Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Saving Time and Energy with a Pressure Cooker

by Gavin from The Greening of Gavin.

On Sunday night, I cooked our dinner in my pressure cooker.  Since this piece of cookware was given to me two years ago, I have used it at least twice a month and the results have always been outstanding,  just as I remember from my childhood.  My mother had a pressure cooker and preapared lots of the family meals in it.  Quick, simple and you can use very cheap cuts of meat that transform into a gourmet meal. 

Anyway, the meat was so tender, the tastes amazing, and it only took 30 minutes (once the pressure built up) to cook the meal! 

Before I cooked the first meal, I had to season the cooker by boiling 2 litres of milk and 3 litres of water. Apparently, because it is aluminium, this boiling of milk/water seals it and stops the stains from forming.

I started out simple and made a Beef Stew, with seasonal vegetables. Here is the recipe from memory, as I whipped it up on the fly when I cooked it.
Gavin's Beef Stew

500gm Stewing Steak or any cheap cut of red meat, 2 cm cubes
3 large potatoes, diced 2 cm cubes
1 stick of celery, chopped coarsely
1 large onion, slices
3 large carrots, sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
100gm mushrooms, sliced
1 sprig fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 litre beef stock, low sodium
3 tablespoons cornflour
3 tablespoons gravy powder
1 half cup water
2 tablespoons oil
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil, add onion, garlic, rosemary and celery to soften. Add beef and brown. Add remaining vegetables and stock, seal pressure cooker, and cook for 30 minutes from when the control valve starts to jiggle, reduce heat so valve just moves. After 30 minutes, turn off heat, reduce pressure as per cooker instructions and remove lid. Make a paste out of water, cornflour, gravy powder and thicken stew. Bring to boil with lid off, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with mashed potatoes and crusty bread. Serves 6 with sufficient seconds!

A fantastically simple meal, and it was very hearty on a cold Sunday evening after working in the garden all day. I could not believe how tender the meat was, especially after only cooking for 30 minutes. Kim was very impressed, because she is normally put off by beef because of its chewiness. Normally that type of steak would take at least 90 minutes to get to that stage in the oven. The vegetables all kept their natural favour and were really distinct in the mouth, with the potato breaking down just enough to help thicken the stew.

This type of cooking is not only energy efficient (I cooked on the medium gas ring on the lowest setting), but you can utilise the cheapest cuts of meat, and they will be tender in no time. I reckon that even game, such as kangaroo and emu would become very tender in a short time. Every time I have attempted to cook roo it has been tough as old boots! I might give it another go now.

I also found heaps of recipes on the net.  The model I have is a SILAMPOS Classic aluminium 10 litre which is made in Portugal.  It was simple to figure out how it worked and the instruction manual was easy to understand. I would recommend this cookware to anyone who wants to lock in nutrition, and to cook meals quicker without resorting to processed fast food.

Since I bought this energy saving cooking pot, I have used it to make  many  great meals that have warmed the cockles of my family's heart.

Do you know any simple pressure cooker recipes that you would like to share?


Heather Woollove said...

I love my pressure cooker, too and wanted to recommend this cookbook (which I LOVE!)

Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure

(There's a super risotto recipe in there, and many other fun and interesting recipes, plus cooking times for most vegetables and grains.)

sawn61 said...

I had never heard about the milk and water thing sealing your aluminum ware.

I use my cooker about once a week. It is a "must have" around my house.

Kate said...

I have pressure canners, which can apparently be used for cooking. (Though I understand that pressure cookers canNOT be used for canning.) But I've never used them for cooking. I may give it a try though, the next time I have old laying hens to slaughter. The ones I've tried up to this point have been pretty shoe leathery. I've been able to at least make stock from them, but it would be nice to find a way to render the meat edible too.

Suzanne with Laughing Wallet said...

I'm glad I found this post! I hadn't even thought about getting a pressure cooker, but it sounds like something I should definitely look into. I really like to cook, but sometimes the cook time is what holds me back from making certain things - especially during the week when I'm working. It sounds like a pressure cooker could be just the solution, though!

And thanks to Heather for the cookbook suggestion!

Kristina Strain said...

That's a terrific cookbook suggestion. As with slow cookers or crock pots, most of the recipes I've found for use with pressure cookers are meat-heavy, and that doesn't fly for my vegetarian husband!

Kristina Strain

ladyhawthorne said...

I cook our Thanksgiving turkey in mine as my oven does not work. It always turns out very juicy and falls apart, no carving needed.

