The pressure cooker is one of the most useful cooking devices when you must cook on a tight timeline. This ingenious device revolutionized home kitchens with its ability to cook food quickly and thoroughly. So, it may seem only natural for professional chefs who are constantly racing against the clock to use it. Interestingly, this is not always the case. So, do chefs use pressure cookers?
Pressure cookers may be used in commercial kitchens to prepare meat or stocks in a hurry. However, chefs usually do not prefer to use pressure cookers because they give less control over the finished product. Chefs generally prefer slow cooking methods to bring out the flavors of the ingredients.
To understand why chefs do not usually feature pressure cookers in their recipes and cookery shows, we should look at how this device differs from other cookware.
How Does A Pressure Cooker Work?
A pressure cooker is a metal pot with a specially designed metal lid. This lid has a pressure regulator or outlet. It forms an airtight seal with the pot when it is locked in position.
When the pressure cooker was first invented, it was not entirely safe. The original design did not have a pressure-release mechanism. Hence, the build-up of pressure led to several explosions. However, modern pressure cookers have a workaround for this problem.
Modern pressure cookers have a steam release valve. This valve regulates the pressure by releasing steam when the pressure inside the pot reaches a high level. Some models even have a hidden, spring-loaded valve or timers to control the pressure setting.
Today’s pressure cookers also have several fail-safe mechanisms like multiple valves, dual pressure regulators, and spring-loaded lids.
Now, the cooking process in a pressure cooker needs water. Since the pressure cooker is a closed pot, the water cannot vaporize when heated. The trapped steam raises the pressure inside the pot.
As the temperature of the container increases, the steam builds pressure. This pressure helps the food cook faster.
The elevated temperature and high steam inside the pressure cooker aids the cooking process and helps to produce a dish much faster than through slow cooking.
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The Benefits Of Cooking With A Pressure Cooker
The main benefit of using a pressure cooker is that it cuts the cooking time drastically. For most ingredients, you can save nearly two-thirds of the cooking time when you use a pressure cooker.
When you heat a pressure cooker, a lot of heat and steam are generated. Since the cooker is airtight, all the steam that is generated has nowhere to go but into the food. This steam moistens the food and makes it cook faster.
So, ingredients like meat which take very long to cook in a normal pan, will cook much faster in a pressure cooker. Hence, this cooking device is very useful when you don’t have much time to spare for cooking.
Faster cooking also means a higher saving of energy. Additionally, since the cooker locks the heat and steam within itself, the kitchen stays cool. Another benefit of using a pressure cooker is that being a closed cooking method; nutrients are not lost.
Disadvantages Of Using A Pressure Cooker – Why Chefs Don’t Prefer Pressure Cookers?
Despite the pressure cooker’s ability to save time and fuel, it is not recommended by chefs and professional cooks. Here are the different reasons for this.
1. Different ingredients have different cooking times.
You may already know that some ingredients cook faster than others. For instance, you will take more time to cook potatoes than onions. So, it may be difficult to use a pressure cooker for recipes with many ingredients, each with different cooking times.
When you cook in a regular pan, you can constantly add ingredients at different times and different stages of the cooking process. This is not easy when using a pressure cooker.
Once you add the ingredients to a pressure cooker and close the lid, you cannot open it whenever you want. You should wait till all the steam escapes to open the lid. It can take a long time and is not practical for recipes that require ingredients to be added in stages.
So, you should either adjust the recipe or avoid using the pressure cooker.
Related Further Reading:
- Can Woks Go In The Oven? (Which Woks Are Oven-Safe?)
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- Do Woks Work On Electric Stoves? (Best Wok For Electric Stove)
2. You cannot see or check the dish while it cooks.
Most chefs like to check on their dishes several times while it cooks. They will constantly monitor the flavor, color, and doneness of different ingredients.
It is not possible to check on the progress of a dish when using a pressure cooker. So, you should have a good idea of how long the pressure cooker needs for the recipe. Unless you are precise about it, your dish can end up being overcooked or undercooked.
You should either rely on a good recipe for precise timing or take a chance. The problem usually arises when you are unsure of how long a recipe requires.
It can be a disaster if you are pressed for time and realize that the ingredient needs more cooking. You could lose precious time when you turn off the heat and wait until the cooker cools down.
3. You cannot perfect the seasoning and flavor.
When chefs prepare a dish, it is a work in progress from the beginning to the end. They usually prefer to taste a dish several times during the cooking process.
Based on how the flavors build up during the cooking process, they may add extra ingredients. It allows them to perfect the taste and achieve the exact texture they desire.
This type of minute control is not possible with a pressure cooker. Salt or seasoning must be added before you close the lid.
You can check for seasoning only after the cooking is completed. However, limited changes will be possible at this stage. It will be difficult to develop the same depth of flavor when cooking with a pressure cooker as opposed to slow cooking.
Interesting Further Reading:
- Can Cast Iron Skillets Be Used On Glass Cooktops? Yes, Here’s How
- Do Stainless Steel Pans Discolor? (Is It Normal + How To Clean)
- Can Skillets Go In The Dishwasher? (Which Can And Which Cannot)
How Do Chefs Cook Without Pressure Cookers?
Chefs avoid pressure cookers in professional cooking for most of the above reasons. Nonetheless, they get their work done, which comes as a surprise considering the quantities they prepare and the limited time available to prepare each dish. So, how do they manage it?
Well, you should remember that chefs spend hours prepping before they start service. During the actual service, they combine pre-prepared ingredients and very little cooking. Then, they add the final touches.
So, they can afford to use other methods. When they have hours to prep, they can afford to use slow cooking techniques. Since slow cooking will help them bring out the complex flavors of a dish, they will prefer to use it.
Another factor to consider is the quantities they cook each day. Professional kitchens must produce huge quantities of food every day. However, pressure cookers have limited sizes. So, using them to produce entire recipes on a large scale is not practical.
Nonetheless, professional chefs also use pressure cookers to prepare items like stocks. These recipes do not need much supervision. Modern home cooks, however, trust the pressure cooker to save them daily.
It can take some time to figure out how to use a pressure cooker if you haven’t used it before. But once you do, the pressure cooker becomes one of the most useful tools in a kitchen.