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The pressure cooker can make quick work of tough whole grains and perfectly steam white rice to its full fluffy potential but a few wrong moves can have starch spraying into your kitchen or, worse, turn your grains into gruel. Here are my do’s and don’ts to get perfectly cooked grains without the drama.
DO check timing and ratio before you go. Each grain requires its own exacting amount of liquid to re-hydrate fully and not burst into a runny porridge. For example, soaked Basmati rice just needs one cup of water to one cup of rice while steel-cut oats need three. Look-up the rice or grain-type in the pressure cooking time chart its recommended cooking time and liquid requirements.
DON’T fill-up the pressure cooker. Like, ever. The rice, or grain, and their cooking liquid should never fill the pressure cooker more than half-way. These foods expand to once, twice, three times already – you don’t want them to get anywhere near the lid of the pressure cooker (where all of the safety systems reside).
DO fatten it up to keep it from foaming up. Add a bit of oil, butter, ghee or any fat that matches your recipe into the pressure cooker along with the grains and cooking liquid. The fat will reduce the amount of foam that is generated while the rice or grain cook under pressure.
DON’T rush it! Almost all rice and grains should be opened using the 10-minute Natural Release method. This adds an equivalent of 5 minutes of low pressure cooking time using only the cooker’s residual heat and energy. More importantly, it is one the most delicate pressure cooker opening methods, which ensures no foam or starch comes spraying out of the valve when you open the cooker.
DO bain marie-it for tricky pressure cookers. For pressure cookers, especially those that rattle, jiggle or huff-and-puff to maintain pressure, cook rice in a heat-proof container inside the pressure cooker. We call this pressure cooker bain marie (also known as “pan-in-pot”) – this technique cooks the rice, or grain, more delicately and uses the same recommended grain-to-liquid ratios and cooking times.
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