Saturday, February 6, 2010

Under Pressure: Gadget Love - Pressure Cooker


Pressure Cookers.  We've all heard the horror stories about the rattling, spitting contraption spewing it's contents all over granny's ceiling. And you've probably seen the Iron Chefs employing them, because when you've got an hour, and you need to cook something that would usually take three hours, a pressure cooker is the right tool for the job.

I got my Fagor Duo 10-Quart Pressure Cooker/Canner through a trade discount program.  It sat in the box, unloved and unused for about a year before I screwed up enough courage to try it.  My fellow personal chefs raved about how you could whip up something that normally takes all afternoon in no time flat.  

I got it out of the box.  I read the instructions.  Then I put the lid on, at some cockamamie angle that could probably never be recreated, and it was good and stuck.  No amount of cursing at it while twisting it, produced the desired results.

I was about to chalk it up to a sign, and pitch the miserable beast, when I asked my handyman to take a crack at it. We took it outside.  And somehow he managed to get the #$@# lid off.  So now I had to use it.  

It's not ideal to use it on an electric range, which is what I had at the time, but if you actually fire the two large burners, with one lower, you can move it when it reaches pressure, instead of adjusting the flame.  It does make a bit of noise, and it will release steam, but after the first few times, you get used to it and aren't subconsciously ready to cover your face and drop to the floor screaming. 

I'm pretty sure I made this Ham and Bean Soup.  My splattered print-out is a testament to how many times I've made it since, although I really shouldn't even need the recipe anymore.  I usually double it (have the butcher saw your shank in half), but for some boneheaded reason I doubled everything except the beans this week, so I ended up quick soaking and cooking another pound of beans in the pressure cooker.   

An immersion blender is the easiest way to puree a bit of the soup to thicken it.  

Bean soup just begs for some cornbread.  So this morning I mixed up a batch of Jessica Harris's Herbed Cornbread from Crescent Dragonwagon's The Cornbread Gospels. The thyme and jalapeno added a nice kick when I crumbled it into the soup.  The bean addition wasn't seasoned as nicely since I did them separately. 

A good way to spend a snowed in weekend.  The predictions for Akron weren't nearly as dire as the rest of the East Coast, but we ended up with about a foot.  The birds are quite happy I filled the feeders before the storm, and poor Cootie, the garage kitty, isn't sure what to do.  He decided to come out and take a bath in the sun, but I suspect he'll skip his neighborhood prowl today and stay tucked in his bed.


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