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.


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

  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!

  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).

  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.

  5. Probably here:

  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.

  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).

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