Using a pressure cooker offers two benefits. Less expensive food can be used to make healthy meals and cooking time is reduced.
I regularly cook dried chickpeas without presoaking in 15 minutes or a turkey stock in 30 minutes of active cooking time.
You must allow the cooker to cool to room temperature for an additional 10 to 15 minutes before you can re-move the lid.
A pressure cooker is a specialized heavy aluminum pot with a lid that has a regulator that maintains the buildup of pressure, locks into place and seals tightly with a rubber gasket. Pressure cookers come with either a jiggle top or gauge that rises with the pressure.
Under pressure, a higher temperature and greater humidity are reached and the food cooks more quickly. Modern pressure cookers have safety features if too much pressure builds up in the pot.
The pot, which has measurement lines to indicate half and two-thirds full, must not be filled beyond the two-thirds line. Be sure to submerge solids.
Place food and liquid in pot, secure lid and place on high heat. Once pressure has been reached, reduce heat just to maintain pressure.
You can judge that the pressure has been reached by the sound the pressure regulator makes. It will have a constant stream of steam.
Continue cooking for the prescribed time and then turn off heat. Allow pot to cool until no steam is being released.
Pressure cooker prices vary from $49 to $250. Most pressure cookers are made of an aluminum core with a stainless steel outer surface for easy cleaning. The aluminum base maintains a more even temperature so the food does not burn on the bottom.
The rubber gasket should be removed and hand washed to re-move greasy or sticky residues. Dry thoroughly.
Pressure cookers are well suited to cooking tougher cuts of meats, dried beans and grains, stews and stocks. The active cooking time will vary but usually it’s between 10 and 45 minutes.
- 1 turkey carcass
- 1 onion
- 1 stalk celery
- 1 large carrot
- 1 or 2 bay leaves
- whole spices, 5 mL
- including black peppercorns, juniper berries, allspice to equal one teaspoon
- Remove fat and skin from the carcass and discard. Place bones in the pressure cooker. Roughly chop onion, celery and carrot and add to cooker. Add whole spices and fill with cold water to the one-half to two-third line. Place lid on pot and secure. Place pot on high heat.
- When the steam regulator allows a steady stream of steam to escape, reduce heat just to maintain this level and cook for 30 minutes. Turn off heat and allow the pot to cool until no steam escapes from the regulator.
- Strain the solids through a colander over a large bowl. Discard solids. The liquid is the stock and can be used immediately or frozen or canned for future use.
Oxtail Stew Cádiz Style
- 2 lb. small oxtail 1 kg
- 1 head garlic, separated and peeled
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 whole clove
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 c. dry white wine, 125 mL
- 1/4 c. canola or olive oil 60 mL
- 1 c. water 250 mL
- 1 c. chicken broth 250 mL
- Combine ingredients in pressure cooker pot. Cook as prescribed in the instructions above for 45 minutes. Turn off heat and let pot cool.
- Pour the stew into a strainer. Pull the meat off the bones and return the broth and meat to the cooking pot. Discard the bay leaf and clove. In a food processor or blender, puree garlic and onion. Beat in about 3/4 cup (185 mL) of the broth, then stir this mixture into the pot. This recipe may be made ahead and reheated. Serves eight.
- Adapted from Tapas: The Little Dishes of Spain by Penelope Casas.
Dried Pea Soup
- 1 – 1 1/4 lbs. dried 500 – 700 g
- whole peas
- 2 ham hocks or 1 meaty ham bone
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 small celery stock, finely diced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 3 red potatoes, peeled and cut in one-inch cubes (2.5 cm)
- 1 tsp. dried thyme 2.5 mL
- 1 tsp. ground ginger 2.5 mL
- 1 tsp. salt 2.5 mL
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 lb. thick cut bacon, 500 g
- cut into one-inch pieces, optional
- If using peas fresh from the combine, washing is critical. Wash peas thoroughly and remove debris. Put in pressure cooker pot with the ham hocks and fill no higher than two-thirds with cold water. Place on high heat until pressure is reached. Turn down to maintain pressure and cook for 30 minutes. Cool.
- Prepare vegetables. When the lid can be removed, skim shells from the peas and discard. Remove the ham hocks. For a thicker soup, take a cup of the cooked peas and puree in blender, then add to pot.
- Add vegetables, bacon, spices and herbs and replace lid. Cook under pressure again for 10 minutes. Cool.
- Remove bay leaf and shred meat from the ham hock. Return meat to the soup and discard bone. Adjust the thickness of the soup by adding more water. Serve immediately or refrigerate and reheat.
Cooking under pressure; prepare supper in a pot
- In olden days, it came from the tail of an ox but now it comes from the tail of a cow of either sex.
- An oxtail typically weighs 1–1.8 kg. It is skinned and cut into short lengths for sale.
- Each section has a tailbone with some marrow in the center and a bony portion of meat surrounding the tail.