Sunday, April 27, 2008

Savory, Herbed Three Grain Pilaf

 In my new cookbook, I use many different kinds of pressure cooking techniques that were well known in our grandma's day when nearly every household used a pressure cooker. Most of today's pressure cooker users don't know about these more advanced techniques, so I'm going to show you how to get the maximum use out of your modern pressure cooker by cooking two separate PIP recipes using the tiered cooking technique.

The first recipe is a full flavored, Savory, Herbed Three Grain Pilaf, a dish that compliments many meat entrees. So for the purposes of demonstrating the tiered cooking technique, I'm also cooking a separate dish of lentils for lunch the next day, to be used in Lentil and Arugula Salad, a very versatile recipe that works well as lunch or a light supper to beat the summertime heat.

What You'll Need

You'll note that I'm using one of the horrid, bent wire 'trivets' supplied by Fagor, a singularly useless item for most purposes, but here's one way where it actually does work well. Lay the wire trivet inside the bottom pan, or place a cooking rack over the top of it, to support the upper pan.

The bottom PIP insert pan is from Kuhn-Rikon, it has a handy wire bail to lift it out of the pressure cooker, and little punched out feet on the bottom so there is no need for a cooking rack. You will need to use a rack beneath your pan if it has a flat bottom. Without a bail, its necessary to utilize a foil Helper Handle to get your pan out of the cooker. For the top pan, any kind of small, inexpensive Stainless Steel bowl will work. The one I use here is available at Wal-Mart, Target and such.


This delicious recipe has an irresistible nutty flavor that is great by itself or served as a side dish with poultry, pork, and beef. Even better, there's no tedious chopping, so if you're looking for minimal effort food after a long day, this is it.

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1 teaspoon bouillon powder
2 tablespoons wild rice
1/4 cup long grain brown rice
1/4 cup pearl barley
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup dry white wine

Pour 1 cup water into the pressure cooker. Place all the ingredients in an insert pan. To cook as a combination see the directions below, to proceed as a separate dish: Lock the lid in place. Bring to 15psi over high heat, immediately reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting to stabilize and maintain that pressure. Cook 16 minutes. Remove from heat and use the natural release method before opening the lid. Fluff grains with a fork, they should be tender and most of the liquid absorbed.
Cook's Note: I used that Better than Bouillon, a flavor enhancer that comes in several varieties (In my supermarket, I have seen beef, chicken, mushroom, and vegetable varieties.) According to the Superior Touch website there are also turkey, lobster, ham, chili, clam and organic, plus low sodium versions are available. One teaspoon of Better Than Bouillon base mixed with water yields the same as an 8 oz can of broth, but its much more flavorful, and its just as convenient as ordinary bouillon cubes. It is a bit salty, so I suggest holding off adding any additional salt until you've actually tasted the finished dish. This is a very tasty and convenient product that makes for a no-brainer method of preparing quick and easy dishes, so do give it a try.

Lentil and Arugula Salad

This is an easy dish with many possibilities. If you can't find arugula in your supermarket, substitute curly endive, escarole, radicchio, spinach or any combination that appeals to your taste.

1/4 cup lentils
1 1/2 cups water
Place in a small stainless steel bowl. Pour 1 cup water into the pressure cooker. To cook as the featured combination, position a trivet in the bottom pan and stack the bowl of lentils on top. Lock the lid in place. Bring to 15psi over high heat, immediately reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting to stabilize and maintain that pressure. Cook 16 minutes. Remove from heat and use the natural release method before opening the lid. Drain the lentils, add the prepared homemade or bottled vinaigrette salad dressing and marinade them in a covered container in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or up to 1 day, ahead of the serving time.

2 cups sliced cherry or grape tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 cups torn Arugula or other salad greens
1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Prepared homemade or bottled vinaigrette salad dressing
In a large salad bowl, combine the greens, tomatoes, onions, lentils and cheese. Add the vinaigrette and toss gently. Taste and adjust the seasonings before serving.

