Wednesday, July 24, 2013
The Pressure cooker
A few months ago, after thinking long and hard, we got a pressure cooker. The decision process was helped by the fact that I found ours at a very good price, with 55 % off the normal price.
Lately, we try to eat very little meat: we actually don't get any chicken, meat or fish with our weekly groceries, and when we do eat meat we try to make sure it is organic / biological. I don't know if this happens to other pseudo-vegetarians, but sometimes I get this really strong cravings (though it happens less and less and it often changes with the season). It is difficult to recognize this, but I do actually enjoy meat.
Anyhow, to get a source of protein we rely on beans, lentils, chickpeas and other pulses. (Quinoa as well, but I think it's not a pulse). The thing with pulses is that either they take hours and hours to cook or you have to get them in tins or glass jars. I felt uncomfortable with the amount of glass and tin we were throwing away (and I don't have the patience to babysit the pans for hours), so a pressure cooker seemed ideal.
I grew up scared of "la olla express". You heard stories of pans exploding, and that little dancing, chirping valve on top, constantly moving was always a threat, announcing a disaster. As I researched whether or not to get it and what I could do with it I was surprised / amused to find out that they are very popular both in Latin America and in Asia because they save a lot of energy and mean less time spent in the kitchen, which translates as less warmth from hanging around the stove in already semi-tropical weathers. It also means that since food is cooked at high temperatures for shorter amounts of time, there are more nutrients available.
I am super happy with it. As it turns out the dancing valve is a thing of the past, ours has a security system that pops up with different shades of yellow-orange-red indicating the level of pressure, and when you are ready, the pressure just releases by itself until it reaches a safety level, meaning you can open the pan without any fear. So far I have made a few lentil dishes, and a lot of Mexican-style refried beans (that are then used on molletes , quesadillas or just as a side dish). I know though, that there are a million other things I could be making... does anyone have recipes / experience with a pressure cooker? What's your favorite dish to make?