How To Convert Recipes to a Pressure Cooker

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What's On This Page

Getting Started

Four Things You Need to Know

Converting Slow Cooker Recipes

Cooking Method and Techniques

Liquids

Timing

Release Method

Troubleshooting

Filling

Getting Started

"Which conventional recipes can be converted for use in a pressure cooker, and how do I do?"

That's one of the most common questions from many pressure cooker users who want to continue using their favorite recipes and need to know how to convert those traditional slow cookers, oven and stovetop recipes for soups, stews, roasts, curries, risotto, pasta or rice casseroles, dried beans fruits and vegetables.

The best benefits of the pressure cooker is being able to come home and have dinner ready in just a few minutes of cooking time instead of a couple of hours needed with conventional stovetop cookware, ovens or slow cookers. To expand the types of recipes that can be adapted to the pressure cooker, consider the many different cooking methods that can be used:

Before adapting any recipe become familiar with the Ten Golden Rules of Pressure Cookery, and the Five Formulas for Food That Foam, Froth, Or Expand and use the Cooking Time Charts as a guide for determining cooking times. Spending a few minutes in converting a favorite recipe will pay dividends later on in the time saved as you use the recipe over and over.

Limit the use of oils and fats to no more than 1/4 cup. If the recipe uses milk, cream or other dairy products, add them after depressurizing because they have a tendency to foam and scorch.

Four Things You Need to Know When Converting a Recipe

Bear in mind that experience is the best teacher, and there are no universal guidelines for converting recipes for pressure-cooker use. In some cases this may involve a series of trial and errors until you get perfect results, so be sure to take notes as you work to convert traditional recipes.

The best way to convert a traditional recipe is to use a similar pressure cooker recipe as a guide. In addition to giving the amount of liquid needed, the cooking time, and information about which cooking method is used, you'll find the amount of cooking liquid required and the pressure release method. The key elements that will lead to your eventual success are:

  • Correct amount of liquids
  • Correct cooking methods and techniques
  • Correct timing
  • Correct pressure release methods

Liquids

In adapting traditional recipe in the pressure cooker, the amount of water or other flavoring liquids, can usually be reduced because liquids do not evaporate like they do in a regular cooking pot. See the instruction manual of your cooker for the minimum amount of water required for the production of steam,and never less than the recommended amount.

Keep in mind that the modern pressure cooker is a tightly closed system and it will lose very little liquid compared to cooking the same recipe in one of the old-style units with a vent pipe and a rocking, weighted pressure regulator. Another thing to remember, is that as foods are pressured, they release their own juices which will also add to the liquid.

Using a similar pressure cooker recipe as a guide will help to determine the best approximate ratio of solid ingredients to liquids.

Cooking Method and Techniques

Contrary to what most people think, there are several different pressure cooking methods available that take advantage of moist heat. This will include a very large range of recipes for Boiling, Braising, Stewing, Poaching, Steaming, Steam Roasting, and Baking. Choosing the cooking method will have a huge impact on the finished outcome of your recipe.

This is also where you'll need to decide on the correct cooking techniques such infusion cooking or using my PIP (Pan In Pot). Also determine if a rack or other cooking accessory is needed

You may find several similar pressure cooker recipes that use different cooking methods which will produce different results. Choose the one that best matches the original recipes, although be prepared to change if the results are not satisfactory.

Timing

Using the 15psi pressure setting. the length of time that a food should pressure cooked is usually 1/3 (one-third) of the cooking time given in a traditional oven or stovetop recipe. Use the Cooking Time Charts as a guide for determining cooking times. I recommend using a similar pressure cooker recipe as a guide will help you determine the best cooking time, as well all as the amount of liquids needed.

Release Method

Whether you should cool the cooker immediately or let pressure drop of its own accord depends on the type of food being prepared. The Cooking Time Charts gives the recommended methods to depressurize the cooker for all types of foods.

Using a similar pressure cooker recipe as a guide will determine the best pressure release method.

Troubleshooting

Cause

Solution

Did you use too much water?

After the pressure is released and discover that if you have overestimated in the liquid, there are several fixes. Depending on the ingredients and the amount of liquid, it can be reduced by boiling the contents uncovered. Adding a thickener may be enough to improve the outcome. If there is a lot of extra liquid it can by ladled off and saved in the freezer for use in future stews and soups.

 

Were the seasonings adequate?

