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The good old pressure cooker.

The good old pressure cooker Under pressure to put good food on the table in a hurry? Consider the pressure cooker. Though it's been around for a long time and the cooking principles remain the same, it has recently undergone changes in style and operation.

Foods do indeed cook faster in the above-boiling temperatures achieved under pressure. A microwave oven cooks small portions fast; with pressure cooking, the amount of food you cook does not affect the cooking time. (The results of the two methods are also, of course, very different.) Pressure cooking is particularly effective for foods that require long simmering, such as dried beans or firm-textured meats such as tongue; you save 25 to 50 percent of cooking time.

Newer models offer faster-acting pressure releases, so you need less liquid and can use a greater variety of foods. With older cookers, there was valid concern that a small bit of food, such as a grain of rice, might stick in the steam release valve and cause pressure safeties to open.

Pressure cookers come in a wide range of sizes, some as small as 2-quart, some large enough for canning. Our recipes use pans that are 4- to 6-quart in size.

First, read the instruction book for the pressure cooker you'll be using. Even though all pans are designed with safety features for releasing steam in the event of overheating, it's important to seat the lid properly and to understand how to regulate the heat, how to reduce the pressure, and how to release the lid.

General guidelines establish how full you can fill the pan, how much liquid must be present, and which foods you can cook. Of the following three recipes, the beans and tongue are appropriate for all models, but cook rice under pressure only if the manufacturer gives directions for doing so.

Once pressure is created by steam in the sealed pan, it is regulated by a gauge--and by the amount of heat applied. The two basic kinds of pressure controls indicate pressure changes in pound increments. One is a weight that jiggles to release pressure, making a noise. The other is an indicator that you must watch, with a market that moves up and down.

At 5 pounds, the internal temperature is 228[degrees]; at 10 pounds, it's 240[degrees]; at 15 pounds, it's 250[degrees]. In some models, steam is released before the pressure system comes into play; this may affect the cooking time slightly, and you may have to add liquid at the end to achieve the proper results, as in the risotto and beans.

How to build pressure. Seal lid and seat pan on high heat until pressure is reached according to manufacturer's directions.

How to reduce pressure. Follow manufacturer's directions for regular or quick pressure release. For fast-cooking foods such as the rice, you should reduce pressure rapidly. Some pans have quick-release controls; some you set under cold running water with the gauge ajar.

Speedy Risotto

Check you pressure cooker manual to be sure rice can be cooked in it.

1 tablespoon olive or salad oil 1 small onion, chopped 1 tablespoon chopped oil-packed dried tomato 1/4 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Fume Blanc 1 cup medium-grain white (pearl) rice or arborio rice 1-3/4 cups regular-strength chicken broth 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

In 4- to 6-quart pressure cooker over high heat, combine oil, onion, and tomato. Cook, stirring often, until onion is limp, about 5 minutes. Add wine and boil, stirring often, until liquid evaporates. Stir in rice and broth. Secure lid. Place pan on high heat until gauge reaches 10 pounds or top ring (middle ring if gauge has 3 rings). Reduce heat to maintain 10 pounds pressure or hold top ring in place and cook for 7 munutes.

Reduce pressure quickly (see preceding). Open pan and stir cheese into rice; pour into a bowl. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Per servings: 183 cal.; 5.6 protein; 5.6 g fat; 26 g carbo.; 202 mg sodium; 5.2 mg chol.

Beef Tongue and Potatoes

with Chipotle Onion Sauce

Use fresh tongue, not smoked or corned.

1 beef tongue, 3 to 3-1/2 pounds, rinsed well 4 large onions, chopped 3 cups regular-strength chicken broth 1 canned chipotle chili in adobado sauce 16 small (about 2-in.-diameter) red thin-skinned potatoes, scrubbed

Place tongue, onions, broth, and chipotle in a 5- to 6-quart pressure cooker. Secure lid. Place pan on high heat until gauge reaches 15 pounds or bottom ring (see preceding). Reduce heat to maintain 15 pounds pressure or hold bottom ring in place and cook for 1-1/2 hours.

Reduce pressure (see preceding). Remove lid and lift tongue onto an overproof platter; set aside. Lift out and discard chili.

Skim and discard any fat from cooking liquid, then add potatoes to pressure cooker; secure lid. Place pan on high heat until gauge reaches 15 pounds or bottom ring. Reduce heat to maintain 15 pounds pressure or hold bottom ring in place and cook for 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, pull off and discard tough skin from tongue; trim off and discard any chunks of fat or bone from back of tongue; cover and keep meat warm in a 150[degrees] oven.

Reduce pressure quickly (see preceding) on potatoes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer potatoes to platter with tongue; cover and return to overn.

Boil tongue cooking liquid in pressure cooker on high heat, uncovered, until reduced to about 3 cups, about 20 minutes; stir occasionally.

Pour reduced sauce into a bowl. Slice tongue across the grain and serve meat and potatoes with the sauce. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Per serving: 497 cal.; 26 g protein; 24 g fat; 42 g carbo.; 133 mg sodium; 124 mg chol.

Western Pressure-baked Beans

1 pound small white beans 1/4 pound bacon, chopped 2 medium-size red onions, chopped 1/4 cup mustard seed 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger 1 tablespoon coriander seed 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed 5 cups regular-strength chicken broth 1/3 cup light or dark molasses 1/3 cup catsup 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Sort beans to remove debris; rinse, drain, and set aside. In a 4- to 6-quart pressure cooker over medium-high heat, cook bacon and onions, uncovered, until meat is browned, stirring often, about 15 minutes.

Add to pan the beans, mustard seed, ginger, coriander seed, garlic, and broth; stir to mix well.

Secure lid. Place pan on high heat until gauge reaches 15 pounds or bottom ring (see preceding). Reduce heat to maintain 15 pounds pressure or hold bottom ring in place, and cook beans for 1-1/2 hours.

Reduce pressure (see preceding). Open pan and stir in molasses, catsup, and sugar. Cook on high heat, stirring often, until sauce is thick enough to cling to beans, about 5 munutes. If made ahead, let cool, cover, and chill up to 4 days; add about 1/2 cup water to beans and cook on medium-high heat, stirring often, until boiling. Makes about 1-1/2 quarts, 8 to 10 servings.

Per serving; 425 cal.; 10 g protein; 7 g fat; 36 g carbo.; 160 mg sodium; 5.8 mg chol.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes recipes
Date:Dec 1, 1989
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