Ooooh! All my hinting around finally worked! The other day, the UPS man delivered a pressure cooker to my door–my first gift of the season! And just the model I wanted: a Fagor Futuro 6-quart! (I can be a very precise hinter.)
I could hardly wait to get it out of the box. I’ve been obsessing over pressure cookers for a while now but couldn’t bring myself to add yet another piece of equipment to my jam-packed cupboards. And I knew I didn’t really need one, which is why it had to be a gift.
But I do sort of need one. Having a tool in the kitchen that cooks food fast is a necessity for some. I’m not the best planner and hardly ever think of soaking beans the night before I want to cook them. And I’m always running behind. So if I can cook things at the last minute, I’m that much further ahead.
The first pressure cooker I ever saw was in a home kitchen in Paris and it scared the daylights out of me. My friend dumped some Brussels sprouts into the pot, added some water, clamped on the lid, then set it over a high burner. Soon, that pot was hissing and whistling (and I could swear it was bouncing around on the stovetop), as if those little Brussels sprouts were fighting to get out. But the lid was clamped on tight, keeping all the steam–and those pressurized prisoners–inside. Oh, the torture!
Just a few minutes later, my friend did something (I couldn’t look) and a powerful “pfft” sounded. I turned to see steam flowing up as the top was removed. I thought I’d find an exploded mess of green inside, but instead, the I found perfectly cooked Brussels sprouts.
It seems that everyone in France has a pressure cooker. They use them for making all sorts of things, from vegetables to soups to meats. I don’t know exactly how or why the pressure-cooker bee got into my bonnet recently, but it had me online, snooping around for reviews and prices and (I got away with myself) recipes. I learned that the PC (as we call it) has improved a lot in the last decade or so. Mostly, they aren’t as scary. Some are even electric with digital features. But I didn’t want anything so fussy. Finally, it came down to the Fagor, from Spain,and the much pricier Kuhn Rikon from Switzerland . I figured the Fagor would suit my needs.
In the few days I’ve had mine, I’ve cooked cut-up chicken breast, broccolini, white beans and…last night I made chicken stock. While I overcooked the chicken, broccolini and beans (I’m still getting the hang of it!), the chicken stock was a revelation. I chopped up some carrots, celery and onion, added a whole chicken (it could have been–and probably should have been–just the carcass) and water and cooked for an hour. For someone who isn’t the greatest planner, this homemade stock is the greatest gift. Goodbye Swanson’s!
Thanks to Vicki and G. Dana for capitulating! You win a pressure-cooked meal!