9/24/16

0 Pressure Cooker Mom's Sunday Pot Roast and Veggies



Are you having a hard time perfecting pot roast? Does it come out perfect one time and tough and chewy the next?

Every Sunday, my mom would make either fried chicken or a pot roast in the electric frying pan. She was the one who taught me as a young girl how to make the perfect gravy. The dark, crusty bits the roast left behind made for the BEST gravy ever.

However, bless my mamma's heart, sometimes the roast would be dry and chewy. No amount of gravy would change the texture. It seemed like I would chew on one bite for.....e......ver.....

Making pot roast the traditional way in the oven takes a long time, three or four hours, depending on the size of the roast, but the payoff is a moist, tender, melt in your mouth roast.  I wanted to know how I can take my mom's pot roast and make it better, easier and faster in the pressure cooker.

I went through several roasts, weighed them, timed them and could not get consistent results. I was baffled.

I read somewhere that I should be using the thickness of the roast to determine my cooking time.
Hip Pressure Cooking has great timing charts for just about everything. Her suggestion is to cook a beef roast for 75 minutes with a natural release. She doesn't mention weight or thickness.

Lorna Sass, of Pressure Perfect, lists BOTH weight and thickness for a boneless chuck roast, more than 2" thick, 2.5 pounds for 35-45 minutes with a full natural release.

Then America's Test Kitchen came out with their book, Pressure Cooker Perfection and in this book, they have 2 different pot roast recipes. One method takes 90 minutes, and the other recipe 30 minutes of cooking time, both with a 15 min natural release, not a full one.  Really? What's the difference?

The shorter cooking method cuts the cooking time by 2/3rds and has the meat already portioned into serving sizes.  Genius, I tell you!

ATK'S method made the most sense to me. When I cook veggies, they cook best if they are uniform in size. Why not for chuck roast? Cutting 2" slices against the grain levels the playing field so to speak and makes for a tender and moist chuck roast. It was simple to adapt their technique to my mom's recipe, cooking a roast under pressure for 30 min!

Chuck roast is the meat of choice for pressure cooking as it is not as lean and won't have a tendency to dry out as easily as other cuts. Start out with a 2.5 - 3 pound chuck roast.

1. Trim off any large sections of fat. This helps keep the gravy from being too oily.




2. Cut your roast against the grain into 2" strips.  Cut out any connective tissue you may find.  The connective tissue is what takes a longer cook time to break down in the meat, and you will shave off cooking time by doing so.


3. Season your beef strips with salt, pepper, and any spices of your choosing.

My mom used Season-All. It's a great all purpose seasoning that works well with beef.

4. Choose the browning setting or on the Instant Pot pressure cooker, select SAUTE, then the ADJUST button once till you see MORE light up.

When the display says, "HOT,"  put 1 Tablespoon of cooking oil into your pressure cooker. When your oil is shimmering, you are ready to brown your meat.


5. Place only a few pieces of meat into the pan. You don't want to crowd the pan with too much cold meat and reduce the cooking temp.

Resist the urge to flip the meat until you begin to see a dark brown sear on your meat.





Brown all sides and set aside your browned meat until all the pieces have browned.

See that beautiful brown color?  That's flavor. You do not want to skip this step, trust me. It's worth it!


6. Turn your pressure cooker off. Pour your broth mixture carefully into your pan. What we are doing now is "deglazing" or taking off the crusty, stuck on bits on the bottom of your pan.  If you do not scrape this bits (fond), your pressure cooker will think food is burning and the safety features will kick in, shut your pressure cooker down and not allow it to come to pressure.



Using a flat edge spatula (wooden or metal) will help you scrape the bits off easier.


7. Put your browned meat into the pressure cooker, lock the lid, set the valve to sealing, for 30 minutes, HIGH pressure. After it is done cooking, you will want it to naturally release its pressure (NPR) for 15 minutes, then open the pressure valve. (Quick Release)

I like to add onion for some additional flavor. They will pretty much disintegrate, but that's ok with us.



