home Forums Beginner Basics Pressure cooking doesn’t really save time?

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  • #889355
    DaveW
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    I’m a newbie and just bought an IP 6 qt, duo. It works fine, but I haven’t figured out how to use it to best effect. I used it to roast a chicken and followed the instructions exactly. The dark meat was fine, but the breast meat was so dry I couldn’t eat it. It was a 4 lb. bird and the recipe called for 28 minutes of pressure cooking with a natural release. I have an “infusor” accessory for my Char Broil gas grill. To roast a 4 lb. chicken with it, I preheat the grill for 15 minutes on high and put the chicken in for 15 minutes, lower the heat to medium and roast another 30 minutes. The chicken comes out with perfectly browned skin and roasted to perfection. If you add the browning time, the startup and pressure release times of the IP, it takes longer to use it than the grill. I’ve also used a small egg cooker to make hard boiled eggs. It completes in 20 minutes, including the preheat time. The IP takes about that long as well. So what am I missing? Should I just stick to soups and pot roasts? I’ve read many rave reviews on the IP pressure cooker, but, so far, I can’t see a big advantage. I understand that for recipes with ingredients that are normally cooked separately, the IP saves cleanup. However, I avoid recipes that require lots of ingredients and separate cooking preparation.
    I’d really appreciate any advice to help me understand and get the best use of my new appliance.

    #889497
    Greg
    Participant

    You will not always save time with a pressure cooker. Some things do take the same time or even longer once you factor in time to build and release pressure. You will however, save money. Pressure cookers use most of their energy in the period when they are building pressure. They use a little more to maintain pressure, then almost none while the pressure is dropping (Stovetops use none, Electrics just have a standby current). Compare that to your grill which uses more energy to heat up, and considerable energy to maintain heat while cooking. Most of that energy is wasted as it is lost to the environment.

    Chicken breast in particular is notoriously difficult to cook well in a pressure cooker because it cooks so fast. You need to cover it with something to slow down the cooking process. The thighs cook much slower which is why they turned out well while the breast was overcooked.

    A pressure cooker is not a magic bullet. It does some things incredibly well. Others not so much. You will need to experiment to work out what works for you. This web site has a wealth of information to help you on your journey of discovery.

    #889503
    Suzanne
    Participant

    You can get a better result cooking chicken parts instead of whole chickens for the reason Greg said, and also faster cooking and natural release. Laura has an article on this site with strategies for successfully cooking chicken breasts, I believe.

    I like chicken thighs/legs and tough turkey legs pressure cooked. The high temperature breaks down tough connective tissue as thoroughly as a braise, but in less time. You can speed up your cooking time by heating your liquids in the microwave before adding them, if your recipe permits that.

    What else do pressure cookers cook better? Quinoa, for example, comes out thoroughly cooked, but also fluffy every time in a PC, whereas it often comes out either undercooked or mushy in a saucepan. Likewise, whole grains such as oats, brown rice, hulled barley, and wild rice turn out tender and fluffy in half to two-thirds of the time, depending on whether you have soaked them and/or opt for instant release, with no bothersome stirring. Dense veg such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, and beets cook much more quickly than if you steamed, baked, or boiled them. And, of course, dried beans cook much more quickly.

    I, too, cook most things simply and pressure cook all the things listed above. I put more cooking techniques/time into cooking bean soups/stews, which need the extra work, since they are meat-free.

    Pressure cookers/Instant Pots are worth having, but it takes time to discover how they fit into your personal cooking routine and taste preferences. The hype surrounding IPs suggests this happens overnight, but it took me months to fully incorporate PCing into my cooking. Along the way, successes were already making cooking easier. There were some failures, like your chicken, but the long-term result was less time spent in the kitchen and better results.

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