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Thursday, August 15, 2013

“Don’t Blow the Boat Up!”

galley recipes
Getting ready to cook.
We’ re not talking about inflatables here, but my husband’s lack of confidence in my ability to use a pressure cooker for the first time.

Pressure cookers and bread machines on board are controversial among the cruiser crowd.  Much like cilantro, seems cruisers love ‘em or hate ‘em but it’s hard to find folks who are neutral. Check Cruiser’s Forum or better yet, click this Women in Cruising Forum if you don’t believe me.

On the pro side for pressure cookers?
They cook way fast.  An example? Dried beans that I’ve boiled for hours and might still be chewy even after soaking overnight and even sometimes followed by a pre-boil and soak, can cook after only 12-20 minutes of boiling after a presoak.  When it comes to keeping the heat down, that much shorter a cooking time can make a huge difference.  Then there’s the bomus of using less propane and less electricity to power the propane.  Some cruisers also use pressure cookers to safely store cooked food without refrigeration (a famous proponent is Lin Pardey in her classic “Care and Feeding of the Sailing Crew” book).

On the con side?
There’s the fear factor; my husband’s “Don’t Blow the Boat Up!” comment as a case in point.  I confess to some genuine fear and trepidation myself!  As with many “gadgets” (though pressure cooker fans may extol many examples of pressure cooker versatility), ummm, like breadmakers, if unused, are expensive (used/bargain $40, though $200 is not unheard of for a 6-quart Fagor), space-sucking dust-gatherers.

The Experiment: Playing with Pressure
You’ve likely guessed by now I decided the proof’s in the pudding (or in my case, beans), and decided to give it a go.

A couple kindly marina neighbors, Dee and Ron (click here to see Ron & his sweet senior schnauzer) loaned me their 6-quart Magafesa pressure cooker and “Miss Vickie’s Big Book of Pressure Cooker Recipes.”  Better yet, they told me and showed me how they used it and encouraged me to flag them if I had any trouble with it.  I took them up on their offer when I saw steam escaping from the side, rather than through the pressure valve, I asked for help.  The lid just needed a bit tigher/different torquing down.

pirate party Ortega Marina
Galley Wench carries a whip(er) but
not a fuse.  Thanks Kate Hallock for
the photo from Ortega Marina's
pirate party.
The Result? 
Excellent!  Ron & Dee wanted the recipe, which inspired this post (scroll down for recipe).

I will definitely buy my own pressure cooker, soon!  Even here when we’re in a marina with an air conditioner plugged in keeping it cool is still a big deal, the other day the heat index hit 107 degrees farenheit. As far as what specific pressure cooker to purchase, I will most likely follow The Boat Galley’s reccomendation and get a Fagor.  I’m betting its lid is a bit easier to slide on and off than the Magafesa.

As far as breadmakers?  Another post, another day….

Meanwhile, our tummies are full and the boat is still intact;).

Ta-da!  The cassoulet, ready to take into work for lunch.
Quick Summer Cassoulet

Ingredients
6 oz pork jowl, smoked and sliced*
1 sweet onion, medium sized, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 T garlic, minced
2 14 oz cans navy beans, drained and rinsed
2 14 oz cans chopped tomatoes (used organic Muir Glen blackened tomatoes)
1 T lemon thyme (couple small sprigs)**
1 T marjoram  (couple small sprigs)
1/4 t ground sage
1 t black pepper
pinch crushed red pepper
1 c white cooking wine
chicken stock***

*could use salt pork or bacon instead
**could use fresh thyme and lemon juice or maybe lemongrass as an alternative
***used ~1 t chicken "Better than Bouillon" and water

Directions
·       Slice the pork jowl like thick bacon strips, then julienne.  Cook in 6 quart pressure cooker with the lid off.  Drain fat.
·       Dice the onion and the bell pepper.  Saute with the pork jowl until the onion is transparent, about 3 minutes.  Add the chopped garlic and cook a minute more.
·       Add all the remaining ingredients.  Fill pressure cooker with as much water as it takes to fill pressure cooker to roughly the half way mark.
·       Secure lid.  Bring to boil.  Once boiling, reduce heat to its lowest point that can still maintain a simmer.
·       Cook 15 minutes.
·       Cool 15 minutes and open.
·       There will likely be a lot more liquid than desired.  If so, strain the solids from the liquids (though personally, I find the liquid refreshing and didn't drain off a bit).

·       Serve!
lemon thyme, cuban oregano, basil
Lemon thyme - my "secret ingredient;" not available while cruising.
Do you use a pressure cooker?  If so, what's your favorite recipe or story?  Any explosions?

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