The first time I used my electric pressure cooker, I hit the start button and ran out of the room. Of course I’d read that modern pressure cookers were perfectly safe when used correctly — fear, however, allows no room for logic. My grandmother had once tried pressure-cooking, and I grew up listening to her tell the story of scrubbing tomato sauce off the ceiling after the ill-fated attempt. So I was fairly certain that my pressure cooker would malfunction.
Eighteen months later, my pressure cooker has earned a prized spot on the counter. Today, instead of making me nervous, I speak about it with Oprah-style enthusiasm, “You need a pressure cooker! And you need a pressure cooker! Everybody needs a pressure cooker!” But the biggest change? My slow cooker now sits collecting dust in the basement. Come to think of it, I really should KonMari that bad boy since it no longer brings any joy into my life.
1. It gave me my mornings back.
Slow cookers require that I start dinner as soon as I get up. As much as I tried, I never liked giving precious morning time to dinner prep. There ... I said it. Not even the appeal of coming home to a hot meal could get me to enjoy it. My morning routine already asks a lot of me, so adding even a few minutes of cooking prep to my already-hectic schedule made cooking feel like drudgework. Over time, with the slow cooker, I enjoyed cooking less — not more.
The pressure cooker doesn’t require me to prep dinner in the morning. I can come home, spend a few minutes prepping my meal, and still eat within 30 minutes or so of walking through the door. No more trying to drink coffee and chop onions in the morning!
2. It works with me ... and for me.
The pressure cooker feels like a partner in the kitchen. With the slow cooker, it was always about the slow cooker’s needs. Most slow-cooker recipes require about six hours of cooking — some even less than that. Most of the time, I’m out of the house for 10 hours or more! So even the best recipe often tasted overcooked. While there are strategies and exceptions, the pressure cooker usually beats them out because it works with my schedule.
I don’t have to worry about not getting home in time and having dinner overcook. In fact, many of the meals I like to make during the weeknight need 30 minutes or less (once they reach pressure).
3. It makes the best potatoes.
Time and convenience are great, but if the pressure cooker didn’t crank out tasty food, I’d want nothing to do with it. Nothing proves the tasty-food capability of the pressure cooker quite like the humble potato. Honestly, if the thing only made potatoes, it would be worth the price to me.
You know how when potatoes are cooked just right, they are creamy and dreamy? The pressure cooker does this — every single time. In fact, potatoes made in the pressure cooker are so good that I call them life-changing potatoes. The best part? These life-changing potatoes only take about 10 minutes to make. It works like a charm with any potato.
Last summer, I made several batches of potato salad and actually enjoyed the process because I didn’t have to heat up my kitchen while the potatoes cooked. The potato salad won rave reviews, and my kitchen stayed cool. Wins all around.
Get a Recipe: Pressure-Cooker Potato Risotto
4. It allows me to sauté.
Confession time: I hated sautéing foods for a slow-cooker recipe in a separate pan. It really drove me bonkers. You'd think it was the fact that this step added another dirty pan to the pile, but in reality I hated that the caramelized bits of vegetables and meats that clung to the bottom of the pan didn't always make it into the cooking pot. Even after deglazing the pan, it felt like something got left behind. This is no longer an issue. All of the tasty fond gets cooked in with the dish, where it belongs. Now I have one less pan to clean and a more flavorful dinner. Woo-hoo!
5. It cranks out really good rice.
As a kid, I was allergic to almost everything: dairy, eggs, wheat, nuts, even corn. I was not, however, allergic to rice. My mom took that grain and ran with it. She made batches of chicken-and-rice soup, she mastered risotto, and for the occasional treat, she gave me rice cakes. Yes, you read that right. One of the treats of my childhood were rice cakes. (Back then, flavored rice cakes were not on the market. I ate plain, unsalted rice cakes as a treat.) You’d think I’d be over rice, but I’m not; I still love the stuff.
The pressure cooker can make white and brown rice in about three minutes. But what really gets me excited are the rice-based dishes, like risotto and paella. Last night for dinner I made a pressure-cooker version of chicken street-cart curry. Instead of serving the curry over rice, I cooked the rice along with the chicken, for a one-pot, seven-minute meal. Let’s see a slow cooker do that.