Positive Pressure in the Kitchen

Most of us think of pressure in the kitchen in psychological terms and would prefer to avoid it. But Chowhounds who use pressure cookers have a pleasurable association with the word—not to mention a deep appreciation for the time that can be saved by deploying this handy pot.

A pressure cooker is great for all kinds of fast, postwork meals, says Miss Priss. "This week I used it to make braised turkey breast (about 20 minutes under pressure); rotelle in tomato sauce with sausage and peppers (about 6 minutes); and steamed salmon filets (9 minutes, right from the freezer)," Miss Priss says.

The vessels are especially good for making quick work of foods that traditionally need long cooking times, such as dried beans, whole grains, stocks, and braised meats. Here is a useful primer on chicken stock, which includes a recipe and general tips for stock-making in the pots. Val loves these lamb shanks with garlic and port, and says the recipe works just as well with less expensive beef shanks and Burgundy wine. Another favorite of Val's is this curried chicken-coconut soup.

Several years ago, hounds recommended the website Miss Vickie's Pressure Cooker Recipes as a reliable resource, and they're now giving rave reviews to Lorna Sass's book Pressure Perfect: Two Hour Taste in Twenty Minutes Using Your Pressure Cooker for both its recipes and general information. "I really like the pasta recipes in it. So quick and good, and no need to boil the pasta separately," says AmyH. "And there are some recipes I love for chicken salads where you quick poach the breasts and then shred them for the salads. The Asian one is particularly good." For Dee S, the best dish in the book is "kale, sausage and potatoes. Takes about 5 minutes total cook time," she says.

But not everything in Sass's book is a winner, perhaps because there are some things that just shouldn't be done with a pressure cooker. "The only recipe I've tried from this book and disliked was one for cheesecake," says mandycat. "But then I should have known better than that in the first place."

Discuss: What do you make in your pressure cooker?
Favorite electric pressure cooker stock recipe?