Saturday, February 10, 2007

Under Pressure

So here's how it happened: I took M to my friend Kim's house to play with Kim's daughter O. O is several years older than M, but they're fabulous playmates, and they pretty much entertained themselves while Kim and I talked, knit, and split a bottle of Cabernet for several hours over the afternoon. Kim is the friend who'd raved about her pressure cooker, and before I left, with the two of us feeling high on free time, adult conversation, and a few glasses of wine, she decided to demonstrate the cooker. Here's what she did: poured in a cup of rice, two cups of water, and a drained can of pinto beans; turned on the cooker; set the timer for 7 minutes; and poured another glass of wine. When the timer went off, she had some perfectly cooked rice and beans that she added some spices to and called dinner.

Next thing I knew, I was on her laptop making my first-ever QVC purchase to get the same model, which is here.

It's really pretty fabulous. While neither Phil nor I were happy with the black angus steak I tried in there (overcooked and too dry), everything else -- including a nice dijon stew when we had surprise guests last weekend -- has been fabulous.

I own a pressure cooker/canner that I desperately wanted and received as a wedding gift. I did can some tomatoes in it the summer I received it, but it's not recommended for flat-top stoves like mine, so I haven't been able to use it since we moved into our current house five years ago. Also, it's a stovetop model, like our grandmas have, and needs to be babysat while it sputtered and hissed. Basically, a little metal piece was supposed to clank every five seconds or so. If it clanked more often, the heat must be turned down; less often, the heat must be turned up. It isn't a tool I felt very comfortable using while chasing after toddlers or half-working on my laptop while preparing dinner.

But pressure-cooker technology has come a long way in the last ten years. This new cooker plugs into the wall like a slow-cooker and takes care of any monitoring of pressure. It also has settings for browning meat (so the meat doesn't need to be browned in a different pan before going into the cooker), slow cooking, and warming. I've already used it quite a bit in the week or so since it arrived.

Yesterday after a week of back-to-back meetings while senior management was in town, I planned to finally get caught up on my work. Instead, I got a call around 11:30 that M had pinkeye and needed to leave his daycare. So my day workwise was shot, and I wanted something easy and comforting for dinner. I started with a recipe from Pressure Cookers for Dummies and embellished a little, working with ingredients we had and cutting some of the fat. Here's what we had for dinner, which Phil and I both loved. (The boys had hot dogs, which they also loved...)

Indian Butter Chicken
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1-3/4 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into 1- to 1-1/2 inch chunks
1 large onion, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1-1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp garam masala
1 6-oz can tomato paste
1 15-oz can chicken broth
1/2 cup fat-free evaporated milk
1-1/2 Tbsp butter
Lime juice
Salt and pepper the chicken. Using the Browning setting, heat up the olive oil and then add the onion, jalapeno, ginger, and garam masala. Stir around for about three minutes, then add the chicken, browning on the outside. Now add the tomato paste and broth, stir well, and set the cooker on high pressure for 8 minutes. Go have some green tea. When the buzzer goes off, release the pressure quickly (a very dramatic step that still sometimes makes M cry), and then stir in the evaporated milk and butter.
We ate this over leftover heated-up rice, which was delicious. We also sprinkled lime juice on top -- bottled, sadly, because we didn't have limes to squeeze. Fresh limes would have been better.

A couple notes:
  • We both thought more onion, some frozen peas, and big potato chunks would be welcome additions.
  • Phil felt that I should have added the whole lot of butter called for (3 Tbsp), but I thought it was delicious without all that butter. Let your taste and waistline be your guide.
  • The actual recipe calls for sprinking the final dish with 2 Tbsp fresh minced cilantro, which probably would be wonderful. We just didn't have any.

It's been a busy few weeks with out-of-town guests, a five-year-old birthday party, business reviews, and colds all around in the Kitchel house. I'm hoping I'll be a little more regular poster now that things appear to be mellowing out for the next several weeks.


Blogger mph said...

I need this cooker! The link doesn't work! Please hope me!1!

1:15 PM  
Blogger Teresa said...

Very cool. Always good to turn to a Dummies book for a recipe. I am sure the people on your floor are thrilled. :)

I am glad that all of the folks are gone--sheesh--they make everything crazy at work, although I did like seeing everyone all snazzed up for the party Thursday night.

7:57 PM  
Blogger Cindy K said...

Yeah, Teresa, this has been a crazy work week. The party was fun, but I'm glad next week will be normal -- assuming T doesn't end up with pinkeye or the plague.

Sorry about the bad link, Mike. I guess you can't link to searched items, maybe? This is a Cook's Essentials 5-qt. pressure cooker, QVC number K5963.

3:42 AM  
Blogger mph said...

Thanks for the info, Cindy. That worked. Wow... much less than on Amazon or anything I found on Froogle.

7:37 AM  
Blogger amyzeats said...

As one of the out-of-town guests who got to sample that Dijon stew, I am compelled to rave -- it was delicious. And fast. And, quite frankly, we made it while having cocktails and didn't screw it up one bit. It also sautes (so, if you want to brown something, you don't need a separate pan). I think it fed 6 of us, too, if I'm not mistaken.

12:04 PM  
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10:59 PM  

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