But then the horror in Boston happened. Reporters announced that the suspects had used pressure cookers to carry out the attacks. Suddenly it felt weird to share my renewed love of pressure cookers and I put my blog posts on hold.
Until this morning, when I woke up, listened to the news and got really angry that now an incredible tool was in some way forbidden or politicized. So I’m forging forward with my love letter to this useful tool which creates great taste and incredible texture. I promise that once you familiarize yourself with its quirks it will feel seamlessly into your kitchen.
My first project was the much talked about chicken broth. Wow, what an epiphany. I make chicken broth once a week but now I don’t need to worry about having enough time to stick around for the broth to cook. I boned out a chicken for another use and tried it with just the chicken bones and some aromatics. I didn’t even roast the bones first. In an hour I had a fine, flavorful broth.
Next up were beans. I love giant corona beans but find that occasionally due to the age of the imported beans no amount of regular soaking and cooking gives me the tender beans I want. So I took a batch I was about to consign to the compost pile and brought them to a boil, covered them and let them soak for an hour off the heat.
Then I drained them, put 1/2 lb in the pot and added 5 cups of water. I was afraid to use the whole pound since they rehydrate to a giant size and I thought my 4-quart pot couldn’t handle it. I looked at the directions in Pressure Cooker Perfection and decided to cook them at low pressure for double the time called for, 20 minutes. I added a bit of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil to prevent foaming. Then after the twenty minutes I let the steam release naturally. They were what a great bean should be, like “little baked potatoes” a friend said, super creamy. I used them for Barley Bean Soup and my Weenie Beanie – aka “Almost Cassoulet.”
Finally I made short ribs. Oh my. Those were a revelation. In half an hour I had velvety tender beefy dinner that tasted like it cooked for hours the day before, maybe even better. Yes, better. The chicken broth recipe is below. The bean and short ribs are coming.
Fast and Flavorful Chicken Broth
1 broiler, boned out chicken reserved for another use or
2 lbs mixed chicken backs and necks, rinsed in boiling water
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2″ pieces
3 celery stalks, trimmed, washed and cut into 2″ pieces
1 onion, peeled and cut into quarters
1 bay leaf
Because you can’t skim the broth cooked in a pressure cooker I first “rinse” the bones with boiling water. I bring water to a boil, put the bones in a colander in the sink and pour the boiling water over the bones. Then I put the drained bones into the pressure cooker with the vegetables and aromatics. I added water to the maximum level mark in my pressure cooker. Use recommended proportions from your favorite pressure cooker cookbook or manual.
Cover and lock in lid and cook over medium high heat until the valve shows you are cooking at high pressure. Adjust the heat so that the pressure is maintained but not so high that steams streams out of the cooker. An excess of exiting steam means loss of flavor.
Cook for one hour. Turn heat off then use quick release. When the steam is completely released remove the lid and marvel at your broth. Strain the broth then use it immediately or store it in the refrigerator overnight. Skim off the congealed fat then either use the broth within 2 days or freeze it.