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Archive for Wednesday, January 14, 1998

COOKING UNDER PRESSURE MEANS ATTENTION TO DETAILS

January 14, 1998

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Cooking Q&A with Susan Krumm

When using my pressure cooker is it OK to release the pressure after cooking by tipping the pan on its side and allowing the pressure to escape through the vent pipe?

No! No! No! Although it is easy to use pressure cookers to save time in the kitchen, we need to respect how the method works. Here's how a pressure cooker works: When water (or any liquid) boils, it produces steam. A tightly sealed pressure cooker traps this steam, which then builds pressure inside the cooker. Under pressure, cooking temperatures can be raised significantly higher than possible under normal conditions. If you are using 10 pounds of pressure, the temperature inside the cooker raises to 240 degrees, 28 degrees above boiling point. The super-heated steam created by these higher temperatures cooks food quickly, but can become unsafe if directions are not followed correctly.

These five steps can serve as a simple guide to using a pressure cooker. They are not intended, however, to replace the manufacturer's instructions which accompany your pressure cooker.

1. Check the recipe for specific cooking method and cooking time. Pour the required amount of liquid into the pressure cooker, then add food. Use the cooking rack if desired.

2. Hold the cover up to a light source and look through the vent pipe to make certain it is open and unclogged. Then place the cover on the pressure cooker and close securely (cover handle should be directly above the body handle).

3. Place the pressure regulator firmly on the vent pipe. Heat the pressure cooker until the pressure regulator begins to rock slowly. Adjust heat to maintain a slow, steady rocking motion. Cooking time begins at this point.

4. Cook for the length of time specified in the recipe, then pressure as specified. When the recipe states "let pressure drop of its own accord" set the cooker aside to cool. When the recipe states "cool cooker at once" cool immediately under a water faucet or by pouring cold water over it.

5. The pressure is completely reduced when the air vent/cover lock has dropped. Remove the pressure regulator. Then remove pressure cooker cover and serve food.

Can conventional recipes be converted for usage in the pressure cooker?

Generally yes. But remember, there must always be water or some other liquid in the pressure cooker to form the necessary steam.

When converting recipes, experience is the best teacher. A good rule of thumb to follow is to decrease the length of cooking time for a conventional recipe by two-thirds. The amount of liquid used may also have to be adjusted because there is very little evaporation from the pressure cooker. Generally, decrease the amount of liquid so there is only about one-half cup more than desired in the finished product.

Do you have any ideas on how to do a barbecued meat in the pressure cooker?

Yes! Here's a recipe for a barbecue pot roast that was shared by the Presto Pressure Cooking Institute in Eau Claire, Wis. Hope you'll like it!

Texas Barbecue Pot Roast

The pressure is completely reduced when the air vent/cover lock has dropped. Remove the pressure regulator. Then remove pressure cooker cover and serve food.

Can conventional recipes be converted for usage in the pressure cooker?

Generally yes. But remember, there must always be water or some other liquid in the pressure cooker to form the necessary steam.

When converting recipes, experience is the best teacher. A good rule of thumb to follow is to decrease the length of cooking time for a conventional recipe by two-thirds. The amount of liquid used may also have to be adjusted because there is very little evaporation from the pressure cooker. Generally, decrease the amount of liquid so there is only about one-half cup more than desired in the finished product.

Do you have any ideas on how to do a barbecued meat in the pressure cooker?

Yes pressure, with regulator rocking slowly, for the following doneness: 10 to 12 minutes per pound for medium; at least 12 to 15 minutes per pound for well-done meat. Cook pork 15 minutes per pound until well done. Let pressure drop of its own accord. Meanwhile, place reserved barbecue sauce in a saucepan and simmer, until reduced by about one-half, stirring occasionally. Remove roast and keep warm. Discard cooking water or use for making soup. Puree onions in a blender or food processor and add to reduced barbecue sauce, if desired. Serve sauce with sliced roast. Makes eight to 10 servings.

-- Susan Krumm is an extension agent in home economics and consumer science with K-State Research & Extension-Douglas County, 2110 Harper. She can be reached at 843-7058.

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