Don’t feel the pressure
I have finally conquered my fear of using a pressure cooker.
Albeit, the one I’ve got is a new multi-purpose, electric, plug-in type and not the stove-top version from my childhood memories.
I remember coming home from school and hearing the sputtering sound of the pressure cooker, often followed by a big swish sound and a groan from my mother, which meant there was chicken on the ceiling.
Fortunately, no one ever got hurt and that sound meant we would be having mom’s best-ever chicken-and-homemade noodles for dinner.
While my mother’s pressure cooker meals prompted me to get my own pressure cooker, I made excuses for not using it. Then I got drawn in by the latest, greatest and supposedly easy-to-use pressure cooker.
Instead of making more excuses, I decided to combine this new pressure cooker with making food for Cinco de Mayo, and called my friends Lisa and Gary Vigil to invite them for an evening of tasting some of their family favorite recipes made Lisa’s traditional way and some traditional dishes made in my pressure cooker.
Lisa volunteered to make her tortillas and pork green chili that brings raves from family and friends.
I would make posole, chili verde and “drunken beans,” also known as frijoles borrachos, in my speedy pressure cooker, which I hadn’t yet tried and with recipes I hadn’t tried.
I spent a day studying the pressure cooker parts, instructions, guidelines for using and the warnings.
Hesitantly, I followed instructions to test it with plain water. Success.
Next, I used it to cook a batch of dried beans, with the option to pre-soak or not. I didn’t. In 18 minutes, I had perfectly cooked pinto beans. I couldn’t believe it. And the flavor of those beans was far better than the commercially canned ones.
The big tasting night came and we all had a great time eating, laughing and telling stories about the traditional foods we all love.
Everyone loved Lisa’s tortillas and green chili, and it was the better of the two we tasted.
The pressure cooker chili verde I made was very tasty and we’ll have it again, but it was different from Lisa’s.
The key to success with either recipe was roasted chiles. Gary and Lisa roast chiles every fall during the harvest. Lucky for me, they shared, but you can grow some or buy them at a farmers market ready to roast or roasted, and freeze them for later use.
Lisa says to always taste the chiles as they can vary in “heat” and taste determines how many you use.
During our tasting, Gary had two bowls of my posole and beans. He told me I could cook for him anytime. I called that validation and my pressure cooker now has a place along with the rest of my “must have” kitchen tools.