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Pressure Cooking - Part Two Nuances and Subtleties
A Question and an Answer
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I have just read your article " Cooking Under Pressure" by Cliff Lowe, and found it very interesting and informative. My wife regularly uses pressure cookers and turns out delicious meats and vegetable dishes. I learned to can and preserve many home grown fruits, vegetables, and meats as a country boy in Kentucky.

We, my family, knew Colonel Harlan Sanders, of KFC fame and know that he modified pressure cookers or at least devised methods for using pressure cookers to produce his famous chicken products.

A few years back a small pressure cooker was advertised as especially designed for pressure cooking chicken using oil in the cooker instead of water. (I assume the steam for pressure must have come from the moisture in the chicken?) I do not recall that this product ever really caught on.

Recently I attended a Home and Garden Show at which a cooking booth was showing pressure cookers, cooking with oil, (one style in several sizes) and offering the chicken pieces to the attending audience gathered at the booth to watch their demonstration. Object to sell their cookers, of course, not the chicken. Their cookers did not appear to be of significant difference from the regular pressure cookers that we use at home, except for much higher prices.

My questions: Can we safely use our home pressure cookers with oil to pressure cook chicken, or other foods? If so are any modifications necessary? Where do we find directions and pressures to use and recipes? If not safe to do so; What is the danger?

Cliff Answers:

First, it is good to hear from a fellow Kentuckian. And, it is interesting that your family were friendly with Col. Sanders, 'cause mine were, too. Well, at least my mother was. I do not recall anyone else in the family visiting him or knowing him and his wife besides her. I only had occasion to meet him once, and he was quite a colorful and interesting fellow. By the way, I am a Kentucky Colonel myself.

About cooking chicken in a regular pressure cooker: I do it all the time. I cook all kinds of meat, but I find frying chicken by this method quite tasty and flavorful. Here's how you do it

1. The amount of oil you use has to be carefully measured to avoid any problems. The way to do it is by putting about 5 or 6 pieces of chicken in your cooker ( I have a 6-qt. cooker and I find 5 pieces about right) then adding water until the water reaches the fill limit mark on the inside of the cooker.

DO NOT FILL THE COOKER PAST THIS LINE.

After you have added the water until it reaches this line, remove all the chicken. The amount of water left will be the right measurement of oil to use. So, for example, if there is about 3 inches of water left behind, then you will put this amount of oil in to heat.

2. Make sure the cooker is dry, and add the correct measure of oil for your cooker. Heat it until it reaches 350 degreesF. Meantime, dredge your chicken pieces in flour seasoned as you wish.

3. When the oil has reached 350 degrees, carefully add your chicken pieces. Allow them to cook for about 1 minute, then place the cover on the cooker according to manufacturer's instructions.
4. Cooking over medium heat, wait until the counterweight begins to jiggle and rock rythmically and start timing your chicken. Cook for 10 minutes, then place in the sink and run cold water over the cooker. This will drop the pressure within a minute and as soon as the pressure has dropped, remove the chicken and drain on paper towels and place in a baking pan in the oven at 170 degrees F. to keep warm until you are through cooking all your chicken. Cook the rest of the chicken in the same manner. Yumm!

But, always, ALWAYS make sure that you do not exceed the fill line limits of the cooker and be sure that all vents are open and clear before you seal the lid down. Also, always make sure that the pressure has dropped /completely /before opening the cooker (most cookers nowadays have a safety feature that will not allow opening until the pressure is completely down).

That's it. Do not fall for the special chicken pressure cooker. They work fine, but are not really needed as a regular pressure cooker will do the job just fine. Of course, the bigger the cooker, the more food can be processed.

Hope you enjoy your chicken. And thanks for stopping by our website and especially for reading my article(s) and for taking the time to write. It is appreciated. Please continue to stop by from time to time as new recipes and articles are constantly being added.

Cordially,

Cliff Lowe of CLIFF'S CORNER

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