I never thought I would see any possibility of a dish from the American South colliding with a staple of the British kitchen, but alas, I’ve seen it, and it’s glorious. Or at least easy and delicious…
I suppose you could say that I was early to the sous vide game; I became aware of sous vide in general, and immersion circulators specifically, by watching Food Network — one of my few television indulgences. I loved the concept, and I loved that there were companies coming onto the scene that were bringing the established professional cooking method to the home. So almost exactly three years ago now, I bought into it myself — with the Anova Precision Cooker. Now a few years in, I thought it’d be a good time to look back at this “wonder appliance.”
In the summer of 2016, I bought a Baratza Encore coffee grinder, and wrote about it while this blog was still under its previous name. Unfortunately, my love affair with the grinder waned a bit last month when my beloved grinder crapped-out; it just wouldn’t run anymore unless I nudged the burr a little (thereby rotating the motor shaft a bit). Hmmm; curious.
I immediately sought troubleshooting information from Baratza’s web site, and it was there that I discovered something quite peculiar: detailed information — on diagnosing, and repairing the grinder. Repairing? Really?
About 24 hours after getting my Instant Pot, I ordered a cookbook from Amazon: the Indian Instant Pot Cookbook by Urvashi Pitre. About the same time, I discovered a great blog, Ministry of Curry, written by Archana Mundhe. I’ve always loved Indian food, but it’s expensive to go out for it, and I’ve always believed it’s not difficult food to make — it’s just knowing the recipes and technique needed. Both the book and blog I just mentioned are great resources to obtain both.
One of the things I wanted to try making in my new Instant Pot was traditional southern grits for breakfast. Making grits is not difficult under any circumstances, but there are challenges:
- It takes an inordinate amount of time (and patience) to cook them well;
- That’s made worse when you use traditional, “old fashioned” slow-cook grits (and any other type, namely quick or instant, is sacrilegious); and,
- Making them makes a mess and requires constant attention and/or perfect regulation of heat to avoid that.
I’ve had a small, early-generation electronic pressure cooker for years, and making grits in it was a nightmare. They’d bubble-up, much as they do with conventional cooking, and the process spattered starchy “grit juice” everywhere. Not to mention a layer of grits stuck like glue to the bottom of the unit. But in the Instant Pot, things are much easier — and far, far less messy. (In fact, not messy at all!)
I first heard about the Instant Pot about 18 months ago, when a colleague posted something about getting one to his Twitter account. Intrigued, I checked-out their web site, the Amazon pages, etc. Unbeknownst to me, Instant Pot in its various incarnations has collectively been one of Amazon’s top sellers for awhile now, it’s been the topic of countless blogs, cookbooks, social media pages and groups, etc., and it feels almost as if you’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard of it (or own one already). Whether late to the party or not, I finally broke down and bought one last week. In short, I now “get” the excitement.
Some years back, I bought my first home espresso machine, a basic model from Italy’s Gaggia. It was a faithful kitchen companion for several years until it gave-up the ghost, but I digress.
To make espresso, you need a decent grinder, and that means getting a burr grinder. At the time, I made an “adequate” choice, namely a KitchenAid model—a choice made as much for décor reasons as functional ones. In its defense, it lasted longer the Gaggia, but it too recently needed replacement as plastic parts began to break, and were not replaceable. It was also clear that the burrs needed to be replaced, but were no longer made for the specific grinder model I owned.