I suspect if you’re a child of the 70/80s like me, I bet you remember pressure cookers.
My Mum used a pressure cooker religiously on a Sunday to cook up a Sunday dinner. A joint of gammon could be cooked in the bottom of the pan, with potatoes and green beans over the top.
The cooker would be pulled out again on Sunday to cook the leftovers into a casserole or soup. Mum would toss in roast meat, onions, celery and carrots. Sometimes she would thicken the stock and add rice or dumplings to make a hearty casserole, other times it would be left thin, and eaten as a soup.
Prestige recently contacted me and invited me to try a pressure cooker for myself, to try and recreate my Mum’s cooking. As sponsors of the new ITV show The Secret Chef, Prestige knows a thing or two about the nation’s cooking secrets.
We tried a 5l model, from the Prestige SmartPlus range. It was very shiny.
The cool thing about pressure cooking is that foods cook in about a third of the usual time, making it great for cooking cheap cuts of meat. It’s also a sealed cooking environment, so the nutrients stay in your dish.
Modern pressure cookers are also a lot easier to use than the models I remember Mum cooking with. The Prestige SmartPlus range has a built-in pressure regulator and a valve that ensures pressure is released away from you – making it safer to use. The SmartPlus is hefty but not too heavy, and really simple to use. There’s no removable pressure gauge or weights to deal with, for starters.
To cook in the pressure cooker, you just need to ensure there’s liquid (t0 make steam). Locking the lid in place is simple, and you can select from two different pressure settings, depending on what you’re cooking. Bring the cooker up to the boil, and once the pressure regulator is letting out steam, turn the heat down so it’s quietly hissing, then wait.
Okay, I confess to initially being a bit intimidated by a pressure cooker and I *might* have waited until my Mum could come over to ensure I didn’t accidentally explode the kitchen, or something. Yes, I’m a wimp. But it turned out to be pretty simple, and Mum left me to it after ensuring I’d set the cooker up correctly.
I decided to try a slightly updated version of my Mum’s chicken soup, using some chicken thighs with chilli and lemongrass to give it a fresh Thai flavour. I’ve included the recipe below if you’d like to try it out.
Pressure Cooker Thai Chicken Noodle Soup
- 4 chicken thighs
- 2 shallots
- 2 carrots
- 2 sticks celery
- 1 red chilli
- 1 stick lemongrass
- 2 bundles wholewheat noodles
- 1/2 pint chicken stock (or miso soup)
- Start by finely chopping the celery, carrot, and shallot, and frying for a few minutes in some olive oil, in the bottom of the pan over a high heat.
- Add the chicken, chopped chilli and lemongrass and seal the meat.
- Add half a pint of miso soup or stock, and put the lid on the pressure cooker. Set to 12lb pressure and bring up to the boil. Once the pressure is high enough, turn down the heat under the pan.
- After 10 minutes, release the pressure, and take the lid off the pan. Drop in 2 bundles of noodles, and stir over a low heat for 3 minutes.
And there you have it. Thai chicken soup perfection, in under 15 minutes!
Thanks to Prestige for providing me with a pressure cooker for the purposes of this review. All cooking successes are my own, and entirely down to dumb luck.