When it comes to the challenge of eating in, few appliances can compete with the time-efficient, fuel-efficient pressure cooker. Because water boils in the vacuum-sealed cooker at 242F rather than the standard 212F, food cooks in 1/3 or less the standard cooking time.
While there are pressure cookers in kitchens all over the world, it's sad that so many Americans are still afraid of using them. Will all of you "pc"enthusiasts please spread the word about how great they are by commenting on this post?
Risotto in 4 minutes under pressure and then just a few minutes of stirring at the end--rather than 30 minutes of on-and-off attention? That's only one of the "miracles" that the cooker can perform. How about a split pea soup in 20 minutes that already pureed when you unlock the lid? Or from-scratch chicken broth in a half hour?
I'll never forget the time I was testing recipes for Cooking Under Pressure back in the late eighties: a friend came over and I made this risotto for him. He said, "I'm going to stop by at Zabar's on my way home and buy a pressure cooker. If I don't make anything but risotto in it, the investment with be worthwhile."
I couldn't agree more! Just made it a few nights ago for some new friends. Pressure-cooked risotto has become one of my standard company dishes because it's made with ingredients easily kept on hand and everybody loves it. You can easily adopt your favorite risotto recipes by using the proportions in the recipe below.
Serve the risotto with a tri-colored arugula, radicchio, and endive salad for a fetching meal.
RISOTTO WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATOES AND SMOKED MOZZARELLA
SERVES 6 AS AN APPETIZER, 4 AS A MAIN COURSE
4 MINUTES HIGH PRESSURE
1 tablespoon sweet butter
1 tablespoon oil from sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup finely minced onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
3 1/2 to 4 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and coarsely chopped
1 cup tightly packed, grated smoked mozzarella (5 ounces)
Salt to taste, if desired
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley (optional but pretty and delicious)
Heat the butter and oil in the cooker. Sauté the onion until soft but not browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in the rice, making sure to coat it thoroughly with the fat. Stir in 3 1/2 cups of the broth (watch for sputtering oil).
Lock the lid in place and over high heat bring to high pressure. Adjust the heat to maintain high pressure and cook for 4 minutes. Reduce pressure with a quick-release method. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow any excess steam to escape.
The risotto will be fairly soupy at this point. Set the cooker over medium-high heat and boil uncovered, stirring vigorously every minute, until the mixture thickens and the rice is tender but still chewy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add a bit more broth if the mixture becomes dry before the rice reaches the desired consistency. When the rice is ready, turn off the heat. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella, and add salt to taste and basil, if you wish. Serve immediately.