So, you’ve gone out and bought a brand new pressure cooker (or maybe you’ve received it as a present) and have no idea how to use it and what to do with it? Well gone are the days of that scary pan on the hob with the ominous bursts of steam spouting out at you, today it’s all about digital pressure cookers! (There’s still going to be a geyser of steam that needs to be released, but it’s much less scary and there’s no added worries of flames and hot pans.)
They’re very simple to use and maintain, and although they may all look different and have varying functions, the principles are quite standard. So I’m going to give you my favourite recipe for risotto and we will cook it together with our new pressure cookers.
I’ve found that watching a bit too much Nigella can make you believe you’re a gourmet chef, so if you wouldn’t mind indulging in my delusion, let’s begin this easy no-fuss no-mess meal! This is a recipe I have perfected over time to suit my taste, so feel free to substitute or adapt it to your satisfaction.
Ingredients:
Base
oil
risotto (arborio) rice
onion
spring onion
garlic
white wine / lemon juice / 1 lime squeezed
Filling
cooked chicken slices
mushrooms
cooked prawns
peas
Seasoning
stock (chicken and/or vegetable)
black pepper
salt
paprika
mixed herbs
parsley
worcester sauce
Method
Start by removing the lid (obviously) and within should be an internal pot that holds all the ingredients, and will be removable for easy serving and cleaning. To this pot, add a drizzle of oil, some chopped onions, spring onions, and a clove or two of minced garlic, then leave to fry. There will be a fry, sautée or browning feature on the unit, select it and it will take just a moment to heat up and your base will begin to fry.
Once the onions have softened, add the rice to the pot and stir in. I’ve found that half of a standard 500g bag will be enough to serve 2 people, so if you work out your servings based on how many people you’re feeding and varying appetites.
While the rice is frying, now is the time to prepare your stock. For the ultimate flavour I add two cubes of chicken stock and one cube of vegetable stock to a measuring jug and add boiling water to dissolve. Initially for approx 250g of rice I would add around 400ml of stock, but that would often lead to an inconsistently dry result and it’s always better to continue to cook off excess moisture than try to salvage burnt rice. This means I aim for closer to 550ml of stock for a much more moist and delicious batch.
The original recipe I followed asked for a glug of white wine to add in to the rice once it’s spent a few minutes frying. On subsequent tries, a healthy dose of lemon juice or a lime’s worth squeezed in does the trick just nicely. Whichever one you choose, just allow the rice to absorb it, stirring continuously. Watch out after this step the rice may begin to stick to the base of the pot so now is the perfect time to add in the stock.
Cancel the frying function on the pressure cooker and pour in the stock, stirring in to mix up the ingredients. The unit should still be hot but the mixture will sit warmly while you add in your filling and seasoning.
This is a versatile recipe as it is usually dictated by what I happen to have in the fridge for the main ingredient. The risotto will still be good served plain, but I feel it does need something to bring it texture and make it more filling. More often than not I throw in some pre-cooked chicken slices (that I buy frozen), and they can be added in frozen as they will defrost as the rice cooks in the stock. I may add in some chopped mushrooms, or if I’m feeling really adventurous some fresh, cooked or thoroughly-defrosted prawns. A sprinkle of frozen peas is also welcome.
Now the important bit: the seasoning. As previously mentioned this has been a process of refinement, though the act of seasoning has always been less measured and more judged by the heart and the eye. To the mixture I add; a good cracking of black pepper, some salt (I got my hands on some Lemon & Herb Sea Salt that adds a zesty zing), a generous heap of paprika, a sprinkle of mixed herbs (a traditional combination of marjoram, basil, oregano and thyme), some dried parsley (don’t be afraid to add in these herbs fresh if you prefer) and a dash or worcester sauce.
Stir the mixture together and place the lid on the unit, securing it correctly. Make sure you’ve read the general usage instructions for your pressure cooker so you know how to secure the lid and prepare the steam valves.
Select the rice function and set the timer for 10 minutes. Now just sit back and let your pressure cooker work its magic! In about half the time it would normally take to cook on the hob, your pressure cooker will beep when finished and your delicious risotto will be ready. Switch off the unit and release the pressure valve to let all that built up steam out. After a few minutes, the steam will have escaped and the lid will be able to be opened. Your risotto should be moist and succulent, and the rice should still have a good bite to it. Stir and serve straight away.
Maintaining your new pressure cooker is easy, so make sure that it is wiped down after every use, get out any trapped moisture in the lid and wash the cooking pot well.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this simple and flavourful recipe, and make sure to experiment with new culinary treats with your handy kitchen companion.