Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pressure Cooking

Sorry for the funny photo... I'm not very glamorous at staging foods. This is some chicken broth and it is HOT, that I made in my pressure cooker. I am still amazed at how good chicken broth tastes this way and also what a great way to save money it is!
I put 3 chicken breasts and 6-7 thighs in my 8 qt pressure cooker. Next I added one gallon of water and because I'm not supposed to be up standing a lot on my knee still, I didn't put fresh onion and garlic, but usually I do. This time I used dehydrated onions and granulated garlic. (The sediment you see on the bottom of the jar is the onions, garlic etc.) After that I tossed in Cumin, Salt, dried Cilantro, red pepper flakes and Cayenne Pepper. Well, in my brain I was thinking of paprika, not Cayenne and I ended up with chicken broth so HOOOOOT that it's almost unbearable! LOL It's going to have to be thinned down with some store bought broth.
I cooked this at pressure for 5 minutes and then let the pressure go naturally, which was supposed to take 5 minutes but I think it took ten. Chicken cooked this way is moist and tastes great. It is an excellent way to make shredded chicken for Mexican cooking and salads.
Generally I use the broth the next day to cook rice in the pressure cooker, but since it was so hot, I'm holding off on that for awhile! :o) I will freeze some of it though for later use. In the future I will start canning that. Making broth this ways uses NO BOUILLON! This means NO MSG. Yeah!
In the spring I purchased this Fagor set and really love it. First I did research and after reading an article reviewing their performance at America's Test Kitchen, I chose Fagor over some of the more expensive Swiss sets because they said it performed just as well as a set 3-5 times the price and had gread safety measures built in - which as a Mom, is important. I love it so much that I will be getting another one next spring when we get our tax return - a larger one to do more stuff! This will also give me two lids so that hopefully I can use two pots at the same time. Currently I have two pots but only one pressure cooker lid. They are made really well of high quality stainless steel, which was a priority for me as well.
On one of my blog hopping adventures I found The Veggie Queen and ordered her DVD, hoping to learn more. Imagine my surprise when she was using my very same pressure cooker! I did learn a lot of tips watching her but for less money could have bought her cookbook that has a couple chapters on pressure cooking. She is vegetarian and gave a lot of great ideas.
You don't need to be vegetarian to enjoy it. In fact one of our favorite things is to make a fork tender pot roast in 45 minutes! I have found that I can use cheaper roast cuts and they will be more tender cooked in the pressure cooker.
Our favorite thing to cook in it though is rice. It is so much easier and makes brown rice so much more enjoyable than the steamer (which leaves it chewy/crunchy).
The best pressure cooker specific cookbook I have found is Pressure Perfect by Lorna Sass. I also have her book Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way, which I haven't used yet, but plan to in the near future. I would love to explore more nutritious side dishes than just having potatoes or pasta all the time. And I am hoping to experiment with Legumes, which aren't a favorite in our family but we are trying to do some more healthy foods and so we (the big people) are willing to try! :o)
Do any of you use a pressure cooker? If so, do you have any favorites or tips to share? I'd love to hear.


Deborah said...

The very best brown rice we've made has been with the zojirushi gaba setting rice maker. Here:


Marci said...

I use a plain old Presto and love it. I have used one for the 29+ years I have been married.

I had a smaller one and my Mom had a larger Presto. We traded and when we did, she told me that when she got the pressure up the jiggler, we called it a pepcock, would fly off. Once you grabbed it and put it back on it was fine. Well, I used it this way for several years. My friends would laugh at me, because I would make a wide berth around the stove until it actually popped off. I would grab it put it on and then I would be fine. I decided to contact Presto and see if there was anything I could do. I told her that it was old (about 17 years old) and I told her about the trade with my Mom. They had me send it in to them. You could tell that she did not believe me that this happened. She called in a couple of weeks. She said that it was a defect in the manufacturing of it. She told me that when it heated up, the bottom bowed out a bit, which caused this. She said that between the people in the test kitchen there was over 100 years of experience. None of them had ever seen anything like this. They sent me a brand new pressure cooker the same size. =)

I use mine many times when I am late starting dinner. I take out a frozen roast and put in potatoes and/or carrots. Dinner is right on time and delicious.

I also have gotten someone started on another way to use it. I put sauerkraut in the bottom, then a layer of cut up potatoes. Then I put pork chops on top. It is delicious.

Sorry this is so long. =)