Pressure cookers never really did much for me. They seemed fussy — and scary! All those stories about explosions ...
Then I used one to make a risotto, a dish that by definition is tedious to make. I was blown away. It simplified the process and — most impressively — sped it up. What normally takes me 45 minutes in a traditional saute pan was done and ready to serve in about 20. That's my type of risotto! And my type of pan.
Pressure cookers really are very cool devices. Because the lids clamp on and create a pressured, steam-driven environment, they allow you to cook at higher temperatures. Normal boiling or steaming cooking methods max out around 212 F, the boiling point of water. Pressure cookers allow for water (as steam) to be superheated, reaching as high as 250 F.
The result is a moist, quick method of cooking that produces deliciously tender meats in little time. And modern pressure cookers also happen to be very safe.
My risotto recipe is simple and delicate because I wanted it to showcase the asparagus. But it would be easy to add a touch of garlic, your favorite mushrooms and even tender spring peas.
Pressure cooker risotto with asparagus
The asparagus is added raw to the rice after it is cooked, letting the delicate green stalks cook just briefly. This light touch leaves the asparagus bright green and slightly crunchy. If you like your asparagus cooked more, you can grill or saute it briefly before adding it to the risotto. But do not add it to the pressure cooker at the same time as the rice or it will overcook.
Start to finish: 45 minutes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped or thinly sliced
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups no-salt chicken broth
Pinch of salt, plus more to taste
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup small asparagus tips and tops, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
In a pressure cooker over medium, heat oil until shimmering. Add shallot and saute for 2 to 3 minutes, or until translucent. Increase heat to high and add rice, stirring to coat. Toast rice, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add wine and cook until evaporated.
Add broth and a pinch each of salt and red pepper flakes. Stir until mixture comes to a simmer, then lock on pressure cooker's lid. Set timer for 9 minutes. Bring cooker up to full pressure, then reduce the heat to maintain that level. Cook until timer goes off.
Take cooker off heat and wait 3 minutes, then put pot in sink and run cold water over it to release the pressure. Open cooker; rice should be creamy. Return pot to stovetop over medium heat. Add butter, asparagus, cheese and chives. Stir until heated through and butter and cheese have melted. Season with salt and pepper.
Nutrition information per serving: 420 calories; 160 calories from fat (38 percent of total calories); 18 g fat (7 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 30 mg cholesterol; 42 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 1 g sugar; 18 g protein; 540 mg sodium.