Food New pressure cooker thread

I think that the old thread has disappeared in a puff of steam, and so I would like to start a new one as a focal point for advice and ideas on the use of pressure cookers. I expect and hope that this could also be referred to as the "Thom Blach" thread, but as several others could too, I won't mention that in the title.

I have a new pressure cooker arriving next week and anticipate posting several cooking disaster notes, which might stimulate things.
And for the first question, which I should have looked into before purchasing:

How much difference does the size of the pressure cooker make to the time needed to build pressure? I would assume that if there is a larger volume of air space to water/sauce, it will take longer. I bought a 12 L stovetop model, having a huge family to cook for most Sundays, but am wondering if obtaining a smaller base/pan part to complement this would be useful.
It's the amount of liquid rather than the amount of space, I think. It's important to remember that many things can be cooked perfecty with only a few spoonsful of liquid in the pan, though obviously if cooking things like pulses which absorb water as they cook they should be covered. I now cook nearly everything by bringing to full pressure than turning the heat off and leaving it to subside naturally, repeating if more cooking is needed.
Ah yes, I recall some of your comments on that in the old thread. It also now comes to my mind a memory of a physics teacher demonstrating the power of steam by putting a teaspoon of water in an empty golden syrup tin (or similar), sealing the lid, placing it over a "nice-little-earner"*, and blowing the lid off.

I don't suppose that would be allowed any more.

On a loosely related note (on the power of steam), I also think I have read that it was only comparatively recently that diesel-electric trains evolved enough to have same power-to-weight ratio as their steam-powered predecessors.

* Why isn't reverse rhyming slang used? It seems quite fun to do!
Last edited:
After a rather nice version at Notto on Piccadilly, I decided to do a beef short rib ragu. Overall this felt superior to my beef shin ragu so I am minded to share the recipe below, although it is certainly a rather fluid concept and cooked with a glass of champagne in hand…

-Brown ~1.5kg short ribs in a wide pan (I used a 30cm shallow casserole), then place in your PC.
- in the same pan, fry 3 finely diced carrots and a couple of small finely diced onions for 15 mins or so. Adding a few anchovies at some point
- add a few cloves of garlic and a couple of bay leaves, continue frying for a little while
- add a couple of tbsp tomato paste
- add approx 1/3 bottle palo cortado or similar (this has broadly replaced red wine in much of my cooking), scrape the bottom of the pan thoroughly and boil to reduce
- add a tin of good quality crushed tomatoes
- reduce until desired thickness achieved
- combine in PC, along with a faggot of herbs (I used sage, thyme and rosemary well tied with butcher’s string lacking the wherewithal to search for muslin)
- cook at full pressure for 33 mins (30 felt a little too short, but probably would have been fine, if you are looking for pulled pork texture maybe a bit longer needed)
- natural release
- remove meat and cut into chunks (or shred with forks, although I prefer a little more bite).
- recombine and reheat as pasta cooks (I used tagliatelle, pappardelle would’ve been preferable, homemade better certainly).
- add a good ladleful of pasta water before combining with pasta in whatever ratio suits - I find it goes a long way.
- serve with copious parmesan and your favourite italian red.

I am minded to try it without tomatoes in the future…
Reduce the wine down in advance - you won't get any reduction in the cooking process.
Thanks - interesting - I hadn't thought of reversing the timing of the reduction stage. I was expecting to have to reduce it after releasing the pressure, but then this would presumably overcook the meat. On reflection, perhaps reduction sauces aren't worth using the pressure cooker for if you still have to use an ordinary cooking process as well as pressure(?).

(I might not try the Peposo in a pressure cooker yet and wait until I have used it for some more straightforward tasks and got some experience. I was also wondering how long the Peposo might take to cook for example, and also thinking it best not to experiment with complete unknowns for me with people coming for dinner!)
Thanks - interesting - I hadn't thought of reversing the timing of the reduction stage. I was expecting to have to reduce it after releasing the pressure, but then this would presumably overcook the meat. On reflection, perhaps reduction sauces aren't worth using the pressure cooker for if you still have to use an ordinary cooking process as well as pressure(?).

