Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Do you use a pressure Cooker?

Camy here! I am writing today’s blog post because I must confess to loving my pressure cooker almost as much as my husband.

Yes, it’s a dirty little secret. If my pressure cooker gives up the ghost (which I know it will eventually due to the excessive use I deal to it), I will cry copious tears before going on to buy a new one.

Why, you ask, such emotion over a cooking pot?

My number one reason is: homemade chicken stock. If you have never had it before, you are missing out on one of the wonders of the culinary world. And the best part about it is that even though cookbooks tell you that you can only make homemade chicken stock with a stockpot and a whole chicken and 3-4 hours of your time, in reality, you can make stock in less than half an hour, and most of that half hour is waiting while it cooks.

I use a chicken carcass and/or chicken bones and/or chicken gizzards and throw them in the pressure cooker. (I usually freeze any bones/gizzards/carcasses I come across in my normal cooking life so they’re ready for whenever I need stock.) I follow with a carrot broken into chunks, a celery rib broken into chunks, and an onion coarsely chopped. I throw in a bay leaf and a teaspoon (I eyeball it) of thyme (you can use whatever herb strikes your fancy). I add water to the little line on the inside of the pressure cooker (very convenient), slide the lid in place, and put it on the stove on high heat.

When the rocker is going wild, I lower the hear to medium low and time it for 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, I cool the pot by running it under the faucet for a minute or two, then I strain the contents into a bowl with a colander inside to collect the solids.

Solids go in the trash, stock goes in the fridge so the fat congeals on the top and I can scrape it off the next day. I use the stock or freeze it. I’ve sometimes used the stock the day I make it and don’t bother skimming the fat, but my husband scolds me when I do that.

I have made the most fantastic vegetable soups with this miracle stock. It makes kale and cabbage taste amazing.

My number two reason for loving my pressure cooker is: beans. I don’t even presoak them, I just throw them in the pressure cooker with water (to a special line for beans) and let it go to town for about 30 minutes.

I’ve made homemade, fat-free refried beans from dried pinto beans, and I will never go back to the canned stuff. Slather that yummy goodness on a tortilla and you’re in heaven. My cholesterol levels like it, too.

There are other uses for my pressure cooker, I know: pot roast, stew, sauces, chicken, rice. But my most common uses are the chicken stock and beans.

So have I inspired you? I kind of hope so. Life is too short to waste on canned stock when you could be enjoying an exceptionally yummy soup made with homemade stock. And it uses those gizzards/bones/carcasses you’d otherwise throw away.

So do you use a pressure cooker? If you do, what do you use it for?

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Her novels Single Sashimi and Deadly Intent are out now. She runs the Story Sensei critique service, is a staff worker for her church youth group, and leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels and ponders frivolous things. Sign up for her newsletter YahooGroup for giveaways!


Geekwif said...

I am SO going to have to get one of these! I had no idea they were so handy. I thought they were only good for canning. Thanks for the tip! Can't wait to get one and try making beans. I lurrrve me some good refried beans!

Reihaisha said...

I used a Pressure Cooker in college when everyone was into soybeans instead of meat. Still have one in a cabinet somewhere. I have been wanting to make soup these days so it seems like a good time to pull it out.

By the way- chick gizzards are for eating not throwing away. ;)

Debby Giusti said...

I used to use mine a lot, but haven't pulled it out in years. I do make my own chicken stock on the stovetop.

What do you put in your refried beans, Camy?

Martha of Fagor Pressure Cooker said...

Good for you for discovering the beauty of pressure cooker. They are a really great piece of cookware and the wonderful dishes that you can cook with it are really amazing. I have 5 kinds of pressure cooker at home, thats how I love them. I have the electric kind and the stove top ones in different sizes.

Camy Tang said...

Geekwif, I love how fast refried beans are in the pressure cooker!
Debby, here's the recipe I used: except that I add cumin as well.

Reihaisha--I'd love to eat those gizzards but my cholesterol is not happy when I do. :(

Thanks for stopping by, Martha! Wow, I only have one pressure cooker, not five!


Cindy W. said...

My grandma had a pressure cooker and I remember it whistling one time when we were visiting and I though it was my grandpa. I also remember my mom trying to use it and the lid wasn't on right and well let's just say things weren't very pretty when the little came off by itself.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy Woolard


Megan said...

I have never used a pressure cooker, but now that I am a stay at home mom and cooking more, I'll have to check that out! Thanks
Inspired by Fiction

Amy @ Experience Imagination said...

I discovered the joys of pressure cooking a year or so ago. I mostly have used it for beans as well. Lately I haven't used it much at all, since I can't eat them right now.

It is great for other traditionally slow-cooked stuff, too, though. Stew, chili, (still trying to perfect my bean-free chili recipe), marinara, etc.

CateD said...

Many years ago, my first job was at KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken). The original recipe was pressure cooked. It was the best chicken I have ever tasted. My mother uses a pressure cooker and the food is great and fast.

Unknown said...

I've used one - a huge one - to do a whole turkey. It fell apart but was so good.
Most of the time I call it a pressure canner and can green beans, meat, fish and tomatoes but I haven't done any canning lately.
Right now I have four of them but haven't used one in a while - thanks for reminding me I have this great tool in my cupboard next to the crock pot that does get used a lot. :-)