Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mom's Microwave


I know what you are thinking - that is not a picture of a microwave, and your right, but when I was kid it was the fastest way to a one pot meal known to man. It's a pressure cooker and can do one thing a microwave can't and that is turn an nearly inedible cut of meat such as a chuck roast into a mouthwatering tender treat. I don't care how long you microwave a chuck roast, you are still going to need a hatchet to cut it.

Originally invented by a Frenchman who was undoubtedly looking for a fast way to cook dinner and still have time to run up his white flag before the German's showed up, it became a fixture in most American kitchens and ours was no exception.

My first recollection of the pressure cooker in our house looked suspiciously like a scale model of the first A-Bomb detonated at Los Alamos. It weighed a ton, but then I was pretty small. I am not sure if it was cast iron or cast aluminum, but it had a rough outer finish and when she started up it was time for me to vacate the kitchen. I remember all too well my dad pointing out a spot on Grandma's kitchen ceiling where years later you could still see damage done from opening the cooker a wee bit too early.

The next iteration was a stainless steel model with a little rocker on top. In fact I think you can still find them. The rocker's job was to keep the pressure at 15 pounds per square inch. To cool it down you pulled the rocker off and ran the pot under cold water, or let it cool off on it's own. There was still the possibility of opening the thing before all the pressure was released.

Truth be told I have always been a little afraid of the pressure cooker, envisioning a kitchen filled with steel shrapnel and red hot food flying in all directions - where do you hide from something like that? Once again my brother pioneered the return of the pressure cooker, dusting mom's old one off and taking it for a spin.

Shortly there after I decided to purchase one for myself. I chose a little more modern model, it has a valve instead of a rocker and a locking mechanism the prevents you from opening it and pulling the pin on a food grenade in your kitchen.

In fact I used it on a Tri-tip roast tonight, one I would normally braise for over 2 hours in under 50 minutes, along with potatoes and carrots. I won't go into a recipe for potroast as it is called because it varies with every family that has ever made one and theirs is always better than the one your family has.

Just a couple words of advice if you go to purchase one. Make sure it is sturdy, Stainless steel is best, and most important of all, read the manual before you use it, unless you want to redecorate your kitchen and scald everything within 50 feet.

Happy Cooking!

13 Comments:

At 10:23 PM, Blogger Keshi said...

aww good old pressure cookers!

Im scared of them too...I rem when I was really small my aunt used one and I screamed!

Keshi.

 
At 11:47 PM, Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

keshi: When it first starts it sounds like she's going to blow!

 
At 1:31 AM, Blogger How do we know said...

I am a fan of the Pressure cooker too, and i so feel they are better than microwaves in more ways than one.

 
At 2:38 AM, Blogger foam said...

that's something we never had in the house growing up...
i don't think they were very common in germany.
i might put a tough piece of meat in the slow cooker..
usually tenderizes it quite a bit... only 14 hours later.

 
At 9:22 AM, Blogger SJ said...

This to me was funny. The pressure cooker is well and truly alive here in India. Every kitchen including mine has one. For cooking rice there is no quicker way.

The new thing here is a sleek glossy black cooker with the lock-in lid.

 
At 9:53 AM, Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

Can't beat it, though I've never doen rice, ahve to give it a try. I do ahve a rice cooker, tath's not too bad time wise. A 14 hours braise! I have taken that long to smoke a pork shoulder on the grill. The Tri-tip I did last night shredded easily so the left overs will be perfect in burritos.

 
At 3:32 PM, Blogger Little Lamb said...

I think we used to have one of those. I don't know where it is now.

 
At 3:59 PM, Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

ll: Mine works like a champ, beats hours of braising.

 
At 7:19 PM, Blogger Chickie said...

Pressure cookers scare me. I'm afraid it will go off like a bomb and impale me with pot shrapnel. We have one and when Sweety uses it I go hide outside.

 
At 8:18 PM, Blogger Damsel Underdressed said...

Thanks, Phos. Do you know that I have never actually seen what one of those things looks like until now?

 
At 3:12 AM, Blogger Fuff said...

I've a 10litre Fissler pressure cooker. It's fab and HUGE.

 
At 3:13 AM, Blogger Fuff said...

Brilliant for stews. Carrots taste better from a pressure cooker than anything else.

 
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