By raising the temperature inside the sealed pot above the boiling point of water – to around 250 degrees Fahrenheit – a pressure cooker can quickly steam Swiss steak to a succulent tenderness. Known for cutting cooking time down by three to 10 times when compared to regular methods, pressure cookers are the busy chef’s answer to a quick and delicious meal.
Inspect the vent pipe before using the pressure cooker. Hold it up to the light, and peer through the hole. If it is blocked, use a pipe cleaner or wire to remove any debris.
Sear the steak (and optional diced onions and celery) on both sides in a small amount of oil in the uncovered pressure cooker to seal in the juices. Add seasonings such as salt and pepper, garlic powder or lemon pepper.
Cover the steak with 1 1/2 cups of liquid. You can use water, beef bouillon, tomato sauce, or a combination of the three. Reduce the salt if using bouillon.
Lock the lid in place by rotating the pressure cooker's handle or handles clockwise until they are lined up correctly.
Place the pressure regulating weight on top of the vent pipe, pushing it into place with light pressure, until it is seated, or until it snaps into place, depending on your cooker’s design.
Turn the heat to high and leave it there until pressure builds up inside of the cooker and the pressure regulator starts to jiggle.
Reduce the heat to medium or medium-high to maintain a steady stream of pressure release. Cook a 2-pound, 1-inch thick Swiss steak to well-done in about 18 minutes. Begin timing when the pressure regulator jiggles and a steady stream of steam is being released.
Move the cooker to a sink when the steak is done, running cold water over the lid until the pressure drops and the handle’s locking device releases. This takes about one minute. Slide the handle or handles open.
- If this is your first time using the pressure cooker, pull the sealing ring from the inside of the cover. Wash both the ring and the cover in soapy water before replacing the sealing ring in the cover, carefully fitting it under the lock pin and any tabs.
- If the steak isn’t done to your liking, simply lock the lid back in place and cook it for an additional one to two minutes.
- After every use, remove and wash the sealing ring in hot soapy water. Never put it in the dishwasher.
- Replace the sealing ring every two years, or sooner if it is cracked or pitted or has lost its flexibility.
- To avoid clogging the vent pipe and building up excess pressure, never fill the pressure cooker more than two-thirds full.
- Never force the lid open; wait until the air vent lock releases.
Suzanna Didier's work appears in online publications including the National Geographic website, SFGate and Local.com. She is an avid cook who lives on a hobby farm, direct-markets organic produce to local restaurants and has taught at the preschool, elementary and college levels. Didier holds a Master of Arts in education from the University of Oregon.