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Everything Broad Ripple HomearrowRandom Ripplings Homearrow2006 03 10arrowColumn

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Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v03n05)
Recipes: Then & Now - Pressure Cooking - by Douglas Carpenter
posted: Mar. 10, 2006

Recipes Then and Now header


Pressure Cooking

Those of us who know about the magic performed by a pressure cooker are in on a secret. Those who have never had the opportunity to use one are in for a treat. I hope you get the chance soon.
This method of cooking has been around for more than a century, but the pressure cooker has had a bit of a bad reputation. The cookers had a tendency to, well, explode. The earliest cookers could be quite dangerous. The ones of more recent manufacture, say in the last 50 years, would merely blow a safety plug and spray your dinner all over the kitchen. Not so, today. With today's technology there should be nothing holding you back. And don't think these cookers are complicated - they are so easy to use that there should be one in every kitchen.
What is a pressure cooker? It is a special 4 to 8-quart saucepot. It has a lid that seals tight to hold in steam, which, in turn, builds up pressure. The pressure and high heat generated inside the pot cooks food faster and more efficiently.
Here are some of the benefits of pressure-cooking you should know about. Food cooks up to 70% faster in a pressure cooker, making it a wonderful tool when you have little time to get dinner on the table. You can put ingredients in the pressure cooker and have a home cooked meal everyone will love by the time you finish cleaning up. Due to the shorter cooking time and the fact that food is cooked in less liquid, more vitamins and minerals are retained. Because it is so fast, pressure-cooking uses less energy. This makes it healthier for the Earth as well. Since all the steam and heat stays within the pot, your kitchen stays cooler. Pressure cookers do their cooking in a covered pot, so there are no messy stovetops to clean up and no boiled-over foods.
Two thoughts to keep in mind when using a pressure cooker: First, for extra flavor, brown or sauté foods first, just like you would when cooking with conventional methods. For instance, most meats will benefit from an initial browning before adding liquids and starting the actual cooking. Second, use less liquid than with conventional cooking methods. When cooking under pressure, less liquid evaporates so you don't need as much.
There are not many changes to make when adapting recipes for the pressure cooker. Reducing the amount of liquid is the most important. Just make sure you are using enough liquid to create the steam necessary for proper operation. The easiest way to learn how to use a pressure cooker is to follow recipes written for it. Many are included in the owner's manual which comes with your cooker. As you come to know your cooker, you will be more confident in converting your own recipes to this method.
The recipe below is adapted from recipes found in the instruction manuals for two different cookers - one from a 'Presto' brand from the forties or fifties, and the other a 'MirroMatic' from 1972.


Pressure Cooker Swiss Steak

¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
Dash pepper
1 ½ to 2 lbs round steak, ½ to ¾ inch thick
2 tablespoons oil
2 cans (15 oz.) stewed tomatoes
1 cup water

Mix flour, salt and pepper. Cut steak into serving size pieces and sprinkle liberally with the flour mixture.
Using a meat mallet or the edge of a sturdy saucer, pound in as much of the flour as you can.
Brown the meat in hot oil in cooker. Add tomatoes and water to steak in cooker. Adjust cover and bring to full pressure over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain pressure and cook 30 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow cooker to cool normally for 5 minutes, then place under faucet to bring pressure down to zero. Once you open the cooker, spoon out the tomatoes and thicken the juices for some "tomato gravy".

Recipes: Then & Now - Pressure Cooking - by Douglas Carpenter
image courtesy of Douglas Carpenter
Quan


Recipes: Then & Now - Pressure Cooking - by Douglas Carpenter
image courtesy of Douglas Carpenter
Quan


Recipes: Then & Now - Pressure Cooking - by Douglas Carpenter
image courtesy of Douglas Carpenter
Quan


Recipes: Then & Now - Pressure Cooking - by Douglas Carpenter
image courtesy of Douglas Carpenter
Quan


Recipes: Then & Now - Pressure Cooking - by Douglas Carpenter
image courtesy of Douglas Carpenter
Quan


Recipes: Then & Now - Pressure Cooking - by Douglas Carpenter
image courtesy of Douglas Carpenter
Quan


Recipes: Then & Now - Pressure Cooking - by Douglas Carpenter
image courtesy of Douglas Carpenter
Quan


Recipes: Then & Now - Pressure Cooking - by Douglas Carpenter
image courtesy of Douglas Carpenter
Quan




Douglas Carpenter is an avid recipe and cookbook collector. He has over 400 cookbooks in his library and he has published two cookbooks of locally-collected recipes. He has won sweepstakes and blue ribbons in the Culinary Arts division of the Indiana State Fair. Email your cooking questions to douglas@BroadRippleGazette.com




douglas@broadripplegazette.com
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