Thursday, July 28, 2011

Under Pressure!

Well I promised some people that I would blog about my first experience with my wonderful prize from and today I received the Breville Fast Slow Cooker. I’d been planning to cook a chicken curry since Monday as I wanted to slow cook it one night and eat the next and also freeze some. I had one and half kilos of chicken breast to use up and I had a jar of red curry paste.

So I’ve unpacked the big shiny machine and checked all the parts are included then taken the instruction manual to a quiet small room (yes that room, the one where you don’t get interrupted … well some of the time) and studied it very carefully. There was one unsettling issue, there was an insert in page 20 stating that the Pressure Release Valve should actually point in the OTHER direction than previously stated for it to work properly. Now I was picturing myself being shot in the face with the very heavy lid when the fufu valve whatsy things blows up.

The next hurdle was adapting one of their recipes to the actual ingredients I already had. The curry recipe in the manual was for beef (I could work with that – I’ll just pretend the chicken was beef!) and it needed onion (just leave that out, no onions and they give me heartburn anyway). It didn’t actually say to use red curry paste but I wasn’t going to tell anyone.

At this stage dinnertime was fast approaching and the thought of cooking two nights’ dinners in one night wasn’t appealing. So my plan switched adapted – ok dumped to a fast cook chicken dinner. I had now changed a curry into a cacciatore because I discovered what I THOUGHT was a can of coconut milk in the pantry was actually a can of condensed milk (I must put a light in there). So seeing I had a packet of cacciatore recipe mix and SEVERAL cans of tomatoes (do they breed in there?), the new plan meal was planned.

The browning worked really well in the cooker but in hindsight I should have cooked off the excess oil. Once all the chicken was seared (it even has a timer to brown stuff!), I poured the tomatoes, chopped zucchini and sauce mix on top of the chicken and added some chicken stock as I kept reading the warning about having at least a litre of liquid in the pot when it was pressure cooking.

I then guestimated the cooking time – guide said 4 breasts took 4-8 minutes on medium and recipe said 25 minutes so after careful calculation (????) I put it on 18 minutes, locked it in and pressed Start. I stood there and watched as steam came out of a hole in the lid and out of the valve. The book said it shouldn’t do this and when I picked up the book I found underneath a little metal cap – what was this for? Did I miss something in the instructions for putting it all together? Flicking through the book for the umpteenth time I discovered it fitted on the inside of the lid to control the fufu valve (not the technical name)!

So after stopping it and carefully removing the lid (that steam freaks me out!), I fitted that little metal cap on and replaced the lid. Then I put it on again and after 10 seconds red steam was flying out of the fufu like a locomotive. Well I thought it had a tinge of the ginge in it but I could be imagining it – but then again there were tomatoes in there.

Once again I stopped it and rechecked the fufu and, yes, it was not pointing in the direction of page 20 insert’s diagram.

Now we were set and all things were capped and pointed in the right direction but I was concerned the timer wasn’t going down. Another instruction manual check and apparently it releases enough steam according to how much liquid is in there THEN starts counting down (note to self, not so much liquid next time).

Right! It was off and cooking and timing down and the rice was in the microwave.

After the timer finished and chimed 5 times (as promised in the manual), I released the Pressure Release Valve (its actual technical name) by pressing the button (FOR A LONG TIME). There was a lot of steam to be released but I was not risking having my face melt off when I unlocked the lid (not that I could reach to see over the rim, one short cook, one tall bench and one big cooker equals sight impairment in the kitchen – I must borrow Nugget’s bathroom step next time).

It looked great. I wished I had taken a photo of all that bubbly tomatoey chicken but the hungry horde was lining up to be fed.

Besides burning our mouths with hot tomato, it was well received and pronounced tasty and tender. It was a lot more succulent than when I usually make it on the stovetop. MY Chicken ate in record time and as usual avoided all vegetables. Even Nugget was able to cut it up easily (he has utensil issues) and he said “it looked like mashed potato”. It didn’t but we knew what he meant.

It sounds a lot more complicated than it was really was, and of course next time I’ll know what I’m doing (hopefully if I can remember to point the fufu in the right direction). But it was a much better cooked meal and I also have enough in the freezer for another family meal.

Next time I will be trying out the slow cooker, much more familiar with that after 30 years with my retro orange Crock Pot (I will be sorry to see that retire so may keep it as a backup).

So I’ve now broken my pressure cooker hymen (eeeeuwww, visual!) and look forward to many more fast dinners NOT from the takeaway joint. But I think I’ll keep away from more shiny new machines for awhile. I’ve concluded appliances are like men, they’re a little scary at first but can make life easier once you know how to handle them. And hopefully they don't blow your face off.....

What new appliance gave you the heeby jeebies? Did you overpower it?


  1. That sounds scary - I can just imagine melting my face off!

    I do love making curries in our slow cooker though. Took me a few attempts to get it right, but now -YUMMO!!!

  2. Love it! I'm hopeless with new appliances, so I'd have been worried too - but it all seems to have gone swimmingly!

  3. I thought a 'Fast Slow' cooker sounded scary and it turns out it absolutely is! I love my slow cooker (although, now that I come to think of it, I don't think I've actually cooked a thing in it this whole Winter...) x

  4. I've always been a little wary of pressure cookers because of the whole steam melting face off thing. One day I will get over that fear and give it a go.


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