If Pressure Cooking is So Great, Why Don’t I See Them on the Cooking Channels?

Despite the fact that no one can really pinpoint when or where they heard the story of the exploding pressure cooker, they still have a reputation of being ‘explosive’. Is this ‘urban legend’ the reason we do not see pressure cooking on the cooking shows?

There are tons of stories out there but I cannot find any documented cases where a pressure cooker exploded AND it was not the fault of someone trying to do something stupid!

Now I am not saying that in my grandmother’s day, these devices were not as safe as they are today. Today’s pressure cookers are equipped with a number of safety devices that release steam and excess pressure even if the cook forgets. Without safely releasing all of the pressure and steam, the lid will simply not turn due to these safety features and locking mechanism wizardry.

Almost all (I cannot find one that has not) pressure cooker makers voluntarily ship their models of pressure cookers and pressure canners off to Underwriters Laboratories (UL) so that they can put these cookers through a variety of rigorous tests. They not only test them to approved safety standards, they abuse them! The override safety valves, build up pressure WAY beyond the safety ratings, damage the locking mechanisms and still no reports of explosions or injuries. These things are safe!

Maybe another reason we do not see these devices on popular cooking shows is that all the action goes on off-camera. By that I mean that the cooking process is hidden from view. Sure, I like to see Rachael cutting up that onion for the thousandth time – Yummo! And sure, E. Lagasse can’t say “Gaarrrrlick” or “BAM” too many times for me because I am a huge fan!

But when it comes to the magic of cooking under pressure, it all happens under (safety) lock and lid. But I think there should be some time devoted to the pressure cooker on these shows. “Cooking under Pressure” is a modern marvel. It can reduce the cooking time of meals by up to 70%! What person in today’s hectic lifestyle is not going to listen to that message? Additionally, meals cooked ‘under pressure’ retain almost all of their original nutrients because so little liquid is used during the cooking process, nothing is boiled or rinsed away.

I do recall a show with Jacques Pepin from several years ago when he used a pressure cooker on his show. It is the only show I can recall where a chef of his magnitude featured cooking under pressure on his show. He did two recipes: beef broth and chile con carne. It was amazing!

He took the same ingredients he would use for a conventional recipe for beef broth. The only step that was the same was to bake beef bones until they were nicely browned in the oven. Then all the ingredients: wine, aromatics, herbs, bones and water went in the pot. 45 minutes later he had what he said usually took him 8-12 hours to accomplish!!! And his chili – it was done in 30 minutes and it looked fantastic.

I have done both in my kitchen using my pressure cooker. And you may ask how it turned out? Well, I have bought beef broth out of a can since and the chili recipe rivals two award-winning recipes I bought. Try it and make up your own mind! I just wish other shows would catch on and learn that ‘cooking under pressure’ is a great idea for today’s modern cook.