Why Alton Brown Revamped His Vichyssoise Recipe

A delectable potato leek soup that is usually served chilled, vichyssoise is a French-American classic that pairs excellently with almost any dinner entree, but can also be served simply with a slice of bread. Yet, as straightforward as its flavor may be, creating a velvety vichyssoise can take a lot longer than you might expect. First, the potatoes must be cooked until tender, and then the potato and leek puree strained twice, mixed with heavy cream, and left to cool, according to an interview Louis Diat — the Ritz Carlton chef who invented this now classic soup in 1917 — gave to The New Yorker.

Believe it or not, the first step of boiling potatoes on a stovetop can be a bit tricky, as it requires the right water temperature, heat level, and timing. But for French food fans everywhere, "Good Eats" host Alton Brown tackled this issue and more with his updated vichyssoise recipe.

A pressure cooker cuts down on time and improves texture

Since cooking down potatoes on a stovetop can yield inconsistent results, Alton Brown took a second look at his 2002 vichyssoise recipe. Brown includes all the basic ingredients of Julia Child's classic vichyssoise in his version: potatoes, leeks, stock, heavy cream, and butter. However, in his cookbook and YouTube series, Good Eats: Revamped, Brown upgrades the process by utilizing a pressure cooker, noting that this kitchen tool saves a lot of time and creates a better final dish.

A pressure cooker is an excellent vessel to use for cooking potatoes due to its, well, high pressure. According to Fine Cooking, a pressure cooker increases the temperature of boiling water and traps the heat inside the pot, making for a significantly shorter cook time. The appliance reduces braising, boiling, and steaming times due to the increase in atmospheric pressure, per Brown. The Food Network star explains that cooking potatoes over a long period of time runs the risk of producing gummy potatoes, which can ruin the smooth, creamy texture of vichyssoise; A pressure cooker can help you avoid this issue. (Although there is a way to salvage overcooked potatoes, evading them in the first place is of course preferable.)

On top of the time it takes to cook potatoes, vichyssoise takes even longer to chill. So why not knock out two birds with one pot and cut down the cooking time while creating a perfectly silky finish?