When recently queried about the one kitchen tool I couldn’t live without, it was a tough choice between three things: my chef’s knife, my 12-inch cast iron skillet, and my pressure cooker. Pressure cooker, really? Yes, really. As a busy working home cook of meager means, I’ve come to rely heavily on its many strengths. In addition to reducing cooking time by almost 75%, the food retains more minerals and, in my opinion, has a much better flavor. Lentils aredone in eight minutes, no soaking required. Stocks are thick and gelatinized in 30 minutes. My favorite braise, chicken adobo, from start to finish? Twenty minutes. Start with a recipe or cookbook, or do what I do — use the timetables here to adapt recipes. My at-home cooker wasn’t very expensive, but it heats a bit inconsistently. So when it’s time for an upgrade, I’ll be bringing home one of these beautiful Kuhn Rikon pressure cookers with a nice, thick, stainless steel bottom. They’re the new slow cooker — but even better! — Megan B.