We are all well acquainted with the pressure cooker of old, the one who we cower in fear of blowing our faces off. Every grandmother I know has a horror story of scalding hot [insert food here] exploding in their mother's kitchen, coating the walls and ceiling with molten-lava and nearly maiming or killing the entire family. These stories usually end in "...thank God nobody was hurt." I am here to tell you that today's electric pressure cookers are smarter than we are, and have computer chips to prevent such mishaps. I love mine so much that I would possibly save it from a house fire before I would my cat. My pressure cooker has never bit my children or peed on the clean laundry. Just saying.
|Sasuke- Handsome, but a bit evil.|
I dabbled in pressure canning with my monstrous 23 quart canner years ago, but with small children in the house I was usually too concerned with keeping their faces where I like them (attached to their skulls) to actually use it. One day about three years ago I was at work when I overheard one of my fellow nurses talking about how much she loves her electric pressure cooker. My ears really perked up when she told about how she made a frozen piece of meat into pot-roast for dinner in under an hour. When I told her about how I like the idea of pressure cooking in theory but that for me its just too terrifying to actually utilize, she gave me a knowing smile and patted my knee. She then explained that the modern electric pressure cookers are fool-proof and virtually impossible to commit homicide with. It also allows for maximum flavoring of your food, because the seasonings and aromatics are literally forced into the food under such high pressures.
|I'd marry my instant pot if I could.|
I rushed home and did extensive Amazon review reading and price comparisons and ultimately decided on the.... (can you hear the angels in heaven singing?)... InstantPot. Best. Investment. Ever. What sold me on this model is that you can brown meat, saute, pressure cook, cook rice, and slow cook all with a push of a button. Most of my recipes start with sauteed onion or seared meat, so with this bad boy I can do just that without having to dirty an additional pan. My only slight complaint in the past is that the saute option could be hotter, but my fellow blogger extraordinaire Rachael, informed me last week that you can increase the heat setting (low, normal, high) on all cooking modes by hitting the "adjust" button then the "+" button. *swoon!*
When I received my InstantPot in the mail, I removed it from its packaging tenderly and in awe, then sat down to immerse myself in the instruction manual because I wanted to overcome my intimidation and fear of pressure cooking. I was shocked and scandalized to discover that the manual was a small leaflet and only a measly five pages long, most of which was a Chinese translation. I read it over and over, getting quite upset that it pretty much said 1.) Put food in pot 2.) Put lid on pot 3.) Push button for what you want to cook 4.) Use plus/minus buttons to adjust time. That's it. I was so frustrated I conferred with my mother and fellow blogger who is my all-things-food-related-mentor, who told me to just do what it said and see what happens. *deep breath*
It took me 4 days to work up the nerve to use it, but when I did I realized why there were not more instructions. It really is that easy! There isn't even a start button to push once you've entered the time, I guess its smart enough to figure you wouldn't be fooling around with time settings if you had no intention of actually cooking. It just magically starts cooking after about 5 seconds. It will even yell at you and repeatedly beep with flashing instructions if you fail to put the lid on properly. Depending upon the size and temperature of the ingredients used, it takes a few minutes to reach core temperatures high enough for the countdown and cooking to begin. When the food is finished, it beeps five times then automatically switches over to "Keep Warm" mode until you open it. You can either let it sit about 10 minutes to depressurize slowly on its own, or you can flip the vent on the top and it will spew heavenly smelling steam until the pressure is gone. It is impossible to open the lid until the pressure is completely gone, so there's zero chance for injury unless you decide that putting your face directly above the spewing hot steam seems like a good idea. Seriously, a monkey could use this thing.
So now on those nights that we find ourselves at 5 p.m. with a hankering for pot roast, we have time to run to the store for ingredients, throw it in the pressure cooker, and have dinner on the table by 6 p.m. Maybe 6:30 p.m. if I'm using frozen meat. Unheard of! At first I only used proven pressure cooker recipes, and Miss Vickie's Big Book of Pressure Cooking Recipes is an absolute must-have. It is written for conventional pressure cookers, so you are able to disregard about 80% of the actual cooking directions and skip straight to how many minutes it should be cooked under pressure, and simply program in that number. So far everything I've made from this book is amazing, and one of our favorites is Apple Cider Pot Roast with Sour Cream Gravy. It smells and tastes like Thanksgiving.
In Part 2 of this post, I will go into more detail on some specific things that I do with my pressure cooker. Stay tuned!