Six Steps for Deep-Frying Without a Deep Fryer

We’re big fans of deep-frying as a finishing technique after cooking sous vide. You don’t need to own a dedicated fryer. You just need a deep pot and the proper tools to insert and retrieve the food from a safe distance: long tongs, a slotted deep-fry spoon, or a frying basket. Follow the steps below for deep-frying success.

  1. Choose an appropriate frying oil, one that has a higher smoke point than the desired cooking temperature. Peanut, soybean, and sunflower oils are our favorites for frying at high temperatures. For a list of smoke and flash points of different oils, see page xxii of Modernist Cuisine at Home or 2·126 of Modernist Cuisine.
  2. Add the oil to a deep pot, but fill it no more than half full. Generally the walls of the pot should rise at least 10 cm / 4 in above the oil so that there are no spillovers. This also helps contain splattering and makes cleanup easier. Use enough oil so that you can submerge a small batch of food completely.
  3. Preheat the oil to the cooking temperature. Use a probe thermometer held upright in the center of the pan of oil to check the temperature (see the picture below). Our recipes call for frying at temperatures between 190 °C / 375 °F and 225 °C / 440 °F. That’s hot! Make sure your thermometer can display temperatures up to 260 °C / 500 °F. Frying, candy, and thermocouple thermometers usually have this much range. For consistent results, cook in small batches to minimize the cooling that occurs when you add food, and warm the food to room temperature before frying it. Allow the oil temperature to recover between batches.
  4. Pat food dry with paper towels before frying. The presence of external moisture on foods can cause oil to splatter violently. Don’t get too close to the oil. Use long tongs, a slotted deep-fry spoon, or a frying basket to insert and remove foods gently. Never use water, flour, or sugar to put out a grease fire. And do not try to carry a flaming pot outdoors. To suffocate a fire, use baking soda, a damp towel, or a fire extinguisher specifically designed for grease fires.
  5. Once food enters the hot oil, things happen fast. Just 30 seconds may be enough when you don’t want to cook the interior of the food further (for example, when deep-frying food after cooking it sous vide). Smaller pieces of food will cook faster and more evenly than larger pieces. For more on why size matters when deep-frying, see page 2·117 of Modernist Cuisine.
  6. Drain the cooked food on paper towels. Absorbing excess oil removes much of the fat associated with deep-frying. Most of the fat does not penetrate the food very far, coating only the surface. Simply blotting deep-fried food as soon as it emerges from the fryer will make it a lot less greasy. But take care that you don’t remove all of the oily coating. Oil is, after all, the source of much of the flavor, texture, and mouthfeel of deep-fried food.

Ready to try deep-frying? Check out our recipes for Starch-Infused Fries, Chicken Wings, and Cheese Puffs. And check back next week when we add another deep-fried recipe to our library.

—Adapted from Modernist Cuisine at Home and Modernist Cuisine

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5 Tips for Culinary Deception

What better time to trot out our favorite deceptive culinary tricks than April Fool’s Day? We devoted a section of Modernist Cuisine to trompe l’oeil because it is particularly suited to the Modernist movement. Though it has a long history, dating back to dishes such as mock turtle soup in the 19th century, culinary deception has been embraced in recent years by chefs such as Wylie Dufresne, Andoni Luis Aduriz, and René Redzepi.

The key in each of the tips below is to both surprise and delight the senses. There are no malicious tricks here. These tips serve to enhance the senses, present food in creative ways, and keep guests living in the moment. It wouldn’t serve our purposes to develop recipes that don’t taste good!

