A grandmother's best-kept secret! Pressure cookers have been around a long time, but most people know very little about them. In fact, many good cooks are actually scared of them. Maybe because of lingering childhood memories of screeching sounds or a kitchen explosion that left dinner splattered on the ceiling. Today’s models—a far cry from those earlier ones—are making a comeback because of the health benefits and because they reduce cooking times by up to 70%.
Modern-day pressure cookers are very safe and no longer subject you to high-pitched screeching or the fear of an explosion. If used properly, it can be an incredible tool in your cooking arsenal. Pressure cookers speed up cooking beans, make a perfect risotto, and more.
A pressure cooker is a sealed environment, so it doesn't allow moisture to evaporate. Ingredients that are full of water, and most of them are, tend to keep more of their native moisture locked inside. Thus, a potato that was pressure-cooked tends to taste more earthy and potato-like. This is true of all root vegetables I've tried cooking this way.
With tough cuts of meats that you would normally braise, pressure cooking will not only cut the time way down, it also tenderizes more deeply using much less liquid. That's part of what makes traditional braising take so long: You have to evaporate a lot of liquid. When using a pressure cooker, you're using only a small amount of cooking liquid, since almost none will evaporate.
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