A serendipitous confluence of my birthday with Amazon’s Prime Day led to the arrival of an Instant Pot at our door. This trendy pressure cooker, which has sparked a passion for the appliance, was a gift from my husband, who knew I wanted one but was reluctant to replace my serviceable, though less advanced, Cuisinart model. Well, yesterday, while unboxing my shiny new toy, I felt some nostalgia for my tried-and-true cooker that’s served me well for quite a few years. So, I thought I’d make one last dish in it before its retirement.
I chose a Mark Bittman recipe for a pressure-cooker porcini risotto, which I had come upon years ago. It was based on one by pressure-cooker maven Lorna Sass, author of several cookbooks for the appliance. When the recipe appeared in the New York Times almost six years ago, I was skeptical. How could anyone rely on a pressure cooker to produce a dish that requires so much coddling to achieve what Marcella Hazan once described as “a creamy union of tender yet firm grains”? Since that time, however, I’ve become more open to trying new techniques for classic dishes. And although I’ve had my share of failed attempts, I’m happy to report that last night’s go at pressure cooker-risotto was a success—the prefect swan song for my soon-to-be retired Cuisinart.
I believe Bittman’s original recipe has been updated for using electric pressure cookers as well as stove-top models. Although I followed his recipe rather closely, there were some modifications. For sautéing the onions and coating the rice, I added a bit of butter to the oil. Rather than using Arborio rice, I used Carnaroli since it’s more resistant to overcooking and yields, in my opinion, a creamier risotto. Consequently, I followed the recipe’s advice for a longer cooking time under pressure: 6 minutes. Using Carnaroli, which absorbs liquid better than Arborio, may also be the reason why my risotto did not, per the recipe, “look fairly soupy” after pressure cooking. I also chose the dry-vermouth option rather than the white-wine, since I thought it would add more flavor to the dish.
Finally, my only regret is that I did not rinse and clean the dried porcini and, as a result, encountered just a small amount of grit in one or two forkfuls. Aside from that, however, my trusty old pressure cooker turned out a perfectly textured and flavorful risotto. Let’s hope its replacement will do as well.
Pressure-Cooker Porcini Risotto (from a New York Times recipe by Mark Bittman)
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter (I used a combination of oil and butter.)
½ cup finely chopped onions
1 ½ cups arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
3 to 3 ½ cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 ounce dried porcini, broken into bits (Be sure to rinse and clean the mushrooms before breaking into pieces to avoid any grit.)
1 cup frozen peas
½ cup grated Parmesan, plus more to pass at the table
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped parsley, for garnish
1. Heat the oil over high heat in a 2 1/2-quart or larger stove-top pressure cooker, or in an electric pressure cooker using the sauté function. Add the onions, and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in the rice, taking care to coat it with the oil. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. (I used a bit of butter and stirred the rice for closer to 2 minutes to fully coat it.)
2. Stir in the wine. Cook over high heat until the rice has absorbed the wine, about 30 seconds. Stir in 3 cups of the broth and the porcini, taking care to scrape up any rice that might be sticking to the bottom of the cooker.
3. Lock the lid in place. Over high heat, bring to high pressure. Reduce the heat just enough to maintain high pressure, and cook for 4 minutes. Turn off the heat. Quick-release the pressure by setting the cooker under cold running water. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow the steam to escape. If using an electric cooker, cook at high pressure for 4 minutes. Manually release the pressure.
4. Set the cooker over medium-high heat or turn on the sauté function, and stir vigorously. The risotto will look fairly soupy at this point. Boil while stirring every minute or so, until the mixture thickens and the rice is tender but still chewy, 1 to 4 minutes. Stir in the peas when the rice is almost done. (if the mixture becomes dry before the rice is done, stir in the extra 1/2 cup of broth. The finished risotto should be slightly runny; it will continue to thicken as it sits on the plate.)
5. Turn off the heat. Stir in the Parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, garnished with a little parsley. Pass extra Parmesan at the table.
- If you use one of the other types of Italian risotto rice — baldo, violone nano or Carnaroli — cook for 5 to 6 minutes under pressure rather than 4 to 5.
Wine Pairing: Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, Sauvignon Blanc