They work in completely opposite ways, but they both succeed in producing a hot, hearty meal in quick fashion. One is the slow cooker, the other is the pressure cooker, and they both have been helping cooks for decades.
The slow cooker, which usually has two settings, heats foods to about 170 degrees on low and to at least 190 degrees on high. The cooker maintains that temperature for slow, even cooking. Working cooks like this appliance because they can put the ingredients for a meal into the cooker in the morning, set it to low and come home to a finished dish.
The pressure cooker eases last-minute preparation. As long as the pantry or refrigerator holds the ingredients necessary for supper, cooking them under pressure takes a short time. Foods cook about 70 percent faster than foods cooked conventionally. The pressure cooker accelerates the cooking process because it cooks above the boiling point of water.
Both appliances have evolved to feature more "high-tech" features such as programmable keypads on slow cookers and precision thermostats to regulate temperature in pressure cookies.
When prepared the conventional way — either on the stovetop or in the oven — pot roast requires a long braise on a low simmer to tenderize the meat and occasional checking on the part of the cook. The slow cooker or the pressure cooker eliminates any need to stand over the pot while producing a hearty meal with a minimum of fuss. Here is our recipe for pot roast prepared either in a slow cooker and the pressure cooker.
POT ROAST — TWO WAYS
>>1 (3-pound) beef chuck shoulder roast
>>1 tablespoon kosher salt
>>1/2 teaspoon black pepper
>>1 cup coarsely chopped onion
>>1 cup carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
>>1 cup sliced celery
>>6 medium potatoes, cut into halves
>>1 cup red wine
>>1 (32-ounce) container low-sodium beef broth
>>1 bay leaf
>>6 sprigs parsley
>>3 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 3 tablespoons cold water
Sprinkle roast with salt and pepper and put into either a slow cooker or a pressure cooker. Add onion, carrots, celery and potatoes. Pour in wine and beef broth, and add bay leaf and parsley sprigs.
To prepare in the slow cooker: Turn slow cooker to high and cook 5 hours. Check meat. Meat will be cooked but if it is not tender, re-cover cooker and cook another hour.
To prepare in the pressure cooker: Close lid of pressure cooker and bring up to pressure according to manufacturer's directions. When pressure is reached, lower the heat and set a timer for 90 minutes. After 90 minutes of cooking time, turn off heat and reduce pressure according to manufacturer's directions.
To serve, remove meat, slice and arrange with the vegetables on a serving platter. Discard bay leaf and parsley sprigs. Stir cornstarch slurry into the meat juices and stir until liquid thickens slightly. (The liquid will not be as thick as a gravy.) Pour some of the meat juices over the meat and vegetables. Serve extra juices in a gravy boat or pitcher. Serves 6.