Do pressure cookers do anything better than just a good pot or dutch oven?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by dtbach, Jun 13, 2017.

  1. dtbach

    dtbach

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    My MIL knows I enjoy cooking so gave me an Instapot for my birthday.  It's been sitting there for awhile.  I'm retired so really don't need to "speed cook" so not sure what it's really good for.  Seems to me if you want to get a lot of flavor into say beans or brown rice, don't you want them to cook for a long time in their flavoring liquid??

    So I would like to know if its worth the shelf space it takes up, or haul it to Good Will as a donation.

    Thanks
     
  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Risotto. So much easier in a pressure cooker. Speed is nice too, but the hands free aspect for risotto is great.
     
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  3. dtbach

    dtbach

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    So the risotto gets the nice creamy texture without any stirring?  Or do you stir it at the end and get the same result?  Does it compare favorably with stove top constant stirring risotto?
     
  4. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes it's as good as the traditional method. You stir in the cheese at the end. You do have to hit the doneness window more closely as it's easy to overcook.
     
  5. cws4322

    cws4322

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    Don't have an InstaPot but love my pressure cookers. I have one that can be a smoker/pressure cooker. Love that for making pastrami, smoked beef heart, smoked tongue. I use it as a cold smoker for cheese, tofu, or tempeh. For everyday things, I use the ancient Presto stove top one. Love it when I need to something fast so the meal is ready before my Mom sundowns on me or the caregiver leaves.
     
  6. fatcook

    fatcook

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    Definitely agree with Phatch about the risotto. When I saw the title of the thread, it was the first thing that popped into my head, probably because we made some a few nights ago.

    We have an instapot and love it, we use it almost everyday.

    Breakfast - rolled oats cook while we walk the dog - if you don't like oatmeal the traditional way, try it savory - top with a fried egg, some sausage and peppers, hot sauce, etc.

    Or stone ground grits - the sauté feature lets you toast the grits before adding your liquid, it really brings out the flavor.

    The above risotto - sauté feature for the onions, garlic, add the wine and broth, brown rice, high pressure for 25 minutes with a natural release. Stir in the butter and cheese and serve.

    It makes a really good lemon chicken that gives us a dinner and chicken for salads the next day.

    Pressure cook beans without soaking,

    Pressure cook eggs for super easy peeling.

    The slow cooker function works well also, we use it for stocks and soups as well as tradtional slow cooker type recipes. The glass lid they sell separately is really handy.

    For us, it frees up the rest of the kitchen for production cooking, and allows us to make healthy food for us without much attention needed.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2017
  7. aching4baking

    aching4baking

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    I have a Fagor combo, I understand that Instapot has the same/similar cooking settings. I use mine at least once a week, sometime more often.

    Firstly, the browning function is a great convenience for preparing meat stews. Pot roast comes out fabulous. Use a mesh lid to contain the splattering oil during browning.

    Second, it's great for making stock. No fear that it will boil. Comes out very clear and flavorful. I think the pressure really gets the flavor out of the cracked bones.

    Third, make home yogurt and quark cheese. For yogurt buy a can of unflavored yogurt with live culture in your supermarket, and use that to inoculate your milk.

    For quark mix cultured buttermilk and regular milk: 1:8 to 1:1 proportions – the fermentation time is the only thing that will change. Milk can be any fat grade, even non-fat, but I prefer 2% for mouthfeel. Turn on "yogurt" setting. Once the mix has thickened, save a pint as a starter (can be frozen for months), then for the rest use the "reheat" setting  for 30–60 min, occasionally giving a VERY gentle stir to separate cheese from whey. You get about 2 pounds of quark out of a gallon of milk and a pint of buttermilk.

    The "yogurt" setting seems a little too warm for quark, so it comes out much smoother than the traditional method, almost like ricotta, and takes longer to drain.  Once drained, add 0.4% salt by weight. It's a delicious and healthful snack by itself, and there are a lot of tasty dishes in Eastern and Northern European cuisines that use quark, and that would be too expensive if you had to buy it. And of course you can use it as you would use ricotta.

    Fourth: soups and stews! Through everything into the pot, set it and forget it! I start the soup before going to bed, and let it cook while I sleep.

    If your instapot has a time delay function, then it's a great way to have your food finished or reheated by a specific time. Think parties – one less thing to think about; or returning home late at night. You walk in, and the hot food is already waiting for you.

    What doesn't work: although I initially bought my multicooker to incorporate more legumes in my cooking, I don't find it useful at all for that specific task. Beans need to be soaked overnight to reduce flatulence, but once they are soaked, they cook on the stove just as fast as in a pressure cooker. If you are not concerned about the gas and bloating, then yes, you can quickly cook beans from dry to creamy.

