It’s not always easy to muster enthusiasm to cook after a long day on site, but this is a recipe that has saved me time and time again from taking the easy option and ordering takeaway.
I’m always looking for ways to eat healthier and to prepare nice meals in advance, so a slow cooker or pressure cooker seemed like a good investment. Having spent the best part of a Saturday morning researching the difference between various electric multi-function cookers and stove-top pressure cookers, I settled on buying a Silit 6.5L Sicomatic Pressure Cooker from Matchbox. While it certainly wasn’t the cheapest – $249.95 – it came with far better warranties and reviews than some of the other brands on offer. The team member in store said they used the Silit pressure cooker regularly at home, assuring me that I could cook high quality risotto in 6 – 7 minutes.
As with any kitchen related purchase, I was excited to get home and try out a recipe. Being Italian, I was somewhat skeptical of the team members assurance of a quality 6 – 7 minute risotto, so I found a recipe online and hoped for something that would at least be edible for lunch.
I watched the pressure gauge like a hawk, wondering if the lid was going to fly off at some point, or if I was going to open lid to find a thick layer of rice burnt to the bottom of my shiny new pot. Neither happened, but I did learn that pressure cookers are best left to depressurise naturally by placing them on a heat proof mat to cool slowly. Taking the impatient approach – and releasing the pressure quickly – only results in hot liquid being forced out of the pressure release valve and all over the pressure cooker lid, kitchen bench, splash back etc.
When I opened the lid, I was surprised to see a thick layer of liquid sitting on top of the rice and chicken. Half disappointed, I stirred the liquid back into the risotto and left it a few minutes to cool. The liquid was reabsorbed into the rice as it cooled and completely changed the texture of the rice, resulting in a risotto that was a lot closer to what I was expecting. I have since learned that the rice will reabsorb the liquid if you allow the pressure cooker to depressurise naturally, creating a texture almost identical to a traditional risotto.
Despite cooking with a pressure cooker for the first time, I could see the potential to create healthy, enjoyable meals with minimal effort. It was certainly worth the investment.
It didn’t take long for this recipe – and a variation with chorizo sausage, peas and lemon – to become a go-to recipe. Anytime I use the pressure cooker, I always double or triple the recipe and vacuum seal leftovers for lunch. It’s not the same as cooking it fresh, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised how well the flavours and quality preserve having been vacuum sealed in the fridge for several days. It’s not a grilled eye fillet served with cherry tomatoes and green olive butter, but it’s certainly cheaper and healthier than a lunch that sees me passing by a drive-through window.