The Homestead Kitchen:
The following article was originally published in The New Harvest Homestead Newsletter, Lisa Vitello is the editor. During December, Lisa is offering a Christmas Special. If you order a two-year subsciprtion you may give a two year subscription for a friend for free.
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The Versatile Pressure Cooker
Just in case anyone reading this newsletter is under the mistaken assumption that I know how to do absolutely everything homestead related, let me lay that notion to rest right now. I have never used a pressure cooker. (By the way � this is one of the many things I haven't tried yet!). I have always wanted to, I know it's a really good thing to do, but somehow I just haven't gotten around to it yet.
So, I am very thankful for the wonderfully knowledgeable ladies who wrote in to share their pressure cooker expertise. I turn this column over to them. Lisa Vitello, Editor.
Pressure Cooker Testimonial
I have been using the Duromatic line of pressure cookers by Kuhn Rikon (Swiss Co.) for about 15 years. I was quite leery of investing in these expensive cookers since I had had a bad experience with a pressure cooker blowing up with beet juice and making a mess in my kitchen. Also, there was the constant replacement of gaskets, etc.
But, the demo was impressive so I invested and have never looked back. My high quality pressure pans are my pans of choice for cooking almost anything in my house. I cook almost all my vegetables in them because it saves so much time.
For example, broccoli is done in two minutes, potatoes in 5-10 minutes depending on whether quartered or whole. Brown rice takes 20 minutes. Kidney beans, if soaked ahead of time, take 8-10 minutes depending on how old they are.
Pot roast is moist, tender and delicious in about an hour. I like to do soups and broth in the cookers because, again, I save so much time without using questionable microwave technology.
I have never had a return of these pans in 12 years from a dissatisfied pressure cooker owner or found anything to be defective about them either. Truthfully, I think this is the only product we offer that has never had a return. Most people just tell me how much they love their pressure cooker and wonder how they ever lived without one.
In Europe, South America and other countries, most people have several pressure pans in order to save on energy expenses, which is becoming a bit of an issue here in the states as well. I have two pressure pans since I was without a microwave for many years.
Lastly, I think the Duromatics are superior to other pressure pans in that they more accurately tell you when full pressure is reached and cooking time can be accurately determined. There is no hissing or noise as in the older weighted gauge cookers either. Here is a testimonial:
Years ago, I was helping cook a banquet for 80 people. I cooked baby carrots in my pressure cooker for 4 minutes and they came out perfect. My friend cooked baby carrots in her pressure cooker, but she couldn't determine when the pressure was reached accurately enough and ended up with all her carrots turning to mush.
I can't recommend these Duromatics and pressure cooking too highly for those who are interested in better health and whole foods.
The New York Times called the Duromatic Line the Mercedes Benz of pressure cookers.
Here is a favorite pressure cooker soup that can easily be made in a stock pot:
Potato Cauliflower Soup
This recipe is fast and easy and often requested
4 medium potatoes, quartered
2 onions, quartered
1 head cauliflower, cut up
2 cups water or chicken broth (homemade is best)
2 cups milk, water or broth
1 TBS. Spike (vegetable seasoning)
1 8oz. cream cheese, diced
? to ? cup butter
salt and pepper to taste
Combine vegetables with water or chicken broth in a 5 quart or larger Duromatic TM pressure cooker and bring veggies to a boil and allow pressure to stabilize at the second red ring for 5 minutes, then allow pressure to drop naturally. (Remove pressure cooker from the heat). When the pressure is off, puree the vegetable mixture with a potato masher or use a blender. Add 2 more cups of milk, water or broth, diced cream cheese and butter over medium heat and stir until cheese and butter are melted. Add the Spike, salt and pepper to taste, if desired. This recipe can also be done in an 8 qt. stock pot by bringing the veggies and broth to a boil, and simmer vegetables until potatoes are soft, about 15-20 minutes.
Serve with homemade muffins!
Pressure Cooker Practice at a Titus 2 Meeting
This contribution is from my good friend, Karrie. She was a long time participant in our Titus 2 meetings until she moved 300 miles away (sniff!). After settling in to her new home and making a few friends, she bravely stepped out and held her own Titus 2 meeting! Her practical lesson was showing the ladies how to use a pressure cooker. Isn't that great?!
When I held my first Titus 2 Meeting, I showed the ladies how I make refried beans and shredded beef for burritos in my pressure cooker.
The beans are easy. First you soak the beans. I use the quick-soak method. This involves boiling the beans for a couple of minutes and then letting them sit in the water, covered, for about an hour. Drain the beans, add a few more cups of water, bring to pressure and cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Saut� garlic and onions in oil, add the cooked beans and stir until creamy. Add enough chicken broth (homemade, of course!) to thin it out � otherwise it is like brick mortaryes, I know this from experience.
For the shredded beef, I just throw in chunks of stew meat (about 1" cubes) with some salt, pepper, cumin and garlic and bring to pressure, lower the heat and cook for about 20 minutes. Let it cool and then shred. Sometimes after I shred it I mix in some canned red enchilada sauce.
After I made this, we all sat down and ate dinner together. It was fun!
Put one large can pineapple juice and pork in the pressure cooker. I usually use the pork roasts that come in packages of three at Costco, and cut one up in chunks. You can also use country style pork ribs. Bring to pressure and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until tender. It will mostly depend on how big your pieces of meat are. Release pressure, discard juice and remove pork to a baking dish. Cover pork with a good barbeque sauce, like KC Masterpiece. Bake in a 350� oven for 5-10 minutes. Sometimes I like to broil it for a minute so the sauce gets thick and glaze-like. You can eat in chunks with rice or you can shred it and put on sandwich rolls.
