FedEx just delivered your latest toy from Pampered Chef - the Quick Cooker. You are super excited as you carry the big box into your kitchen and set it down on your table. A few minutes later you have freed it from it's cage, boxes abandoned on the floor next to you. You hear an angelic "AAAHHHHH" in your head and there seems to be a bright light haloing the Quick Cooker.
After that moment of glory passes, you take a closer look and slowly the feeling of overwhelm creeps in. What are all those options on the front? Where should I even start? What did I get myself into? Why did I think I needed to get this intimidating piece of cookware? Oh right, because the meal the consultant prepared in it was out of this world. And the cheesecake...amazing.
Where is that user manual? Oh, there it is on the floor. It contains a green piece of paper which details how to get started. Woohoo!
Let's go over this together.
- Find an open spot on your counter. You want to make sure that there aren't any cupboards right above it. The hot steam from the steam vent can easily cause damage to cabinets.
- Once you plug it in, there will be a brief beep and the display on the front comes to life.
- Twist the handle on the lid counter-clockwise and lift it straight up. The Cooker will play a little chime. This chime will also play when you lock the lid in place again.
- Remove the wire rack and wash the inner stainless-steel pot in warm soapy water. Make sure to dry it thoroughly.
- Follow the directions to steam water. This does take about 30 minutes total. Don't worry, for most recipes, it will not take 28 minutes to come to pressure.
- When the time is up and you hear three beeps, press the steam release button and voila, you successfully steamed water.
At the beginning of the Cooking Guide that comes with the Quick Cooker, are easy starter recipes. Try to make hard boiled eggs. You can follow the directions in the booklet or you can use the 5-5-5 method. This is 5 minutes on the steam setting, then wait 5 minutes, allowing it to naturally release the steam on the Warming setting. Press the steam release button to completely release the pressure, and put the eggs into an ice bath for 5 minutes, a big bowl filled with water and ice cubes. Dry them and enjoy easy peel, hard boiled eggs.
What is this pressure release business all about?
If there is a natural release method, is there a different method as well, you ask? Yes, there is.
The natural release means that after the cooking time is done, you leave the pot alone for however long the recipe indicates. Most of the time it's about 10 minutes. During that time the pot will slowly release pressure by itself. You may not even notice it, but you could see some steam escaping the steam vent. When you leave it to its own devices at some point the red pressure indicator will pop down to let you know it's safe to open the lid.
The manual release means, after the cooking time is up, you push the steam release button right away. The cooker will turn into a big steam locomotive and the red pressure indicator will pop down to let you know it's safe to open the lid.
Your first meal
A great first dish to make is the Salsa Chicken. This recipe takes seconds to prep. Chicken breast seasoned with your favorite Southwest or taco seasoning, and a jar of salsa. That's it. Cut the chicken up after it's done cooking and serve in lettuce cups or over rice. Of course, you can fancy it up any way you like.
Why do I have to add water to a recipe?
You always need liquid in the Quick Cooker. The liquid builds steam, which creates the pressure. Not enough liquid and the food will burn. The Cooking Guide will help you determine how best to cook various foods. It is a guide and if you live in higher elevations, it will take experimentation.
To be successful, try out every recipe in the guide. This will give you a basic understanding of how to work the cooker and how to use the 16 settings it provides. Once you mastered those, the sky's the limit. There are a gazillion recipes on the internet for you to enjoy.
Still nervous? Don't worry, I have you covered. Join my Tanja's Quick Cooker Tribe group on Facebook for video tutorials, recipes and Q&A sessions.
Need inspiration for other products? Follow me on Facebook @pctanjamcelvey to watch my weekly show: Lettuce Cook - every Thursday at 8:30pm EST.