Pressure cookers are probably one thing more people have told me they have but never use or are afraid to use. I started using pressure cookers about 12 years ago and I must say it is one tool I consider a must-have in my kitchen. I love it because it’s fast, it’s safe and the flavour of the food is amazing, all perfect qualities for when you’re short of time.
I have used several different kinds but I like the new generation of pressure cookers and the more versatile the better! The BRK set has it all. Two sizes of pans, two glass lids for regular cooking and one pressure lid that fits both pans. What is great about these pots is that you can take your everyday recipes and, as long as you follow a few simple rules, make your own recipe in a fraction of the time and, believe it or not, more flavourful. Two foods I always do in the pressure cooker are my spaghetti sauce and what we call “Sunday” soup. Both are my regular recipes but done in the pressure cooker they have a whole lot more flavour. The conversion process is not too difficult but a pressure cooker recipe book does come in handy for some guidelines on timing.(My favourite is 2oo Best Pressure Cooker Recipes.) To show you how simple it is to use the pressure cooker I’ve prepared my spaghetti sauce in a BRK pressure cooker.
It starts with ground beef in the bottom of the pressure cooker and I simply brown it. I add a bit of salt, but less than usual because the flavours, especially spices, are enhanced in the pressure cooker. You can always add more later if needed. Next I chop up some onions and garlic, and if I have some, celery too. These get added to the browning beef. I also add about 1 1/2 tbsp of Garlicky Italian Seasoning by the Garlic Box. As you may know, this is my go-to seasoning! Everything is stirred together until the onions have begun to soften. Next I add canned,diced tomatoes. If I have border line tomatoes in my fridge, they go in, or tomato juice that needs to be used up, this is a chance to clean up anything tomato based.Everything is given one final stir and the lid is locked. The BRK pressure lid springs open and when you push down on it, it snaps and locks in place. The first safety feature. I then turn the pressure valve to the number 2 (high) setting. This means it will cook at a higher pressure setting, this is the setting I always use. This valve is the second safety feature. Steam will escape through the valve if the pressure gets too high. Now the burner is turned onto high because we want to get this up to pressure as quickly as possible. The red pressure indicator is down as shown in the picture below. Because I had already been browning in the pan it does not take long for the pan to come to pressure. The red pressure indicator pops up as shown below. And now the timing begins. All pressure cooker recipes start timing from this point, as soon as pressure is reached. I always set a timer, and in this case, for 10 minutes. And the burner is turned down to medium. The pan will maintain pressure. No spitting noises, just quietly cooking. If you hear steam escaping at this point it means the heat can be turned down even more. The pressure indicator is also a safety feature as steam will escape through it if the pressure starts to get too high. The lid also has a rubber gasket which seals the pan but also acts as a safety feature and allows steam to escape through it as well. After 10 minutes the timer goes off and I turn the burner off. I will often wait about 5 minutes and then turn the pressure valve to zero. Steam immediately escapes as the pressure is released. You know the pressure is completely released when the red pressure indicator drops. Then and only then is it safe to remove the lid. I taste the sauce, if it needs a bit more seasoning now is the time to add it. If the sauce is a little thin I thicken it with a tablespoon of cornstarch dissolved in cold tap water, stirring it in very quickly. The sauce is perfect and ready for pasta!