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Re: pressure cookers (long)

----- Original Message -----
From: Laurie McCullough

> Hi everyone,
> I'm planning to buy a pressure cooker for cooking
> grains and beans,
> but I've never used one before and I'm a bit
> intimidated.
> Can anyone tell me how to use one? Also, do people use
> them
> for making recipes, or mostly for the purposes I have
> in mind?

I am a firm lover of pressure cookers and can't recommend highly enough that
you buy one!  If you buy it new, it will come with a basic instruction
manual which, while it won't give you lots of recipes, will tell you how to
use the thing.  The next thing you should buy is a good comprehensive actual
cookbook for use with a pressure cooker.  Look for one with lots of charts -
you know, times for various things, that sort of thing.  My feeling is that
for a beginner lots of charts are in fact more useful than recipes.  I know
that even now (and I have been using them for more than 10 years) I still
need the basic information.  How long to cook kidney beans...

I can give you a lot of these if you want, but you must remember that "your
mileage may vary", that is to say that the times I give you may be out for
your particular type of cooker.

Oh, IMHO, you don't really need one with all the "bells and whistles".
Pressure cookers, used properly, are actually very safe (urban legends not
withstanding) and so the basic models, while not having all the "safety
features" will do the job very well indeed.

One basic cooking trick which you may not find in a book (except Recipes for
a Small Planet - or was it Diet for a Small Planet?) for cooking the best
ever brown rice is this:

Put the trivet into the cooker.  Add maybe 2 cups water (more or less - this
is the water for steam, not for cooking specifically).  Find a cooker safe
bowl (a metal pudding basin is what I use - make sure that, when the bowl is
sitting on the trivet there is some head room in the cooker with the lid on)
and put in your rice (make sure that the bowl is only about 1/2 full at this
stage - less would be fine) and then pour in boiling water to so that it is
about to your thumb knuckle above the rice.  Give it a bit of a stir.  Put
it into the pot and close the lid.  Bring to pressure and cook for about
20 - 25 minutes (you will get it right with experimentation - the same goes
for the amount of water to rice).  If you have done it properly, when you
open the lid (after safely reducing the pressure under running cold water)
you should find yourself with a bowl of beautifully cooked brown rice - very
tender and not even requiring draining, all the liquid in the bowl should
have been absorbed.


Oh, I tend to use mine the way you have in mind - fast cooking of grains and
beans.  I don't really have enough pressure cooker specific recipes I want
to try in the books I own and I don't really feel the need to make things in
it directly (with the exception of the occasional pot roast or corned beef -
which are not, after all, in the bailiwick of this List)