Meats have to be seared on the stove top first, to seal juices in. To sear the meat, add a small amount of oil to a large nonstick skillet, and heat over medium high heat. Fry small amounts of meat at a time, otherwise the meat will boil instead of frying. Spray the inside of the cooker with cooking spray before adding your ingredients. This makes clean-up easier. Vegetables should also be seared with herbs and spices before adding to the cooker.
To intensify the flavor of your dish, deglaze your skillet with wine or broth. Pour a small amount of liquid into the pan and stir. Scrap the bottom of the pan to get all the pieces of meat left behind. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for one to two minutes. Afterwards, pour the liquid into the pressure cooker.
There’s no need to add a lot of liquid to your cooker. A lot of juice accumulates in the cooker, anyway. When you cook meat at a low temperature, the juice doesn’t evaporate like it does on the top of the stove. The steam can’t escape the pressure cooker, so it builds up under the lid, and then drips back into the pot. That’s why most pressure cooker recipes require less liquid than traditional recipes. If there’s too much liquid in the cooker, transfer the liquid to a sauce pan and reduce it.
To utilize the full capability of the pressure cooker to cook, you have to own a best pressure cooker. My favorite, the Cuisinart pressure cooker, has four programmable times, including “warm for 24 hours.” The cooker heats up to 300 degrees, and you can sear meat in it. The machine functions as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, stove top and oven. You don’t have to use a separate skillet to sear meat. Sear your ingredients, before placing it into the pressure cooker. This pressure cooker automatically keeps food warm, until it’s time to eat.
Meals cook for several hours. Most meats are cooked for seven to eight hours. The temperature should be set on high for the first hour, and then turned down until you’re ready to eat. Always cook with the lid on. Most cookers have a glass lid to trap heat, as it rises, and turn it into steam. If you remove the lid, a lot of heat will be lost. Of course, remove the cover to stir and check for doneness. If you’re cooking with root vegetables, like potatoes or turnips, you should cut them into even-sized cubes. Place them close to the sides and bottom of the cooker.
One of the things recommended is that you check the food in the pressure cooker after it has cooked for the minimum amount of time. For example, if the recipe calls for 4 to 8 hours, check the food after four. You will soon learn the way your Cuisinart pressure cooker works and can adjust the time accordingly.
There are recipes however that call for the food to be cooked at one temperature, not a fluctuation. This is especially important if you are cooking appetizers and desserts, where if you cook them at the wrong temperature or to long the food could be ruined. If you are cooking stew meat or a tougher meat, it is best to cook at the lowest temperature so that the food can soften gradually as it cooks.
There are a few safety tips that you will want to use as well:
- Always use fresh meat and poultry that has been completely thawed. If not it will take longer for the meat to reach the temperature where it kills bacteria.
- Thaw vegetables in the fridge overnight before you add them to the pressure cooker as well.
- Store meat and vegetables in separate places in the fridge, not together.
- Use a meat thermometer when cooking a whole chicken or roast to ensure the correct temperature is reached, usually 77 degrees.
- Try to never remove the lid during cooking. This slows down the cooking process by about 20 minutes every time.
- Do not put raw meat in the crock pot overnight to cook later.
- Place food in the fridge as soon as possible after cooking.
- Do not heat in the crock pot after cooking, use the stove, oven or microwave instead.