I bought a pressure cooker about a year and a half ago. I’m not really sure why I woke up one morning and decided I just had to have one, but that’s what happened. Very soon after I made Mama Shah’s Kitchari and was so terrified of the pressure cooker that I described cooking with it like “trying to calm an errant two-year-old in the middle of a temper tantrum.” After that I put the entire contraption in the cabinet and hadn’t looked at it since.
Now that some time has passed, I was finally able to work up the nerve to revisit the scary pressure cooker and decide once and for all if it’s worth keeping. After all, I have a pretty small kitchen and cabinet space is at a premium – it’s either ship off or ship out (in terms of cookware, of course).
I first wanted to make barley risotto in the pressure cooker, even went out and bought all the ingredients. But when I consulted the terror-inducing manual to make sure I set the pressure cooker up correctly – you know, because it could blow up and all – I saw that barley can’t be cooked in the pressure cooker. Something about the barley foaming and clogging the valve, causing mass destruction.
After that I decided to try something more traditional: beef stew. The beef stew recipe was great, an adaptation of this one from Self magazine (I used sweet potatoes instead of butternut squash and smoked paprika), but didn’t come out quite right in the pressure cooker: the beef was tough and the vegetables a little overcooked.
But the bigger problem was I didn’t see the value of using the pressure cooker. The stew took just over an hour to make using the pressure cooker, and I imagine cooking it the traditional way would’ve only added about 15 minutes and resulted in a better product.
What do I do? Should I retire the pressure cooker to my parents’ basement with my toaster oven, heating blanket, and other items that aren’t worthy of prime cabinet space? Or should I give it once last try to see if I can find value in the product by using it with dried beans or something? And how much does it matter that the darned thing still scares the crap out of me?