Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hawaiian Chicken Fiasco

My "biscuits" didn't turn out tonight. Well I guess eventually they did, but it was a rough go, believe me! It all started out several months ago when I made a delicious crock pot Hawaiian Chicken dinner for my gluten-free/low-sodium/low-fat/lactose-intolerant/allergic dad. It tasted good to him, didn't make him sick and was "legal" (which is a difficult combination to find). He and my mom got the recipe from me, but when they tried to make it in their crock pot it didn't work quite as well. Their crock was quite a bit smaller than mine and very old. I suggested that they try it in their pressure cooker, but they were hesitant because it turned out so bad the first time.

Well, tonight I decided to convert the Hawaiian Chicken slow cooker recipe to a pressure cooker recipe. I've discussed the benefits of pressure cookers in an earlier post - time, nutrition, energy-savings, etc. For these reasons and to find a recipe my dad could eat and would like, I wanted to try it. I'll preface the rest of my story by saying I don't have a lot of experience cooking with pressure cookers. I've only had mine for a couple of months and I've used it mainly to cook grains and legumes.

Well, I put all the ingredients in, shut the lid and turned it on high - just like I always do when I cook beans or grains. A few minutes later I smelled this awful smell - and smoke was billowing out of the pot! I quickly opened it up. The bottom of the pan was black along with everything touching it. It smelled awful! I took out the half-raw/half-burnt contents and salvaged what I could.

I spent the next 30 min scrubbing my pot. The kids were hungry and tired. They finally got distracted with my open tupperware drawer and pretty soon tupperware and lids were flying all over the kitchen. Of course this didn't help my rattlebrain thought processes any. I managed to clean most of the black off the bottom, but I gave up before it was completely clean. I figured since the food already smelt like burnt food, a little more char from the bottom wouldn't hurt it too much.

I placed the food in the pot for a second time and added some more liquid because I figured that's what I had done wrong. This time I heated up the pan before adding the lid and stirred the contents until they were simmering pretty good. Then I tried to put my lid on and in the middle of the chaos, I somehow managed to get the lid on crooked. It was stuck pretty good and I tried for about ten minutes to get it off to no avail. Finally I brought it over to the sink and pried it off, spilling half of the contents down the sink in the process.

By this time I knew I was running out of time. My husband would be home in a few minutes and the kids were starving. I handed a few crackers to them and bribed them with more if they would clean up the tupperware mess. I threw some more ingredients in the pot and cranked it up for the third time. I stirred until it simmered and carefully replaced the lid. When it went up to pressure I breathed a sigh of relief and waited for the burning smell, but it gladly never came.

A few minutes later my husband walks in the door to a fairly unchaotic house. The tupperware had somehow dissappeared back into the drawer by this time, the kids were quietly eating their crackers and I was in the process of setting the table. I thought, wow, I pulled this off. At least so far. We'll see what happens when I open that pot in 20 minutes! I kept my mouth shut and decided that either way, it'd be better if I told my story after the food was tasted.

When I opened the pot, to my great astonishment, it was all right. The quanties of ingredients weren't quite right (probably because of my halfhazard spills and additions), but it was edible. My husband said he actually enjoyed it (even after hearing my tale).

Here's a few things I learned from this experience.
  1. Pressure cookers require plenty of liquid to keep from burning the bottom of the pan
  2. When cooking food that doesn't have a lot of liquid, stir the ingredients and let them simmer pretty good before you put on the lid
  3. Don't put the lid on wrong because it's hard to get off - all of those lid-locking devices really work!
  4. Never give up on trying to salvage your unsuccessful cooking attempts
  5. If you keep your mouth shut, sometimes people won't notice the mistakes
I was half-tempted to make the recipe again tonight (now that I know how) to get the ingredients right so I could post it for you. But I decided I'd better quit while I'm still ahead. I'm afraid it'll have to wait for another time. When I get a chance to make it again I'll post my new-and-improved pressure cooker Hawaiian Chicken recipe for you to enjoy!

1 comment:

Cherylyn said...

Oh my gosh, I've had dinner fiascos like this! You're tenacious and it's awesome it all worked out! I don't know if I would have been so dedicated. I might have tossed the rest of the food in the disposal and made sandwiches or something simple for dinner instead.

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