Cleaning Out the Cupboards

I’ve been helping my mother de-clutter her kitchen and house in anticipation of her moving (long story, maybe later). We both swear that kitchen implements breed in the dark recesses. Otherwise how would there be so many wooden spoons, steak knives, and wire whisks? None, I should add, have been missed or want to be used now. The struggle is whether to toss in the dumpster or donate, since surely “someone” could use them (again, another long story for another day).

Alas, driving home I wondered if the same fate was befalling my own kitchen. I am not in any sense a pack rat and gleefully toss unworn clothes and household trinkets. I am more discerning though when it comes to my prized kitchen accouterments.

Upon sweeping investigation, I do have too many wooden spoons and was not in the least bit sorry to put them in the burn bin. I have too few rubber spatulas, yay, I will buy reinforcements. Steak knives, fine. Wire whisks, fine. Weird single-use can’t-remember-what-it-does tools, none, yay.

Now way up high above the refrigerator in the cute little cupboard that you slide things and never retrieve them was a pressure cooker. I received it as a wedding present 36 years ago. I used it only 2 or 3 times, but couldn’t get it to work right or couldn’t figure out what things to make in it, blah, blah, blah. And yet, I never threw it away, and it made the move to another house I suppose in some hope it could be put to use one day.

Well, I decided to test it and see if it really did deserve space in my cupboard, even if it was just holding down dust.

I am here to say that if you have one, get it out!

If you see one at a garage sale, nab it!

If your mother-in-law swears she will never use hers again and you may have it, grab!

If there is a clearance sale and you can pick it up cheaply, do so!

I made 1 1/2 quarts of fabulous chicken stock this morning in less than an hour. Wow. That was so easy.

Here is a nice page of directions on using your pressure cooker to make stock. Actually, you don’t really need a recipe, but I think the article actually gives you strength that it can and should be done. I will say that other reading I did told me that pre-browning is a total waste of your effort because the high pressure heat of the cooker gets that Maillard reaction that you are after with browning. So happily you may omit the browning and just plop all your contents in and let ‘er rip. The essential take away is put some solids in for flavor and cover with water not to exceed the 2/3 mark on your pot.

Now why do you ask, should you go to any trouble at all to make chicken stock?

Because you can. Hahaha. It really does taste better than store-bought, has almost zero unknown ingredients in it, and makes you feel like a superstar that you created it.

Actually, it is quite nice to have leftover bones and meat and be able to squeeze even more out of them. You will get a great big jar of broth and tell me if you can get through even one week without something you are making asking for some chicken or vegetable broth. I dare you. I can’t even imagine it coming up.

Sometimes the crazy market runs a crazy sale on chicken wings or thighs and you can’t think what you will do with them. (Please. I am not making hot wings at home.) This happened to me: $1.89/lb. So I bought a tray and oh how great to create 2 big batches of broth with them.

If you use actual meat (versus just bones), then you also have that as by-product. I easily lifted out the thighs. The bones fell out, the skin had already fallen off. Now I had a nice little mound of meat that I can make into enchiladas, tacos, soup, chili, salad, the myriad of dishes that we all make with cooked chicken. Plus, now it is at the ready in my fridge or freezer and I don’t have to buy a rotisserie chicken on my way home from work. I am awesome.

The final, but possibly the best, benefit of using the pressure cooker: clean stove.

Obviously, I can’t emphasize this too much. You know how when you simmer a chicken on the stove in a big pot? There are always, and I do mean always, spatters all over your stove, burners, and surround. Eeeek. I hate to clean stoves. With this delightful little pressure cooker, everything is locked inside. I didn’t even need to do a swipe after I was done. That is nirvana for me.

Oh yeah, and the pot? Also a cinch to clean. No hideous boiled-in line of scum that you have to soak and scour later. It was easily cleaned with just my dishcloth. Again; nirvana.

So get into your cupboards. Find that old forgotten pressure cooker and reacquaint yourself. You will be so happy and so well stocked once you do.




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