My First Pressure Cooker Experience

I did it!

I triumphantly used my pressure cooker for the first time yesterday. I am happy to say that my roof is intact, birds a plenty are flying over head, the walls and ceiling are free of food debris and damage, and I ended up with a meal that was edible and very tasty.

That’s right lesser beings. I’m now a pressure cooker expert.

When I’ve cooked brown rice in the past, the result is typically a watery, bland and severely al dente meal. My brown rice adventures are so bad that I all but stopped cooking it. And given my embarrassing track record, I was afraid that the pressure cooker version of brown rice would be the same. I’m happy to tell you that I couldn’t have been more wrong.

While I successfully produced a magnificent, savory brown rice and vegetable dish, yesterday’s adventure wasn’t without a few smiles.

Before I began I RTFM numerous times to make sure I didn’t miss something critical. Because rice and other grains tend to “froth, foam and sputter” during cooking, the directions read that I should put the rice and other food in a glass or stainless steel bowl, cover it with foil to ensure nothing escapes and clogs the air vent, then place that in the cooker, and cook.

I nailed that part.

I added some water into the cooker and placed the lid on it, put the pressure regulator on the vent pipe and turned the stove on to medium high. At first I took shelter on the other side of refrigerator, but after a few minutes I mustered up some courage and slowly made my way back towards the stove. After a minute or so steam started coming out of the air vent, which is normal and expected so the directions read. Believing that the cooker had reached the fifteen PSI mark, I turned the heat down and waited for the rice to cook. After eight long minutes I turned the heat off and let the pressure drop of its own accord, opened the lid and removed the foil. And what did I find?

Raw brown rice and veggies.

Perplexed but not undaunted I re-read the manual. It turns out that I confused the steam coming from the air vent with steam coming from the regulator, which meant I turned the heat down very prematurely.

That’s alright. Given my extreme apprehension going into this, I’m not going to beat myself up too much over that. I’ll just cook the rice some more. So back onto the stove the cooker went.

Once again I turned the heat to medium high, watched for a steady flow of steam to come from the pressure regulator and then turned the heat down. I waited for eight long minutes, turned the heat off and let the pressure drop, opened the lid and removed the foil. And what did I find?

Partially cooked brown rice and veggies.

Channeling my inner Otto, I yelled, “disappointed!” Now what’d I do wrong? Several things, actually. First, the directions read that I should put the heat on high to start with, which I didn’t because of my unreasonable, childish fear. I used medium high heat instead. Second, the directions read that if I use a glass container inside the cooker instead of a stainless steel container, I should add as much as five additional minutes to the cooking time. And last, as everyone whose ever tried to cook brown rice before knows, it takes galactic year for it to cook.

Fine. Whatever. I’ll just try it again.

For a third time, back onto the stove the cooker went. After ten more minutes I turned the heat off and let the pressure drop, opened the lid and removed the foil. And what did I find?

Slightly over cooked but really yummy, moist brown rice and veggies. WOO HOO! After my first bite I did my happy dance (I don’t dance) all around the kitchen, sang glorious praises to the greatness that is me, and ate the rest of my exquisite rice dish. In fact, I couldn’t believe how flavorful it was! This was so much easier than I thought it was going to be. And clean up was super simple and quick, especially since I used the glass bowl in the cooker. Clean up time was maybe a minute or two.

I can see now that using a pressure cooker is both an art and a science. Figuring out temperatures and cooking times will be a trial and error process for sure, and I know that this won’t be the last over-cooked meal I’m going to end up with. But if my first dish is an indication of how tasty food can be with so little effort, I’m sold. I can see where this is now going to be my go-to appliance for cooking. And I must note that pressure cookers are definitely slacker friendly. Cooking just doesn’t get much easier than this.

I have no idea what I’ll cook next time, but I can’t hardly wait. I feel quite silly now, about how I feared these things. And now I can enjoy brown rice again!

I need to stop fearing fear. With the success of my maiden voyage using a pressure cooker, expect yummy recipes to follow.

Two fears down, 2.37 x 108 to go.

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