Enchilada Rage

I decided to cook something new. A friend had suggested a great enchilada recipe which utilized the pressure cooker. Perfect, I thought.  It would be something new and THE WIFE had been encouraging me to try out the magic of the pressure cooker, so here was my opportunity.

I loaded up the pressure cooker and began cooking away. I set a timer for fifteen minutes and waited for the indicator to pop on the cooker. After about twelve minutes I saw that the indicator was up, so I let things go for another minute or two and then approached the cooker to release the pressure (anyone out there see the problem yet?). I used a towel to turn a release valve on the top and let some steam escape, and unlocked the top.

I opened the cooker and began taking the chicken out when I noticed that it wasn’t cooked through yet.  Yep – I set a timer when I began heating the cooker, not once it was up to pressure. Okay – no problem.  Chalk that up to a rookie mistake. I put the chicken back in and cranked the heat back up. After 10 minutes or so I noticed that the button hadn’t popped on the cooker. As I looked around the other side I realized that I could see the seal.

DAMMIT. I didn’t have the lid on right.

I loosened the lid and proceeded to try to position it correctly, but try as I might, I couldn’t get it right. I also couldn’t put my hand on top of it to help because it was HOT. I took a deep breath and was deliberate and focused, but the lid just didn’t want to cooperate. Finally, after close to five minutes, I got it on correctly. Once I sealed the top, the button clicked almost immediately and I was at pressure. I set a timer for 10 minutes and let it go.

Meanwhile, I moved on to the next step of the recipe, which was to flash fry some corn tortillas.  I wasn’t sure why this step was necessary as they were going to be rolled, but I decided to go along with it. This would end up being another mistake. By the time I made it to tortilla number four, I was alternating between creating a soggy mess or having the tortillas disintegrate in the pan. It was an unmitigated disaster, and I ended up with about nine usable tortillas out of twelve.

My timer went off so I approached the pressure cooker to relieve the pressure. I pushed the release button and could hear steam coming out, but the safety features indicated that it was still under too much pressure to open (remember that a pressure cooker is basically a stovetop bomb…). I grabbed my towel and reached for the same valve I had turned earlier to release steam, which it did. Directly onto my hand.

Yep. I had a burn on the side of my finger that was rapidly turning into a blister. On the bright side, it smelled really good.

I finally released enough pressure where I could open the cooker and I put the chicken in a bowl to cool. It was definitely cooked now, so that problem was resolved. The next step was to take the remaining sauce items and put them in a blender to smooth everything out. I loaded up the blender, set it to low and hit pulse, which promptly spewed enchilada sauce all over the counter, the floor, and my clothes.

At this point I said some words Mom doesn’t like. I wiped up the counter and floor and re-checked the lid of the blender and hit pulse again. And the sauce spewed out the side once again, back on the counter and the floor. Just then, THE WIFE walked in the door to be greeted with “I’M READY TO THROW THIS WHOLE THING DOWN THE SINK AND ORDER A PIZZA!” “Hello to you, too,” she replied.

As I headed upstairs to search for burn cream and clean clothes, THE WIFE poured the sauce back into the the cooker and smoothed it with the immersion blender. Based on my experience, I may never use the regular blender again.

By the time I came back downstairs, she had smoothed the sauce and was shredding the chicken. I helped finish with the chicken and began looking to the recipe for the next step when she asked “Have you tasted the sauce yet?”

It was hot. REALLY hot. As in “too hot to actually eat”.  We discussed how we could save the dish, but I ultimately chose to spoon a little bit on the chicken and dump the rest down the drain. I was extremely upset, but it was time to admit defeat.


So what was I so upset about? Obviously, we all make kitchen mistakes, and I’m still learning how to practically apply what I’ve known mostly as theory. That’s all understandable, isn’t it?

Let’s rewind to what THE WIFE walked into: I was 90 minutes into a 60 minute recipe, with another 30+ minutes of work to go. There was sauce all over the counter, the floor, and the cook. I was raging.  None of these are conditions I wish to have happen.  As Head Of Operations at THE MANOR, my job is to have a clean and efficient household under control.  Instead, I had a mess, and it was particularly galling since I had spent most of the morning cleaning the hardwoods and the kitchen floors.

I was upset because I was failing to meet my own expectations. I’m still working against myself and the voice in my head that tells me that I’m failing if I can’t show how much I’ve accomplished and how much better things are around the house with me at home. Once again, I’m battling the desire to say “Look at me! Look at all I can get done!”

So this will be an interesting thing to focus on and come to grips with. I think as time goes by I’ll learn that the only person with the high expectations for my time off is me.

Oh – and I’m heading out to the store in a bit to buy some tortillas and some enchilada sauce. No need to let some good chicken go to waste…



2 comments on “Enchilada Rage

  1. Excellent article. Written so well.
    All I can say is that similar has happened to me. I doubt I would have expressed it so well. Thanks, Tim!

  2. That is hysterical! I literally chuckled out loud a couple of times. Pressure cookers and I have a really bad relationship. I’m scared of them and refuse to even try to use one. You are a brave man Tim Alexander. Remind me to tell you the story of the turnip greens on the ceiling in the kitchen when we next gather for drinks.

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