“Mm ba ba de
Um bum ba de
Um bu bu bum da de
Pressure pushing down on me
Pressing down on you no man ask for
Under pressure that brings a building down …”
Lyrics by David Bowie
How many of you have memories of your mother or grandmother using a pressure cooker and that jangling, turning, loud device on top making all kinds of sounds? I do, and I remember it almost exploding once with that piece popping up in the air before my mom turned it down.
Pressure cookers have come a long way since then and are much safer and easier to use, but most importantly, can make the cooking of some items much faster. They speed up the time for some roasts, steamed items like tamales, foods being canned or whole grains.
Pressure cookers work by trapping steam inside the pot which allows that heat to penetrate and cook the food quickly and consistently. Pressure cookers lids have a rubber gasket that creates the environment so that very little of the heat generated is lost.
We've all heard stories of older versions of the pressure cooker building up too much steam and blowing off the top. Today's pressure cookers have built- in safeguards that make the chance of the tops blowing off almost impossible. That's because they release excess pressure automatically if too much builds up. You can also easily release some of that pressure yourself.
My pressure cooker was made by a Spanish company, Magefesa, and I have had it for about 15 years. Today, I am using it to make wheat berries. Wheat berries are the whole kernel wheat with the bran, endosperm, and germ and are nutrient dense. Wheat berries are an excellent source for dietary fiber and complex carbohydrates. Wheat berries are rich in vitamins B1 and B3; and the minerals magnesium, phosphorus, copper, manganese and selenium. They can also be toasted to intensify their flavor and add to their nuttiness.
Toasted Wheat Berries Pilaf with Porcini Mushrooms
1 cup of wheat berries
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
½ cup onions, medium dice
¼ cup carrots, medium dice
¼ cup celery, medium dice
1 tablespoon of butter
½ cup dried porcini mushrooms, rehydrated in 1 cup of warm water, rough chop
3 cloves of roasted garlic, smashed
1 fresh herb bundle
1 bay leaf
2 cups of chicken stock
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the wheat berries on a parchment paper lined sheet tray so that they are all on level. Toast the wheat berries for 10 minutes and then remove and set aside.
While your wheat berries are toasting, heat the olive oil in your pressure cooker on medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and cook just until the vegetables begin to caramelize. Lower the temperature to medium-low and add the butter. When melted, add the mushrooms, and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the roasted garlic and cook for 1 minute. Strain off the mushroom liquid and add enough water to make it one cup again. Deglaze the pan with the mushroom liquid, add the chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Add the toasted wheat berries, herb bundle, salt and pepper and bring to a boil over high heat. Place the top of the pressure cooker on and secure. Leave the temperature on high until your pressure cooker has attained its maximum pressure. Reduce the heat to medium-low to low and cook for 20 minutes. Wheat berries usually take 50 minutes or longer to cook.
Turn off the heat and slowly release the pressure. When removing the top of the pressure cooker be careful of the still trapped steam inside. Adjust the seasoning and serve.
If you have a pressure cooker, try this recipe or better yet, send me your favorite recipe for me to try.