Back in my chef days, I used a pressure cooker at work now and again. It was usually for breaking down an otherwise tough piece of meat in order to get it ready for its final preparation.And it was the old-fashioned, scary, unpredictable cooker. You know the kind.
Well, recently I finally got a home version: the Power Pressure Cooker XL. Now I could use it for meals and such and cook things at the touch of a button. This one is all fancy and computerized. Cool!
It takes the guess-work out of things, and it’s fairly safe – at least as safe as a pressure cooker can be. So, I’ve been experimenting with different foods. You have to remember: chefs never used these things to make whole meals. This is fairly new to me. Thankfully, these come with recipes and timetables for different foods. There is also a wealth of information on the internet, so if I have a question about cooking times for any particular item, all I have to do is search for it. Technology is an amazing thing!
So, this week, I decided to make a pressure cooker “roasted” chicken. The skin doesn’t get nearly as crisp as an oven-roasted chicken, but the meat comes out incredibly moist and flavorful, and the whole thing can be roasted in 20-25 minutes – less if the bird is especially small. I seasoned the chicken generously, then seared it on all sides in a cast iron pan. Yes, I know it’s possible to saute in the pressure cooker. But the sides are high, and it’s pretty hard to maneuver a whole chicken in one of those things! So, I opted on the side of tradition and got a golden sear in the pan.
Then, I sautéed some leeks (sliced lengthwise then cut in half widthwise) and placed them on top of the chicken. I made a quick bouquet garni of fresh rosemary, thyme, and parsley, threw in eleventy-billion cloves of garlic, and added a bit of chicken stock (1/2 to 1 cup??) and about 1/4 cup of Courvoisier for moisture and flavor. I also stuffed the cavity with one halved lemon and a little more salt and pepper. The cognac imparts a fantastic flavor into the sauce, and the stock offers just enough moisture to make it all work. My problem is, when I cook, I rarely measure or write stuff down, so it’s hard to formulate recipes. But I’m giving you a recipe to the best of my ability with this one!
I served it with some couscous, grilled asparagus, wilted baby kale, and the pan juices and leeks. Oh, and I sprinkled a little sumac on everything. I guess the couscous inspired me to stick to a Middle-East theme. Here’s the finished product. I hope you try it soon…or do something different and make it your own!
Remember: you’ll need kitchen twine and cheesecloth for this recipe.