Add a small amount of leftover cooked meat, ham, poultry or shellfish for a main course.
Add chopped hard salami, pepperoni or prosciutto, some sliced olives and marinated artichoke hearts for an antipasto style salad.

When you think about all the interesting possibilities, I hope you'll try both the PIP (Pan In Pot) and the Tiered Cooking Techniques. You'll find detailed instructions on these, and much, much more in my new cookbook, Miss Vickie's Big Book of Pressure Cooker Recipes. See my website for more information about other cooking methods and all the different techniques used in pressure cookery.

Does this give you ideas about how you can incorporate the Tiered Cooking technique into your own recipes? What combinations can you put together?

I'd like to get your feedback on my new recipes to see if there's anything that I need to adjust. Please, post your comments and let me know if you try these recipes, won't you?


Anonymous said...

I made the Herbed Pilaf last night, served it with baked chicken. I also made some mashed potatoes because I didn't think my kids would eat it. Surprize, they practically ate the whole bowl themselves, so I can tell you this was a keeper! I'm going to double it, and serve with pork chops on Saturday. I still want to try the tiered method, but it'll have to wait until I go shopping. Thanks, Miss Vickie, for another great recipe and all your how-to tips!

skichamp07 said...

I cooked this double decker combo last night, and I really enjoyed learning how to do something different with my pc. Thabks for thr great idea! I never would have thought to stack up two pans like yhis, but now I'm thinking of all kinds of ways ways this would be so handy.

I grilled some salmon steaks last nite and the mixed grains were buttery and delicous, what a nice switch from the usual potato.

Today, my wife is going to use up the bit of leftover salmon to make the salad for our lunch. On a hot day like this, a chilled salad will be perfect, so I can't wait to try it.

sparkelizer said...

OMG! I never thought this was even possible, but then I'm pretty new at pressure cooking. We have a new baby and I'm the caregiver for my dad who also lives with us, so we really have to watch our money. Economy and time savings was why I got a PC, and cooking two meals or foods at the same time gives me so many new ideas. Thanks for sharing all your knowledge!

Veggie said...

Miss Vickie, love your website! New to press. cooking, and this may seem a silly question, but in your recipe for SAVORY, HERBED THREE GRAIN PILAF, do I add all the water into the cooker, or does it go into the bowl with the rice, and only 1/2 cup in the bottom of the press. cooker? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I tried the Herbed Pilaf, what a disappointment, don't really know if all the liquid was to go with the rice or just one cup goes into the pot. I wished this was explained much better. The pilaf was under cooked, I cooked it more in the microwave. I just bought your recipe book, hope the explanation is much better. masak 08

Miss Vickie said...

I labeled this post, "Advanced Techniques - Tiered Cooking", because it requires at least a yeoman's familiarity with pressure cooking, but more detailed PIP instructions are on the website.

Problems with "under-cooking" are the result of one or more of the following user errors:
1). Mistakes in measuring or using the wrong ingredients.
2). Using a lower PSI setting than required.
3). Incorrect timing.
4). Wrong pressure release method.

Please email me through the website if you need more help with this or other techniques.

Ariel said...

Your pilaf recipe looks amazing! I've been reading about pressure cookers in a few places and I'm very interested to try cooking with one soon. I'd also like to share this post by Bren, another blogger I follow who is generously giving away a pressure cooker soon:

Thanks for all of your great recipes and information!

Amanda said...

I cooked both of these dishes together this morning following your instructions exactly and they came out perfectly. I am thrilled with the results-I used french 'puy' lentils and they cooked to perfection, as did the barley and rice. Thankyou so much Miss Vickie for your fantastic website, it has got me very excited about my pressure cooker and taught me how to use it and how to get great results.

Anonymous said...

thanks for all the tip and help with using a pressure've helped me with many a meals...i was afraid of the cooker when i first used it....but now i couldn't live without it :) thanks so much.tracy in pa

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