Pressure cooker, take two: risotto

Preface to what you’re about to read:  my bridal shower was last weekend, and my gag gift was the LARGEST pair of granny panties my eyes have ever seen.

So this is how my morning started:  I was in the bathroom, getting ready for work, when I heard my cat Orville making a ruckus in the hallway.  I poked my head out the door and caught Orville wildly running back and forth in the hallway with the granny panties in his mouth.  This continued for several moments and ended with Orville collapsing on the ground, hugging the underwear with his front paws while he kicked at them with his back legs, and finally curling up in a ball and resting his head on the panties like they were a cat-sized pillow.

It was bound to be an interesting day from the get-go.  With an interesting day comes an interesting cooking experience.

First, I tackled my second pressure cooker recipe:  rapid risotto.  I LOVE rice dishes, especially risotto, but I really despise how long rice takes to cook.  Having survived my first pressure cooking undertaking, I was a lot calmer going into my second venture.  I also learned what I did wrong in the first recipe that had caused the beans not to cook thoroughly (I turned the heat down too low when trying to maintain high pressure), with the hope that I wouldn’t have the same issue with the risotto.

While the risotto cooked, I coated some chicken breasts with a meat rub and put them in my brand new grill pan!  I’ve emphasized those words because that’s how ecstatic I felt when I purchased this grill pan a couple of nights ago.  I’ve wanted a grill pan for a really…long…time.  But don’t let the enthusiasm fool you.  My grill pan is already in the doghouse, so to speak.

I’ve been watching cooking shows (ahem…Giada) in which food is prepared on the grill pan, and it looks AMAZING.  When I purchased my grill pan earlier this week, I was beside myself with excitement as I thought about all the wondrous things my new pan would produce.  But the closer my chicken breasts came to being cooked, the more it became clear to me that the grill pan had done nothing differently than just any ol’ frying pan I could have pulled out of my kitchen cabinet.  I was even robbed of the fancy grill marks the pan should have left on my chicken.  Unless I’m missing something important, I’m almost sure I wasted my money.

Luckily, I had no issues with my risotto and it couldn’t have turned out any better.  Given that the total cook time was only about 10 minutes, I do believe the pressure cooker will be my preferred method for preparing risotto from now on!  Bonus:  this time, I didn’t flinch even once out of fear that my pressure cooker might explode.

Even though I was disappointed by the lack of pizzazz in my grill pan’s performance, the chicken was decent.  I also discovered the deliciousness of cooking broccoli in the chicken juices left over in the pan.  Mmmmmmm.

Now that I’ve done rice and beans in the pressure cooker, my next endeavor will be to cook some chicken pressure-cooker-style.  I think I can, I think I can…

He made, she made

Dinner tonight was a joint effort between my fiance and me.  He’d been planning to barbecue some chicken breasts, so I told him I’d “come up with something” to go with them.

And that is how I get myself into stupid situations.

By the time I got home from work, I had about 0.0000000012794362% of an idea in mind.  It involved rice.  But if I didn’t come up with a plan for the rice fast, we’d be eating our barbecued chicken with bone-hard, plain white rice.  After opening the refrigerator, the cupboards, AND the freezer, I had gathered chicken stock, frozen broccoli, sharp cheddar cheese, and the ingredients to make a bechamel sauce.

I started by cooking the rice in the chicken stock.  While I left them to do their thing, I dumped some frozen broccoli florets into a mini food processor.

I’ve never used my itty bitty food processor to chop frozen veggies (or frozen anything, for that matter).  It’s probably breaking some culinary rule and I’m probably lucky I didn’t break my appliance or myself.  It took a little longer than the usual time to chop stuff, but the results were exactly what I’d hoped for!

I added the broccoli to the rice and whipped up a quick bechamel sauce.  That’s right, I whipped up a quick bechamel sauce.  Looking back on how badly my first one came out, I’m so proud that I can make such a statement!  Anyway, to the bechamel sauce I added about a quarter cup of shredded sharp cheddar, and then I stirred it into the rice.  While my fiance was outside working the grill, I sneaked a test bite of the rice.  I expected it to be okay, but not phenomenal.  It was actually pretty fantastic!  Much better than what I’d anticipated.  The only downfall was that it needed a little salt.  I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I currently have no salt in my house.

Honestly, who runs completely out of salt?

I finished the rice and got a mini grilling lesson from my fiance (more of those to follow, stay tuned……).  Between the two of us, dinner was wicked awesome.