8. While your chuck is cooking, begin prepping your veggies. Baby carrots or regular carrots cut into 2" lengths are perfect.

Wash, peel, and cut your potatoes into 2" slices or chunks. The more uniform your veggies are cut, the more likely they will all cook the same. If some pieces are bigger, they may be crunchy. If they are cut too small, they will get mushy. Just do your best. :-)

I am enjoying this steamer basket. It makes getting my veggies out of the pressure cooker so much easier. It comes with handles and if you bend them up or break them off, the basket will fit perfectly in your 6qt pressure cooker.



9.  When your roast is done with the 15 min natural release, take the meat/onions out and put it on a plate. Cover it with foil to keep it warm.

**Next, you will want to put your entire lid into the fridge or run it under cold water for a couple of minutes to firm up the silicone seal inside the lid. During high heat, the seal softens, loosens and can cause sealing problems with your next batch of cooking.**

You will need to do this every time you do back-to-back cooking. You will want a good seal for cooking your veggies, as they will only need 5-6 minutes of cooking time.

10.  Put your cut veggies in a steamer basket, directly into the hot broth. Close the lid, set the valve to sealing, and select HIGH pressure for 5-6 minutes with a quick release of pressure when the cooking is done.  Open the lid and remove the strainer basket of veggies. Cover and set aside.

If you want to make gravy, it will only take an extra 10 minutes of time. Ready? Let's do it!

11. Mix equal parts all purpose flour and softened butter, till it forms a thick paste. Drop this into the meat broth and quickly whisk it smooth. I love the richness butter gives gravy since I'm not using the traditional method of making it with the browned bits or in the pan.



**If you didn't trim off a lot of fat off your meat prior to cooking, you will want to skim off the fat or pour it into a gravy fat separator. After the fat rises to the top, pull out the plug and pour the broth back into the pan.**

12. Turn the pressure cooker to browning or SAUTE MORE mode. Stir continuously (so the gravy won't burn on the bottom of the pan) till the gravy begins to bubble and thicken to your desired consistency.



Enjoy your creation!


I hope you will use these tips and techniques to perfect your favorite family roast recipe in your pressure cooker.

Thanks, mom. I love you!

MOM'S SUNDAY POT ROAST & VEGGIES
(4x6 recipe download)    (Full page printable recipe)

9/19/16

0 Pressure Cooker One Pot Meat Spaghetti


Here is a simple one pot spaghetti recipe that will help you make your week nights a little bit easier. After a long day at work, the last thing you want to do is boil a pot of water, add the spaghetti, wait for it to boil over, clean up the mess, warm up the jarred pasta sauce, drain the pasta, and then realize..

Your ground beef is frozen.

Ugh.

Pressure Cooker to the rescue!

I had heard many stories of clumpy spaghetti, burned on pasta and sauce in the pot, the pot not coming to pressure and the pasta dish tasting, well... bland.

I had success with my Homestyle Mac N Cheese recipe, and thought, "Why not make a meat and tomato based recipe?" So, learning from others and using my Mac N Cheese recipe, plus my cooking experience, I came up with this method. You can use any jarred sauce and the little bit of work to brown the meat and season your dish will be worth the extra effort. I promise!

Since this was the very first time making this recipe, I didn't want to screw up a whole pound of ground beef, an entire bottle of pasta sauce,  you catch my drift.

Halving a recipe is my way of testing it out to make sure it will work. If you are single or an empty nester, this method and recipe will work for you. You can halve just about any recipe for the pressure cooker as long as you keep the minimum amount of liquid necessary for your size of pressure cooker. The cooking times will remain the same.


This took me 20 min from start to finish, so you can have this ready and on the table in under 30 minutes!

Ok. Time's a wastin'! Let's go!

