Pressure Cooker Cooking 101

2014 was the year I jumped into pressure cooking and, as I've said before, it's been a complete game changer in terms of getting a tasty dinner on the table fast. In fact, if you are looking for something to put on your Christmas list, I highly recommend an electric version of the pressure cooker, the Instant Pot. In case you're tempted to go small, don't. You'll want the bigger (8 quart) size.

Still, once you get the contraption, you'll have a bit of a learning curve to understand the settings.  For this, I recommend reading the owners manual. I say that recognizing 99% of the time I skip manuals entirely, but for this gadget, I it's best to not go it alone.

This is the case of knowing the rules before you break them...and break them you will.

In fact, in my experience, the "pre-programmed" cooking times on the Instant Pot are too long and usually make the food dry. So if you have a chicken dish and you push the "poultry" button the timer goes on for 15 minutes.  However I find 8 minutes seems to be the magic number (and I base this on other recipes and my own experimentation).

SO, if you're working off a recipe and it says a time that's different than what the pot recommends, go with the recipe and adjust the timing manually on the pot.

Once you feel permission to make adjustments, an entire world opens up!

If you are jumping into a pressure cooking world, it helps to get a basic pressure cooking book. This is the one I use and it's basic enough to cover anything I'm thinking about making, but I find the lack of pictures sad...I mean food is BEAUTIFUL...let's show it off a little!!

In contrast, I drift toward the picture heavy and fabulous America's Test Kitchen Pressure Cooker Perfection. Of course, google is also your friend.  To get you going, here are some of my favorite links...

This summer I was all about the low country boil which took about 5 minutes to throw in the pot - then I set a timer for 4 minutes. Isn't it pretty??

It still takes the pot  30-40 minutes to heat up, but you don’t have to watch it or do anything. Just allow for the lead time in terms of when you’ll actually serve it.

Then there's the super easy rib recipe I blogged on…

I love the honey chicken recipe for weeknights.

And the teriyaki chicken as well...

Caramelized onions because… well, I love me some caramelized onions…

I'll circle back here soon and show you some risotto deliciousness, but until then, one last tip and probably what you should


with (nothing like burying the lead!!!) and that is Eggs!!!

I've previously written about steaming eggs for hard-boiled perfection (here), but then my friend Lisa told me how to do the same thing in the pressure cooker.

Simply put the metal rack on the bottom of the pot,  put in 6-9 eggs (how ever many you need and/or will fit on the rack), pour in a cup of water, then set the timer for 7 minutes.

Release with high pressure then rinse with cold water. The shells peel off like a dream!