I don’t have a wife. Or a clone. But gracious, wouldn’t it be lovely? Instead, I have a 6 litre, dark and squat hissing pot.
There’s a reason Juanita Phillips titled her memoir ‘A Pressure Cooker Saved My Life: How To Have It All, Do It All And Keep It All Together‘. I became smitten with this saintly device when I was sandwiched between a book deadline, a wakeful baby and searching for easy ways to cook pulses from scratch.
Why? They’re cheaper than canned and often you end up with a superior texture. From there, I was hooked. Please don’t fret, modern versions of these devices don’t explode on a stovetop, they just cook things very swiftly, maximising flavour and hands on time. So here are ten reasons why a $90, retro cooking device might be the best purchase you make this year.
1) Home made bone broth in one hour.
When we’re not smugly sipping green smoothies, every health conscious hipster worth their Murray River salt is busy stocking up on bone broth. It’s renowned for its anti inflammatory healing properties. You could balance your pot of on the hob for 24 hours to get the best out of your bones. Or you could tumble the leftover roast carcasses from where they’ve lain dormant in your freezer straight into your pressure cooker. Add cold water to 2/3 of the way up the pot, a tablespoon of vinegar, two carrots and a halved peeled onion and cook for one hour (the longer you cook it the more intensely flavoured it will be- you can cook it for up to three hours). Strain the stock and cool. It will keep for up to five days in the fridge, or freeze in portions. Sip it as is or use it as a base for vegetable packed soups.
2) Hands free cooking.
Since the maillard reaction which browns meats and boosts their flavour also takes place at the intensely high temperatures generated inside a pressure cooker, you can still end up with a sterling ragu if you lob your protein and aromatics inside the cooker with a cup of broth or wine. Which means you can use your hands to do many other things beyond babysitting pieces of meat in a pan.
3) Better beans.
If there’s an unsung hero of a low GI diet it’s pulses. They’re thrifty, sustaining, stand in easily for white carbs and soak up other flavours beautifully. Cooking them from their dried state means you get princely creamy beans for a pauper’s price. Cook a batch of cannellini beans or black beans in bulk for a head start on fish cakes for dinner, cannellini bean, artichoke and parmesan dip to have with drinks, or baked Mexican eggs for Sunday brunch.
4) Quick pulses.
A pressure cooker is a quick solution to the last minute realisation that ‘the vegans are coming for lunch’. You can have a spiced, protein packed dahl or Turkish red lentil soup on the table in ten minutes.
5) Easy washing up.
The cooking bowl of an electric pressure cooker weighs a fraction of what a ceramic slow cooker insert does. Which may not mean much until you drop one on your big toe.
6)Bulk cook with ease.
Pressure cooking makes it a doddle to cook in bulk. It easily tenderises bulky, cheaper secondary cuts of meats like lamb shanks and beef shins which traditionally take all day. Make big batches of your favourites and store them away in well marked containers in the freezer for a rainy day. Your future harried self will thank you.
7) Silently self contained.
An electric model will sit quietly on the bench when it’s finished. (Time to insert perhaps the greatest #firstworldwhinge on the internet, but the dinging jangle of a thermomix that’s completed cooking can be maddening when you’re a) stuck on a conference call b) in another room trying to settle a baby, or c) do both at the same time).
9) The novelty factor.
Like most new pieces of kitchen tech it will open up whole new avenues of cooking. Like rice-less risotto, made from sunflower seeds made in 25 minutes.
10) The energy equation.
Not only does it mean on scorching days you won’t be victim to the latent heat from the oven, but its drastically reduced cooking times mean less of strain on your energy bill. Win, win.
For recipes for baked Mexican eggs, cannellini bean, parmesan and artichoke dip, ultimate dal, Turkish red lentil soup and other recipes which make heroes out of low GI foods like pulses, check out Tori’s book ‘Cut the Carbs! 100 recipes to help you ditch white carbs and feel great’
For the ultimate guide to pressure cooking, see Suzanne Gibbs’ 'The Pressure Cooker Recipe Book'
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