There’s something inherently reassuring about slow-cooking a hearty pot roast and watching it gently simmer away for hours in the oven as its delicious mouth-watering aroma fills the air. It heightens the anticipation and elevates your culinary experience when you finally sit to devour your meal.
But, what if you could achieve the same delicious results in a fraction of the time? Well, you can. A pressure cooker would effectively reduce the cooking time from 3-plus hours to a mere 35 minutes (40 tops!) while preserving all the nutrients, succulence, and the delicious flavor that is synonymous with perfectly cooked meat.
If you’re wondering how to use a pressure cooker for meat, then you've come to the right place. Here are some pro tips you can use to get the most out of your culinary experience.
This first tip may sound like a no-brainer, but you'll be surprised by the number of people who simply believe that their pressure cooker is only good for boiling rice, beans, and other whole grains. However, depending on the model you have, these kitchen must-haves are capable of so much more.
The Mueller UltraPot 6Q Pressure Cooker, for instance, has a “sauté” function that is perfect for searing meat. Depending on how dark you want it, you can adjust the temperature levels to “normal,” “more,” or “less” for a regular, dark and light brown sear respectively. To avoid pressure buildup during the searing process, ensure that the lid remains open at all times.
Check to see that the unit you’re using in mint condition. Always ensure that none of the vents have any blockage in them and that the rubber gasket is flexible. This is important for making certain that all the steam gets trapped when you start pressure cooking.
Once you’re sure that your pressure cooker is ready for use, you need to prepare your meat. Always refer to the cooking guide that came with your pressure cooker. It has lots of handy information about the different ways to prepare various kinds of food.
With that said, if you’re preparing meat and poultry, ensure that you marinade and season it before you place it in the cooker. To enhance the flavor, always start by browning the meat before you cook it through. Do this by placing a little oil in the cooker and sear it using a medium-high temperature.
As mentioned before, you should keep the lid off during this process. If you’d rather not use this method to sear your meat, you could always brown it on a hot pan before transferring to the pressure cooker.
The Ninja OP301 pressure cooker also comes with a steamer basket, which is perfect for cooking seafood in. Simply add a little vegetable oil in the basket and a sufficient amount of water in the pot. Refer to the user manual for your particular model to determine the precise amount of water you need to add for your pressure cooking meals.
Once you’ve sufficiently browned your meat or poultry using the pressure cooker (or otherwise), proceed to add in the required amount of liquid required to cook the meat. Remove the safety valve (or weighted pressure regulator if you’re using an older model) and put the lid on the pot.
Twist it to ensure that it is locked and sealed. If you're using a first or second-generation pressure cooker, move it to the stovetop and set the heat to maximum. But, if you’re using an electric pressure cooker like the Breville Fast Slow Multi-Function Cooker, select the “pressure cook” dial to start the cooking process.
As the temperature continues to rise, the pressure will also gradually increase. Once the pressure limit is reached, the food will start to simmer.
If you’re using a stovetop pressure cooker, ensure that you use an accurate timer to know when to take the cooker off the heat once the meat is ready. For electric pressure cookers, you can set the cooking time on the built-in timer itself.
The Zavor LUX 6 Quart Programmable Electric Multi-Cooker comes with a chip that contains the standard cooking settings for different recipes. So all you have to do is set it for steak, chicken, or fish and let it do the rest.
If you’re making a beef stew, once it’s cooked halfway through, safely release the pressure, and proceed to add any other ingredients you want to include. For instance, if you’re preparing a pot roast, this would be the ideal time to add in your potatoes and carrots, and then bring the food back under pressure.
Timing is crucial when cooking meat. If you overcook it, everything turns to mush, which is probably not the result you were going for.
Once the cooking time is up, you need to safely release the steam. For stovetop pressure cookers, there are three ways to do this.
You can take it off the heat and allow it to release pressure naturally in its own time. You can also use a pair of oven gloves to turn the pressure-release valve and allow the hot steam to rush out. You could also run cold water over the hot cooker to hasten the pressure-release process.
Electric cookers like the Gourmia Digital Multi-Functional Pressure Cooker have two pressure release mechanisms. You could use the natural-release method where no intervention is required on your part.
Alternatively, you could use the quick-release method where you turn the pressure-release switch from the “sealing” to the “venting” position. This allows steam to escape quickly the moment cooking time ends.
Pressure cookers are invaluable in the kitchen when it comes to braising, stewing, and tenderizing hard chunks of meat. The best part about it is that you get the same slow-cooking results in a fraction of the time.
Electric pressure cookers, however, have a slight edge over their stovetop counterparts since they don’t need nearly as much supervision. Now that you know how to use a pressure cooker for meat, it's time to find the perfect one to fit your lifestyle. Then you can sit back and watch the time and money savings trickle in.