Comments: OK, so you will not buy a pressure cooker – not in a house, not with a mouse, not in a box, not in a train, etc., etc. How about a pressure cooker disguised as a super-duper fry pan? How about a pressure cooker disguised as a steamer? Or one disguised as a stew pot? Or a deep-fryer?
Yes, those are the lengths to which you've driven the pressure cooker makers of the world – to disguise their pressure cookers as pans that can do just about anything in the kitchen, and cook under pressure.
The German company Fissler is a case in point. Instead of making the tall, single-function pressure cooker of our parent's generations – that does take up a lot of space – it has made one that is little taller than a fry pan. They've given it their innovative Novogrill bottom, a honeycomb texture designed for grilling and searing without the use of added oils. They've included a fry basket, so you can produce crispy fried chicken, hush puppies, and homemade French fries. Or you can use it as a steamer basket, to make steamed dumplings, vegetables, and British puddings. They've included a tempered glass lid so you can fry, steam, braise, and stew and see how your dinner is progressing.
Oh yes, and it's also a wonderfully engineered pressure cooker, for when you break down and embrace the benefits of cooking with pressure. The first one surely must be saving time. Using a pressure cooker, Fissler says, saves 70% of the cooking time and 50% of the energy consumed by cooking conventionally. It prevents oxidation and seals in minerals and vitamins. It avoids mixing the flavors of foods cooked together.
The pan itself is made of high-quality 18/10 stainless steel, and has an extra thick aluminum-core base that will never separate, warp, or develop hot spots, and works on all heating surfaces, including induction stoves. The extra handle on the opposite side of the pan is so helpful (every large pan should have one). All of it, even the pressure lid, is dishwasher-safe, a rarity among pressure cookers.
As a pressure cooker, Fissler's Blue Point system claims advantages over other pressure cookers, primarily that it does not hiss or steam (or allow flavor to escape) during most of the cooking process if the heat is adjusted correctly. You put your ingredients in, put it on high heat, and add the lid and lock it, so that pressure builds. As the heat rises, it generates steam until the growing pressure seals the gasket inside the lid and pressure really begins to build. At this point, the pressure gauge – which is the blue point – begins to rise. Depending on what you are cooking, you let it rise to show one white ring (for gentler cooking) or two (for optimal pressure and speed), and lower the heat to keep the gauge at the appropriate level. When you've found the right temperature, the pressure cooker will no longer hiss or allow steam to escape. Cook for the correct amount of time, then either let the pressure dissipate at the pan cools (for foods that won't be harmed by a little extra cooking), release the steam manually with the locking button (for a quicker dissipation), or put the pan in the sink and run cold water over the lid (for a very quick pressure release, for foods that would be harmed by added cooking, such as fish or vegetables).
We used the Fissler frying pan/stew pot/skillet/deep fryer/pressure cooker for all its intended purposes, and found it wonderfully competent. We sautéed, fried, deep-fried, stewed, steamed, and pressure cooked, and were totally happy with the results.
Fissler does make big honking, single-purpose pressure cookers for large families and others who cook huge meals, but this 4-quart model will almost certainly meet everyone else's needs. It costs a fortune, as German engineering and manufacturing so often do, but we are confident it will last forever, and it does what you otherwise might purchase several pans – at significant cost – to do.
And, in our opinion, you really should have (and use) a pressure cooker.