Some of you readers may vaguely remember me talking about buying a pressure cooker last year and intending to make fabulous vegetarian, bean-based meals from scratch using this wonder pot.
I did a search of my blog to see what I'd written about the pressure cooker and came up with this. I had such high hopes last year, didn't I.
The reality was, I bought the pressure cooker, I bought cookbooks to go with it, and then they proceeded to sit, collecting dust, until I moved them down to the basement.
So the pressure cooker did end up in the basement kitchen appliance mausoleum, after all.
There, they collected even more dust, until one day this summer my husband came across the box and suggested we sell it on Amazon, because we'd never used it. Err.....
(In my defense, I bought the cooker in June last year, and, after perusing recipes, determined that the pressure cooker seemed better suited to fall/winter type dishes - stuff that would normally be slow-cooked, braised, or need longer cooking times - such as pot roast, root vegetables, etc.
Secondly, I was a bit ticked off when I started reading through Lorna Sass's vegetarian pressure cooking book and discovered she still recommended pre-soaking the beans. The whole point for me of getting the pressure cooker was to be able to used dried beans without any additional steps required.
Thirdly, it simply fell off my radar.
But these are still excuses.)
Then coincidentally, I was visiting my sister in Milwaukee in August when I spied the September 2010 issue of Cooking Light, in which pressure cooking is prominently featured.
I was inspired by the article - this cook sounded like me! Afraid of the pressure cooker, skeptical that it could really work. And I was pleased to see that the Presto pressure cooker that I'd purchased was one of the top-recommended models. Plus, the recipes called for contemporary ingredients, like escarole, chorizo and chickpeas, definitely not your grandma's cooking.
These were clearly signs from God that I either needed to cook, or get off the pot.
You may wonder, how does a pressure cooker work its speedy cooking magic? The instruction guide that came with my Presto pressure cooker has a succinct explanation:
Your pressure cooker is like a saucepan with a very special cover that locks in place. Air is automatically exhausted and steam is sealed inside creating pressure within the unit. Under pressure, internal temperatures in the cooker are raised above the normal boiling point of water, causing foods to cook faster. At 15 pounds of pressure, a temperature of 250 degrees (121 Celsius) is reached inside the pressure cooker. These higher temperatures speed cooking and the moist steam atmosphere tenderizes meats naturally.
Tune in later this week to see the results of my first three pressure cooker experiments.