A pressure cooker is an essential piece of kit – not just for your gadget-loving home-cook but for anyone looking to save time and money in the kitchen while producing great meals. Multiple safety features and modern build quality mean the days of worrying about exploding pressure cookers are long gone (whether this actually ever happened I couldn’t say but it’s certainly a fear we can leave in the last century).
The principle is simple – by cooking your food in a sealed environment, steam builds up – increasing pressure inside the pot which, in turn, increases the boiling point of water meaning you can cook at a higher temperature. This reduces cooking time dramatically but also helps force liquid into your food meaning tougher ingredients e.g. meat becomes tender more quickly.
The Tefal Secure 5 Neo is a neatly built, well proportioned 6 litre pressure cooker. It is built with 5 safety features (hence the name) and is constructed from solid stainless steel. The handle and locking mechanism snap into place reassuringly meaning there’s no guesswork as to whether the lid is lined up/sealed properly. There’s also a red safety pin that indicates the lid is sealed.
The locking latch and valve system are nice and chunky and finished in a slick lime-green – setting off a very smart piece of kitchen equipment.
Read any pressure cooker cookbook and you’ll quickly learn that pressure cooking is carried out at 2 different levels of pressure. Low pressure for more delicate ingredients – vegetables, fish etc and then a higher pressure for tougher ingredients. I’ve used other pressure cookers before and I’ve always had to watch a pressure gauge to make sure the correct pressure was maintained while cooking. The Tefal cooker comes with a switch for those 2 levels of pressure – meaning, again, less guesswork when cooking your food.
You also get a steaming basket which raises ingredients away from the base of the pan – this is useful for more delicate ingredients that you don’t want in contact with the base of the pan.
Overall I’m really impressed with the build-quality, ease of use and design of the Tefal Pressure cooker. I’m a big fan of good-looking kitchen equipment – obviously quality and how well it actually cooks food are important but it’s the little finishing touches that I think can make the difference. For me, this pressure cooker ticks all the boxes. It leaves nothing to chance – the design is simple and using it is straight forward.
If you haven’t tried using a pressure cooker before, I really recommend you give it a go. You could, for example, cook a chilli con carne or a Bolognese sauce in around 10-15 minutes. And by cook, I mean properly cook – those meals require a long, slow cook in a conventional pan but a pressure cooker reduces that time massively but you still achieve ultimately tasty food. The pressure cooker seems to pull flavour out and enhance everything you put in it.
If you’re into cooking stocks I’d say a pressure cooker is an essential thing – imagine being able to cook beef bones, veg etc. and within half an hour or so you have a proper stock which hasn’t lost any of the flavours of your stock ingredients.
It’s also worth pointing out the efficiency of a pressure cooker and the money you will save over time. Very little heat loss means you don’t need to use so much fuel and you don’t need to cook for so long either. When you cook in the summer you’ll also find that your kitchen doesn’t become unbearably hot from your stove bubbling away.
I’ll be posting a few recipes using the Tefal Secure 5 Neo over the next few weeks demonstrating just how versatile these things are. And – keeping versatility in mind – if you go camping you’ll find a pressure cooker on a camping stove allows you to cook incredible meals while you’re out in the open in very little time. That, for me, is reason enough to own one.
Keep an eye out for upcoming pressure cooker recipes.