Quick Meals Under Pressure

After an Aunt had a pressure cooker blow its top, putting cabbage on the ceiling, many decades ago, and hearing of other horror stories involving pressure cookers, I was always extremely dubious of them.

It was not until my wife’s sister and her husband told us about the fantastic results he was achieving with the stove top one he had bought that I became interested. He was cooking legs of lamb in red wine which they both said was the best they had ever tasted.

I purchased a stove top 8 litre Tefal unit from Harris Scarfe in May, 2016 on sale for $159.95 but I see they have them on sale today for just $119.95. The claimed RRP is $329.95. After overcoming my initial concerns, I find it extremely easy to use, and we have never had a dish that we were not happy with, or that was not just as good, if not better, than the conventional or slow cooker equivalents.

Pea & ham soup in just 20 to 30 minutes without any peas being burnt or sticking to the bottom. Osso Bucco in just 30 minutes. Tender, juicy corned beef in just 30 to 40 minutes. Thick, rich stews in 30 minutes. Tender lamb shanks in 30 minutes. Plus lots of curries and other delicious dishes. I sometimes cook a whole duck in it for 20 minutes so as to steam cook it prior to roasting it on our Weber Family Q.

With most dishes, the pressure cooker virtually cleans itself, but if food is stuck on the sides, a little further pressure cooking with just some water quickly loosens the residue. We now use our electric and stovetop skillets and frypans only for fried eggs, scrambled eggs, omelettes and roast potatoes, and our saucepans for mashed potatoes, sauces, Cous Cous and boiled eggs, and the wall oven for baked sweet potatoes.

All roasts, grills and pizzas get cooked on the Weber and all stews, curries, corned beef, Osso Bucco and such like get cooked in the pressure cooker. We have a gas cooktop fed by two 9 Kg gas bottles with a changeover valve plus a 9 Kg gas bottle for the Weber plus a spare gas bottle. A gas bottle for the cooktop lasts around 12 months and we use 4 to 5 bottles a year for the Weber so that our annual cost for LPG is around $120.

Our electricity bills for our present residence are around $2,000 per annum which is almost half the cost of our previous residence, despite now having a swimming pool. So that is it in a nutshell. Quick delicious meals with reduced energy costs.


We also use a pressure cooker regularly and it is a great ‘appliance’ in the kitchen.

We often do pickled meats, pork hocks, smoked pork hocks (which falls off the bone and can be rolled in plastic film and use like ham), soups etc. Even a tin of condensed milk can be quickly turned into caramel making a addition to a dessert (as a rare treat…haven’t done this for many years).

Ours is a hand-me-down from my grandparents. We received it after they died and was originally manufactured in the 1950. Is heavy duty aluminium and still going strong (the seals have hardened a little, but soften when on the stove top).


I’ve got a couple of pressure cookers, the big stove top Presto is used for sterilising jars etc for fruit preserving. The smaller electric Cuisinart one I use for cooking rice, lentils, beetroot, soup bean mix, soy beans, etc quite often.
I use the Presto on a gas burner, as it is Aluminium and wont heat on the induction, but a gas bottle lasts for a very long time, as it is rarely used for the BBQ or pressure cooker. One of these days I might experiment with it on the induction by using a steel plate under it.The electric Cuisinart costs basically nothing to run, as we are off-grid.


Your comment regarding the tin of condensed mild reminded me of the story I was told by the young lady who used to work at the local baker we used to go to before it changed hands.
Her parents had an old stove top pressure cooker which her mother used to use to turn tins of condensed milk into caramel except one day she completely forgot that she had in on the stove.
Her father just happened to walk past the stove and out the back door of their farmhouse into an alcove which ran sideways from the door when the pressure cooker exploded, so that he escaped injury by a mere few seconds.
They were left with caramel splattered over the ceiling and they could not remove the stains so they simply painted over them.
I expect that it was not the pressure cooker itself that caused the explosion, but that the tin of condensed milk actually exploded thus destroying the pressure cooker.
I have often wondered whether the scene in the movie Under Siege where Jean-Claude Van Damme puts a tin of food in the microwave oven in the ship’s galley which then causes a massive explosion is actually possible or whether the tin would shield the contents from heating. However, I will pass on any experimenting.
I use the timer or alarm clock on my phone and/or the electronic kitchen timer so as not to forget about things like the pressure cooker and the BBQ.


Should have rung me…I would have brought my step ladder and my tongue.

Pressure cookers can be dangerous if they are not watched, boil dry or the weights on the pressure release jam/seal the stem release causing tremendous pressure build up.

Ours makes such a racket that it is near impossible not to know that it is on the stove.


Good ones such as my big Presto have a secondary safety release to protect the user from the above scenario.
However, on my first use of it at high pressure with all the weights, it did produce some disturbing sharp sounds as the Aluminium molecules rearranged themselves slightly!


There’s a story in my family about a pea and ham soup painted ceiling - it was a very old house, 12 ft ceilings :wink:

I have a hand-me-down pressure cooker that I’m not game to use. My weapon of choice is a Breville electric multi-function cooker that I only ever use for pressure cooking. Wouldn’t be without it !


Your Quick Meals Under Pressure has prompted me to tell you about my experience with a plastic microwave pressure cooker. Whenever we travel, my wife and I prefer to rent self-catering accommodation in order to save on food costs. Furthermore, some rental properties only seem to have microwave ovens (presumably because it is assumed that holiday renters eat out most of the time and do not need a stove or stovetop.) We therefore decided to try a plastic microwave pressure cooker – it promised to be cheap, cheap to run, lightweight and easy to clean. Furthermore it could be carried in our luggage during overseas trips, as it doubled as something to pack small objects in!

We tried a 2.2 litre Lakeland cooker. We were initially a little sceptical of the claims made for it, and the manual did not quite cover what we would normally cook. However, after some experimentation with cooking times, power settings and recipe proportions, we found that we could reliably cook a decent one-pot meal in 15-20 minutes. We developed our own recipes (since my wife is diabetic) and developed a small recipe book of our own to carry with us. Soups, casseroles, curries (etc) all worked well.

Lakeland’s website has mainly very positive reviews – the negative reviews seemed to us to suggest to use that the writers had not given the cooker a fair shake. From our point of view, this technology works brilliantly. We can’t say that other brands are any better or worse, but for us the microwave pressure cooker is a boon for the budget traveller, as well as for people looking for a quick meal at home.