by MELISSA GORDON
If you know someone with a pressure cooker, then you’ve heard all about the magic they’ve performed with it. There’s something about owning a pressure cooker that turns people into pressure-cooker evangelists. Since I don’t own one, I interviewed Eileen Hanson, member of the Bluff Country Co-op Board of Directors, and teacher of our upcoming class on pressure cooking (Saturday, April 6, from 10-11:30 a.m. at the co-op) to find out what I was missing.
GG: First things first: if I purchase a pressure cooker am I joining a cult?
EH: I guess pressure cookers are all the rage. So many people are looking to eat whole foods but struggle to find the time and expertise to feed themselves and their families well. I think electric pressure cookers have just met a need. Maybe a fad, not quite a cult!
GG: What makes a pressure cooker so special?
EH: With electric pressure cooking you can get deep flavor, retain moisture, and cook things quickly (even from frozen and it doesn’t turn into a hockey puck!).
GG: What motivated you to purchase one?
EH: I knew I needed to make some changes in my food world, as time and creativity in the kitchen were both in short supply. I looked around at various prepared meal services, but ultimately, I wanted to get my food locally and know where it came from. I do enjoy cooking; I just needed a way to make whole meals a little easier to accomplish on a weeknight.
GG: How has your cooking changed since getting one?
EH: When I got the electric pressure cooker, I also started meal planning. I realized that part of the issue is not just time to prepare a meal, but trying to figure out what to make at 5 p.m. when I’m already tired and hungry. Knowing what’s for dinner helps a lot. And, having a way to make a whole meal — grains, meats, vegetables, maybe all in the pot, maybe to be used for a few different dishes — just feels more do-able now. Also, mine comes with a really nice app for recipes, which is a great way to find inspiration and new ideas.
Since getting the pressure cooker, I’ve also done more meal prep. I can make a couple pounds of chicken, several cups of rice, and steam some vegetables all in less than an hour. Then I can package it up for lunches or dinners throughout the week or pop them in the freezer for another time.
GG: What’s your favorite dish to make?
EH: I don’t have a favorite yet. I’ve had this about six months, and I feel like I’m still experimenting. I did make an amazingly good bone broth, and then used it to make pho, all in an afternoon — so that felt (and tasted) really great!
If I had a pressure cooker, the first thing I would make would be homemade refried beans. And here is the recipe I would use:
Pressure Cooker Refried Beans
Adapted from www.melskitchencafe.com
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 jalapeño, cored, seeded and finely chopped
• 1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
• 3-4 cloves garlic, finely minced
• 1 1/2 pounds dry pinto beans, rinsed
• 8 cups water
• 4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 2 tablespoons white vinegar
1. Google “Under Pressure, Queen and David Bowie” and turn up the speakers really loud.
2. In the insert of an electric pressure cooker (or in a stovetop pressure cooker), heat the oil (using the sauté function on the InstantPot) and add the jalapeño, onion, and garlic, and sauté for one to two minutes, stirring often.
3. Add the rinsed and drained beans, water, broth, salt and vinegar.
4. Secure the lid on the pressure cooker and cook on high pressure for 30 minutes (stovetop) and 35 minutes (electric).
5. Let the pressure naturally release. Reserve two cups of the liquid in a separate bowl.
6. Drain the rest of the liquid off the beans. Using an immersion blender, potato masher (or spooning the beans into a blender), mash to the desired consistency, adding reserved cooking water for a smoother consistency if desired.
7. Refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for several months.