Vegetables Every Day

Vegetables Every Day
Carrot Tarator with Beets

Saturday, December 29, 2018

New Toy: Breville Pressure Cooker

Did you get a pressure cooker for Christmas?   I got one last year, and still have mixed feelings.   It is a pain to get out, set-up, and clean, but it does a few things very well:

1. Make broth.   You get broths that are full of gelatin in about 2 hours.
2. Braise meats, especially chuck roast for barbacoa or stew.  Also handy to cook up chicken legs.
3. Hard cook eggs, because they peel easy.   Every time.
4. Cook beans... just be aware there is a lot of variation in cooking time.
5. Cook grains, although I haven't played with this much. 

The biggest misconception about the pressure cookers is that they will get dinner on the table quickly.  Just because the cooking time for beans might be 10 minutes, that doesn't mean dinner will be on the table in a half hour.   To cook a pot (1 lb) of beans, it takes a 25 minutes or so to get up to pressure, 20 minutes to cook, then at least another 45 plus minutes to depressurize... all of the sudden, you are looking at an hour and a half, which is about how long it takes to cook beans on the stove.  The advantage is that its totally hands off cooking, no waiting for it to come to a boil, turning down to simmer and on my stove, getting frustrated because you can't maintain a slow simmer.  And sometimes you can depressurize more quickly, although this is not recommended for beans, or anything that might have a layer of fat on top (like braised meat).

One other thing I'm still working on is the cooking time.  Most recipes have cooking times that are just too long.    I have a Breville Fast-Slow Pro, not an Instapot like everyone else, I am guessing that it runs a bit higher pressure.  The good thing is the preset times are generally pretty good and help make a good guess to start, but beans are still a challenge.   The best reference I have found so far to cook beans is this page from Rancho Gordo...  it really gives you a feel on how different the times are for soaked vs. unsoaked, and for different varieties of beans.

I made this a couple of nights ago... and was really happy with the result.  Soaking the beans allows the beans to cook in the same time as the squash.  Seemed the perfect dish after all of the holiday meals. 

Winter Squash, Lima Bean and Kielbasa Soup (Firecooked)

This is a take on my beans and greens soup.  It comes out quite well in the pressure cooker, and this combination makes a very pretty soup.  If you don’t have a pressure cooker, it will cook just fine on the stove.

1 pound dry white lima beans

1 tablespoon olive oil 
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cubed
12 ounces smoked kielbasa, sliced (about ½” slices)
Pinch of red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 quart chicken broth
2 cups water

1 bunch collard greens, de-stemmed and chopped

Rinse the beans in a colander, then put into a large pot and cover (by a couple of inches) with water.  I use the cooking pot to do the soaking as to not get another bowl dirty.  They should soak at least 6 hours, but not more than 10 or so.  Drain the beans when ready to start the soup. 

In a pressure cooker, heat the oil on the sauté Setting.  Add onion, carrots, garlic.  Add the squash and Kielbasa as you get them chopped.  Add a bit of salt (the sausage is usually quite salty, so you don’t need much more) and the red pepper flakes.   When onions are translucent add the drained beans, broth and water.  Beans should be covered by a ½ inch or so of liquid.   Set to pressure cook using the bean setting (high pressure) for 5 minutes, and natural release (total cooking time on my cooker is about 1 hour 15 minutes).*  Check to make sure the beans are done, and the salt level is ok. Cook longer if needed.  Add the chopped greens.  Put on sauté function to bring back to a boil, turn off and let the greens cook for about 5 minutes.    Serve with a bit of black pepper.

* If you don’t have a pressure cooker, just simmer on the stove.  Guessing it will take about 1 ½ hours.. start checking after the first hour. 

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