I find myself using the modern pressure cooker more and more since one of our members, Mark Lacascio, first brought its virtues to my attention a couple of years ago. This is not your grandmother’s pressure cooker, folks. Mine is made by Breville, though there are several good ones being marketed by reputable appliance manufacturers. These new-era cookers are digitalized and multi-functional, providing pressure cooking, slow-cooking and searing features, all controlled by a timer that will automatically turn the vessel off at whatever point you choose. They include pressure relief valves as well and never give you the feeling that they might explode at any moment like the simpler vessels did. It was a courageous grandmother indeed that first attempted the use of the first models. The new ones are a different creature altogether. And they are marvelous cooking vessels. I’ll give a couple of examples recently experienced.
- Wild duck: We had a successful duck harvest at the farm but didn’t get the chance to make our winter duck and andouille gumbos as often we usually do for a cold winter meal – gumbo doesn’t taste as good without a little frost on the windows and that is especially true if it’s a wild game gumbo. So we found ourselves with frozen ducks in the deep freeze as the weather turned warmer. Finding ourselves with a house full of guests, I pulled 2 ducks from the freezer for preparation as appetizers on the porch before dinner. Started with seared onion and garlic on the searing function for 10 minutes, added cheap cognac and orange juice when the timer chimed, loaded the ducks in and set for a 20 minute cook under pressure. The result: fork tender and beautifully flavored wild duck served with crusty French bread for dipping in the gravy. I’ve been cooking wild duck for a lifetime and have never had better.
- Boston Butt steak: I started these the same way with seared onion and garlic, then added chicken stock, the pork steak covered in apple slices. 20 minutes later…fabulous pork that we cut with our fork.
So what’s happening here? It is not only the pressurization process that tenderizes what is otherwise a chewy piece of meat. It is all the constituent flavors in the vessel being pressed into the meat, all happening in 30 minutes instead of the traditional 2 hours or more. These are amazing tools. Make the investment. You’ll never look back.
We look forward to seeing you where your food lives – in the bluebonnet hills and dales of the Open Farm on April 23rd.