I've been experimenting with my new Christmas present over the last few weeks and am pleased to say, I'm definitely getting the hang of it! I used it last week, and this week in fact, for a healthy and hearty bean stew, which cooked in just 7-10 minutes. I also made a new years chilli, (10 mins) chicken sambal curry (4 mins) and monkfish with peppers (6 mins).
You may have guessed from these cooking times that my new toy is a pressure cooker. Yes, that's right, but not one of those 80s Prestige huge pans with a scary lid that went on the hob. No. An electric one. All shiny and new. A Tefal Cook 4 Me. And I may be a little bit in love. Yes, you still have all the prep. to do, and that adds more time. And you have to wait for it to preheat. But unlike my slow cooker, I can brown meats in the cooker itself, then go straight onto cooking in there, even tho it has to preheat again.
There is, however, a time and a place for it. If you want a really rich, flavoursome, homemade ragu, this machine will not give you that. If you already have amazing flavours ready to go in the pot, for example, a Thai spiced paste, it's perfect. Equally, if you cook things like bolognaise from a jar, it would dramatically speed up your dinner times.
The machine has several recipes pre-programmed into it, so you turn it on, find the recipe and the little screen guides you through what to do when. It's normally a case of prepping the ingredients, browning meat then throwing it all in to cook. The app, which is only available in the U.K. at present, has many more recipes to use and you can just follow the recipe on there and use the manual mode on the machine brown and cook. There is a new Connect model just released over here, and the app is designed to run alongside that and send the recipe direct to your machine. But I can't really see the point. For a start, it's much more expensive. And there's no extra effort or difficulty involved in using the manual mode on the machine. In fact, it’s slightly easier as the browning mode on manual starts a timer so you know how long you’ve been browning for, although I usually go on the look of it.
You can even use it to cook desserts, but I haven't braved those yet. I also don't think I've actually followed the recipes on the machine. For a start, I only use pastes for curries and everything else, like bolognaise, I make my own tomato sauce. I tend to make something I would usually make, find a similar cut of meat recipe on the machine and use that preset! So for my chicken sambal, I chop chicken, find the green Thai curry recipe as it also uses chopped chicken and coconut milk, brown meat and onions, tip my paste, coconut milk and green beans in, then use the preset time. For my chilli, I again used the chilli preset but used my own recipe. Occasionally with the chilli, the sauce is too thick for the machine to create the steam and pressure needed, so just give it a stir, try again, and add a bit more water if needed to help it on its way!
Even if I use this machine once a week, it certainly does save time and was worth the money. When F asks when her dinner is ready, I can say ‘in about three minutes’, rather than telling her we just have to wait for the oven to heat up, etc. etc. It also means I can tip everything in and leave it rather than stand at the hob and try to stop CC emptying the cupboards at the same time as juggling a hot pan … never a good idea.