gastronome
basic risotto with pressure cooker

I love my pressure cooker. Skeptics believe that you can't make anything tasty in it, because the pressure will break down any flavouring, but that's not exactly true: like anything else, you have to use the pressure cooker for what it is best at, and modify the plan accordingly.

One of the things the pressure cooker is best at is risotto. I love risotto, but I don't like the constant stirring. With the right proportions of rice to liquid, you can have your risotto cooked to perfection in 4 minutes (okay 10 if you include the initial and final fussing) and you don't have to stir except at the very end.

Basic pressure cooker risotto:

1 tbsp. butter or olive oil (or both!)
1 c. minced onions or leeks
1.5 c. arborio or carnaroli rice
1/2 c. dry white wine
4 c. chicken or veg broth

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Heat the oil in the pressure cooker until it is foaming. Add your onions (or leeks) and cook them until they're slightly soft. Stir in the rice, making sure that all the grains of rice get evenly coated with oil. Add the wine and stir often until most of the wine is evaporated. Add the broth. Close the lid. Bring the pressure cooker to high pressure. Reduce the heat to keep the pressure on high and cook for 4 minutes longer. Put the pressure cooker under cold running water to reduce the pressure quickly, and open the lid. The risotto will look soupy, still. Add seasoning and any other ingredients. Boil the risotto over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes more, until the grains of rice are cooked just right and the risotto looks creamy and thick. Turn off the heat and stir in some cheese. Serve.

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I made a butternut squash and kale risotto recently, a la recipe in Annie Somerville's excellent Greens Cookbook. The method for the additions went something like this:

Peel and cut butternut squash into 2-in. chunks. Toss with chopped garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, and roast in a dutch oven for about 20 min at 400 F or until the squash is soft and cooked.
Wash and remove stems from kale. Boil some water. Add salt. Cook kale about 4 minutes. Drain. Chop.
I added the squash and the kale to the risotto as above, along with nutmeg and about 2 oz grated Italian fontina cheese.

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A different variation, where you make the squash in the pressure cooker along with the rice in the first stage.

Peel and cut about 3 c. butternut squash into 1-in chunks. Add them along with the broth. Season at the end with chopped sage and about 2 oz. grated Parmesan cheese.

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Garlic flavour breaks down in the pressure cooker. If you want garlic flavour, saute your garlic in a little olive oil and add it at the end, or else cook one of your late additions with garlic as in the first variant here.

Posted by naomi on December 03, 2006 | TrackBack
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