The high heat of pressure cookery is advantageous to the cook's time schedule, and it's also easy on your wallet too. When it comes to adding herbs and spices to season the food their impact is often enhanced as the shorter cooking time does not destroy them, so you can slightly reduce the more pungent spices. The natural flavors of foods are generally enhanced by pressure cooking, and it probably wise to withhold the salt until after the cooker is depressurized and you can taste the finished dish and adjust the seasoning to taste. It's been my experience that I use no, or for less salt in pressure cookery than in conventional cooking methods.

 

Did you cook it too long?

Vegetables are easily overcooked and get too soft and mushy, loosing their shape and texture in the process. If this is not satisfactory, you can still salvage the ingredients by pureeing them to a smooth consistency and incorporating them into the cooking broth or gravy. The puree can be frozen and then used later in another recipe for soups and stews. Meats that are overcooked become dry and tough, but there is a solution. A handy tip: Cut same foods into pieces of uniform size to promote even cooking. When mixing foods, cut those that cook more quickly into larger pieces and those that cook more slowly into smaller pieces.

 

Did you not cook it long enough?

When foods are not cooked to the desired degree of doneness, you may continue cooking using the regular lid for ingredients that only need a few more minutes. For longer cooking, return the cooker to pressure for a brief time, usually less than 5 minutes, and use the natural release method. The Cooking Time Charts will give the times for all types of foods.

 

What if you underestimated the liquid?

Often the first sign that you've goofed in this department is the odor of scorched food. If this happens, use the cold water release method to immediately stop the cooking. Check the food -- taste it -- if only the bottom is affected and the scorched taste has not penetrated the entire contents, it may be possible to salvage you dinner by carefully spooning out the nonscorched portion. After that, you'll need to have a good scrubber handy!

 

What if its burned or scorched?

To keep food from scorching during the high heat of the cooking time, layer the ingredients of the recipe in such a way that foods with high sugar or starch content are not placed directly on the bottom of the cooker to avoid scorching. For example, if your recipe calls thick tomato sauces, add 1/4 cup water per each 2 cups sauce. When making a tomato-pasta dish, put the liquid on the bottom, then the trivet, the noodles and then end with the tomato sauce on the top. Don't stir. The sauce will infuse through the noodles during cooking and once the lid is removed, a quick stir will blend the ingredients.

 

   
   
   
Find more pressure cooker troubleshooting tips here.

Converting Slow Cooker Recipes

Many people have great plans when they buy a slow cookers -- which is actually a brand name for a slow cooker -- thinking that itís a great idea to have dinner cooked by the time everyone gets home. Using a slow cooker requires a lot of advanced planning and some good organizational skills, and for those who need to get off to work in the morning and there's kids to get off to school, and critters needing to be cared for, its hard to find enough spare time to prep the ingredients for the evening meal at 7am. So many a slow cooker gets shelved as cooks discover they do not have all that extra time in their busy morning schedules to actually put it to use and prepare the evening meal in advance of running out the door in the morning.

All of your favorite crock pot recipes can be converted to pressure cooker. Really! Using a similar pressure cooker recipe as a guide will help eliminate a lot of the guess work by providing the best cooking times and amount of liquid needed.

A pressure cooker can cook the same types of recipes -- and so many more, too -- but unlike a slow cooker, the pressure cooker cooks the food in minutes, NOT hours! This allows you to prepare dinner in a more leisurely manner after getting home from work. 'I don't know about you, but I'd rather let the pressure cook dinner in 20 minutes (or less!) and use the time saved to clean up, set the table, or make something that I don't normally have time to do, like a dessert.

Another big plus here; if you forget to thaw to things out... no worries, its quick and easy to defrost and there's also several different ways -- including the pressure cooker -- to solve that problem in just a few minutes.

Thickening

Some conventional dishes instruct you to add a roux or thickening agent at the beginning of the cooking process. Then as the meal cooks over low heat, the liquid becomes the rich, thick sauce. However, in the high heat of pressure cookery, thickeners such as flour and cornstarch, tend to scorch. Therefore, plan to thicken pressure-cooked sauces, soups, and stews after the pressure is released. Make a roux, whisk it in, and cook your sauce until it reaches the desired consistency.

Filling

Pressure cookers need space above the food for steam to build up which in turn creates the pressure. For this reason, never fill your pressure cooker over 2/3 full, or 1/2 full for foods that foam, froth or expand like grains, pasta, beans, lentils, or rice.

 
 

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