Pressure Cookers Are Back!
Thanks to high-quality materials and a bevy of safety features, the leaky valves, noisy shakes and rattles, and complicated locking mechanisms of old-school pressure cookers are ancient history.
Pressure-cooking is one of the quickest ways to cook, giving you slow-cooked savory flavors without the slow-cooked time. They save time and energy because they cook 30 to 40 degrees hotter than water's boiling point, with 8 to 15 pounds per square inch (psi) of pressure, transforming foods that ordinarily take hours to prepare into flavorful meals in a matter of minutes. Don't believe me? We made a pot of classic red beans in just 15 minutes of hands-on cooking time*.
*Yes, you still have to soak your beans—our testing proved it made the best pot of beans. Our time-crunch solution is to drop the beans into a big bowl of water before you head to work. When you get home, drain the beans, and start pressure cooking.
Pressure Cooker Red Beans Makes 6 to 8 servings Hands-on 15 min. Total 9 hours
While this quick recipe features only 15 minutes of hands-on cooking time, you'll want to factor in an extra 20 minutes to release the pressure once the beans are cooked. Grating the andouille sausage increases the surface area and distributes its flavor better than slicing it.
- 1 (16-oz.) package dried red kidney beans
- 1 (5-oz.) andouille sausage
- 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper (optional)
- 1 (10-oz.) package frozen diced onion, red and green bell peppers, and celery
- 1 Tbsp. jarred ham soup base
- 1 tsp. hot sauce
1. Place beans in a large bowl, and cover with water 2 inches above beans. Cover and chill 8 hours; drain.
2. Cut sausage in half lengthwise; cut each piece in half crosswise. Grate cut sides of sausage using the large holes of a box grater into a bowl, discarding casing. Sauté grated sausage in hot oil in a 6-qt. pressure cooker over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes or until just browned. Add garlic, next 2 ingredients, and, if desired, red pepper, and sauté 1 minute or until fragrant. Add onion mixture and ham base, and sauté 3 to 4 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in beans and 3 cups water. (Do not fill pressure cooker more than two-thirds full.)
3. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cover pressure cooker with lid, and lock. Cook until pressure indicator reaches HIGH pressure (15 psi). Maintain pressure, reducing heat as needed, and cook 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and let stand until indicator shows no pressure. Once pressure is fully released, unlock and remove lid. Gently mash some of the beans, if desired. Stir in hot sauce; add salt to taste.
Three Pressure Cookers to Try
For the Budget-Minded: Fagor Cayenne Pressure Cooker; 6-qt., $119.99; fagoramerica.com Easy to use and set up with a simple operating valve allowing you to select HIGH (15 psi) or LOW (8 psi) before the pressure cooker goes on the stove, so all you have to do is wait for the pressure indicator to pop up. Fagor also has one of the best quick-pressure-release mechanisms we've tested. Just turn to the steam icon, and the pressure cooker empties the pressure on its own. Very convenient.
For the Family: Fissler Vitaquick 6.4-qt., $249.95; crateandbarrel.comThis top-notch pressure cooker features solid construction, an easy-to-open-and-close lid, and a bright blue pressure indicator that's easy to see cross the kitchen. It's also is the quietest unit we tested. Southern Living photographer and busy dad Robbie Caponetto tried it out, and we had a hard time getting it back. "I can't believe I can make spaghetti meat sauce in 15 minutes. It's become a kitchen essential," he said. And a Test Kitchen favorite.
For the Experienced Cook: Kuhn Rikon Duromatic Pressure Cooker; 6-qt., $230; amazon.com This unit gives precise control when under pressure, allowing you to easily dial in HIGH or LOW pressure. The model comes with dual automatic pressure release for normal and rapid release. We love the multiple safety features, detailed manual, and smart phone app that features a timer and cooking guides. While it's a bit more technical and pricey than other models, it's well worth the cash. This is the one I use in my home kitchen.