Pressure Cooked and Smashed Potatoes – Lesson 1 – Boiling and Maximum Capacity
Making mashed potatoes is incredibly easy, and fast, in the pressure cooker. It was the first thing I learned to pressure cook and I still boil potatoes in it at least once a week – mashed potatoes for cold weather and potato salad for when it’s warm outside!
Boiling in the pressure cooker takes less time and less water than regular stovetop boiling. The closed environment keeps the water, and seasonings from evaporating so you need to add less salt than usual, too. I use just enough water to cover the food I’m boiling halfway – it takes less time for less water to boil, and the pressure cooker will reach pressure faster than if it were “full” of water.
Most pressure cookers have a “max” line, at approximately 2/3 of the way to the top edge of the pot to indicate the height limit of food an liquid. Following this guide will leave enough room for the pressure cooker to reach pressure and keep the food out of the pressure and safety valves. When boiling beans, grains, rice -or any other food that expands during cooking: never fill the pressure cooker more than half capacity (this limit is usually also indicated inside the pressure cooker).
It is important to note that if you purchased a 5 quart pressure cooker, that is not the maximum capacity, it’s the size of your pan. To figure out the maximum amount of liquid you can put in your pressure cooker, just multiply the stated size by “.66″. So, a 5 quart pressure cooker will be able to cook 3 1/3 quarts of soup. Half capacity, is actually half of 3 1/3 quarts and not half of 5 quarts.
Don’t worry if 5 quarts are starting to sound really small, now. This is the pressure cooker size that is most recommended for beginner pressure cooks, the minimum size for which most pressure cooker recipes are written, and provides abundant food for a family of four. As you will see in the series, and on this website, most recipes will rarely reach maximum capacity and can often be doubled in the “average,” 5 quart, pressure cooker.
Pressure Cooker Recipe: Mashed Potatoes
Wash and scrub your potatoes well, even though you are taking the skin off, you don’t want the stuff that is stuck on it to float around in your pressure cooker and cooking water - you will be using it later for the mash.
Place the washed potatoes inside the pressure cooker and fill with water just about halfway up the potatoes. Then, put the salt on top (it will melt and combine with the water during cooking). Never put salt in direct contact with a cold stainless steel pressure cooker as it may discolor the metal.
Close and lock the pressure cooker lid and turn the heat to high (if you are using a gas cook-top ensure the flames are not licking the sides of the pan – that is a little too high and could discolor the metal and damage the handles). When the pan reaches pressure (with this model, the indicator comes up to the second white ring) turn the heat to low and count 10 minutes cooking time under pressure. When time is up remove the pan from the heat and release pressure using the manual, automatic or normal release method (push button, lever or lift or remove valve) – each pressure cooker does this differently so consult your manual for specific instructions!
Transfer potatoes to mixing bowl, reserving the cooking water, and while they are as hot as you can handle, remove the skins.
Begin mashing with a potato masher and add two tablespoons of cooking water. Then two tablespoons of cream. Continue adding and mashing until you have reached the desired consistency – chunky is what my family likes so it only takes a couple of rounds of mashing and adding liquid for my potatoes to be finished.
Taste before seasoning because they might be salty enough! Then, add any additional salt and pepper to taste.
Now that you can boil in your pressure cooker, you can make…
- Pressure Cooker Boozy ‘Taters
- Sweet and Sour Pearl Onion Antipasto
- Red Wine Stewed Pears (or apples)
- Octopus and Potato Salad
Pssssst! Do you want to learn more about the pressure cookers that I’m using? See them described on my About page!