ELKTON — This winter, I’ve been working on mastering pressure. I’m talking about the latest trend — pressure cooking. One of the popular pressure cooker brands, the Instant Pot, graces my kitchen counter.
I’ll confess, I had no clue how to use a pressure cooker. So, I started checking out the books at the library. The shelves at the library are filled with a variety of pressure cooking books, with frequent new additions, a sure sign of the cooking method’s resurgence in popularity. The available books cover a wide array of interests, from weight loss to vegetarian to “just six ingredients or less.” In addition to physical cookbooks, library patrons have access to a great selection of e-books online through the digital library services, Hoopla and Libby.
If you’re using an electric pressure cooker brand other than the Instant Pot, or if you own a traditional stovetop cooker, recipes can be adapted to meet your needs. One book that makes this conversion easy is “The New Complete Pressure Cooker” by Jennie Shapter. She provides both electric and stovetop cooker times and pressure settings, so success can be assured.
Once I was comfortable with my pressure cooker, I wanted to move beyond the basics of making hard boiled eggs easier to peel, cooking dried beans, and making shredded barbecue pork. “The Ultimate Instant Pot” by Coco Morante provides a comprehensive array of recipes from breakfast foods to soups, meats, and vegetarian choices. Part of the convenience of a pressure cooker is the ability to cook a delicious meal using frozen meat. With Monte’s tips, I was able to take chicken breasts directly from the freezer and have a delicious meal ready in 30 minutes — with no money spent on takeout!
If you prefer to trust a known “foodie”, check out New York Times food reporter Melissa Clark’s “Dinner in an Instant.” Like Morante, Clark provides tips for getting the most out of your pressure cooker. She covers basics like making stocks, to main dishes, like chicken and dumplings and duck confit.
You can even take a deep dive into specific cuisines! “The Essential Indian Instant Pot Cookbook” by Archana Mundhe, the well-known food blogger behind Ministry of Curry, offers authentic Indian flavors in recipes like butter chicken, carrot pudding with cardamom and saffron, and paneer and vegetable biryani. Deborah Schneider, a James Beard Award-nominated author and chef/owner of six Mexican restaurants, includes recipes such as carnitas, chipotle lime roasted chicken, queso fundido, and flan in “The Essential Mexican Instant Pot.”
Once I master some more recipes, I’ll start to adapt my own traditional recipes for the pressure cooker. Right now though, I’m happy to continue to experiment my way through the growing collection at the library. At the moment, I’m developing my pressure cooker “Super Bowl” party menu, which includes spicy cheese dip, wings, chili, ribs, and for dessert lovers, a cheesecake. Check out the library’s collection of books and begin to master pressure for yourself!