Tonight my family had Chicken Cacciatore for dinner that did not have to be ordered or nuked. I made it in 10 minutes! Can you believe it?!?
FINALLY – I’ve found the answer to my life-long problem of not being able to think about dinner until it’s actually dinner time: the good old, time-tested pressure cooker! You know…that big, ugly, clunky, scary piece of metal shaking and quaking like it’s about to burst atop your mom or grandmom’s stove top? That thing! Except it’s no longer scary or scary-looking! In fact, it quite looks like a large crock pot!
The pressure cooker was a frequently used piece of cookware in my own mom’s kitchen and I never understood how it worked…or cared to. All I needed to know was that my mom was an outstanding cook. Fast forward a few decades and here I am struggling to feed my own family because I don’t have the simple forethought to put dinner into motion until it’s actually time to sit down and eat. At this point my choices are either: (a) take-out, (b) eat-out, (c) nuke something quick, or (d) hope my mom next-door prepared something and had enough left over to send our way.
Several years ago mom did, in fact, gift me and my siblings each with an electric pressure cooker. It was probably a Christmas present but I honestly can’t remember. I just stuck it in a cabinet along with all of the assorted over-sized pots, slow cookers and roasters she also gifted me over the years never to be used. I’m sure it was her hope that one day these valuable tools added to my kitchen inventory would eventually inspire me to cook something but it never really did turn out that way. Sorry, Ma.
It was actually my brother, who was visiting with us last week, that piqued my interest in the pressure cooker. He saw mine stored up in my garage attic (guess I ran out of cabinet space somewhere along the way) and, boy, did he want that thing in the worst way. Turns out he actually used a pressure cooker several times at some point in his bachelorhood and began to tell me these tall tales about how he could cook a meal in 10-15 minutes in a pressure cooker that would otherwise take an hour or two or more in an oven. Ya – right, Bro. I don’t know ANYONE that uses a pressure cooker any more. Not even our own mother! But he kept on and on about it.
So I started (what else) Googling pressure cookers and, lo and behold…pressure cooking IS for real and it HAS been making a come back (there’s an interesting history and trend behind the pressure cooker method) and IS a completely safe, healthy and reliably FAST way to cook anything. So my pressure cooker came out of dusty storage and after arming myself with “Pressure Cookers for Dummies”, away I went making my first pressure cooked meal: Chicken Cacciatore! Why not!
The recipe said it would take 10 minutes to cook with 20 minutes of prep time as opposed to 60 or 90 minutes from start to finish the traditional way. Uh-huh, I told myself skeptically. The recipe was right except for one thing: the 10 minute cook time did NOT include the 10 minutes it took for the pressure cooker to “warm up” to high pressure mode. Other than that, it was quick, fast and absolutely delicious! The chicken was thoroughly cooked & moist, and clean up was a breeze!
Traditional recipes do have to be modified in order to be cooked in the pressure cooker and I’m no where near to having a clue about that so I’m limited to using pressure cooker recipes only which is fine; there are plenty of recipe books and online websites available on this type of cooking.
So now I’m super stoked about continuing to experiment with pressure cooking and not having to worry about the fact that it’s dinner time with no time to prepare. That’s one New Year’s resolution down. Nine to go.