This is not your grandmother’s pressure cooker. Modern day versions are safe, easy to lock tight and are far quieter than units of yore. I can’t imagine my kitchen without one. The convenience plus time and energy savings associated with making things ranging from roasts to perfect risotto and even desserts is incredible. On top of that, everything inevitably turns out tastier and more nutritious than it would otherwise.
For the uninitiated, pressure cooking is a method of cooking in a sealed vessel that does not permit air or liquids to escape below a certain pressure. Pressure is created by boiling a liquid, such as water or broth, inside the closed pressure cooker causing the trapped steam to increase the internal pressure and temperature. This causes wet steam (or “saturated steam”) to be forced through the food and results in faster cooking times compared to conventional cooking methods. Once pressure is reached, the heat source can be dialed down significantly to maintain proper pressure for cooking. Pressure is slowly released through an external venting mechanism so that the vessel can be safely opened. A pot roast can be ready in 45-minutes, potatoes are cooked through in 10, broccoli and other vegetables barely take 5-minutes (at pressure) to become tender.
I’ve owned several brands and sizes over the years, but my favorite by far is the 6 qt. stockpot model made by Kuhn-Rikon of Switzerland. This unit, while not cheap, is extremely well-built, whisper silent and has multiple safely mechanisms built-in. Unlike the classic stream-release versions with the loud jiggly knob on top, this design retains most of the moisture, thus minimizing the amount of liquid required to get up and stay pressurized.
There are many less expensive, good quality pressure cooker alternatives out there that will serve you well, but I believe my Kuhn Rikon cooker will last for years of frequent use and look good doing it.