I remember growing up and seeing my Grandmother use her pressure cooker a lot. There was always hissing and rattling and steam coming from it. Nothing seemed safe about it and then one day – BOOM! The lid flew off and dinner was everywhere. Apparently this wasn’t all that uncommon back in the day. And this is probably a big reason why pressure cookers haven’t made a huge comeback. People are afraid of them.
When it comes to time constrained athletes, parents and busy professionals, this is a shame. As much as I believe in using the slow-cooker to help you out in the kitchen, there is definitely an equally important place in the kitchen for the pressure cooker.
Related Article: The Slow Cooker for Athletes
So what exactly does a pressure cooker do? A pressure cooker cuts the time of slow cooked foods like pot roasts, beans and other braised dishes. They work by forming an airtight seal, so when the liquid comes to a boil, the pressure begins to build up. The trapped steam inside is what causes the temperature to rise. Normally, water boils at 212F, whereas steam can rise to 250F. Thus resulting in a much faster cooking time.
Ok, that is awesome and all, but how does that translate to the real world? Well, not everyone has time to put a recipe together in a slow-cooker in the morning. You wake up late, the kids won’t get up, the gallon of milk spills, the dog gets loose and all the other countless issues that seem to arise in this short frame of time. The pressure cooker becomes your savior in the evening. While you are sitting on the trainer for an hour, taking showers or finishing up that last bit of homework, the pressure cooker is doing it’s job of cooking foods fast.
Recipes like pho ga can be ready in under an hour and still taste like it’s been simmering all day long. Dried black beans and andouille sausage stew can be ready in 45 minutes and Texas style chili con carne in an hour.
Related Recipe: Slow Cooker Pho Gâ
Things to keep in mind when starting out:
Always use liquid and no less than 1 cup. Remember that the pressure cooker works by using steam. On the flip side, never fill the pressure cooker more than ½ with liquid.
Don’t fill the pressure cooker more than ⅔ with food. It needs room.
Cut the meats and vegetables in a uniform size so they cook at the same time. The smaller, the quicker it will cook.
Don’t forget to brown the meats. You still want to bring out as much flavor as possible.
Related Article: How to Make Healthy Food Delicious
Undercook before overcooking. If you aren’t sure exactly how long it’s going to take, release the steam earlier than later. You can always go back and cook in 1-5 minutes increments. You can’t fix mush.
Don’t be afraid of the pressure cooker because as an athlete, it’s going to help put a healthy dinner on the table in a fraction of the time.