My Beef Stew
I cut stew meat into bite sized chunks and brown in oil in the pressure cooker. Add about 2 TBS. of flour, along with some salt and pepper and stir around. Add liquid to cover meat well. Bring to pressure and time for about 20 minutes (depending on the size of the chunks of meat). Instantly release pressure. Add cut up veggies like potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, mushroom, green beans and whatever else you like. Add any flavorings you like, such as garlic, red pepper flakes or sauces. Check to see if you need any more liquid � you don't need to cover those veggies with liquid. Bring to pressure and cook another 8 minutes. Release pressure and its done. If there is too much liquid, you can thicken it with some flour or cornstarch, or just serve it with some good, crusty bread to soak it up.
2 lbs. ground beef
1 cup uncooked rice
2 TBS. minced onion
2 tsp. salt
? tsp. pepper
1 crushed garlic clove
1 jar spaghetti sauce
Combine everything but the sauce. Form into balls. Pour sauce into pressure cooker. Drop meatballs in cooker. Bring to pressure and cook for 7 minutes. Let cool a few minutes and then quick release under cold water.
I do my mashed potatoes in the pressure cooker. I just quarter the potatoes; add some water or broth and salt. I bring to pressure and cook for about 8 minutes. Then, I drain the liquid and add the butter, milk and use a potato masher. I also like to cook a whole chicken with herbs and veggies. Then, I have chicken for soup, casserole, chicken salad and I have broth to put in the freezer for later use.
I have had a pressure cooker for about a year and what I do is not necessarily "fancy". I cook basic ingredients that I can use in other dishes. My main trick is to steam rice in mine. It takes literally 8 minutes from start to finish!
I also just put a whole chicken in my pot, fresh or frozen, and let it pressure cook. It takes about 20 minutes. I have cheated about letting beans soak overnight. Once, when I wanted to make chili and I forgot until the last minute, I put all the ingredients in the pot and pressure cooked it and it turned out great!! We needed Beano on the table, since I didn't soak the beans beforehand and pour out the water. I wouldn't necessarily recommend this, but it turned out fine for us.
The neat thing about my pressure cooker is, although I never thought I would use it, I actually use it all the time. I also use it as a regular pan, without the lid. It was not inexpensive by any means, but it's the best pot I have, with or without the pressure lid!
Pressure Cooker Rice
2 cups white rice (Basmati or Jasmine works well)
3-4 cups water (depending on how "wet" you like your rice)
Put rice in the pressure cooker with the water. If I'm feeling tricky, I'll replace some or all of the water with chicken stock and add a little garlic or other favorite spices. Put the cooker on the stove and lock it shut. Cook it on the second or higher pressure for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let the pressure come down naturally (about 10 minutes total).
Option: Sometimes I use a wee bit of saffron in the rice when I can get a hold of it. I use chicken stock, a little garlic and leftover meat from previous dishes. Add some cut up vegetables and shrimp if you have it and, VOILA! � you have Paella, a traditional Hispanic dish. My husband is Hispanic and LOVES the stuff!
Serves 6 with leftovers
Pressure Cooker Chicken
This could not be any easier. Put a whole chicken fryer in a 5 qt. or larger pressure cooker. If you have fresh herbs, now is a great time to use them! I put a couple of fresh rosemary sprig, or sage leaves, and half of an onion in the cavity of the chicken. For a real one dish meal, cut up some carrots, and other veggies and add them around the chicken. Add ? cup water to the bottom. If your cooker comes with a steaming plate, use it to lift the chicken off of the bottom. If the chicken is fresh, pressure cook it on the second or higher pressure for about 20-25 minutes, then take it off of the heat and let is rest until the pressure comes down naturally. If it is frozen, it may take about 45 minutes of cooking, which means you need to watch the heat a little more often so that the pressure doesn't get too high. This amount of time usually works well, but depending on your source of heat (electric, gas, etc.) the times may vary. Always go by what the manufacturer says. That is just what works well with mine in the altitude, etc.
My pressure cooker has become my lifesaver! I have four children and we got rid of our microwave about a year ago. I've canned jam in it, made soup, rice, beans, roasts, chicken, sauceanything! Mind is a very large one that was given to me, so I like it better than the crock pot as it is faster and holds more. I think everyone should have one! LOL!
Mrs. Sue Gorecki
Buying a Used Pressure Cooker
I have picked up most of my pressure cookers from thrift shops for about $3.00. I always replace the gasket and air vent, which usually come together in one package at the hardware store. Handles, pressure regulators and other parts can usually be bought from the company that made the cooker. For Presto pans, the address for replacement parts is:
National Presto Industries, Inc.
Consumer Service Dept.
3925 North Hastings Way
Eau Claire, WI 54703-3703
Presto also has a good book for older pressure cookers called Replacement Instruction Book for Older Pressure Cookers. Since it is very important to read the manual before you use your pressure cooker, be sure to ask for one from the manufacturer if you buy a used pan.
Ed Note: Many older pressure cookers are made of aluminum. Buyer beware.
Part One of When Fear Meets Faith is found at this link
Part Two of When Fear Meets Faith is available at this link.