I’ve talked to many people who are afraid to use a pressure cooker. It seems there are many stories out there of pressure cookers exploding while cooking, generally from our grandmother’s era. And I admit myself that I had my pressure cooker in the box for several years after I got it as a wedding gift. But now that I’ve been using one for nearly 15 years, I’m not sure what I’d do without it. After I got used to using a traditional pressure cooker, I also purchased an electric. I’ll go through and add a bit of details about both.
A traditional stovetop pressure cooker. There are some very detailed usage guides on the internet I’m just going to talk about the pros and cons and try to convince you what a useful tool it is in the arsenal.
What it does well:
- cooks things very fast
- beans…seriously the best beans ever.
- breaks down connective tissue in tough cuts of meat
- makes sauces and stocks in less than half the time (see above, cooks things very fast). Stock made in a pressure cooker is fantastic because it’s exceptionally good at breaking down the collagen in the connective tissue.
- It’s great for making large batches of meat to be used in other recipes (for example cooking multiple chicken breasts to be shredded and used in enchiladas, casseroles or salads. I would always use this as a replacement for any recipe that called for canned chicken because the texture is so much better.)
- Those nights where you forgot to put whatever you were cooking in the slow cooker.
- Fantastic for different kinds of soups.
- It sterilizes things.
Things you need to watch out for:
- You can’t overfill it.
- You need to make sure there’s enough liquid. Trust me on this one, scorched beans stink to high heaven and are a bear to clean up after.
Electric pressure cooker
The awesome thing about the electric pressure cooker is that it’s programmable, has multiple settings, the brown feature is *awesome*, and can be safely run when you’re not at home to do it. It can double as a slow cooker so that’s a nice feature. The one drawback as I see it is that it’s nowhere near as fast as a stovetop pressure cooker. Frankly, I love having both options and it’s nice to have that extra flexibility of another cooking tool when you’re entertaining.
There’s some nice info here http://www.hippressurecooking.com/the-difference-between-stove-top-and-electric-pressure-cookers/
Do not fear the pressure cooker!