An ace chef’s secret kitchen
appliance will have you cooking
hundreds of meals faster
Enter the kitchen of one of the world’s best
restaurants—Ferran Adrià’s El Bulli in
Spain, say, or Thomas Keller’s French
Laundry in Napa Valley—and you might
wonder if some of the equipment came
from a laboratory. Chefs are using tools and tech-
niques such as liquid nitrogen and sous vide, popu-
larizing what I call high-tech cooking. I teach many of
these methods at the prestigious French Culinary
Institute, but very few home kitchens (mine included)
are equipped for this kind of exploratory cuisine. After
all, who has the money or space for a refrigerator-size
$1,000 vacuum sealer, an essential device for sous
vide? But one high-tech tool I do use at home several
times a week is a pressure cooker. These appliances
cost about $100 and are now equipped with safety
features that prevent them from exploding like those
from the ’50s were prone to do. In a regular pot or
pan, food can get only as hot as the boiling point for
water: 212°F. But in a pressure cooker, water boils at
closer to 250°F, and that temperature increase neu-
tralizes the side effects of certain foods without dis-
turbing their flavors. You’d never eat a whole head of
garlic, for instance, because it causes terrible breath.
But a pressure cooker’s high temperature breaks
down the sulfur compounds that are the culprit. Now
you can use heaps of garlic to whip up the best
mashed potatoes your family will have ever tasted.
Another favorite dish of mine is horseradish-and-
salmon soup, minus the horseradish’s heat. Not only
will a pressure cooker help you achieve results that
are otherwise impossible, but it can also be used to
Pressure cookers help
cook food much faster, saving you hours in the
you do more with less.
kitchen when preparing your favorite stew or brisket.
Here’s a simple recipe to get you started. AS TOLD
TO JOEL WEBER
Nils Noren, 42, is the vice president of culinary and pastry arts at the French Culinary Institute.
the plan Use a pressure cooker to create the best mashed potatoes you’ve ever tasted
1 cup peeled garlic cloves
3½ cups milk (divided)
½ cup mustard seed
2 cups apple cider
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes
2 oz. butter
Freshly ground pepper
Fresh chives, finely
1 I Put the peeled garlic
cloves and 3 cups of
milk into a pressure
cooker. Cook under full
pressure for 20 minutes,
strain off the milk, and
puree the garlic until
smooth. Set aside.
2 I Add the mustard
seed and apple cider
vinegar to the pressure
cooker. Cook under full
pressure for 20 minutes.
Add the sugar while the
mixture is hot. Strain and
3 I Peel, wash, and cut
the potatoes into large,
even pieces. Place them
in a pot, cover with water,
add salt, and cook until
tender. Drain well and
pass through a food mill
or mash with a whisk.
4 I Bring ½ cup milk to
a simmer in a saucepan.
Stir the hot milk into
the pureed potatoes,
then beat in the butter.
Season with salt and
pepper (to taste). Add
2 Tbsp. pressure-cooked garlic puree
and ½ cup pressure-cooked mustard seed.
Top potatoes with finely
minced chives before
serving. Serves four.
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