  1. Raw “Eggs”: One of our favorite culinary tricks to play on visitors to our lab is to convince them that we are serving them a raw quail egg. Anjana Shanker, development chef, who usually whips up this recipe, has gone so far as to make up a story that we discovered a nest of quails on the roof, and started domesticating them for their eggs. In reality, we serve spherified passion fruit and lemongrass in a real quail egg shell. Watch the video above to see what happened when the guys from Tested.com dropped by. Anjana’s technique is included in the video as well.
  2. Mystery Meat: Trompe l’oeil dishes have a long history of substituting one food for another. Besides being just for fun, this is often due to economic reasons (such as mock turtle soup or surimi) or dietary restrictions (as in veggie patties). Sometimes, it can be both! This April Fool’s Day, enlist a vegetarian friend to help play a trick on party guests by casually eating what appears to be meat. Our favorite and most convincing dish is to creating bulgogi out of watermelon, originally designed by Andoni Luis Aduriz at Mugaritz. Cut 2.5 cm / 1 in “steaks” out of seedless watermelon (leave a little bit of the white part of the rind in as a fat cap). Soak the watermelon in a brine (20% water and 1% salt) for two hours. Pat the watermelon dry and dehydrate the slices at 55 °C / 130 °F until dry and leather-like, about 8–12 hours.
  3. Eat Dirt: In the video below, we use chocolate cookies to make fake dirt to go along with our fishing-lure-molded gummy worms. This is the fastest and easiest way to make fake dirt, but in Modernist Cuisine we have a savory version using black bread, chicory root, mushroom powder, and a few other ingredients. We’ve also made fake coals out of cassava roots, simmered with fish stock and squid ink (another recipe inspired by Aduriz).
  4. Impregnated Fruit: Sometimes it’s not the eyes that play tricks, but preconceived notions. When your guest bites into an apple, they expect it to taste like an apple, but by using Modernist techniques, you can impregnate said apple with flavors, such as curry, for a delightful surprise. Vacuum seal a peeled and cored apple with apple juice and spices for 12 hours. Then place the bowl in a chamber vacuum sealer and pull the vacuum three times, holding for 15 minutes the final time. If you don’t have a chamber vacuum sealer, you can also achieve this effect with a whipping siphon. One favorite combination is to infuse celery with apple juice. Place the celery in the siphon, and cover it with apple juice. Then charge with two cartridges of nitrous oxide. Chill it for two hours before serving.
  5. Healthier Substitutes: Sometimes a bit of culinary deception can improve your health. At El Bulli, Feran Adrìa once served grated cauliflower in lieu of couscous. Use a microplane to grate the cauliflower until it is the size of grains. This surprise is especially effective after serving your family real couscous three nights in a row.

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The Secret to the Perfect Soft-Boiled Egg

A perfect soft-boiled egg is a thing of beauty: a yolk with the texture of sweet condensed milk surrounded by a white that is tender but not runny. But for generations, great cooks have differed on how to achieve this state of perfection reliably.

Some authorities say you should drop a whole egg into boiling water for about three minutes — a bit longer if the egg is extra-large — and then gently peel away the shell. That can leave the yolk too runny, however. And when the egg is peeled, it’s all too easy to tear the tender white into a mess.

Trad8_Egg on Black_WY2F5836

The legendary Julia Child advocated a six-minute boil (for large eggs starting at room temperature, or a minute longer if chilled), followed by a rinse with cold water before and also during peeling. That certainly works for the white, but often overcooks the center.

The French food scientist Hervé This argued some years ago that temperature, not time, is all that matters to the egg—cook it to 65 °C / 149 °F, and the result will be heavenly no matter how long it sits in the water. Or so it was thought. For a while, the “65°C egg” was all the rage at high-end restaurants.

But more recent research by the food chemist Cesar Vega , an editor and coauthor of the 2012 book The Kitchen as Laboratory, conclusively showed that both time and temperature matter. Moreover, the white and the yolk contain different blends of proteins, so the white gels at a higher temperature and a different rate than the yolk does. Vega’s rigorous experiments have armed scientifically inclined chefs with the information they need to cook eggs to whatever texture they like.

When the chefs in our research kitchen make soft-boiled eggs, they use a four step process that involves a blowtorch or liquid nitrogen. Here is a simpler version better suited to the home kitchen. You’ll need a pot of boiling water, a bowl of ice water, a temperature-controlled water bath, and, if you plan on peeling the eggs, a toaster oven.

The first step is to set the egg whites quickly by submerging them completely in a pot of rapidly boiling water for three minutes and 30 seconds, 15-30 seconds less if you like the whites quite loose, as our research chefs do, or 15—30 seconds longer if you prefer the whites fully set. When the time is up, plunge the eggs into the ice water to cool them completely.

Next, cook the yolks to a syrup-like thickness by submerging the eggs in a 64 °C / 147 °F water bath for 35 minutes; it’s important that the water temperature doesn’t change more than a degree or two during cooking. Dry the eggs thoroughly with paper towels. They are now ready to place in egg holders, top, and eat with a spoon. (If you have a Dremel or similar handheld rotary tool, use a thin grinder bit to top the eggs like a pro.)

