Pressed for Time? Give Pressure Cooking a Try

Photo: Fagor

Product reviewed: Fagor Helix Pressure Cooker


Call me a cooking curmudgeon, but when it comes to new gadgets I am not as welcoming as I used to be. Pressure cookers are nothing new — they became a staple in American kitchens in the 1930s — but somehow the craze missed my childhood home. So when the Fagor Helix Pressure Cooker arrived at my door I was hesitant and felt obliged to assure my beloved slow cooker it was not being replaced.

The Fagor Helix Pressure Cooker has two pressure valve options to choose from: high or low. The higher the pressure, the quicker the fibers of your food break down. Because I love speed and convenience I solely used the high setting. When the pressure is just right, an easy-to-see brightly colored screw will “pop,” giving you the OK to start the timer.

A benefit to pressure-cooking foods is it reduces the need for oil and butter, which is desirable for a healthy lifestyle.  I was concerned, however, that my meals would lack flavor. I adore a savory caramelization on meat and vegetables. Thankfully, there’s plenty of surface area in this pressure cooker to sear or sauté select ingredients before combining them and beginning the cooking process, so I could vary my cooking techniques depending on my cravings.

The pot holds 8.4 quarts, which was plenty for my tiny family of two. With each use, I knocked out two birds with one stone, cooking that night’s dinner and the next day’s lunch. It comes with a handy steamer basket, which I used to lift my chicken above the liquid to prevent it from getting soggy, which leads me to my dinner experiments.

I decided to christen the Fagor Helix Pressure Cooker with an attempt at a personal favorite: chicken wings. I traditionally oven-bake my wings, but an online review convinced me that I need to give pressure-cooking them a try. After 10 minutes on high pressure, I gave the wings a buffalo sauce basting and placed them under the broiler for a crispy skin, and then ended with another coat of sauce. Overall, they were a success! My fiancé didn’t realize I changed my cooking method.

My next two dishes were more complex, and this is where I feel the Fagor Helix Pressure Cooker really shines. I tried my hand at Chicken Cacciatore, a recommended recipe in the Fagor user’s manual, and an Indian Chickpea and Chicken Masala. I have never attempted an Indian dish, because frankly I was intimidated by the complexity and long list of spices. For this recipe, the pressure cooker was a gift from the heavens. It was delicious! Instead of sitting by a stove for hours while the flavors stewed, the Fagor Helix Pressure Cooker did this in 20 minutes.

Overall, once I was used to how it worked, I enjoyed the pressure-cooking method and, after a string of successful dinners, I can describe my experience with the stainless-steel Fagor Helix Pressure Cooker as a delicious lesson in science. My slow cooker will still get plenty of use, but I’ll admit, the pressure cooker has undoubtedly earned its place within my dinner rotation.

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Bethany Oxender
Bethany Oxender, MS, RDN, is a clinical dietitian based in Ann Arbor, MI, specializing in weight management. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram and read her blog, Bethany Grey.