Pressure Cooking Part 2

Cranberry Bean Quinoa Salad

I gave the pressure cooker another whirl last night and it went well, so I thought I’d share what I had learned since my first crack at it.

1. Don’t rely on the manual. Especially if your manual is badly translated from Spanish, folks, get a real cookbook. It also didn’t help that the manual only had recipes for meat in them. Beans are different. On the recommendation of Amazon and many reviewers, I got the Lorna Sass book and it looks to be fabulous. More vegetarian meals than I will ever make, and a great deal of variety as well. Stews, soups, grains, vegetables and oh yes, also beans. She also talks in length about the intricacies of pressure cooking, which was really helpful to learn that …

2. If your second generation pressure cooker (the non-jiggle top ones) is making noise, the heat is probably too high. Turns out once you get that puppy up to pressure, you can turn that heat down. A lot, in fact, around 3. The pressure got up fairly quickly, within a couple of minutes, so then I turned the heat down and cooked the beans for 7 minutes which brings me to my next point …

3. If you’re just starting out, cook towards the low end of the time range. My beans were a LITTLE overcooked, so next time I’ll go with 5 minutes (the low end of the range given) instead of splitting the difference. Like Lorna says, you can always let them simmer a little longer if you need to. (Another source says you can always pressure it back up and cook them longer so take your pick.)

4. If you’re gone with the low end of the time range, let the pressure fall naturally. OK I learned this one earlier when I released the pressure and steam went everywhere, leaving puddles on my floor. (Seriously.) Just be patient. It will drop. Release the valve. It might spit a bit, but then you easily open the lid and you should have perfect beans. (Or whatever you cooked.) Remind yourself that without the pressure cooker, you’d only be 15 minutes in and you would otherwise have anywhere from another 30 minutes to over an hour.

My reward for continuing to refine my pressure cooker techniques was a delicious cranberry bean quinoa salad. Now I didn’t have black quinoa and my quinoa didn’t take 40 minutes to cook either but otherwise, I didn’t change much in this recipe. It was damn good folks! And it was ready in 20 minutes. (Seriously, 20 minutes.)4. And don’t be afraid! All those stories of food on the ceiling and blowing up your kitchen are apparently first generation pressure cookers. The only scary thing now is you can’t see inside the pressure cooker to see how it’s going. Turns out that’s what the “trial and error” means. It’s sort of like the old days of developing negatives, where you had to put the film cartridge and the film developing canister in a black bag, stick your hands in it and manage to empty the cartridge, feed the film onto a reel and put it in the canister. Anyone remember that? How many pieces of film did you not quite get on the reel? Like I tell my daughter, the P word is so important. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE.

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5 thoughts on “Pressure Cooking Part 2

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