Alternatively, you can make the eggs easier to peel by drying the shells in a toaster oven. Use a medium-dark toaster setting, and let the eggs heat for two to three minutes to make the shell hot and brittle. It will then readily flake away to reveal a flawless white beneath. Remember to remove the thin skin around the white if it doesn’t come off with the shell.

You can make these eggs in advance and later reheat them in a 60 °C / 140 °F bath for 30 minutes.

By adjusting the temperature of the cooking bath or the time the eggs are in it, you can achieve all kinds of delicious results and reproduce them flawlessly time after time. Prefer a yolk that is more like honey? Let the egg sit in a 65 °C bath for 45 minutes. For a runnier center, try our recipe for Liquid Center Eggs.

Or try cooking them in a 72 °C / 162 °F bath for 35 minutes (you can skip the boiling step). The yolk will then set just firmly enough that you can peel away the white to obtain a perfect yellow sphere, which makes a striking garnish or dumpling-like addition to a soup.

It’s remarkable how advances in science and precision cooking have given new life to this versatile food.

The Maillard Reaction

One of the most important flavor-producing reactions in cooking is the Maillard reaction. It is sometimes called the “browning reaction” in discussions of cooking, but that description is incomplete at best. Cooked meats, seafood, and other protein-laden foods that undergo the Maillard reaction do turn brown, but there are other reactions that also cause browning. The Maillard reaction creates brown pigments in cooked meat in a very specific way: by rearranging amino acids and certain simple sugars, which then arrange themselves in rings and collections of rings that reflect light in such a way as to give the meat a brown color.

The important thing about the Maillard reaction isn’t the color, it’s the flavors and aromas. Indeed, it should be called “the flavor reaction,” not the “browning reaction.” The molecules it produces provide the potent aromas responsible for the characteristic smells of roasting, baking, and frying. What begins as a simple reaction between amino acids and sugars quickly becomes very complicated: the molecules produced keep reacting in ever more complex ways that generate literally hundreds of various molecules. Most of these new molecules are produced in incredibly minute quantities, but that doesn’t mean they’re unimportant.

The Maillard reaction occurs in cooking of almost all kinds of foods, although the simple sugars and amino acids present produce distinctly different aromas. This is why baking bread doesn’t smell like roasting meat or frying fish, even though all these foods depend on Maillard reactions for flavor. The Maillard reaction, or its absence, distinguishes the flavors of boiled, poached, or steamed foods from the flavors of the same foods that have been grilled, roasted, or otherwise cooked at temperatures high enough to dehydrate the surface rapidly — in other words, at temperatures above the boiling point of water. These two factors, dryness and temperature, are the key controls for the rate of the Maillard reaction.

High-temperature cooking speeds up the Maillard reaction because heat both increases the rate of chemical reactions and accelerates the evaporation of water. As the food dries, the concentration of reactant compounds increases and the temperature climbs more rapidly.

caramelized carrots 4

Temperatures need to be high to bring about the Maillard reaction, but as long as the food is very wet, its temperature won’t climb above the boiling point of water. At atmospheric pressure, only high-heat cooking techniques can dry out the food enough to raise the temperature sufficiently. It’s not the water that stops the reaction, but rather the low boiling point at normal, sea-level pressure. In the sealed environment of a pressure cooker, the Maillard reaction can, and does, occur. This is something we exploit when making soups, like in our Caramelized Carrot Soup, or purees, like the broccoli puree in our Brassicas recipe. Adding baking soda to the pressure cooker raises the food’s pH (making it more alkaline), which also helps. Chinese cooks often marinate meat or seafood in mixtures containing egg white or baking soda just before stir-frying.

So, in boiled, poached, and steamed muscle foods, an entirely different set of aromas dominates the flavor. Drying and browning the surface first will, however, allow the reaction to proceed slowly at temperatures below the boiling point of water. This is why we sear frozen steak before cooking it in a low-temperature oven. Searing food before vacuum sealing and cooking sous vide can add depth to the flavor of sous vide dishes. This step should be avoided for lamb, other meats from grass-fed animals, and a few other foods in which presearing can trigger unwanted reactions that cause off-flavors and warmed-over flavors to form when the food is later cooked sous vide. We recommend searing those foods after cooking them sous vide.

Blowtorch-cropped

One of the challenges to getting the Maillard reaction going is getting the surface hot and dry enough without overcooking the underlying flesh, or at least overcooking it as little as possible. Cooks have developed several strategies to this end, some simple and some fairly baroque.

