Sunday, April 01, 2012

Pressure Cooker Risotto - the good, and the disastrous

A few weeks ago Andy got himself a full-time job (which is how we can afford to buy a house). So we're both a bit busy, and relying on easy-quick dinners many nights. One thing that we discovered at the start of the year is pressure-cooker risotto. I use the term 'risotto' quite loosely, because it is really more of a sloppy, saucy rice than the creamy, lovingly-stirred rice that is risotto. But, it's easy, it's tasty, and it hits the spot. And it's modular - we usually have pumpkin and olives, but sometimes use spinach, other times zucchini, and so on. So it's a great weeknight dinner. Most of the time. (Cautionary tale of disaster and woe beneath the recipe!)

2 T. olive oil
1 onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 c. arborio rice
750 mL vegetable stock
2 c. chopped pumpkin
a handful of kalamata olives
spinach leaves

Heat oil in a pressure cooker pan and cook onions until translucent. Add garlic and stir, then add rice and cook, stirring, until the rice smells toasty. Add pumpkin and stock, put on lid, and bring it all up to pressure. Cook at high pressure for 6 to 9 minutes (we leave it on the heat for 7 minutes, then turn off the stove and let it sit for another 2). Cool by running cold water over the pressure cooker lid. Open, stir in olives and spinach, and let stand uncovered until all the liquid is absorbed. Adjust seasoning and serve.

Now, one night a few weeks ago, we got home especially late (for us, about 6.00) because we were signing the contract for our new house. So we were excited, and tired, and hungry, and perhaps a bit over-ambitious. We had some leftover potato-leek soup in the fridge. Andy wanted to mix it in to the risotto at the end of cooking, like cream. I thought there was too much, but said it would be fine to use the soup instead of stock. So we sauteed our veggies, toasted the rice, poured in some soup and a bit of extra water, and put everything on to come up to pressure. And started to smell a horrible smell. Again, I said, it will be fine, we'll just avoid scraping the bottom when it's done cooking so we don't stir up the burnt bit. But after a few minutes, and an increasingly bad smell, we had to abort. We opened the cooker to find a blackened, stanky mess.

We hate, hate, wasting food. So we tried to salvage the pumpkin. Andy scooped it out, I washed the burnt rice off, and we put it in a tupperware. Later, we realised the burnt smell was embedded in the flavour of the pumpkin, and our work was a waste - the pumpkin went into the bin anyways.

We burned some oil, to try to get rid of the smell. Still, for at least a day afterwards, our place (and my hair, and hands) had a residual burnt-risotto smell.

But this left us hungry and food-less, and 7pm was quickly arriving. Andy thought on his feet, pulled some veggie burgers out of the freezer, and started cooking up a mixture of red onion, the olives & spinach we hadn't yet added to our disastrous risotto, and some frozen red capsicum. Meanwhile, I started building the burgers - and disaster struck again, as the tin of beetroot spilled all over the bench.

But eventually, we got our messes cleaned up. We overcame our disasters. We ate burgers and celebrated buying a house.

So I can see at least three morals to this story: (1) good things and bad things happen, and you just have to get over the bad stuff and focus on the good; (2) pressure cooker risotto is a great time-saving meal, so long as you use stock and not soup; and (3) always open beetroot over the sink.


Claire said...

Congrats on the house! :)
& to add a little perspective on the beetroot- I used to make sandwiches for a living and we had beetroot tins the size of my arm... because they were so big no regular can openers worked on them so we had to stab them with a screwdriver and lever them open..(you can see where this is going right?) One day I was holding it steady while my co worker opened it and she went right through the lid splashing beetroot juice everywhere! including all over my top, face and arms... I looked like I had the most unfortunate pink birthmarks for days!
I can't wait to try pressure cooker risotto, thanks for the tip.

Hannah said...

I do love a good set of morals :) And is it bad that sometimes I actually really prefer the sloppy soupy lazy risotto more than the firmer stirred kind? I can't remember the last time I bought canned beetroot, but even the fresh roasted kind is far safer to peel over the sink :P

Dee said...

So excited about your house, congratulations.There is just nothing more special than your very own HOME. You are moving in just in time for veggie garden planting. What fun!

Emily said...

I can never leave comments on your blog anymore! Gahhh...don't know what's up with that.

Anyhow, I love everything about this post :) New home, quick risotto, veggie burgers....mmmhmmm.

How much was your pressure cooker? I have no clue how much they are. But I know they are good for making Indian Dals.

Theresa said...

Hi Emmy,

I am not sure why you can't comment. I turned off captcha! My home Internet has been not great at blogger comments lately (why you haven't seen me on your blog) so maybe it is something like that??

Our pressure cooker was, I think, $90. We bought off eBay (but new). It's been worth every penny for cooking beans alone. We cook big batches and freeze in jars, and it's much cheaper than tinned. Also good for cooking seitan, as well as quickie meals like this and soups.

Kari said...

I think I'd quite like sloppy risotto - I like my rice that way, but usually don't do it out of respect for others! I've never used a pressure cooker though so can imagine I'd make many disasters on the learning curve.

Congratulations to Andy on the job!

Joey said...

Congratulations on buying the house - and commiserations on the risotto!