Oh y’all I’m addicted… I have a serious obsession with my pressure cooker. I’ve been wanting one ever since I taught the pressure cooking class at Williams-Sonoma back in the fall! I finally got myself one and I’m in love with it. You can find one here. I sincerely wish I had one of these to give away to you, because they are seriously amazing… Maybe Cuisinart will hear my plea, and offer one up but no pressure (LOL pun totally unintentional but awesome so I’m keeping it)
These things are amazing. They cook food up to 70% faster that it would normally take to make this meal (i.e. this beef stew cooks in 15 minutes, as opposed to 3 hours in the oven! woahhh). I’ll talk more about how quick you can make things in the next section. These aren’t your typical run-of-the-mill pressure cookers that you remember from way back in the day that may or may not have exploded and gotten mashed potatoes all over the ceiling (Mom, I’m looking at you). This machine is fabulous. It has top of the line safety valves so the pressure cooker literally will NOT open if the pressure has not been released… trust me, I know, because I tried it (oops!) There is also a stove-top version but I like this one better for a few reasons:
(1) It’s ELECTRIC! (Like the slide… I just sang that in my head and I hope you did too)… no but seriously, that is a big plus because it takes up zero stove top space and I can be cooking something in the pressure cooker and also on the stove or in the oven (think Thanksgiving, and you will see how great it is that it doesn’t take up room on the stove… plus, 9 minute mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving… holla!)
(2) You can brown meat and saute vegetables in it before cooking (I will use these functions in the recipe below). In all fairness to the Fagor stove top, it can do this too, but I like that my electric one has buttons for it, and I don’t have to manage the heat level myself.
(3) It has a timer built in! So for example, I’ll be cooking the stew for 15 minutes. Well, all I have to do is set the timer for 15 minutes and it times itself! AND time doesn’t start counting down until the pressure has completely been reached, so you don’t have to worry about the pressure not being all the way reached when setting a timer! Amazing.
(4) There is a “keep warm” function and it automatically switches to “keep warm” when the timer runs down, so if you aren’t in the room, you don’t have to worry! Also, last time I made this stew (and this time too), Matt wasn’t going to eat it right away, so I was able to eat my dinner but also keep his warm and it was just as good when he ate it!
(5) There is a low-pressure and a high-pressure. This means nothing to me because I don’t know the difference, but the recipe book always says which one you need so that solves that problem! :) Sorry, I can’t profess to know everything.
(7) There is a quick-release valve, so you can release the pressure as soon as the timer goes off and then once the pressure is released fully (again it won’t open if there is still pressure) you can enjoy your quick meal!
(8) It looks like a mini R2D2 (okay that’s not so important, but I like that because it’s precious)
(9) It’s a sufficient size to cook a lot of food in, but it isn’t so big that it takes up an exorbitant amount of space… i.e. I bought this instead of a slow cooker for that exact reason)
(10) The inner pot is fabulous. It’s non-stick (but yet still somehow is capable of browning), it comes out for super easy cleanup, it provides me the ability to clean it up quick and make a one-pot meal (i.e. make chicken first, then risotto), and it has measurements in the pot so you can see how much you are adding etc.
Like I said above, the beauty of a pressure cooker is being able to make things that normally would take hours (or at least, a lot of minutes), very quickly.
Some fast faves:
Beef stew: 15 minutes (as opposed to hours in a slow cooker or dutch oven)
Braised Chicken: 10 minutes
Risotto: 9 minutes
Rice Pudding: 15 minutes
Artichokes: 8 minutes (versus 45 AFTER waiting for water to boil…sheesh!! I can’t tell you how many artichokes I’ve wasted because I don’t cook them because they wouldn’t be ready until after I’ve already eaten dinner… sorry Ms. Childs)
side note: Pressure cookers can also save you money because you can purchase less-expensive meat, as the pressure incinerates silver skin and excess fat, so you can use the less expensive cuts.
Now let’s dig in to the recipe, shall we? I adapted this from a couple different pressure cooker recipes for Beef/Lamb stew and added what I thought would taste good:
1-2 tsps. olive oil
1.5 lbs beef (stewing beef is best)
salt & pepper to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, sliced
1 leek, sliced
2 green onions, white and green parts, sliced
8-10 small red potatoes, cut into half or quarters (just try to make them all about the same size)
1 cup red wine (I used Pinot Noir)
2 TBSP tomato paste
1 cup beef broth
1 dried bay leaf
4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 cup frozen peas
Note: I highly recommend using tomato paste that is in a tube, because then you can use what you need, roll it up like toothpaste from the end, and store in the refrigerator. This is about 1000% times more convenient than buying tomato paste in the can, using 2 tablespoons of it and then trying to figure out how to keep the rest of it fresh. The one below was purchased at the Fresh Market.
Take the meat and sprinkle with salt and pepper
Turn the pressure cooker on to “Browning” and wait until it gets warm
Add the olive oil, and then in two batches brown the beef (this only takes a few minutes per batch…make sure you do this in batches, otherwise you will overcrowd the pot and end up steaming the meat…not ideal)
Set the browned meat aside on a plate
Next, switch the browning function off and switch to saute. If needed, add another teaspoon of olive oil (if the pot looks dry) and then saute the onions (regular not green), celery, and carrots. Saute these ingredients until soft, but not too brown, about 5 minutes or less.
Add in the red wine and stir, scraping brown bits off the bottom of the pot. When the liquid has reduced a bit (by about 1/3) add in the tomato paste and the bay leaf.
Lock the lid into place. Turn the setting onto “High Pressure” and set the timer for 15 minutes.
After the timer goes off, quick release the steam (see video below!)
Stir in the peas and let them quick cook for 1 minute before serving.
The Verdict: Buy one. You will thank me later. This stew is amazing. I ate it again the next day as leftovers and it was splendid. It is very much a “stew” though. If you are expecting a soup, then add more broth and wine.