Thursday, February 07, 2008

How to Use a Pressure Cooker: Sweet and Sour Chicken

I’ve really dug my pressure cooker lately, although it has been extremely finicky. It seems I have to twist and adjust the lid an annoying amount of times to get it to seal and come to pressure. I’ve also noticed it’s a lot easier to find that “sweet spot” once the lid/sealing ring has had a chance to heat up a bit. Sigh, nothing is as easy as it seems. It’s a Fagor Rapida and a pain in the behind.

On the other hand, once I do get it to come to pressure, I’ve loved the results. Last week, I made an awesome Sweet and Sour Chicken in 8 minutes! I found the recipe on the Presto website, and their pressure cookers are looking better and better everyday. I already have one of their pressure canners and have found it to be very easy to use. Hmmmm…

Anywho, this is a great tasting dish, and I’m sure it could be easily adapted for conventional cooking. It was great over white rice and reheats fabulously. The other thing I really liked about this recipe was the idea that I could add so many other vegetables besides the peppers and celery. Next time, I’ll try some baby corn and some water chestnuts. Yum!

Sweet 'n Sour Chicken
Recipe source: Presto website

1 (3-pound) chicken, cut up (I used about 4-5 frozen chicken breasts cut into bite-sized cubes)
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
1/2 cup sliced celery
1 green or red pepper, cut into chunks (I used 2)
1 (20-ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained and juice reserved
1 cup reserved pineapple juice (add water if necessary)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon catsup
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water

Heat oil in a 4- or 6-quart pressure cooker. Brown chicken a few pieces at a time; set aside. Return all chicken to pressure cooker (or regular sauté/saucepan); add celery and green pepper. Combine pineapple juice, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, catsup, Worcestershire sauce, and ginger; pour over chicken. Close pressure cooker cover securely. Bring pressure cooker up to pressure. When at pressure, lower heat to low and cook for 8 minutes. If you are not using a pressure cooker and are making this in a sauté/saucepan, bring to a boil then simmer for 25 minutes.

At the end of 8 minutes, remove pressure cooker from heating element and perform a quick pressure release. Remove chicken and vegetables to a warm platter (I didn’t bother to do this). Mix cornstarch with cold water and blend into hot liquid/sauce in the pressure cooker. Cook and stir over med-high heat until mixture boils and thickens. Add pineapple chunks and heat. Pour sauce over chicken. Serve with rice. Makes 4 to 6 servings

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