One strategy that works well is to remove as much water from the surface of the meat as possible before cooking it (via blotting or drying at low temperature). Fast heating using deep fryers, super-hot griddles and grills, and even blowtorches are also helpful tactics, such as when we deep-fry chicken wings.

You might think that raising the temperature even higher would enhance the Maillard reaction. It does up to a point, but above 180 °C / 355 °F a different set of reactions occur: pyrolysis, also known as burning. People typically like foods a little charred, but with too much pyrolysis comes bitterness. The black compounds that pyrolysis creates also may be carcinogenic, so go easy on charring your foods for visual appeal.

Adapted from Modernist Cuisine

Modernist Cuisine at Home Nominated for Awards

We are thrilled to announce that Modernist Cuisine at Home has been nominated for a James Beard Award in the “General Cooking” category. Also nominated in that category are Canal House Cooks Every Day and What Katie Ate.

In 2012, winning the James Beard Award for Modernist Cuisine in the categories “Cookbook of the Year” as well as “Professional Cookbook” was one of the highlights of our year. We are very much looking forward to the award ceremonies. The award winners for cookbooks will be announced on May 3, 2013.

Modernist Cuisine at Home was also recently nominated for an International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) award in the category of “Food and Beverage, Reference/Technical.” In that category, The Art of Fermentation and Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking were also nominated. Last year, Modernist Cuisine won three IACP awards—in the “Professional Kitchen Books” category, the “Design” category, and also their newly created “Visionary Achievement” category.

On top of that, our CHOW.com video series, MDRN KTCHN, was nominated in the “Short Video Series” category. Kitchen Confidence on Food52.com and Master Class on Saveur.com were also nominated.

We are deeply honored to have been nominated for both the James Beard and IACP awards. Congratulations and best of luck to all other nominees!

Is It Safe to Cook with Plastic?

Since writing Modernist Cuisine and Modernist Cuisine at Home, we’ve been asked many times to comment on the safety of cooking in plastic bags. Many of our sous vide recipes, from our Sous Vide Salmon and Rare Beef Jus to our Cranberry Consommé and Scrambled Egg Foam, require vacuum-sealing or using a zip-top bag. Similarly, many of our recipes that utilize microwaves, such as our Microwaved Tilapia, Eggplant Parmesan, and Microwave-Fried Herbs, require plastic wrap.

According to the latest research, the safest plastics for use with food are high-density polyethylene, low-density polyethylene, and polypropylene. Virtually all sous vide bags are made from these plastics, as are most brand-name food storage bags and plastic wraps such as Saran wrap. Polyethylene is widely used in containers for biology and chemistry labs, and it has been studied extensively. It is safe.

Less expensive, bulk plastic wraps sold to the catering trade are not as safe, however. These products are commonly made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which can contain harmful plasticizers that have been shown to leach into fatty foods such as cheese, meat, and fish. Legitimate concerns exist about food exposed to these plastics at high temperatures. Polyethylene-based plastic wraps are available at only slightly higher costs and do not raise such concerns. An easy way to spot the difference is to check that your cling wraps or plastic bags are rated microwave-safe. Bags and wraps made form polyethylene are generally microwave-safe, whereas those that contain polyvinyl chloride plastics generally are not.

Many professional kitchens use clear, rigid, plastic storage containers that are made from polycarbonate. While they are currently approved for food use, these plastics also may be a cause for concern because they contain bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that can disrupt hormone activity and leach into foods and beverages. Cracks and crazing due to wear and tear increase the rate at which BPA leaches out of polycarbonates.

The bottom line is that bags made expressly for cooking sous vide are perfectly safe—as are oven bags, popular brands of zip-top bags, and stretchy plastics such as Saran wrap. If you remain hesitant to try cooking sous vide due to concerns over plastic, you can always use canning jars instead, but beware that cooking times will be longer.

—Adapted from Modernist Cuisine and Modernist Cuisine at Home

What Is Xanthan Gum?

Some people are suspicious of ingredients with unfamiliar names, such as xanthan gum. We are frequently asked, “Aren’t your dishes chock-full of chemicals?” Well, yes, but all foods are, including the most natural and organic ones. But nearly all of those chemicals are derived from natural ingredients or processes that have been used for decades.

First discovered by USDA scientists in the 1950s, xanthan gum is fermented by plant-loving bacteria, characterized by sticky cell walls. It is no less natural than vinegar or yeast. We think xanthan gum is one of the best discoveries in food science since yeast.

