Sunday, February 25, 2007

If the Pressure Cooker Could Do My Taxes...

I'd probably have to leave Phil and marry it. I love it that much.

Last week I was off for the day with the boys while they both had their annual checkups, and was really craving risotto for dinner. I rarely make risotto, except the baked variety. The baked is really nice, although still too time-intensive to make after work, and it doesn't have the same comforting, creamy consistency of the classic risotto that requires 20 or 30 minutes of loving stirring. I actually love making the latter risotto, but it doesn't fit into my life so much right now, so I'd given up on creamy risotto except for the rare dinner out.

(Risotto always makes me think of the early scene in Big Night where the customers are waiting and waiting and waiting for their risotto, with poor Secondo trying to pacify them and Primo in the kitchen, refusing for his art to be rushed.)

Anyway, I'd heard the pressure cooker could actually make a quick, easy risotto that tasted like the slow-stirred variety, so decided to try it. I found a recipe I liked online and played with it a bit. Here's what I did:

Basic Pressure-Cooker Risotto

2 Tbsp. butter (you'll use 1 Tbsp., then another Tbsp.)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup or so finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
4-1/2 cups chicken broth (you'll use 4 cups, then 1/2 cup)
1/2 to 1 cup grated cheese; any mixture that works well together, or you can go straight Parmesan
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup or so frozen peas

Using the Browning setting, heat up 1 Tbsp. butter and the Tbsp. olive oil. Add the onion and garlic, and stir frequently, being really careful not to brown the onion. When the onion is soft (about 3 minutes), add the rice and stir around for a minute or so to coat the rice. Now add the white wine and stir until it's largely absorbed -- this took about 30 seconds.

Pour in 4 cups of the chicken broth (reserving 1/2 a cup for later), stir, and close 'er up. Set the timer for 10 minutes of high pressure. Pour a nice glass of Pinot Grigio if you're with adults or go play a quick round of Candyland if you're not.

When the timer goes off, release the pressure and then take the lid off. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup chicken broth, 1 Tbsp. butter, cheese, salt, and pepper. Stir around until the cheese and butter is melted. Then add the frozen peas and stir around until the peas are cooked through -- another minute or so. Then it's ready to eat.

I think next time I make this I'm going to add some fresh mushrooms before I cook under pressure, and add some prosciutto with the peas. But it was pretty fabulous as it was.
I've seen lots of packaged microwave risotto mixes, likely filled with unpronounceable names and unspeakable preservatives. At the very least, they carry heavy price tags (when you consider they're largely comprised of *rice*) and packaging issues, and likely don't taste all that great. I love this method of making risotto because it's a way to get good food without resorting to those pre-packaged approximations of actual food.
I was off in NY yesterday for ComiCon, the world's largest comic book convention. It was work related -- seriously -- and slightly traumatic. When I'm recovered, I'll write about it.


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