Pressure cooker, take three: California chicken

Amidst all of my recent bridal shenanigans–multiple showers and, this past weekend, my bachelorette party–I seem to have lost my brain.  It up and left my head and is surely floating somewhere in the sky far away from here.  Keep that in mind if you see a brain drifting aimlessly through the clouds overhead.

Given that my day has been one moment of stupidity after another, I should have known better than to try a new recipe.  But the first two rounds of pressure cooking had gone so well–I thought I had this one in the bag.  “This one” is a recipe I found called California Chicken.

To begin with, I realized that I’ve learned a thing or two about what makes a good recipe.  If I can be honest, I don’t think this recipe was well-written.  First, it calls for “3 pounds chicken, skinned and cut into pieces.”  Which part(s) of the chicken should be used?  Is it boneless?  How large or small should the pieces be?  Technically, I could cut a chicken breast in half and call it “two pieces,” but I could also make 20 pieces from that one chicken breast.  While deep in contemplation, it occurred to me just how precise a good recipe needs to be.  Basically, I had to trust my gut on this one.  I always have chicken breasts on hand, so that’s what I used.  I sliced them into 1″ cubes and prayed for the best.

I browned the chicken as instructed and then added the rest of the ingredients.  At that point, I made an impromptu decision that may or may not have contributed to the failure of this dish.

I added frozen broccoli.

I’m a really big fan of veggies with my chicken, and broccoli just seemed to fit the dish.  What I hadn’t considered was that frozen broccoli packs a bit of water.  After cooking the chicken under pressure as called for, there was still quite a bit of liquid left in the bottom of the pan and I could NOT get it to thicken or cook down any.  By the time the chicken made it onto our plates, it was drier than a bone in the desert.  The only consolation was that the flavor was really, really good.

Prior to cooking, I’d had a great internal debate about what to make as a side dish, and ultimately settled on mac & cheese (of the Kraft variety), due to poor planning.  Once I was aware of just how crappy the chicken turned out, I was grateful for my decision.  At least I’d chosen a side I couldn’t mess up!

For my final installment of my Two-Week Technique pressure cooking trials, I can state with honest conviction that I will NOT be cooking meat!

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