It is used as a thickener or stabilizer in a wide variety of foods found on grocery store shelves. Many canned or prepared products contain xanthan gum: salad dressings, sauces, soups, and baked goods — particularly those that are gluten-free because xanthan gum can perform some of the same functions as gluten.

Xanthan gum is one of the most useful food additives around; it is effective in a wide range of viscosities, temperatures, and pH levels. It is easy to use, has no taste, and generally works quite well. And it can thicken liquids at extremely low concentrations – as little as 0.1% by weight can yield a thick liquid, and 0.5% by weight can make a thick paste (this is why it is best to weigh out xanthan gum with a digital scale rather than use volumetric measurements). Traditional thickeners like flour typically require far larger amounts to do a similar job. The quantity matters because the more thickener you have as a fraction of the total mixture the more likely it is to impose an undesirable texture and inhibit flavor.

Ready to try xanthan gum? Take a look at our recipe library for recipes for Spinach Pesto, Jus Gras, and Wasabi Cream. Check back later this month, when we’ll be showcasing more recipes from Modernist Cuisine at Home that use xanthan gum.

adapted from Modernist Cuisine and Modernist Cuisine at Home

How Whipping Siphons Work

Whipping siphons are useful for making so much more than whipped cream. We use ours all the time for making fresh soda, speeding up marinating, infusing fruit, or topping a dish with foam or flavor or textural contrast.

Whether you’re carbonating, infusing, or foaming, there are a few basics you should know.

The siphon requires cartridges of gas, also called “chargers,” to pressurize the chamber holding the liquid. Carbon dioxide is best used for carbonation only. We use nitrous oxide for foaming, marinating, and infusing.

Whipping siphons were designed for aerating creams high in fat. Nitrous oxide dissolves much better in fat than in water, so high-fat liquids generally foam better in a siphon than low-fat ones do. You can, however, foam any liquid thick enough to hold bubbles. Add starch, gelatin, eggs, or agar to thin liquids to give them enough body for foaming.

Each cartridge holds 8 g of gas, can be used only once, and costs about 50 cents. Two cartridges are typically sufficient to charge a 1 L siphon. Use about 2% gas, or 8 g of gas for every 400 g of liquid—more if the liquid is low in fat.

If the seal on your whipping siphon is faulty, the gas will go in and then immediately start to leak. So listen closely as you charge it. You should hear gas filling the chamber—and then silence. Still hear hissing? Remnants of a previous foam might be causing a leak, or some part of the siphon could be damaged. Vent the siphon, remove the nozzle, unscrew the top, and take out the cartridge. Then clean these parts and the rubber gaskets thoroughly, and check to make sure that they are undamaged and properly seated.

All of these parts work in conjunction. In the diagram below, we have detailed each part and its role. Whipping siphons have several uses, but we have selected foaming for the purpose of this diagram.

  1. The rubber gasket keeps the dissolved gas from escaping. Make sure it’s intact and fits snugly along the top of the lid.
  2. The “empty” part of the siphon is filled with gas, which pushes on the liquid and forces it through the valves.
  3. Charging the siphon—that is, installing the gas cartridge so that it is pierced by the pin—increases the pressure inside the canister dramatically and forces the nitrous oxide to dissolve into the liquid. Shaking the container is crucial to ensure that the gas is evenly distributed.
  4. Hold the siphon upside down to help the gas propel the liquid from the siphon.
  5. The nozzle directs the flow.
  6. A rapid drop in pressure as the liquid leaves the vale causes most of the dissolved gas to emerge from the solution, thereby creating bubbles that expand into foam.
  7. A precision valve meters the forceful flow of liquid from the siphon.
  8. A disposable cartridge holds 8 g of nitrous oxide. The number of cartridges needed depends on the volume of the siphon, how full the siphon is, the fat content of the liquid to be whipped, and the temperature of that liquid. Generally two cartrdiges are enough for a 1 L siphon.

—Adapted from Modernist Cuisine at Home

Three Desserts You Can Make with a Whipping Siphon

Whipping siphons are easy and fun to use. This Valentine’s Day, try wowing your special someone with a Modernist dessert created with nitrous oxide or carbon dioxide. Use our suggestions below for tasty ideas beyond the realm of whipped cream.