    Same with brown rice: it takes 40–45 min on the stove. It takes less to cook under pressure, but if you count pressure build–up and release, you end up with the same 40–45 min, PLUS a cooker to clean!

    Have fun!

    Vlad
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2017
  8. thebeloved

    thebeloved

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    Yeah it makes the food yang
     
  9. Jain Daugh

    Jain Daugh

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    I have 5 different pressure cookers that I have collected over time. They range from 22 qt. which I use mainly for canning at harvest time. My 6 qt. SS is great for larger items and even cans 4 pints when I want to put up just a little bit. I have 2 - 4 qt. pots which are the workhorses of my kitchen. The aluminum one is sentimental as it was a wedding gift but it still works fine and also is tall enough for the insert SS bowl that I use for cooking (brown) rice. The SS 4 qt. pot was a thrift store find and browns meat better. But its more short and squat so I can't cook my rice in it. The last is a 2 qt. aluminum pot that is probably from the late 1940's or early 1950's. It was $1 at a garage sale that I just couldn't pass up. It is handy for very quick cooking of smaller items (we are only 2 in this house).

    I do like cooking using these as they are not only quick, I find they do produce good flavor in the food made. Certainly pot roast from a pressure cooker will never match the flavor of a long and slow braised roast. But cooking time is significantly reduced! I half jokingly call my pressure cookers the 'original stove top microwaves'.

    We prefer short grained brown rice which takes 40 mins. of cooking while its half the time in the pressure cooker and the flavor is just the same. The rice stays moist and water-to-rice ratio is a bit less and certainly less needed to be exact.

    List of what I cook in my pressure cookers is - rice, pot roasts, beef stew, sauerbraten, swiss steak, sweet and sour red cabbage, rouladen (beef rolls), pork and kraut, 'baked' potatoes/yams, and artichokes come out tender without being 'soggy' (and losing flavor). And as fatcook mentioned above, cooking (dry) beans is so much quicker and doesn't require pre soaking. In fact, over time I've found that pre soaking beans makes them HARDER to cook soft! I also cook up a pot full of potatoes at a time allowing me to use these (stored in frig.) in different dishes over the next few days.

    Its sad that so many people are afraid to use pressure cookers. Too many stories about them 'blowing up'. But the main 'secret' of using these safely is to LISTEN to the sound of the 'exhaust' air as the (top) weight releases it. The louder and more frequent 'pssts!' indicate that the burner temperature is too high. Turning that down a bit will allow cooking to continue fine and save a bit on fuel (gas/electric) costs too.
     
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  10. teamfat

    teamfat

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    Was thinking of doing a risotto for the vegan challenge, may dust off the old Presto and give it a go.

    mjb.
     
  11. Iceman

    Iceman

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    My mom could make fantastic stuff in a pressure cooker. I blew one up and blasted two(2) windows out of a kitchen.
     
  12. Jain Daugh

    Jain Daugh

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    Yikes Iceman! My hubby remembers green beans stuck to the kitchen ceiling from his mom's pressure cooker blowing :eek:. Again, I say, THE most important factor in using a pressure cooker is to LISTEN to the pressure release 'psst' sound. Once burner temp and a slow release is established, the pot is not going to blow.
     
  13. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Any modern design pressure cooker has a blowout valve gasket design. There's a cut out in the lid blocked by the gasket. If the pressure get strong enough to rupture the gasket that's where the pressure will go out first cuz it's the weak spot. No explosions.
     
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  14. Iceman

    Iceman

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    LOL. The pressure cooker that I blew up was a WWI vintage model. I didn't even know that I was not only putting it together wrong, but using the wrong parts. I was a brand new kid-chef wannabee wiseass knowitall. The real reason we even had it was to make popcorn. It was heavy pot metal with NO usable gaskets. It did make great popcorn though. Do be put-off by my experiences. Just use my story as a laugher.
     
  15. chrislehrer

    chrislehrer

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    Pressure cookers make fabulous stocks, as noted. But this teaches something.

    Maillard reactions, which give the "brown" umami flavor, are prompted by heat. If you make white stock at full pressure, you get some of the brown stock depth.

    On top of that, you can use the same trick to get the ultimate puréed soup. Put a bunch of carrots, a little butter, and a bit of water in the cooker. Cook at maximum pressure for an hour. Use an immersion blender to purée the mixture smooth. Season and eat. You won't believe that this is just carrots!

    Do the same with leek and potatoes. Heat both and pour side by side in a soup plate. You'll have two gorgeous colors, two amazing flavors, and a spectacular dish--which you pretty much could not have made without the pressure cooker.

    The more I use my Fagor Duo, the more I adore it.