Using a Pressure Cooker: What's the big deal?

Discussion in 'Cooking Equipment Reviews' started by schmoozer, Apr 27, 2010.

  1. schmoozer

    schmoozer

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    Never having used a pressure cooker, much prefering to cook in more traditional ways, I don't understrand the enthusiasm that some people have for it.  Apart from shortening cooking time, what benefits does a pressure cooker offer?  There must be some down sides as well as benefits.  What are the down sides to using a pressure cooker?

    My thoughts are that some subtlety of flavor and texture might be lost.  Comments?
     
  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Downsides:

    reduction sauces from a braise aren't as intense as you don't work with the volume of liquid and reduce it as much over time.  there are work arounds of course.

    Foods that already cook quickly will be destroyed in a PC environment.

    Loss of some surface browning.

    Some spices react differently. Strong spices tend to get a little stronger (chile peppers) and milder spices can be weakened.

    You can't easily make additions mid cooking. Certainly there are recipes and techniques where you do but it's more work than in standard cooking.

    But texture loss, not really. In fact I've made the best Corned Beef in a pressure cooker. Some delicate dishes are easier in a pressure cooker. I hear great things about cheesecake in a pressure cooker but I've not done that as i don't have a properly sized pan for it.

    Madhur Jaffrey uses a PC in many of her Indian dishes. They are quite ideal to draw out the spice flavors and braise the food to flavorful intensity.
     
  3. french fries

    french fries

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    I've used a pressure cooker for years before giving up on it. If you factor in the time it takes to come to temperature, the time it takes to bring the temperature down before you can open it, the time it takes to clean every single little joint, opening, piece etc (if any of those is slightly dirty, it may clog and you run a risk of explosion)... you're not saving that much time.

    Also I hate cooking in a locked box: I can't check the seasoning, I can't check the texture, I can't remove my chicken breasts which are usually cooked before the thighs, I can't add anything, I can't check for proper cooking (if you ever bring the pressure cooker back to normal pressure, open it, realize that the cooking is not finished and have to bring it to pressure temp again, you're wasting a LOT of time), etc etc...

    And last but definitely not least: it just.... doesn't taste the same to me.
     
  4. dmdaniel

    dmdaniel

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    I like using the PC get really tender meat in a shorter time frame, and then finish the dish in the pot in a more conventional manner bring my flavors together.  Great for things like lamb stew, beans, or starting soups or stocks.
     
  5. amazingrace

    amazingrace

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    Before the "new and improved" format,  we had a social group for pressure cooker enthusiasts.  So many of the (so-called) negatives mentioned here were addressed there,  and members shared their PC successes, techniques and recipes.  It was a valuable resource.  I miss it. 
     
  6. latika sharma

    latika sharma Banned

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    Hi,
    I also like french fries,I also used pressure cooker for this recipe.
    I totally agree with you.
     
  7. nichole

    nichole

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    I like the pressure cooker coz it softens meat in a shorter amount of time compared to the traditional boiling the whole day.  its great for people who dont have lots of cooking time :)
     
  8. schmoozer

    schmoozer

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  9. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    It shouldn't be boiling. The pot should achieve an equilibrium where it releases enough pressure as is produced from the simmer. It should be about 250  F regardless of elevation at 15 pounds. This is not a boil because of the higher atmospheric pressure inside the pot.  You start the pot on high or medium high until the pressure indicator is activated or the weight is rocking rhythmically. Then you reduce the temp. How far you reduce it depends on how full the pot is as well as the burner you have it on.

    This ability to hold a particular temp and pressure is very useful to high elevation cooks where otherwise you can't cook beans above about 9500 feet elevation. The water isn't hot enough. There are a number of ski resort restaurants that rely on pressure cookers for certain dishes.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2010
  10. schmoozer

    schmoozer

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    But Phatch, that is not what Nichole said.  She said "compared to the traditional boiling the whole day."  
     
     
  11. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, I don't know what she might be doing.
     
  12. schmoozer

    schmoozer

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    And neither do I - maybe she'll reply to my question.