2.07.2014

How I came to Know the Value of the Pressure Cooker

Sometime back I was obsessing over humidity in my oven while baking.  Having read about these steam injection deck ovens, I got an itch to try baking with steam.  Not an ice cube on the floor of the oven steam, I wanted a ca. 10-20 psi intermittent blast applied in early stages of baking.

Off to the thrift store, I found a cheap pressure cooker.  First I removed all safety exhaust ports from it, tapped some new threads and affixed a few pieces of pipe, a copper tubing outlet and a gauge.

Voila.  I had fun with this thing.  I did pump my oven with steam while baking baguettes but obtained a most terrible crumb in the resulting bread.  It's too painful a series of experiments to discuss here.  What I learned adds to my growing body of experience that it's pretty challenging to bake a loaf a day in a conventional oven.  Big professional ovens filled to capacity are likely to win when it comes to bread.  But, it was a fun few days of attempts.

Then, I tried using my contraption in our new sucky winter climate. I thought if I pumped steam into sub zero temps, I could create a snow machine.  This didn't work either.

Then, even though it had no safety ports, I tried something crazy - standing over it the entire time and moderating the pressure manually - I tried beans in it.  Soaked garbanzo beans cooked in a light brine at about 10 psi for30 minutes cooked to a consistency I've not experienced in a can.  Not soft, but more done than the can and more done than I've been able to achieve by slow simmering.  I then tried other beans, e.g., toor dal for sambar,  red kidneys, a pork butt(!), etc. etc.  This thing is amazing!  Why am I so late to the party?

I spent some time with America's Test Kitchen watching their pressure cooker video and bought a safe one, the Faygor Duo.  I can't wait to explore legumes and stews in a way I never have before.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Dave,

Looking forward to seeing how your new pressure cooker works out for you...I have been reluctant to bring a potentially explosive device into the house!

Rosie