If you're Italian, this might upset you.
Even celebrity chefs are not immune to the allure of the pressure cooker, known to many as the Instant Pot, a device that has revolutionized convenience in the kitchen. Rick Bayless, of Frontera Grill in Chicago, cherishes pressure-cooking so much that he asked for a new, larger one this Christmas, because he wore out his other one after about six years of heavy use.
"I always thought because it had the pressure cooker name, home cooks wouldn’t want to have it. It sounds scary," Rick Bayless told Food & Wine at the 10th Annual Cayman Cookout at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, where he did a cooking demonstration on the beach. "But then when the brilliant marketing strategy to call it Instant Pot came out and everybody wanted it."
Bayless says his favorite use of his pressure-cooker is to make ... risotto. That's right, the notoriously stir-intensive dish perfected by Italian grandmothers who will likely scold you for not using a wooden spoon the way tradition dictates.
"Risotto in seven minutes is astonishing," he says. "No stirring. It's crazy. It’s a pressure cooker thing – it’s amazing. The one thing about pressure cooking is that the pressure is even, so you’re almost cooking stuff suspended. You know how you want those perfect grains – soft on the outside, a little firm on the inside? You can achieve that in seven minutes." (Here's our recipe for pressure cooker risotto, and, yes, it's quite good.)
While Bayless insists that Big Pressure Cooker is not paying him to tout the wounders of the product, he offers even more enthusiasm for its ability to make a flavorful stock. In fact, he won't use anything else.
"I never make stock any other way," he says. "Pressure cooker stock – it's the richest stock you'll ever make. It makes it in an hour and a half." He's not too proud to admit that he follows a different cookbook author's stock recipe, saying that Martha Stewart's is his go-to.
Bayless, who has written cookbooks for over thirty years, says he loves coming to food festivals, the Cayman Cookout in particular, to get a pulse on the needs of home cooks by meeting fans in person. When asked what advice he would offer to novice cooks looking to mix up their repetoire, Bayless evangelizes another culinary innovation: the slow cooker.
"Proteins that cook quick – sautéed stuff, grilled stuff – is really fun for a while, but it’s all kind of the same, and it gets a little bit boring," he says. "The next step away from that, but something that's still fast, is to use the slow cooker. It takes you ten minutes to put it in the slow cooker, you cook it all day long, and after the six hours on high, it flips over to warm and can keep warm for four to five more hours. You walk home and the house smells amazing, and you’ve got dinner ready that doesn’t taste like sautéed chicken."