Before there was the Crock-Pot or Instant Pot, there was the pressure cooker. The manual workhorse you might associate with an Italian nonna at the stovetop has been around for centuries—and there’s good reason why their appeal has persisted for so long.
Beans, ragu, rice (including risotto), roasts, soups, stews—what do these dishes all have in common? They all take a prolonged period of time to make, time most often reserved for more leisurely weekends. The pressure cooker, which uses steam pressure that builds up inside the tightly closed vessel, allows tougher ingredients to cook at just a fraction of the time (we’re talking 40 minutes for chickpeas—no pre-soak required!).
When this sleek Italian-made beauty made its debut in our office one day, I couldn’t help but notice my coworker’s eyes light up. Sure enough, Food52’s intrepid Director of Customer Care Rebecca Salisbury-Baskakow had feelings about this kitchen hero and she readily made them known to me.
“I’m extremely passionate about pressure cookers,” she started. “They were a staple piece in both my Italian mother's and grandmother's kitchens, and bring such good memories of amazing broth and pastina (when I was sick), and perfectly cooked lentils or borlotti beans. My mother has a pressure cooker that was my grandmother's from the 1970s that she still uses today (it's missing one handle which, I think, gives it some personality). My grandfather actually bought it for my grandmother because she coveted the piece but stainless steel pots were extremely expensive in Italy at the time.” How’s that for a pressure cooker love story? SWOON.
My own Korean mother is also a huge fan of the device, using it daily for steaming up multigrain rice, and during the colder months for deeply rich oxtail broth (well before bone broth was a thing).
It couldn’t be simpler to use, either. Watch the video above and see if it doesn’t convince you to add this time-saving cooker to your kitchen arsenal.
Any pressure cooker fans out there? Share your favorite recipes with us below!