Monday, April 23, 2012

Pressure cooker semi-fail--risotto

OK, first of all, I did have a win with risotto the traditional way.  However, I wanted to use the pressure cooker I got at a yard sale.  It's a jiggle-top variety, cost me $5 (plus the cost of a new gasket).  I'd heard it's very easy to make risotto in the pressure cooker, and I thought it would be useful for making things like stocks and beans and other things when I didn't have all night to cook or simmer things.

This pressure cooker was a bust.

First, it never got up to pressure.  I have a pressure canner and I know what coming up to pressure should look and sound like when you've got a jiggle top.  This never happened.  So the rice got done--albeit a bit over done in a way--and the bottom got burned.  It was a big old fail.

Now, I've heard second generation pressure cookers are fantastic, and they may well be, but they are also ridiculously expensive.  Unless I have gift cards to the store that is selling them, I'm not sure it's something I'm going to invest in right now.  I was toying with it, but the least expensive second generation pressure cooker I could find was $60.  (I do have gift cards that would have covered almost all of the cost of a really nice Fagor pressure cooker at one high-end store, but they were pushing me to buy and electric pressure cooker.  That was kind of a turnoff.)

The risotto itself tasted fine, though it was too gluey.  I used dried mushrooms, chicken stock, and a little white wine for flavoring.  The flavors were very nice, the texture could have been better.

I was able to completely salvage it.  At first, I tried to just form a pancake and fry the risotto, but that didn't work out too well, and I realized I needed a crispy coating.  So then I rolled the cold leftover risotto in balls, flattened them out, and and dredged them in bread crumbs, and fried them in a little olive oil.  These were very tasty, and the extra gloopy texture served the pancake well.

8 comments:

  1. Ooh, that sounds like something we used to get in Boston's North End. Very Italian!

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  2. Bleugh! Risotto!! I dunno if I've just never had good risotto, but I ordered it once at a restaurant and the plateful of mushy old rice that turned up was vile!

    Maybe I should give it one more try? I used to hate milkshake after having a bad one once. Now... Nomm!

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  3. Nicoleandmaggie, You know, I don't live too far from Boston, but when I go to the North End, I get pasta! Hmmmm. . .maybe I should rethink that. . .

    Bryallen, from what I read, risotto should be kind of creamy with a bit of an al dente bite in the center. Sort of creamy and chewy at the same time--it's not that the rice is overcooked mush, but you stir it and stir it while you cook it. You add a little bit of stock to it, and as the grains absorb it, you add a little more, stirring all the while. The short grain rice tends to be starchy, and stirring releases the starch (if I'm not mistaken) which is supposed to give it a creamy texture. (I made it the traditional way last week and it turned out quite well).

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  4. There's this amazing place where you stand in a very long line and order at the counter... definitely not a sit-down place. But the food is ambrosial. And cheap! Sadly I cannot remember what it was called. But I do remember having something that resembled deep fried risotto balls that were amazing.

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  5. Probably here: http://www.yelp.com/biz/galleria-umberto-boston

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  6. I doubt that your fail was the fault of the pressure cooker. I still cook with one that is over 50 years old. Maybe this one works a little differently than your new one. If it is aluminum like my old one, I would not cook food in it. I also have a new stainless steel pressure cooker that is the only thing I will cook food in. By the way, you can use a pressure cooker and pressure canner interchangeably. Don't believe it if someone tells you that you cannot can in a pressure cooker. If your new pressure cooker has a dial, maybe you are trying to use the old one like the new one. I don't know where you live, but if I were close, I would gladly take the old one off your hands for a sum. The pressure cooker that you are unhapp with can still be used to keep jars hot before filling.

    You can take the pressure cooker/canner that failed to a county agent who will not be trying to sell you anything to see what is the problem.

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  7. Thanks for the tips, PP--I will go to a county agent to see if there's an issue I'm not aware of. It is aluminum (as is the pressure canner, which is something like 30 years old and works perfectly--I'd cook in that but it's huge).

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  8. I think it's time to get back on the horse that threw you and try pressure cooking again. ;-)

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