As I think I’ve mentioned about a thousand times, I use a lot of chicken (and vegetable stock). And years ago, I realized that I was spending a small fortune to buy stock. I much prefer to make it myself, and it really doesn’t take that much active time.
In the past, I’ve set a pot on the back burner of the stove, added some aromatics like onion and garlic, tossed in some seasoning like salt and peppercorn, added the chicken carcasses I’ve bagged and tossed in the freezer. And for the next couple of hours, the stock or broth or whatever you prefer to call it would simmer away. I put the liquid in one-cup size containers and freeze them until needed.
Nothing could be easier.
Until I acquired a pressure cooked. I’d resisted this device for a good long time, but finally the price on an electric model was right…as was the time. Naturally, to test my new toy, I went for the simplest recipe I knew: chicken stock.
And yes, it is as amazing as you’d imagine. And fairly simple.
Next up in my testing was pulled pork. Usually, I do this dish in the crockpot because it takes just about all day to get the pork to the point where it falls apart when shredded with forks. The pressure cooker promised the same results in about two hours. Of course I had to test this seeming miracle.
And yes, it worked as advertised. We had delicious pork for dinner…and for the week’s lunches.
Next up, beans. I have a craving for black beans. And my machine apparently makes yogurt. I’ve been wanting to try my hand at homemade yogurt.
Pressure cooker advocates suggest you can cook just about everything in your cooker. I suspect this is true, but, as with any device, pick and choose your battles. You’re cooking in a wet environment, so foods like skin-on chicken get a bit flabby. And, frankly, for many of my weeknight meals, I’m not sure it’s *that* much faster.
Here’s why: advocates focus on how fast food gets cooked. What is often overlooked is the pre-cooking and depressurizing time periods. For example, with the stock, it took about 15 minutes to get hot enough to create the necessary pressure for making a great stock. And it took about 30 minutes to engage in the “natural” depressurizing recommended in most of the recipes I checked.
And the two hour period I note for the pork includes time to get up the right temperature. And about twenty minutes to naturally depressurize. This means when you’re checking out pressure cooker recipes — and there are many, many amazing ones! — you need to factor the pre- and post-time into your timing. For me, this means I’m using my cooker for things that I make on weekends, particularly those foods I prepare for other meals during the week.
Maybe I will come to a point where my process melds with my pressure cooker’s, and we’ll be whipping out weeknight meals. I’m certainly glad I bought this machine. I’m looking forward to exploring new foods. But it’s going to be a while before I see this as an every day device.
Also, if you’re a fan of my chili, this is in the “cook now” queue. Can’t wait to taste how it turns out!
Tip of the Week
This is going to be obvious, but must be said: read the manual for your pressure cooker carefully before using for the first time. This allows you to familiarize yourself with features and controls. And never, never try to force the lid open — if it doesn’t open easily, the contents are still under pressure. Use your quick release valve…or wait a bit longer.
Menu of the Week
Yeah, it’s the pulled pork. Mostly because I’m not sure how to make a meal out of broth. Okay, I am, but most people won’t be satisfied (though I’m seeing a chicken pho in our collective futures…). For personal reasons, I’ve switched to free range, antibiotic-free pork, and still, the prices are amazingly low for pork shoulder. And pork shoulder is exactly what you want here. It goes on sale frequently. Bone-in or boneless works here.
The rest of the meal is quick and easy. I’m adding pickled red onions to everything this season — they add just the right amount of punch to greens. And meat. And eggs. And everything. I add a few jalapenos to mine for heat.
- Spicy Pulled Pork
- Sauteed Greens with Bacon and Pickled Onions
- Buckwheat Groats Dressed with Vinaigrette
- Fruit with Yogurt