Vegetables Every Day

Vegetables Every Day
Carrot Tarator with Beets

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Pressure Cooker Beef Stew

Merry Christmas!  Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday.   Also ... for those of you with my cookbook ... I am in the process of doing an update which includes my pressure cooker recipes (some that I have posted here, some that I haven't).  Drop me a line if you want one!

One of the things the pressure cooker excels at is cooking chuck roast... everytime I have cooked various recipes, the meat always comes out flavorful and tender.  I am not going to promote this recipe as "easy" ... even though I have simplified it from the "weeknight stew" recipe I used for inspiration, or quick ... even though it probably does cut an hour off the time it would take to cook on the stove.  But this does make a really, really good stew.  Serve to company good stew.

I took inspiration for this recipe from Serious Eats Pressure Cooker American Beef Stew, but short-cutted a couple of steps.   It could possibly be even better if you did the extra steps, but I'm happy with how this comes out. A couple of the key items I did keep in is adding gelatin to the store bought broth (if you had some great homemade chicken broth, you could skip this), as well as adding some high umami ingredients, like soy sauce, fish or Worcestershire sauce (the recipe calls for both, but I don't keep Worcestershire sauce in my pantry).   I also shortened the cooking time... I have found that a lot of the Serious Eats pressure cooker times are just way too long for the Breville pressure cooker.  I think the Breville's cook at a bit higher pressure, so if you are using a Instant Pot, look at the manual on their recommended cooking times.  And let me know how it works and I will update the recipe for both types of cookers!

On the beef:  you really want to use chuck roast (or chuck steaks).  Don't buy stew meat, this is often a mix of miscellaneous small bits of meat, that doesn't have the fat and tough connective tissue that nicely breaks down into tender meat under pressure. One of the twists on this recipe is doing the browning of the meat while in steak form, as it keeps from drying out the meat while still getting the nice brown flavor.

And one last note:  if you like to just have stew for 2, make a batch of the meat but instead of adding the potatoes and carrots, cool down the pot, then split the meat and gravy into 3 1 quart containers (or freezer zip lock bags).   Refrigerate (to store for a couple of days) or freeze each of these.  When you are ready for stew, put the mixture (thaw first if frozen) into a medium pot.  Add a couple of chopped potatoes and carrots, cook on the stovetop until the potatoes and carrots are done (about 45 minutes).  That is a quick and easy meal!

Beef Stew

Serves 5-6… I usually figure about 1/2 pound of meat per person.  

2 - 3 lb beef chuck roast
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons oil or fat (like olive oil)
Generous ¼ cup flour

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 packets powdered unflavored gelatin (1 ounce)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce or Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste (optional)
1 teaspoon dry or fresh thyme or other herb (rosemary, oregano, Italian herbs)

8 ounces mushrooms (brown cremini or white button), quartered
1 large onion, chopped
2 - 3 ribs celery, sliced 
2 - 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup wine (white or red, or use more broth)

6 carrots, peeled and sliced
4 - 6 potatoes, cubed (peel if desired)
More fresh herbs (parsley, etc.)

Cut meat into steak-like pieces, each 1 to 1 ½ inches thick.  Salt the meat.  Heat the oil in pressure cooker using sear function.  Brown each side of the meat (do in single layer batches), and place on large plate to cool.   Meanwhile, mix the broth, gelatin, sauces and thyme in a large measuring cup.  If you would like, heat a bit in the microwave to get to pressure quicker. Set aside.  

Put mushrooms, onions, celery, and garlic into the hot cooker.  Add salt and pepper.  Let cook until onions are translucent.   Add wine; scrape any bits from the bottom.  Let the wine cook down by half.   

