29 November 2005

So I never got around to the meatball soup because there were already meatballs from Ikea in the freezer. Instead, I made my pressure cooker risotto, which is a godsend on weeknights. Since it's basically a porridge, I like to add some protein and maybe a vegetable on the side, just to feel like I'm not eating gruel (albeit tasty gruel). I get the Star porcini mushroom stock cubes from my local Italian grocery, which is easy to do if you live in Brooklyn. If you can't get Italian, you can use any of the cubes found in the soup section, as long as they're the big 1" x 1" ones rather than the tiny little Wylers ones. If you're sensitive to MSG, don't cook this recipe, or use chicken broth in place of water and omit the cubes. I've added all the time-saving tips I usually incorporate for a weeknight. The equipment necessary for this to be really fast is: a pressure cooker, and a Braun electric kettle. If you feel like a pressure cooker might be a boondoggle, that's understandable, but living in New York I don't have much storage space to waste on unnecessary equipment, and I use it all the time (ok, usually for this recipe, but I do still use it). More on the automatic kettle in another post.

The key here is that the pressure cooker doesn't cook the rice all the way through, but just shortens the cooking time. You still need some of the traditional open stirring and reducing that's part of making regular risotto.

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 small yellow onion
1 cup risotto rice (arborio or carnaroli)
1 Star stock cube
Fresh ground pepper (white pepper preferred)
Parmigiano Reggiano

Add-ins: usually a protein and a veg. Edamame do well as both!

1.) Heat pressure cooker without lid on medium to medium-high heat. Add olive oil. While pot is heating, chop onion.
2.) Fill kettle just short of 3 cup mark with cold water and start.
3.) Add onion to pot and cook over medium heat until translucent, without browning. When halfway thorough, add rice and stock cube.
4.) Stir rice with oil and onion, breaking up stock cube with back of spoon. Cook the rice in oil until fully coated and cube is mostly broken up.
5.) Add boiling water to pot carefully. There will be lots of steam.
6.) Place lid on pressure cooker and lock. It should come up to pressure almost immediately because the water inside is already boiling.
7.) Cook at pressure for 7 minutes. While that's happening, I usually prep my add-ins. This is usually a bit of protein, like some cooked chicken breast, edamame, or frozen meatballs. Sometimes I add some vegetables like shredded zucchini or carrots. I'll use the microwave or a quick saute on the side
8.) Run pressure cooker under cold water until pressure releases, then remove lid and return to stove. Continue to cook on medium-high heat, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes until a little more of the liquid has evaporated, but rice is still toothsome. Season with pepper. Stir in add-ins.
9.) Top with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano and serve immediately.

Makes 2 servings.

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