Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Pressure-Cooker?

Anyone ever cooked with a pressure cooker? My grandmother had a brand new one in her closet that she refuses to use b/c she prefers her old, potentially blow the ceiling off the kitchen model (she's well into her 80's and doesn't trust new-fangled gadgets). Nevertheless, she sent the pressure-cooker with me to Augusta.

Being a fan of the braise and the slow-cooked meats, I was wondering if I could use the pressure cooker to make such a meal on a weeknight in an hour or so. First I tested the cooker by making some mashed potatoes...took all of 6 minutes for about 4 lbs to be fork tender...I liked that...so it was on to the meat. Not wanting to ruin short-ribs or any cut of pork, I decided to try a pot roast. I wanted an italian flair, so for my "braising" liquid I used a can of San Marzano tomato crushed by hand with the juices, a cup of Chianti, and a cup of chicken stock that I had soaked 1/2 oz dried porcini. Also had a sauteed onion and 2 ribs of celery in there for good measure. After that mixture had reduced a bit, I added about 4 lb 2 in cubed pot roast (browned in a separate pan while mixture reduced). Then it was time for the pressure part. I lowered the meat into the sauce, clamped on the lid and waited for the magic...I surmised 45 minutes should do the trick. After 20 minutes, I realized I had made a mistake. The kitchen began to smell of burnt sauce which I knew was scorching...I did not waiver however and waited the full 45 minutes before releasing the pressure. I took out the meat, which was damn near perfect. Falling apart, moist, juicy, delicious. The problem was about a 2 inch pile of burnt crap in the bottom of the cooker (I've been trying for 2 days to scrape off the bottom). I poured the unburnt portion of the sauce into another sauce pan and pureed with a stick blender. I served this concoction with simple roast potatoes, carrots, and garlic. It was good, but I fear I ruined the cooker. Wondering how to avoid the scorch???

2 comments:

og said...

I'm pretty sure my mom still has her pressure cooker, she really only used it for canning that I remember. If you'll listen to one of the food geek podcasts, he has a description of pressure cooker chili that he got from Alton Brown. He also goes into some trial and error with that. It's interesting to consider that as the braised dishes are so good, ET have to be careful of too high a temperature. Boulud advocates putting his braising dish in the oven to control the heat more evenly. That certainly would not be an issue with the pressure cooker although I doubt you could fit in your oven correct?

JW said...

Couldn't clean the damn thing. Now in the trash...