I don't know much about cooking, but am learning more since going paleo. In the interests of saving time, what are the most efficient methods of cooking?
The 4 things I'm looking for are: 1) Health 2) Time and Ease 3) Low Cost 4) Acceptable taste
Heres my thoughts on the cooking methods I know of, are there any ways I can improve to become more efficient or healthier? Where am I mistaken?
1) Pressure cooker: -Seems like the best, chop up your food, put it in the cooker with some water, and set a timer at the appropriate time. -Could easily cook up most of your days food with little time and effort -Cleanup is easy
But is cooking meat with a pressure cooker healthy? If I pressure cook something can I just toss a bone in there, will the beneficial nutrients in the bone soak into the other food? I don't really eat the broth, not sure how.
2) Baking -Easy and doesn't require much attention -More attention than pressure cooking, need to check or flip things sometimes -cleanup seems to be harder due to things sticking in the pans, potentially spilling in oven -Aluminum foil to line pans is an extra cost
3) Stir Fry -Needs a lot of attention with the stirring and checking if its cooking evenly and whatnot -Tough to do a lot of food at once -Cleanup can be a pain with things sticking to the pan
I think a crockpot is easier and worry free. Just load it in the morning, turn it on low and walk away...supper is ready when you get home. It is great for making bone broths too.
Pressure cookers can blow up if you forget about them- my Dad once exploded corned beef all over the kitchen when I was a kid!
For what its worth, pressure cooker is about the best pot for cooking tasty stocks and broths. It extracts more flavor, and it doesnt evaporate aromatics in air as normal pot. They use these things in best 3 star restaurants to cook all kinds of compotes, stocks etc. At least for flavor its the best way. Dunno about other things. Kuhn-Rikon brand is best for stocks, it doesnt went as much as some cheapos, and is very quiet. And the seals last a long time even in professional use.
For me, the most efficient is cooking things that take the longest and store in the fridge in containers. Things that take less time I'll do each day to augment the items I cooked earlier in the week. Like, chicken, steak, roasts, hard boiled eggs, all variety of tubers, roasted veggies, little frittatas, etc. I'm not talking a pound of meat. I'm talking 5-6lbs of meat and 3lbs or so of tubers is what I work with. Items to augment would be all variety of greens, tomato, other veggies, etc. All meals go so quick when I do this and it's just a few hours dedicated one day a week with minimal cleanup afterwards.
For pressure cookers I LOVE the Fagor Duo 4qt. I used it all the time in my kitchen at work and when I taught a cassoulet class - did two versions of the beans + veg. before building the dish. One in a Le Creuset stock pot. The other in the Fagor. Hands down the product out of the Fagor was tastiest. The pressure wrings all the goodness out. The price is nice, around $80, and its the easiest I've found to use.
Get foil from the dollar store and use to line your pans, trust me. Parchment paper works as well but costs more. Broiling is your friend!
Once you get cooking you'll see that it'll get easier and less stressful :) It's fun - I swear.
I love my pressure cooker. Picked up a cheap one for 50 bucks and every Sunday I make a big batch of Goulash, Curry and Bourguignon. I tupperware them up and freeze them for the whole weeks meals. Easier, tastier and healthier than convenience food for about 4 hours lazy effort of a Sunday!
BTW I have a slow cooker but everything came out really horrible and raw-tasting. What am I doing wrong?
I lean towards stir fry or sauteeing for fast meal prep. Counter to table in 10 minutes.
Other things you might consider are getting a small outdoor gas grill which is very fast, heathy, easy clean-up, and tasty for both meats and vegetables. Also consider a rice cooker, which is good for fish, some meats and vegetables. I think it's a better alternative than a pressure cooker as a steamer. A little slower, but the same cooking effect with less effort. Safer too. I've seen too many blown-up pressure cookers over the years.
(Forgot to say in original post; I love my pressure cooker and cook everything except eggs in it...thus this additional gadget. I love to cook variations of borscht in it. Highly recommend trying that. ) I decided to get myself an egg poacher for work. I literally poach the eggs at my desk since you plug it in. It does not get dirty since you only wipe it out.
I love my Kuhn Rikon stainless steel pressure cooker for nearly the past 3years and use it 2-3 times a week for a variety of things - Indian goat/chicken/lamb/goat curries (8-12 min), BBQ pulled chicken/pork, Thai shrimp curries (8 min), steaming veggies (1-3 min) - depending on veggies.
The taste is amazing for stews, curries - it's like the flavors of slow cookers but much faster! Kuhn Rikon is a bit pricer - there are cheaper stainless steel ones in the past I've used that are much louder. I've been using pressure cookers for over 10 years. You can get different size cookers - I like to cook 2-3 pounds of meat and 2-3 pounds of veggies in a 5 liter cooker at once so I have leftovers.
I use digital kitchen timers (I have 2 in the kitchen) to remind me to turn off the burners/oven/pressure cooker, etc. The better pressure cookers like Kuhn Rikon have so many safety valves and features that it's hard to explode it - it's in their manual. Cheap Indian pressure cookers - that's another story! I've had several friends and family have those go bust at normal cooking.
Back in the 1950's/60's cheap faulty American pressure cookers designed and some people were injured. The media hyped it - like everything so at least a generation of Americans lived in fear of pressure cookers - even though more people die or are injured from bees stings and other things. Europeans have continued to use and manufacture pressure cookers since the 1950s. American pressure cookers also improved dramatically from the 1950's. (If they didn't you'd be hearing media reports and lawyers after pressure cookers!) So while most of the world is using pressure cookers -and I would go with American or European sold ones (not Indian ones - they are sketchy) - American still live in dread fear of them!
Meat on the bone has delicious marrow especially in Indian curries that is softened in the pressure cooker with spices. My hubby and I lovingly fight over marrow tidbits! :)
Pressure cooker temperature is higher than the boiling point of water. Depending on what model, it can be 240 -270 degrees Fahrenheit. My concern is that the higher temperature will destroy nutrients in meat. I prefer to cook my meat in water in a pan.
However, Staffan Lindeberg in "Food and Western Disease" suggests that the higher temperature of a pressure cooker is helpful for deactivating lectins in root vegetables.
Pressure cookers are awesome. A one-appliance kitchen. So easy to hardboil eggs (5' on high pressure, done, no clean up), cook tons of tubers/vegetables/meat at once.. I'm a sucker for efficiency so I love it.
I found this one to be great, although it's the only one I tried, and it only costs $80: http://www.amazon.com/Nesco-American-PC-6-25-30TPR-Multifunction-Pressure/dp/B000FG0OJG
I have the Cuisinart CPC-600 pressure cooker and it's great. Veggies take just a few minutes, meat 10-20min. Has a digital timer so mental load is low. If you forget to put in enough water, then it will stop itself after a min or two when it realizes something's wrong. I don't think it's possible for it to realistically explode or otherwise fail, though if it runs out of water you could have a bit of smoke. It doesn't bring out the flavors are well as a slow cooker but it also requires little planning and doesn't make you hungry all day while it's cooking.