There’s a Canadian food television show called Pitchin’ In with Toronto Chef Lynn Crawford which I particularly like. In the show, she travels around in search of the freshest ingredients in their place of origin, often relying on the locals to show her how to pick, catch or trap these ingredients. Then, she cooks a meal with the ingredients for all who helped her in the search. One episode featured lobster and Chef Lynn goes lobster fishing in the Bay of Fundy to catch some of the world’s best. Then, before she prepares it, she asks how the locals like to cook their lobsters. To her (and my!) surprise, they say their best way of preparing lobster is in the microwave! She gives it a try and actually likes it!
It’s very easy to fall into a philosophy of “the old way is the best way” when cooking. These days I try to keep my eyes and mind open to new and different cooking techniques, and never has that been more true for me than with the microwave pressure cooker. I’m very familiar with pressure cooking, having written a book full of pressure cooker recipes, but rarely used my microwave for more than popcorn or re-heating leftovers. It’s a crying shame, really, to have an appliance in the kitchen with so much to offer and do so little with it. Very few people use their microwave to its fullest capacity because they’ve never been able to get great results out of it. Foods tend to cook unevenly in the microwave and come out either dry or rubbery. Now, those who know me know that I approach new kitchen gadgets with a little skepticism. I really need to be convinced that they deserve a spot in my kitchen. When the microwave pressure cooker came into my life, I remembered Chef Lynn Crawford and the lobster and decided I needed to be open minded. What I discovered is that this cooking tool manages to use the speed of microwave cooking but gives you the results of pressure cooking – tender, juice, moist and delicious meals. It’s a win-win!
So, when it came to cooking mussels, naturally my first thought was to cook them on the stovetop in a lidded pot. But then… if lobster in the microwave can be delicious, why not try the microwave pressure cooker to cook mussels? It was quick and easy, but the best part was that they came out tasting delicious. Here’s the recipe:
- 4 stalks celery, diced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 pound (450 g) fresh mussels, scrubbed and beard removed
- 1 leek, washed, trimmed, and thinly sliced
- 1 12-ounce (350 mL) bottle of Belgian-style or Trappist-style beer
- ½ cup (120 mL) heavy cream
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1 lemon wedge
- Place the celery and butter in the Microwave Pressure Cooker and cook, uncovered, for 3 minutes on HIGH power.
- Add the mussels, leek and beer to the Microwave Pressure Cooker.
- Place the lid on the Microwave Pressure Cooker and lock into place.
- Cook the mussels on HIGH for 10 minutes.
- When the time is up, let the pressure come down naturally by leaving the lid on the cooker until the white pressure indicator has dropped.
- Stir in the heavy cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley and some squeezed lemon and serve with warm, crusty bread for dipping.
Interested in learning more about the Microwave Pressure Cooker? Tune in to QVC on Wednesday, August 6th. I’ll be there!