Sure, you’ve heard the stories about the explosion in Granny’s kitchen back in 1978. Your dad regaled you with his tales of scraping the liver and onions off the ceiling and the windows when Gran’s pressure cooker went kablooey. You swore you’d never try that in your kitchen.
Well, my friend, put aside your fears along with that scraper and get ready to save money and eat well. I was just like you, unsure about pressure cooking and afraid to try. I got over my fears, and you should, too.
For one thing, pressure cooking isn’t hard at all. I mastered the stove-top pressure cooker in exactly one try after consulting Chef Google for the basics of technique and thoroughly reading the instruction manual. I cooked a pork loin roast to delicious perfection without batting an eye. If you’re squeamish about the whole stove-top thing (cue the flashback to Granny’s horrified face…) you can use an electric pressure cooker, which takes the guess- work out of the process and lets you set it and forget it.
But the real proof is in the paydirt premium. A pressure cooker can save you money in a few different ways.
First off, my pressure cooker helps me with really good home-cooked meals faster than the oven. The pork roast I cooked my first time out was a two-pound roast, and in the oven it would’ve taken about fifty minutes to cook. It took thirty minutes in the pressure cooker and bringing the cooker to pressure took about half the time that preheating the oven takes. Bottom line: I’m a lot less likely to say, “Screw this cooking at home thing. I’m tired and I don’t feel like cooking. Let’s go out to eat.” Some meals that taste delicious–I’m talking about you, pot roast–cook so much faster in a pressure cooker that they are a viable after-work option. I don’t have to wait till my day off to cook this type of meal.
Another way my pressure cooker saves me money is by allowing me to buy cheaper cuts of meat for my main dishes. I scored the pork loin for $1.25 a pound as a loss leader although it’s a fairly tender cut of meat. Most loss leaders are a tougher, cheaper cut than the pork loin. This is where the pressure cooker comes through. Tough cuts of meat emerge from the pressure cooker tender and tasty and absolutely delicious.
Pressure cookers save you money by using less energy than heating up the whole oven. Okay, it’s not a major ka-ching thing, but every little bit helps, right?
I also find that I save money because the pressure cooker helps me to eat real food and cut back on the processed stuff. I can control what I put into my pork roast by seasoning it myself. No strange chemicals injected into my pork roast to enhance flavor–that’s why God made rosemary and sage. My dinner cost less than the fancy pre-packaged version and I controlled the amount of salt. I recognized everything I added to the dish–no diphospate oxide chemicalchloride paste here! My health will ultimately thank me.
I chose the stove-top pressure cooker partly because of its lower cost and partly because I knew that I wouldn’t use most of the features on a multi-cooker. A stove-top pressure cooker is significantly cheaper than an electric pressure cooker (aka Instant Pot or multi-cooker) but if you will use the additional features in the multi-cooker, by all means go for it. A friend with the multi-cooker tells me that she uses it at least three times a week and feels that it was a great investment for feeding her family. She also makes yogurt in hers, and so her kids have breakfast once or twice a week from the multi-cooker, too. More power to them!
So reconsider the generational curse of Granny’s Liver and Onion Explosion. A pressure cooker can save you money and make cooking at home easy and quick.
First-Timer Pork Loin
1 pork loin (mine was about 2 pounds)
1 cup chicken or beef broth
1 tsp. dried rosemary OR 1 tsp sage OR 1/2 tsp of each mixed together
1 tbsp olive oil (canola oil or any other oil you choose will work, too.)
Salt and pepper
Salt and pepper your meat and rub the spices over the surface. Heat the olive oil in the cooker. For stove-top cookers, just use the big pan to brown the meat on your stove. For multi-cookers, use the saute feature. When the meat is browned, set it aside and drain off the oil. Pour the broth into the cooker; if your cooker comes with a trivet, put the trivet into the cooker and rest the meat on top. Put the meat in the cooker and follow your pressure cooker’s instructions for cooking. For the 2-pound roast, my stove-top cooker took 30 minutes; it may take a little longer in the multi-cooker because the stove-top cooker generates a little more pressure than its sophisticated cousin and therefore cooks faster.
You can let the pressure cooker come down to room pressure naturally or–if you’re hungry like I was!–you can run cool water over the stove-top cooker to cool it off quickly. Your multi-cooker will have instructions on how to use the quick-pressure release.
Check the temperature of the meat using a meat thermometer. You’re looking for about 160-165 degrees; the meat may look a little pink at first but if you let it sit for 10 minutes before you carve you’ll find that it cooks a bit more and it’s juicy and tender.
If your meat isn’t done yet, all is not lost. Put it back in, bring the cooker back to pressure, and cook it for another five to ten minutes.
I made some basil carrots–carrots cooked in butter until tender, then sprinkled with basil–as a side dish. Fresh pineapple for dessert made a healthy, really tasty meal.