**Caution** This is NOT a dump recipe. Carefully measure your ingredients so you will have the most success! The post here is also HALF the recipe. The full printable recipe link is at the bottom of the post.**

I cut a one pound block of lean ground beef in half, so here's 8 oz of frozen solid ground beef, sitting on a trivet over 1/2 cup of water.


Close the lid, lock it, put the valve on sealing.
Select High Pressure (Manual) for 5 minutes.


At the end of 5 minutes, use a Quick release of pressure.

This thawed out the ground beef enough that I could break it up easily.

Next, you will want to BROWN your ground beef. Doing this will give your pasta dish extra flavor. You do not want the taste of "boiled" meat in your pasta.

Select SAUTE and ADJUST till you see MORE.

If your ground beef is super lean** (like mine was) add a tablespoon of oil to the bottom of the pan.

**If you are using a fattier ground beef, cook your beef first and brown it. Remove it and put it in a strainer over a bowl, pressing the meat to remove as much of the drippings as possible.

Return the meat to the pot and add 1 Tablespoon of the drippings back in.



This is the time to add diced onion, chopped garlic and any spices you want. We are not an onion/chunky type eating family, so I opted for onion powder and Italian seasoning.
Adding your dry spices with the oils in the pan will boost their flavors. Red pepper flakes, anyone?

Now you may be asking WHY add spices? Well, your tomato pasta sauce may taste great, but can get watered down during the cooking process and absorbed by the pasta. Browning your ground beef and adding some extra seasonings like basil, oregano, and garlic will boost the flavors and keep it from tasting "meh."


Okay.



Now you've got all these crusty bits stuck on the bottom of your pan. There's a fancy schmancy word for it (deglazing the fond) but I'll just call it "removing the crusty bits." They are FULL of flavor.

Take your pot out of the cooker and throw in exactly 1 cup of water.
Use a flat spatula to scrape off the brown bits. Keep those bits....don't toss 'em out!


Next, you will want to use the right amount of pasta. Since I'm halving the recipe, I will need 4 ounces of pasta. Lucky for me, I have a digital scale, but if you need to eyeball it, here's what 4 ounces of spaghetti look like.

Break the spaghetti in half and toss it into the crusty brown bit water.

Give it a quick stir. I can see little dots of oil on top of the water.

That is good. The oil, plus stirring, will help keep your pasta from sticking or clumping together.


Next, dump your cooked meat in the center of the pot.

DO NOT STIR!


Pour 1 cup of your favorite pasta sauce on top. Pour it in the very CENTER of the pot. You want the liquid water in the bottom to be able to steam and bring your pot to pressure.

DO NOT STIR!  (I apologize for yelling.....)


Close the lid, put the valve on sealing, and set the pressure to HIGH (Manual) for 4 minutes.

That's it. You're done.

Put your feet up and relax. Get the kids to set the table.

For some of you, this may be the hardest part.

Why? Because you can't see it cooking.  Pressure cooking is a lot like baking.

Put everything together, throw it in the oven.

And pray.

Will it burn on the bottom?

Will the pasta clump together?

Will the sauce be watery?

Will it taste bland?

At the end of the 4 minutes, do a Quick release of pressure.

Open the lid....


Ta Da!


Tomato sauce is one of the big enemies of pressure cooking. Why? Because sauce that is thick or has flour, cornstarch, or most grains get uber hot at the bottom of the pot and start to burn.

When food starts to burn, the pressure cooker safety features kick in and your pressure cooker may say "OverHeat," start counting down, or simply shut off.

Even with the pasta on the bottom, there was enough water to protect it from sticking.

Swirl it around in the pot and you will see it begin to thicken. The pasta has absorbed all the flavors of the browned meat, bloomed spices, and sauce. It is perfect!



Your prayers have been answered!

Enjoy!

PC ONE POT MEAT SPAGHETTI
(4x6 recipe download)    (Full Page Printable Recipe)



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