Meals cooked in a pressure cooker are ready in one-half to one-third the time of other cooking methods. Cooking under pressure allows the food to retain nutrients and results in more robust flavors. The faster cooking time and flavorful meals make the pressure cooker a go-to appliance for main dishes, side dishes or all-in-one meals. Because vegetables retain their color when cooked in a pressure cooker, the meal also has a hearty presentation at the table. This is good news for busy moms who need to put appealing food on the table fast to satisfy their hungry family.
Cook soups in a pressure cooker for a simmered-all-day flavor. Add the soup ingredients, including seasonings such as dry dressing mix, and then add liquid to the maximum fill line for your pressure cooker. Cook under full pressure for 10 minutes; or according to Julia Child, cook under full pressure for five minutes, remove the pressure and simmer the soup for 15 or 20 minutes for full, rich flavor. Soup made in the pressure cooker is an economical way to use up surplus or left-over vegetables.
Meats that might otherwise be tough come out fork-tender when cooked in a pressure cooker. Inexpensive meats make good choices for pressure-cooker favorites like pot roast and beef stew. Mix dry dressing and seasoning mix with flour, flour the meat and then brown it in a hot skillet. Add the meat to the pressure cooker along with vegetables and enough liquid to last during the cooking time. Seasoned flour adds a burst of flavor as it thickens the cooking liquid into gravy. Beef stew takes as little as 20 minutes at full pressure and a pot roast takes about an hour.
Rice and Grains
Add a tablespoon of butter or oil to the pressure cooker when making rice or grains in the pressure cooker. The fat reduces the amount of foaming that naturally occurs during cooking. White rice takes about 10 minutes and brown rice about 30 minutes in the pressure cooker. Grains such as barley or wheat berries can be toasted first before adding to the pressure cooker for a more robust taste. Gravy-laden food such as beef stew or creamy chicken makes a satisfying meal when served over rice or rice and grain mixes.
As with rice and grains, add a tablespoon of butter or oil to the pressure cooker to prevent foaming when cooking beans. Beans destined for the pressure cooker don't need to be pre-soaked, so serving up a meal with beans as a main dish or a side dish can be part of spur-of-the-moment meal planning. Don't add salt or seasoning mix to the pressure cooker, however. Seasoning mix may contain salt, and salt added to the cooking liquid hardens the bean's shell and prevents it from getting soft. Season the beans after they are cooked.