Some folks worry that pressure cookers might be dangerous. Take it from me, the only real danger is that people are missing out on all the benefits a pressure cooker can offer in your home kitchen.

Today, modern pressure cookers are made to be very safe and reliable. They have multiple safety features, improved vent systems and pressure-release valves that are 100-percent safe. These new pressure cookers are made of stainless steel with thick three-ply bottoms that prevent foods from burning and help food cook and brown evenly.

Using a pressure cooker can cut your time by 70 percent. Imagine making chicken stock in 30 minutes instead of five hours, beef stew in 15 minutes instead of 2½ hours, fluffy brown rice in 15 minutes instead of 50 minutes, creamy risotto in seven minutes instead of 40 minutes — and no stirring. You can also make a lot of delicious desserts, such as cheesecake, in 30 minutes.

Now you will not only have more time in your life but also more money in your bank account; a pressure cooker uses one-third of the energy of normal cooking methods, making it very green for our planet.

Other benefits of pressure cooking are healthy and low-fat cooking. The pressure cooker uses very little liquid, and because it’s a “closed system,” vitamins and minerals are retained during cooking. It also doesn’t require that you use olive oil because of its no-stick bottom. The pressure cooker can build up pressure and create 250 degrees of cooking temperature, whereas regular cooking methods heat up to 212 degrees.

Flavor is also better achieved in using the pressure cooker because ingredients under all that pressure help intensify and keep the natural flavors of food. Tougher meats will be more tender, vegetables retain their freshness and brightness of color — food is just more appealing and healthier under pressure.

So how do you know what pressure cooker to buy? There are several brands to choose from, so take some time to evaluate the many models on the market. The larger size 9-quart is great for canning, the 7- and 8-quart sizes are great for soups, stews and desserts. The 4- and 6-quart are great for making vegetables and grains.

Braised Short Ribs

Serves 4

  • 4 meaty beef short ribs (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • ½ large onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, diced
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in pressure cooker over medium heat. Add short ribs in batches, and brown evenly about 10 minutes. Remove to a plate. Add onion, garlic and rosemary to pressure cooker, and cook over medium high heat for about 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add tomato paste, red wine and beef stock, and whisk to combine. Add beef short ribs back to the pressure cooker and bring up to a boil, lock pressure cooker lid in place, and cook for 30 minutes under high pressure (15 psi or second ring). Use the quick-release method (running edge of pressure cooker lid under cold water until pressure value is released), and open lid to check if meat is tender and falling off the bone. Take out beef ribs and put on a plate. Empty sauce into a food processor and puree. Add sauce back to the pressure cooker and bring to a boil. If sauce is not thick enough, make a slurry of 1 tablespoon of cold water to 1 tablespoon cornstarch and make a paste; add to the sauce a little at a time to desired thickness.

Risotto with Peas and Porcini Mushrooms

Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ small onion, finely diced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 4 dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2¼ cups of chicken stock
  • ¼ white wine
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In the pressure cooker over medium-high heat, add olive oil. Saute onion and shallot for about 5 minutes or until translucent. Add rice and lightly brown. Add frozen peas, mushrooms and stock, wine and stir well. Lock lid in place and bring to high pressure (second ring) and then lower heat and cook for 7 minutes. Use the quick-release method (running edge of pressure cooker lid under cold water until pressure value is released). Stir in parmesan cheese, butter and pepper, and let sit until cheese melts. Serve immediately in bowls.

View Original Article from the Times Herald-Record