You blithely throw ingredients into your pressure cooker secure in the knowledge that the recipe will be a success. You have faith in the process. (Same thing happens when you get in your car. You turn the key expecting the car to start. Once again, you have faith in the process.) Faith is belief in the unseen. You can’t see what’s going on in that pot but you are confident that everything is progressing as it should. But not always. Sometimes bad things happen to good recipes.
I don’t care how long you’ve been cooking. I don’t care how well you cook. Things go wrong. You know not the day nor the hour. Stove top, oven, microwave, slow cooker. We’ve all had disasters. It’s no different when you use a pressure cooker. People never blame their oven when something goes wrong. But they’ll blame the pressure cooker in a heartbeat. So wrong.
Let me make it perfectly clear that none of the mishaps I’m about to reveal were due to the recipes I used. The recipes worked perfectly before and they will work again. The pressure cooker was not to blame. It worked as it should. These atrocities are a combination of user error and faulty ingredients.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Great Baked Potato Fiasco of ’17. A bunch of us tried to bake potatoes in the pressure cooker. Lord knows we tried. Other people splashed their success stories all over the social media pressure cooker groups. We wanted to bake potatoes too. But for my group, it was not to be. Who knows why we couldn’t get a potato to come out soft and edible. We just couldn’t. We shook it off and moved on.
Kitchen experiments are high on my list of favorites. I’m not afraid to try any recipe. Most of the time they turn out well. Cooking is a fun adventure. Especially using a pressure cooker. As I said earlier, all my calamities have been due to user error or faulty ingredients. Let’s take a look, shall we?
I present Exhibit A. Baked beans made by me. And not for the first time. They look good, don’t they? Looks can be deceiving. The recipe said to cook them for 25 minutes. I knew from prior experience that 25 minutes would not be enough. I decided on 40 minutes under high pressure. I did a 20-minute natural pressure release (NPR). Foods continue to cook in the residual steam when you do NPR. Opened the lid and… still firm. Way too firm. Not as hard as dry beans but by no means soft enough to eat.
Hmmm. I decided to put them in for 20 more minutes. Certainly an hour under pressure, all told, would do the trick. It didn’t. In exasperation, I put them under pressure for an additional 40 minutes. That may sound excessive but when my temper flairs, I do crazy things. I was hoping they would cook to mush. That would fix their wagons. Nope. One hour and forty minutes under pressure and the beans didn’t even pretend to be as soft as they should be. The sauce, however, was delicious.
What the heck happened? After doing a little research, the only explanation could be that the beans were old. The date on the package indicated that they were still several months within the ‘use by’ date. So who knows what happened. The pressure cooker worked perfectly before and after the bean incident so it wasn’t equipment related. Conclusion: faulty ingredients.
I’ve made lemon curd successfully several times. The batch in Exhibit B didn’t fare as well as the others. I was piddling around in the kitchen waiting for the pressure cooker to come up to pressure. I heard a ‘thunk’ from the direction of the pot. Logic told me that something was wrong inside. But I didn’t want to believe it so I put it out of my mind. When I finally opened the pot, I found one jar had survived and one jar had broken. Just my luck it was the larger one. There could have been a stress point in the jar. But I had a flash back to me making the lid just a fraction too tight when I screwed it on. The recipe cautioned not to do this. It was clearly my fault. Conclusion: user error.
Finally, the most common of all pressure cooking problems; Exhibit C. Egg-splosion in the pot when making hard boiled eggs. If you read through the online pressure cooker groups, this Humpty Dumpty moment causes people to stress big time. “Why did this happen? What did I do wrong?” are the most common laments. No need to go to pieces. It’s the nature of egg shells. They crack. It has only happened to me twice. Big deal. The eggs are still edible. Conclusion: faulty ingredients. Not really. But it isn’t user error for sure.
If you never have any recipe disasters then you lead a charmed life. Hopefully the law of averages doesn’t catch up with you any time soon. But I’m warning you to be prepared for the inevitable. Bad things happen to good recipes. You’ll survive. We all do.
Anybody have any recipe disasters they care to share? Misery loves company.