(I might not try the Peposo in a pressure cooker yet and wait until I have used it for some more straightforward tasks and got some experience. I was also wondering how long the Peposo might take to cook for example, and also thinking it best not to experiment with complete unknowns for me with people coming for dinner!)
I'd argue that it's still worthwhile- a bottle of wine doesn't take long to reduce down whereas you'll use a lot of energy braising meat at atmospheric pressure!
You can perfectly well reduce the liquid once the meat is cooked, take the meat out first and return it when the sauce is reduced to your satisfaction-though use less in the first place, there's no need to cover it completely. You won't go wrong, I suggest my usual method described above of bringing the pan to full pressure, turning it off, releasing the pressure naturally and see how it is going; repeat if required.
It's actually very easy to overcook this kind of thing, one wants it fully tender but to stop cooking before the gelatine in the meat dissolves, rendering it dry, and leave it just a bit less done than you would like before finishing the dish. Make it a day ahead, it will only get better on reheating and you can be fully confident that the dish is as you would like it.
Do cut the meat into nice big pieces, there's nothing meaner than the 'diced stewing beef' British butchers sell.
Hello - so I have just purchased a pressure cooker for the first time, Both my wife and myself are nerdy foody nerdy wankers..... but never had one of these. I have to say it is quite an experience for both of us.... I was so stupidlly excited because I cooked a half leg of lamb in a stew in about 25 minutes.

I dont have much more to add other than I am still learning this weird new method..... I did also try the sous-vide method for steak but prefer the reverse sear method.
I struggled to find this recipe, having had a craving for it last night, and failed. Thom kindly provided an improvised version, which I'm recording here for the benefit of masala ghost pressure cooker loving posterity:

"You can adapt any lamb curry recipe you like, just bung it all in-red onions rather than brown are important-and use the minimum amount of liquid needed to bring to pressure. I now think ten minutes likely to be enough.
Off the top of my head for 750g of rigorously defatted lamb shoulder-4 green and 4 black cardamoms, 2 inches cassia bark, 1 tsp black cumin, 5 cloves, 2tsps ground coriander, 1 tsp ground cumin, 3/4 tsp turmeric, chilli powder to taste, 2 tablespoons of garlic-ginger paste, two large red onions sliced or chopped finely, 100ml chopped tomatoes, possibly a large spoonful of very thick yoghurt, chopped or whole green chillies, a goodly glug of oil, salt in excess of government guidelines. Stir well together, add water only if it seems unavoidable, bring to full pressure, cook for 7 minutes, let pressure subside naturally and see where you are. The meat may need a bit more cooking-if so bring to full pressure, turn off immediately and let subside again. If the gravy is too thin pour off into a wide pan and reduce a bit. Finish with ground cardamom, dried fenugreek leaves and chopped fresh coriander, adding if desired some fresh tomato wedges and small pieces of green pepper."
Thanks Druin-I think it's very similar to the previous version, which also wasn't intended for posterity!
I'm absolutely sure that someone reposted it recently but for the life of me I can't find it either.
It wasn't until they came for Roald Dahl that I realised how complacent I'd been in assuming the inviolability of great literary works, hence the below, re-posted from my archives. I hope Thom won't mind!

Pressure cooker masala gosht

Of course as ever 'effortless' makes certain presumptions. This recipe works because of the high temperature, about 120C, achieved at full pressure, which in the absence of added water means that the spices cook properly without being initially cooked in oil-do not commit the foolish error made by fashionable chefs of assuming that spices are better pre-roasted before grinding, this only applies to certain mixtures that are used without being further subject to heat,

For about a kilo of lamb shoulder in 1-1 1/2 inch pieces(note the post Brexit imperial measure as opposed to the kilogram of meat prescribed, this is a strictly apolitical recipe), completely denuded of fat, this is vital, but not of connective tissue, either on or off the bone(mutton, goat, or even braising beef will do as long as one is not a strict Hindu) place the following in the pressure cooker:

Two large red onions, topped and tailed, halved, and swiftly sliced into fineish half-rings(red onions do not caramelise well but dissolve brilliantly, unlike brown)

One heaped tablespoon of ginger and garlic paste(this can be purchased, which is just about acceptable, but if one takes exactly equal weights of the two and grinds to a fine paste ideally without water but with a fair bit of salt it will keep almost indefinitely in a jar in the fridge-and if anyone can explain why this should be so and is not even slightly so with pastes of the individual components, which become unusable, I'd be thrilled!)

Green chilli paste to taste(again will keep indefinitely, but with even more salt) or freshly chopped

About 250-300 grams of tomato passata or tinned or fresh tomatoes thoroughly liquidised, no need to peel the latter and the quantity of fresh will probably need to be a bit more generous

6 cloves, 4 black cardamoms, a 2 inch stick of cassia bark and some whole black cumin or peppercorns if desired

A level teaspoon of turmeric powder, red chilli powder to taste(though none is not an option if one cherishes balance and chilli is very much the least wine unfriendly flavouring element here), a meanly rounded teaspoon of cumin powder and a very rounded one of coriander.

Salt to taste but a teaspoonful as the barest minimum

50 grams of butter( do not miss this out, though one could use oil; the dish will not cook properly. If one needs to avoid fat then gently spoon it off the top after the cooker is opened before proceeding further)

Mix all this together then bring to full pressure, cook for 20 minutes or so(knowledge of the various variables in one's own particular circumstances are obviously required here), then let the lid release naturally. There will be oil floating on the surface indicating that everything is fully cooked.Bring it to a simmer again with the lid off for just a couple more minutes for further integration.

