We spoke to head chef Philip Verden of the Lord Poulett Arms, Hinton St. George, about the queries and questions surrounding the pressure cooker…
“If you are using a pressure cooker for the first time the first thing that you need to address is safety, although today’s pressure cookers are very safe and user-friendly. Gone are the days of watching mum pull out this huge silver pan that would wobble and hiss on the stove on Christmas day, a dancing weight on top, controlling the pressure – never knowing if it’s going to blow! So, when using for the first time, read the instructions and check any seals for faults. A leaky pressure cooker can be very messy and would certainly paint your ceiling in sauce if it leaked at full pressure.
For the first dish to cook, start safe and cook your favourite stew. Using smaller pieces of meat you will be amazed at the speed of cooking and the flavour difference. When you have mastered your first cook the confidence and convenience will push you on to more exciting dishes.
There are so many benefits to using a pressure cooker. Firstly, food will cook 57% faster in a pressure cooker. The biggest benefit is speed, you can quite easily cook a hearty family stew in 35 minutes, rice in 6 minutes or confit a duck leg for a party in 40 minutes.
Then there is the texture. You achieve the most tender meat that falls apart every time – as the pressure increases the boiling point of water, the meat can’t dry out – but for me, it’s the flavour. Being sealed until the pressure cooking traps in all the aromatic flavours, and because cooking time is so short you can still taste all the elements of the dish.
In my kitchen, I mainly use the pressure cooker for the tougher cuts of meat, the working parts like shoulder, shin, legs, or my favourite brisket. It’s what it does best, but it can do so much more.
My favourite cut to pressure cook has to be Beef Brisket – it makes for a rich stew but I prefer to make a spicy Chilli Con Carne, with authentic chunks of Brisket. The rich sweetness of the tomatoes and hits from chilli, cumin and cinnamon are not lost in the pressure cooker.”