Thursday, 12 February 2009

Oh the Pressure

I've purchased a pressure cooker.

I would like to say it was a whim, a throwback to some sort of 60's romanticized vision, but I actually put more thought into it than that. It actually all started before Christmas. I don't even remember the exact circumstances under which I determined that this was the latest kitchen gadget that I needed. The latest thing that would allow me to foray into new cooking challenges and learnings. But for some reason I fell to pressure cooker on the brain. Back to the whim thing, I actually even purchased one. A Lagostina 6 quart. After I brought my purchase home, the analytical part of my brain kicked in and I figured I better do some research. Good plan!

After some online research I found out that the Lagostina is only 8 psi and that one should aim for 15 psi. Further such features as a quick release valve were recommended, a second psi setting (8 psi) for more delicate foods were also in order. Options such as steamer pans and trivets should also be considered. As for brands, Fagor appeared to be consistently recommended. So my search began. Unfortunately my search was deferred for several weeks because of overseas Christmas travel to see family (the details of which I'd love to go into, but that would really be another blog altogether).

So this brings us to just a couple of weeks ago. I did some looking around while on travels in New England after Christmas, but wasn't finding the size/brand/combo I wanted. So I finally took the plunge as I could wait no longer through and ordered the Fagor Duo (an excellent site with an A minus Better Business Bureau rating - I highly recommend it) and in just a few days there it was at my backdoor.
After further web research, and reading up on my new toy, and watching the accompanying dvd, I felt prepared to put it to the test. Alas, what to cook though. I had flagged many recipes I was interested to try, but couldn't settle on one. I decided to let my refrigerator do the selecting, and it was the soon to perish leeks that won. I opted for a Leek and Potato Potage (aka soup).

First you sauté 2 diced leeks on the cooktop right in the pressure cooker. Of course the leeks must be properly prepared first - icky outer leaves removed, dark green tops removed, and a good rinse to ensure no dirt.

Sauté them in a bit of butter until soft. Add 3-4 medium sized potatoes that are peeled and sliced. Chuck in 4 cups of chicken broth. And you're ready to put the pressure on.

Following pressure cooker pot instructions put the lid on. Turn the heat up a bit so that the soup heats up and pressure is created in the pot (I'm using the 15 psi setting on this one). Your pot should have a way to notify you when its reached pressure. Mine has a little yellow pin that pops up.

Lower the heat (but not too low so pressure is lost) and cook for 10 minutes. Depressurize the pot (mine has a quick release valve that I used - but be sure that the pot is positioned such that the releasing steam is directed away from you and at nothing that can't get steam or wet). Remove the lid, add a bit of cream to finish and salt and pepper to taste. Voila!

This makes a small batch - enough for 3 or 4 servings. But it was a fantastic way to start.

A positive pressure cooking experience.

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