Nigel Slater's pressure cooker recipes (2024)

I am not big on kitchen gadgets. No bread maker, halogen oven or slow cooker has ever graced my kitchen counter. Unlike 97% of the country, I wouldn't have a clue how to operate a microwave. The reason most gadgets have no place in my home is that theywould remove the very part of the cooking process I find such a joy.

But maybe there are other reasons to buy certain gadgets. Many of you have asked why, in this fuel-hungry age, I don't suggest a pressure cooker for preparing chickpeas, beans and other jobs. The answer is a whole box of culinary clichés: pressure cookers are dangerous, expensive and, worst of all, make everything taste the same.

Richard Ehrlich loves his pressure cooker so much he has written a book about it(80 Recipes for Your Pressure Cooker, Kyle Cathie, £12.99) – a book worth owning a pressure cooker for. Mr Ehrlich invited me into his kitchen to explain why I should own one.

A modern pressure cooker is aworld away from the aluminium monster my landlady used to cook our grey stew in. They are not cheap, but then neither is a decent saucepan. The saving on fuelcan be great – a pan of chickpeas down from a good hour on a conventional stove to less than 10 minutes. Timing, of course, is crucial. You can't use a pressure cooker successfully without its timer. The author concedes that the window for cooking fish to perfection is too small to involve a pressure cooker (30 seconds over time and your fillet has turned into a piscine purée).

The extra-high temperatures involved do not work in every recipe's favour, but anything that stops me burning another batch of chickpeas is worth consideration. Also, cooking in such a sealed atmosphere allows us to exploit more economical cuts of meat without having the cooker on for hours.

Would I use a pressure cooker to make a risotto? No. I would miss the slow stirring that I find so relaxing. Would I cook my greens in it and miss the split second they are at their crisp best? I doubt it. But am I about to make oxtail or duck casserole with button onions in 45 minutes, or red-cooked pork with anise and Sichuan peppercorns in 30? Well, I just might.


A recipe handed down from the author's late mother, something she used to make for dinner parties. The idea came from Ess Gezunterhayt – Yiddsh for "eat in good health" – a charity booklet from the early 1960s.

Serves 4
medium duck 1.75–2.25kg
vegetable oil 2-3 tbsp
plain flour 2 tbsp
Cognac 3 tbsp
dry white wine 100ml
chicken or duck stock 250ml
bouquet garni or mixed herbs such as herbes de Provence
tomato purée 1 tsp
carrot 1
small white onions 12
small button mushrooms 12

Joint the duck, or have the butcher do it for you. Pour enough oil into the pressure cooker to coat the base. Season the duck with salt and ground black pepper and turn the heat to medium high. Brown a few pieces then remove to a plate. Pour out the excess oil, leaving in about 2 tbsp.

Return the pressure cooker to the heat and stir in the flour. When it is mixed into the fat, add the Cognac, wine, stock, herbs and tomato purée. Bring to the boil and put in the duck pieces and the carrot. Clamp on the lid. Bring to full pressure, turn the heat down to medium and cook for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and vent immediately.

While the duck is cooking, put the onions into a pan with water or stock to cover. Simmer for 15 minutes then drain. Put the onions and mushrooms into the pressure cooker, turn the heat down to medium and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove all the solid ingredients from the pressure cooker, setting the carrot aside. Put the carrot in a fine sieve and mash it back into the pressure cooker. Stir into the cooking liquid to blend. Taste the liquid. If it is too diluted, boil it down briskly. If there isn't enough of it, add stock or water. Serve with chopped parsley, rice or mashed potatoes.

To cook the duck without a pressure cooker, make in the traditional way in alarge, heavy-based casserole. The cooking of the duck will take 50-60 minutes or when the meat comes easily away from the bones. You can skip cooking the onions separately, adding them to the pan at the same time as the duck pieces.


A light chocolate pudding adapted from Marguerite Patten's classic Step by Step Cookery – the first cookbook I ever owned.

Serves 4-6
butter 100g, plus a little extra
golden caster sugar 100g
eggs 2
vanilla extract 1 tsp
self-raising flour 100g
cocoa powder 1 tbsp
grated dark chocolate 2 tbsp

Butter a 1.2 litre pudding basin. Cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add gradually. Add the vanilla extract and mix in.

Meanwhile, heat at least 5cm water in your pressure cooker with a steamer insert or an improvised steamer rack in place.

Sift the flour and cocoa into the mixture. Gently fold, adding the chocolate. Add a tablespoon of water until the mixture is soft enough to drop from the spoon.

Pour the mixture into your prepared basin,filling only three-quarters to allow room to rise. Take a double square of greaseproof paper, large enough to hang over the rim of the basin by a few centimetres, and fold a pleat into it. Butter the underside and secure the paper withalong piece of string under the rim. Loop the string over the basin and tie on the opposite side to make a handle.

Put the basin into the steamer, cover thepressure cooker without clamping the lid closed and steam for 15 minutes. This is essential to allow the sponge to rise.

Now clamp on the lid. Bring up to full pressure, turn the heat down to medium and cook for 25 minutes. Turn off the heat and vent immediately. Remove the basin using the handle. Run a knife around the inside of the basin and turn out on to a plate. Serve with double cream or crème fraîche.

To cook without a pressure cooker, steam in a pan with a tight-fitting lid for 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

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Nigel Slater's pressure cooker recipes (2024)
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