A few months ago, I got a pressure cooker and immediately fell in love with it. What I didn’t fall in love with was the lousy instructions that came with it. The instructions where so basic, it was essentially how to turn the unit on and choose the pressure cooker setting. I knew there was more to it than that. So the first few pressure cooking posts are going to be about things you need to know about your pressure cooker but the instructions don’t tell you.
One of the most important things I have learned about pressure cooking is about the types of pressure releases and when to use them. There are three common types of pressure releases
The quick release — The quick release takes about 3 minutes from start to finish. All you do for the quick release is open the pressure release valve on your pressure cooker all the way and let it go. The release is quite dramatic as steam comes hissing out of the vent. The pressure is released when you can no longer see any steam or hear any hissing. The quick release method should be used for quick cooking meats and vegetables, meat stews that are covered in liquid but not where the meat and vegetables might get tossed around and mushy. The quick release method is not recommended for legumes, rice or fruit based dishes.
The natural release — The natural release takes about 10-15 minutes from start to finish. All you do for a natural release is either turn off the pot or let it switch to the keep warm setting and let it sit until the pressure is released naturally.
This is the release I use most often. The quick release often sucks the liquid up through the release valve, spewing it every where. The natural release doesn’t. It is a more gentle release then the quick release so it is appropriate for more fragile vegetables and meats you don’t want to dry out (all meats right?) and foods that have a tendency to bubble and foam.
The 10 minute quick release — The 10 minute quick release takes about 10 -12 minutes. All you do is turn off the pot or let it switch to the keep warm setting. You let it release naturally for 10 minutes then open the release valve to release any remaining pressure. I call this the release for impatient people. I hardly ever use it.
Since I got my pressure cooker in August, I have gone through almost 7 pounds of steel cut oatmeal. I eat it almost every morning and a lot of times when I get home from work. I never used to eat steel cut oat meal because it takes 30-45 minutes and more attention then I have in me most mornings.
Steel cut oatmeal only takes 15 minutes in the pressure cooker and then it switches to the keep warm setting until I am ready to eat. I don’t have to pay it any attention at all. That’s my kind of breakfast.
Steel cut oatmeal uses a method of cooking called pot in pot (PIP). You add your oats, water and any flavoring to a separate oven proof container. Then you put the container in the liner of your pressure cooker with enough water in the liner to bring the pressure cooker to pressure.
Why use the PIP method of cooking?
–We use it to keep thick sauces from scorching on the bottom of the pot.
–We use it when you don’t want your food to boil in the water.
— We use it to keep foods separate when we are cooking food together.
— We use it for easy clean up.
— We use it for personal preference.
You can use any oven safe container that fits in the liner of your pressure cooker. Remember to leave some space around the inner liner and the container to allow the steam to circulate.
Oven safe materials include stainless steel, aluminum, glass ware like Pyrex, Corning Ware, and silicon bake ware. Due to the different materials ability to conduct heat you may have to adjust cooking times. For my PIP cooking I use a 2 cup round glass container I bought at Wal-Mart.
6 TBS steel-cut oatmeal, not the quick cooking steel cut oats
3/4 cup water, milk or other liquid
Place your trivet in the bottom of the pressure cooker and add the minimum amount of liquid need to bring your pressure cooker to pressure (my pressure cooker take 1/2 cup). In a 2 cup bowl that fits into your pressure cooker add the oats and 3/4 cup water.You can add other things at this point like fruit or spices. My favorite thing to add is a 1/4 cup pumpkin puree or a handful of fresh cranberries. Place the bowl on the trivet and lock your pressure cooker. Cook on high pressure for 13 -15 minutes. Use a natural release to release the pressure. Add milk, sugar or whatever you want.
I like my steel-cut oats very soft so I cook them for 15 minutes. If you like your steel cut oat meal with a little chew cook them for 13 minutes.