I know tons of people who love their pressure cookers. I’ve heard the great stories of 12-minute beef stew and the energy savings. It’s just never made it to the top of the list. Well – it finally did, and now I wonder what took me so long!
I got the Presto 6-qt stainless steel pressure cooker. I chose the Presto over the Mirro and the Fagor available at my local store because the Fagor seemed to have extra plastic switches and such that seemed less likely to last the rest of my natural life, and the saleslady said Mirro quits making parts for old models every 10 years or so. Presto, on the other hand, has changed their design little enough that it’s still easy to find parts for 30 year old pots. I’m not 100% sure, but it might use the same weight as my Presto pressure canner.
I’ve done two trials so far, and am quite happy with it. First, I made brown rice. This requires a “pot-in-pot” method, according to the manual. You put 1c. rice and 1.5c. water in a glass or metal bowl (my stainless Farberware bowls are perfect for this), cover with foil, and put that on the rack inside the pressure cooker. Two cups of water go in the pot under the rack, then the lid goes on. It took about 5 mins to come up to pressure, 11 mins to cook, and 10 mins to depressurize at its own pace. So, 26 minutes for brown rice. Not a stunning time-savings compared to a regular pot (~40 mins), but enough to overcome the mental block we have that “brown rice takes a long time and will delay dinner if we don’t have rice already made.”
The rice came out pretty well, though I think I will add an extra 1/4c of water next time (and try to make more than 1c at a time). The rice grains were very separate and a little chewy…almost, but not quite, too al dente for my tastes. It was certainly better than the sometimes-overcooked rice I make in a regular pot. As a bonus, there was no mess, either. I seem to be incapable of cooking rice without it boiling over and coating the stove and pot with starch. This stayed tidily inside its bowl.
The second thing I made was stewed pork. You know how I looooove my stew, right? Usually, anything I stew takes about 3 hours. The instructions indicated that anything sliced would cook much faster than whole roasts, so by triangulating between a couple of recipes, I determined that my country ribs should cook in about 15 minutes. Well, 15 minutes at pressure; again, it took 5 mins to come to pressure and a full 15 minutes to depressurize. But after that half hour? BAM. Fall-apart tender pork.
This puts stew back onto the weeknight menu! I will probably still can some, for the savings of freezer space, but wow – this is just fantastically useful. I think if I were just setting up my kitchen, I would make this my standard mid-sized pot. Though for that, I’d consider getting the Mirro, because it has a plain glass lid so you can use it as a regular pot, too. In any case, it reduces cooking times dramatically, and it reduces energy use from 3 hours to 20 minutes…that’s pretty impressive.
I am so sold on this! Next thing to try: beans. I made red beans and rice the other night, and it took about an hour and twenty minutes. My handy book tells me that would have taken 2-4 minutes. Well, if I’d soaked the beans first. But still…that beats an hour all hollow. No need for canned beans ever again!