Paula said...

Oh yeah! The pressure cooker!

I am making short ribs today, and have been wondering if they'd defrost in time, but cooking them in the pressure cooker will fix that issue just fine.

Thanks for the reminder- I keep forgetting to use it!

Helen said...

How can anyone manage without a pressure cooker. I have four of different sizes one of which I use nearly every day. They are economical, cook food quickly are easy to use.
However several years ago I got rid of my aluminum pressure cookers when the link between that metal and Alzheimers became known. With my family history I didn't need to enhance my chances of that.
I damaged a very small pressure cooker which was really useful and need to replace it. I live in France. Does anyone out there know of a maker or supplier within Europe?

Significantly Simple said...

I bought a pressure cooker this summer with the great intention of actually using it, but it has sat on the shelf for nearly 6 months - I'm too nervous to use it.

But, this post and comments have given me renewed courage! Thanks ladies!

Sadge said...

I learned to use one during the 10 years I lived above 10,000 feet - quartered potatoes that would need an hour's boiling time could be pressure-cooked in less than 15 minutes. It's great for turning tough cuts of meat fork-tender, too. The water and milk thing was news to me too, but then, my cooker is stainless steel.

Gavin said...

Thanks everyone for you great comments. I think everyone should have a pressure cooker. It is certainly not something to be scared about, and it also makes a cool sound when cooking!


Out Back said...

I have a stainless steel pressure cooker and love it. Like you, my mum uses one of these all the time and I love the flavour of her cooking.

Here is a simple recipe and one of my favourites for the pressure cooker, and easy too! (forgive me if you already have it)


500gms mince, 1 onion finely chopped, pinch mixed herbs and 1/2 cup rice.

In a bowl mix the above ingredients all together (I use my hands, clean of course). Roll into balls and place into pressure cooker with one tin of tomato soup that has been mixed with one tin of water.

Once cooker has reached pressure reduce heat to a gentle sizzle and cook for 20 minutes.


Hope you understand the instructions, this is an "in my head" recipe.

Thanks for sharing the cookbook Heather.

elle pee said...

My stainless steel pressure cooker came with the same seasoning instructions, though I didn't follow them.

I have a whole slew of simple recipes here:

Easy Pressure Cooker Recipes

And more fancy ones too!



hip pressure cooking
making pressure cookers hip again, one recipe at a time!

Heather said...

@ Helen - they're very commonly used in the German-speaking part of Switzerland (maybe the whole country - I have no idea). In German it's called a Dampfkochtopf and any cookware supplier should have one.

Helen said...

To Heather
Thanks for the information. I may have to get a German Friend or my daughter to follow this up as I don't speak German only English and French.

tomgyrll said...

My pressure cooker is made in France. Try here: http://www.seb.fr/tefal/international/index.html

Kristina said...

Never heard of the milk and water boiling preventing stains! My mom swears by her cooker especially when we are throwing dinner for a huge party. Will definitely try your recipe! Thanks

Robin Brown said...

I have used a pressure cooker for years. The two most common dishes are applesauce (peeled and cored apples and 1/2 of water and lots of cinnamon) which only takes 2 minutes at high pressure; and chicken soup.

I put a stewing chicken in with 6 cups of water, onions, and carrots, and some salt. Cook at high pressure for about 20-25 minutes. Cool and pull the chicken out. Debone it and put the bones back into the pot. Cook for another 20 minutes. Strain the broth. Add the reserved chicken, and anything else you like.
(This originally came out of a cookbook but it's such a stable that I don't recall where I got it.) Even my daughter, who is a vegetarian, will eat Mama's chicken broth.

Tiffanyjewelry2 said...

Great things you've always shared with us. Thanks again.

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Gavin, I have my Mom's Mirro-matic cookbooks that came with her pressure cooker/canner. Very useful.

Here is a link to a similar one:

Great post! I love my pressure cooker.

woman with wings said...

Well, there you go. Yesterday I spend 3 hours hovering over the stove making the same stew, pretty much! This piques my interest. Thanks.

Tiffany Jewelry1 said...

I really like your blog.Your post let me know a lot of information and knowledge. Thank you for sharing.

Ray Ban sunglasses said...

Save time .yes.I agree with you .But the first thing i will consider is the safe.thank you .

chicu said...

welcome to pressure cooking! i use mine twice a day (yes, seriously) and it saves fuel and time. and its perfectly safe.