After a brief romance with pressure cooking in the 1940s and 1950s, American cooks basically shelved the whistling pot that seemed to threaten “exploding” at any moment. And sometimes it did; stories of split pea soup or some such spewing to the ceiling when the cooker was overfilled or overheated are legendary in the annals of pressure cooking experiences. Now, though, pressure cooking is enjoying a revival due to modern, state-of-the-art pressure cookers which eliminate that previous peril. Sleekly engineered, they are easy and ultra-safe to use. I employ mine for cooking beans without pre-soaking, making stocks and broths in a thrice, and braising rich and hearty meat stews in comparatively little time. And, believe it or not, for risottos. I know, pressure cooking risotto is a somewhat outlandish idea for those of the old school. However, for the modern cook, it is the perfect method to have a creamy rendition of this venerated, family-friendly Italian comfort dish quickly and without much fuss. Here’s a recipe for a primo variation of the “never-ending” risotto possibilities. When the lid is removed after cooking it might at first look too liquid. Fear not. When the cheese is stirred in, it will be just right.
Risotto with Asparagus and Poached Egg (adapted from my The Pressure Cooker Gourmet)
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped yellow or white onion
1 1/ 2 cups Arborio or other Italian risotto rice
4 cups chicken broth or filtered water
1/ 2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt, to taste
3/4 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut crosswise into 3/4-inch lengths
4 large eggs
1. Heat the butter and olive oil together in the pressure cooker over medium-high heat until the butter melts. Stir in the onion, then the rice, and continue stirring until the rice is opaque, about 2 minutes.
2. Stir in the broth, lock on the lid, and bring to pressure over high heat, about 6 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes.
3. Remove from the heat and let sit for 8 minutes to finish cooking while the pressure subsides.
4. Meanwhile, blanch the asparagus in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain right away and set aside.
5. To poach the eggs, fill a large high-sided saute pan with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to maintain the barest simmer and gently crack the eggs into the pan. Cook, without letting the water boil, until the whites are set and the yolk is still runny, 3 to 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, gently lift out the eggs and set them on a plate. Set aside.
6. With the steam vent pointed away from your face, gently release any remaining pressure. Stir in the asparagus, cheese, and salt to taste. Divide the risotto among 4 large serving bowls. Top each with a poached egg and serve right away.