Cut the meat into 1 – 1 ½ inch cubes, removing any large chunks of fat.  Toss with flour.  Add the meat to the pot then then add the broth mixture.  Pressure cook using the “chili and stew” setting for 20 minutes (10.5psi, quick pressure release).   When complete, add carrots and potatoes then use “vegetable” setting for 8 minutes (7.5psi, pulse pressure release).  Serve with additional fresh herbs.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Pressure Cooker Chicken

Still trying to figure out what to cook in the pressure cooker you got last Christmas? Or decide if this is the year your get one?   I've had one for a couple of years, and here are my inputs:
  • They take up a considerable amount of storage space, and are a pain to assemble and clean.
  • They do a few things very well:  broth, braised meats, beans.  This includes many soups, stews, and chili.  They do a good job on rice, although I'm guessing a rice cooker does a better job. 
  • They can operate unattended.  I have really come to appreciate this feature.
  • I have a Breville, not the more popular Instapot.  Most recipes are written for Instapots, and my guess is the Breville operates at a bit higher pressure, so it cooks faster.  A good thing, except you have to be prepared to adjust cooking times.  Fortunately the Breville manual provides a good reference.   With either version, there is some guess work... you can't just check every so often to see if things are done, you have to wait until the cycle is complete. 
I routinely use the pressure cooker to cook chicken meat  .. not a whole meal, just chicken to go into a variety of things, like salad, or sandwiches, or a queso, plus a bonus bit of stock. I don't make homemade broth often, but when I do, I use the pressure cooker.  Good homemade broth is essential for risotto, and turkey stock is essential for Thanksgiving dinner.

Chicken legs cooked in the pressure cooker come out as shredded meat, which suits me just fine in most things that call for cooked, diced chicken breasts.   I normally just do one package of 4-5 chicken legs, but have done up to 3 packages.   It's not necessary to add more water for more legs, but you can if you want extra broth.  This also makes great taco meat... in which case I add some chili and cumin to the cooker.

Chicken Meat

Total cooker time ~ 45 minutes for one package of chicken.

1 – 4 pounds chicken legs and/or thighs (with bones and skin) 

½ onion, coarsely chopped
1 carrot (optional), coarsely chopped
1 stalk of celery (optional), coarsely chopped
Salt (about ½ teaspoon), pepper to taste
1 cup of water (can add a another cup of water if you want more broth)

Place everything in the cooker.   Pressure cook on the Poultry setting, (9 PSI, auto-pulse release) for 18-20 minutes.   When complete, remove chicken to cool.   Strain broth and let cool.   When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the chicken from the bones and shred, taking care to pull out and tendons and cartilage.    Refrigerate until ready to use. 

Chicken for Taco’s: 

Follow above recipe, but omit the carrot and celery.   Add a teaspoon or two of cumin, plus a teaspoon or two of chili powder (how much really depends on how hot the chili power is, how much chicken, and how spicy you like your food).    After shredding the chicken, refrigerate if not using immediately.  To serve, reheat, adding back enough broth to moisten.  

The pressure cooker is a big time saver for broth.  Even with the heat up and cool down, its under 2 hours, which no effort to find a "low simmer".  And the broth comes out really nicely gelled.  One of the keys to good broth is lots of bones relative the the amount of water... you should just cover the bones and vegetables with water.    This broth is the same recipe I published a few years ago, just cooked in the pressure cooker.

Chicken Broth

Chicken (or turkey) Backs, necks, giblets (from 1 or 2 chickens)...  optional: include the skin (I do)
and/or  Roast chicken carcass (Again, 1 - 2 chickens worth)
1 large carrot, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced (optional)
A sprig or two of parsley (optional)
1 to 1 1/2 quarts of water
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Put everything in a pressure cooker (no need to thaw chicken parts if they are frozen).  Add just enough water to cover. Pressure cook using the Stock function (1 hour, high pressure). When done, using tongs, pull out the big chunks and discard.  Strain the remainder into a large bowl.   You can either use the broth right away (and I don't bother to skim the fat), or chill.  The best way to rapidly cool is to put the bowl in a sink of cold water (adding ice makes it quicker).  When down to room temperature, cover the bowl and into the fridge. After its cold, skim the fat (which can be used to to saute some potatoes or fry eggs). The broth will gel up when its cold. Store up to 3 days in the fridge, or to freeze, put broth (in 2-4 cup quantities) in 1 quart freezer ziploc's.