Finish with, to taste, garam masala(no point at all bothering with bought versions, make one without cumin or coriander, and again, do not roast the spices, the grinding process will heat them more than enough:Mrs.Jaffrey has good recipes), ginger juliennes, cut fresh coriander leaves and if one wishes the inimitable curry house tang dried fenugreek leaves”

1 kg stewing meat e.g. beef shin, lamb shoulder.

Two large red onions sliced thinly into half rings
Heaped tsp of ginger/garlic paste
Dried whole red chilli to taste
Fresh chopped green chilli to taste
250g passata
6 cloves
4 black cards
2inch stick of cassia bark
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin powder
1-2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp salt
50g butter
Optional: 1 tsp whole cumin seeds, 1 tsp whole peppercorns

Mix all the ingredients well and from cold then full pressure for 20 mins with NR.
Simmer with lid off for two mins
Finish with garam masala to taste, juliennes ginger, fresh coriander leaves and arguably some dried fenugreek.
I suspect it could be adapted by adding the ingredients in the usual stages and reducing for an hour or so?

You'd prob need additional water/stock.
Not too much different, it seems, though I'm sure the ingredient list at the end is not original-the whole cumin seeds mentioned are black, which are a different thing entirely.
If not using a pressure cooker I'd cook the ingredients by stages in the normal way, ie cook the whole spices in oil, carefully brown the onions, add the ginger, garlic and green chilli then the ground spices, then the tomatoes and finally the meat, which is likely to need a good hour or more. A Le Creuset casserole is a bit unwieldy for this sort of thing.
It's not a recipe of any originality at all, even the suggestion to use a pressure cooker.
Here is another cracking PC recipe from Thom's treasure trove.....

Dahl Makhani

While there is no shortage of recipes in circulation for this Punjabi classic I thought I'd share mine since it is very sustaining.

Take a cupful of whole urad (this dish is not in fact a dal at all, 'dal' means split), wash well and soak in salted water to cover for several hours or overnight. Drain and rinse well then cover with fresh water in a microwave safe bowl. Cook on high power in the microwave until it boils then drain and rinse well with cold water. This step is not essential but reduces the emission of greenhouse gases remarkably.

Put the beans in a pressure cooker, cover with water to a depth of two inches, add two black cardamoms if available,a half teaspoon of turmeric powder, a teaspoon of salt ,some slices of ginger (there is no need to peel it and trimmings can well be used in these frugal times), two dried red chillies and a good slice of butter. Bring to full pressure and cook for 45 minutes leaving the pressure to come down of its own accord. It can be cooked without a pressure cooker but it takes about four hours, which reduces both fun and freshness.

When cooked the beans should be completely softened but more or less intact. It may look a bit wet but it will cook down further and it is very important that the end result has the flowing consistency of a cream soup, we westerners often make dals into an unappetisingly thick paste. Remove the chillies, cardamoms and ginger from the pot and discard.

To complete the dish take a generous pour of oil-I have recently been converted to the considerable joys of unrefined rapeseed oil by an elderly Punjabi lady who told me that what is sold under this label is identical to the best mustard oil of her youth, and it is also I am told very similar to what is used in most of mainland China- and fairly gently cook about three cloves of grated garlic and a grated generous inch of peeled ginger. In this case this is best with fresh aromatics.Add chopped green chillies to taste; I like it hot. If using preserved tomatoes in the form of passata or blended tinned, about 150g of the former or 200 of the latter, these should be added now with a couple of teaspoons of dried fenugreek leaves and the whole cooked until the oil separates. If using fresh tomatoes later on just add the fenugreek into the pan, stir and proceed.

Pour this concoction into the beans or the beans into this and simmer for a good half hour or so, adding a scant half teaspoon of dried mint if available; it should be barely detectable. If using fresh tomatoes, and I recommend them (they do not have to be particularly good because in Indian cooking they are prized for their acidity, not their sweetness or aroma) add about 400g electrically blended with skin, seeds and all(and some coriander stalks if they are to hand) pretty much at the end of the process. The use of raw tomatoes is a divergence from tradition but I think the important freshness of texture and aroma is enhanced. Check the salt, it needs to be well seasoned. It will be noted that the use of dry spices in this dish is almost nonexistent, which is often the case with Punjabi classics.

Serve with a paratha or three and some cut cucumber, onion and tomato.
I just used this to remind myself of the pressure cooker masala gosht recipe, but I wonder if a small error has crept in. My recollection is that the optional whole cumin seeds were actually black cumin seeds (which aren't cumin seeds).