Kitchen & Pantry

Regular cooking pans, pressure cooker or crock pot?

I received an e-mail a few days ago asking if I use special kitchen gadgets to do my cooking at home. Well, yes and no. For sure, I am not the kind of person who has a specific gadget for every single task. Every kitchen tool or gadget I own serves many purposes. But let’s be more specific. Let’s start with cookware. I’ll write about the other kitchen gadgets and tools in future entries.

Boiling meat must be one of the easiest things to do to start a meal. Well, except opening a can, of course, if that counts as cooking. We want tender but not soggy or crumbly beef. We want something we can bite into and not something akin to corned beef. Cuisinart Chef's Classic Nonstick Stainless 10-Piece Cookware SetA thick-bottomed cooking pan or casserole should easily do the trick. The problem with ordinary cooking pans is that, most of the time, you have to watch the meat and add liquid from time to time. Unless you have a cooking pan with a very good lid, there will be a lot of evaporation while the meat simmers. Plus, you don’t save anything on electricity or gas. If the bottom isn’t thick enough and, at any point, too little liquid is left while the meat continues to simmer, there is always a chance that the meat will stick to the bottom of the pan. This is especially true with whole slabs of uncut meat. Fagor Splendid 6-Quart Pressure CookerPersonally, I prefer a pressure cooker for cooking tougher cuts of beef. It saves time, gas and the trouble of looking in on the meat while it cooks.

There are a lot of superstitions about pressure cookers. A number of “old people” I know swear them off because they are “dangerous”. According to them, pressure cookers may suddenly explode and cause death or injury. Well, if you don’t read the pressure cooker’s instruction manual, or don’t follow what it says, an accident may not be far-fetched. But if you know how to use a pressure cooker properly, it is very much safe. I have been using pressure cookers since I was 10 years old and never had an accident with it. Rival 64451LD-C 6.5 Quart Round Slow Cooker with Bonus Little Dipper Slow CookerIf the cost of electricity is no object, a crock pot is a wonderful thing to use. My mother-in-law prefers it over the pressure cooker and uses it for cooking anything from callos to kare-kare. It is true that there is nothing like slow-cooked meat. Juicy and tasty and just downright wonderful. But, in our house, power consumption is something we try to control. And, as far as I know, there are no stove-top slow cookers; they all have built in heating mechanisms powered by electricity.

In the end, whichever cookware you choose, it must be something you’re comfortable with and something that suits your lifestyle.

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