as I understand it) do not get high enough for safe canning processes.

Not everything is improved by using a pressure cooker. A lot of things are! Sometimes it’s easier, or less hands-on, or faster, or doesn’t heat up your kitchen. But sometimes it is just not a great idea. Please don’t cook things like pancakes or prime rib in there. Just because you can figure out a way to do it does not mean you SHOULD do it.

Accessory obsession is a thing. There are so many neat gadgets that can go with your pressure cooker! I’ve thus far managed to muddle along without most of them, but there’s a ton out there. I do have a silicone springform pan that I love. Many people also get extra gasket seals for the lid, because…

That silicone gasket still smells like curry! The material the gasket is made of really will absorb odors. FOR REAL. If there’s a good easy way to deal with that I haven’t found it yet. I haven’t had that leech into any actual food yet, but I really don’t want my cheesecake to have a funny curry aftertaste, you know? Many people have one for sweet dishes and another for savory.

It sounds really dumb, but…more than one person has done things like put their dinner into the pot without the actual pot inside, or put it on the stovetop to save some counter space and then turn on the stove…don’t be that person.

BUT IT’S A PRESSURE COOKER AND I’M CERTAIN IT WILL EXPLODE AND MY WHOLE NEIGHBORHOOD WILL BE DESTROYED AND IT’LL BE ALL MY FAULT! You can go at this one in a couple different ways. First, you can accept that the pot has several safety mechanisms that prevent this sort of thing. The other is you can just not enjoy all this lovely pressure cooker goodness.

The choice is yours, friends.  Choose wisely.

~Jenny

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