Another Test on the Cook’sEssentials 4.5 Qt Microwave Pressure Cooker
I remember long, hot, late Autumn afternoons, when the lawns have had their last cut, the drying grass filling the air with such a deep herbal sweetness. I remember visits to my grandparents, sitting on Evelyn’s screened porch, shelling beans and peas… which is an art. There’s a considerable difference between fresh beans and shellies.
While a fresh bean can be wickered apart by snapping or with some quick thumb work with a pairing knife, shellies have to be… well, shelled.
The long tough side strings have to be removed, a deft thumb employed to separate the casing, then re-positioning said thumb to push through the drying gauntlet; freeing the more than slightly matured beans as you go. For Evelyn and my great grandmother, it was second nature. They’d talk and gossip, all the while casings flying apart and shelled beans dropped efficiently into a pot in their lap.
Me?… not so much.
Either the strings wouldn’t release, or the casings cracked and broke, or I’d thumb beans with BB gun precision across the room to smack someone right between the eyes…..
I usually got relegated to corn shucking duty.
Cooking the Peas
This test on the microwave pressure cooker I decided to see how it would do on shellies and dried beans (coming later in the post.) Shellies are an odd bean to cook because you’ll have fresh, mature, semi dried, and rock hard seeds all needing to be cooked at the same time. If you cook them until the mature beans are done – the rest of the pot is mush. If you gauge it by the fresh beans, then the mature and dry beans remain inedible. Regardless of which timing you choose, the shortest amount of time the peas will cook is about 35 minutes.
Enter the Microwave Pressure Cooker.
You already know I kinda have this odd love affair going on with the piece of equipment. I really shouldn’t like it… but I do. It works like it is supposed to. And in my book – for a gadget-y quirky kitchen utensil, that’s unheard of.
So, the score card:
Crowder Shellies Micro Cooker Test:
4 Cups Mixed Crowder Pea Shellies
That’s about 50% fresh – 25% mature – 25% dried
3 Cups Water to just cover beans
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Pepper
1 Bay Leaf
2 – 3/4″ Slabs of Precooked pork roast… it’s what I had. A Ham Hock or a big thick slab of Pork Jowl Bacon would both work equally well.
Total cooking time:
10 minutes on high power in the pressure cooker
3 minutes for the cooker to de-pressurize naturally
6 Minutes in a sauce pan to reduce the liquid by 1/2.
All total, 19 minutes – or more than 1/2 the time of conventional stove top cooking.
Efficiency of cook:
All beans were completely cooked at the 10 minutes. The fresh beans mostly held on to their integrity. The mature and dried beans were cooked through and tender.
There was still about 2 cups of liquid left in the pot, but like I said – another 6 minutes on the stove top fixed that.
The next attempt was to test the micro pressure cooker’s ability to cook Dried Beans quicker than a regular pressure cooker – or conventional dutch oven methods.
Since Jane and I have both been craving “soup beans” (I don’t know why we call them that… we just do), this test is with Great Northern White Beans.
Typical slow cook method for dried beans is about 45 minutes on the stove top, and about 30 minutes in a conventional pressure cooker. The goal was to do better than conventional methods.
Dried White Bean Micro Pressure Cooker Test
In the Pot:
1 Pound Dried Great Northern White Beans (Pre-Soaked for 12 hours)
2 Strips Raw Bacon – Diced
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Pepper
1 Teaspoon Dried Epazote (another of the wonderful herby Christmas Gifts from my sis) – Here’s the thing with epazote. Epazote imparts a woodsy, smoky, sage-ish herbal flavor to whatever you’re cooking. Additionally, it removes all those nasty …umm… gassy aspects of dried beans. It’s used throughout Mexico – where they know a thing or two about dried beans… and gas. Fair warning, a little goes a long way, so use it judicially.
Water to Cover Beans – About 3 Cups
Total Cook Time:
12 Hours Pre Soak (so that doesn’t count)
10 Minutes at 70% power – Release the pressure by depressing the valve
Stir and check the liquid (I didn’t have to add any)
9 Minutes on 100% power
Allow pressure cooker to depressurize naturally (about 5 minutes)
Efficiency of Cook:
Actual cooking time 19 minutes.
Although the broth was still fairly liquid after the cook, it did thicken up considerably as it cooled and additional liquids absorbed into the beans. They were consistently tender, smooth and creamy.
Even if the time was excessively better than conventional means, the fact that I didn’t have to worry with them at all the entire cook time made it a huge bonus.
So, all in all – another win – win – win for the quirky, plastic, pressure cooker made for your microwave.