  1. Lemon Curd: Try using a whipping siphon instead of a pastry bag for piping your lemon curd. This will give it a foamy texture. Serve it atop raspberry sablé cookies or to make a pie using the flaky pie crust from Modernist Cuisine at Home.
  2. Microwaved Cake: This dessert is a cinch to make. You can use our recipe in Modernist Cuisine or Modernist Cuisine at Home or even just use a boxed mix. Dispense the batter from the siphon into a paper cup, microwave, and serve!
  3. Fizzy Fruit: We love using carbon dioxide to make fizzy grapes, but we’ve also used it to carbonate lychees and cranberries.

For most baking and savory applications, such as the Lemon Curd recipe, the Microwaved Cake recipe, and making whipped cream, you’ll need nitrous oxide (N2O) chargers. For carbonation applications, including the fizzy fruit technique, you’ll need carbon dioxide (CO2) chargers. Nitrous oxide dissolves into fats and is flavorless, as opposed to carbon dioxide, which dissolves in water and imparts a sharp flavor of carbonation. If you were to use CO2 instead of N2O when making whipped cream, for instance, the tangy carbonated flavor would fool your brain into thinking the cream had spoiled, which is not a pleasant sensation!

For more great dessert ideas, check out the Custards and Pies chapter of Modernist Cuisine at Home.

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How Pressure Cookers Work

Pressure cookers are fantastic tools. They develop the characteristic flavors and textures of foods so quickly that what is conventionally a long, labor-intensive process becomes one hardly more time-consuming than a casual sauté. Risotto takes six minutes instead of 25. An intense chicken stock takes only 90 minutes. You can even pressure-cook food in canning jars or in oven bags or FoodSaver bags rated for high temperatures–which means grits and polenta, for example, no longer require constant stirring to avoid sticking. The high temperatures inside the cooker also promote browning and caramelization, reactions that create flavors you can’t get otherwise in a moist cooking environment. If you aren’t a believer, try our Caramelized Carrot Soup recipe.

A pressure cooker is essentially just a pot with a semi-sealed lockable lid and a valve that controls the pressure inside. It works by capturing the steam that, as it builds up, increases the pressure in the vessel. The pressure increase in turn raises the boiling point of water, which normally limits the cooking temperature of wet foods to 100 °C / 212 °F (at sea level; the boiling point is slightly lower at higher elevations). Because the effective cooking temperature is higher in the pressure cooker — as high as 120 °C / 250 °F — the cooking time can drop substantially.

Take a look below at our cutaway photo from Modernist Cuisine at Home. The letters correspond to an explanation of each part of the pressure cooker.

    1. High-pressure steam rapidly transfers heat to the surface of any food not submerged in liquid.
    2. A spring-loaded valve is normally open so that air can escape. As heating begins, expanding vapor pushes this valve up, closing off the vent. (At very high pressures, it rises farther and reopens the vent to release excess steam.) The valve regulates the pressure inside the cooker to a preset level: typically 0.7 or 1 bar / 10 or 15 psi above atmospheric pressure; this value is called the gauge pressure. At these elevated pressures, water boils at 114 °C or 121 °C / 237 °F or 250 °F, respectively. As soon as the cooker reaches the correct cooking pressure, reduce the heat to avoid over-pressurizing it.
    3. The sealing ring, typically a rubber gasket, prevents steam and air from escaping as they expand. This causes the pressure in the vessel to build as the temperature rises. Any food particles stuck in the seal can cause it to leak steam, so check and clean the gasket regularly.
    4. The lid locks with a bayonet-style mechanism that pushes against the sides of the cooker. Frequent over-pressurization can damage this mechanism and render the cooker useless. Other designs use bolts that clamp around the outside.
    5. The handle locks as well, to prevent the lid from opening while the contents are under pressure.
    6. There is too much liquid in this cooker. Generally, you should fill the pot no more than two-thirds full.
    7. Water vaporizes into steam, increasing the pressure inside the cooker as it heats. Because the boiling point of water depends on pressure, it rises too, just enough to keep the water and steam temperature hovering around the boiling point for the higher pressure. The pressure continues to rise until it is stabilized by the valve.
    8. Add enough water to the pot, either around the food or under a container of food elevated above the bottom of the pot, to enable plenty of steam to form.

Ready to start cooking? Check out our library for our Carnitas, Caramelized Carrot Soup, Risotto, and Garlic Confit recipes.

–adapted from Modernist Cuisine at Home