Tag Archives: pressure cooker

New England Boiled Dinner

New England Boiled DinnerJust what constitutes New England Boiled Dinner depends on whom you ask. Some insist that it corned beef with cabbage and potatoes; others say that it is made with uncured brisket. Some add carrots to the mix. My version, which is the way my Connecticut-born-and-raised mother made it, uses brisket with potatoes, carrots, and onions all served with horseradish sour cream. Naturally, the best way cook this is the old fashioned way—on the back burner of the stovetop for 2 or 3 hours. I used my trusty pressure cooker that cut the total time to about an hour. You can save a few more minutes by bringing the water to a boil while preparing the mirepoix.

Note: I made this recipe with a one pound piece of brisket that I had left over from breaking down a whole brisket for corned beef. It serves two generously. A typical supermarket cut of brisket weighs 2½ to 3 pounds so you will have to adjust the amount of vegetables and cooking time accordingly—I suggest 45 to 50 minutes for the meat.


  • Olive oil
  • ½ carrot, peeled and diced
  • ½ celery stalk, diced
  • ½ large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 pound piece of beef brisket, well trimmed (see note)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 peppercorns
  • Water, about 2 to 3 cups
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 small firm potatoes, halved or quartered
  • 6 small boiling onions, peeled but left whole
  • Salt and pepper


Film the bottom of the pressure cooker with the oil and sauté the carrot, celery, and onion for about 5 minutes or until somewhat softened. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. (You can skip this step if you are in a hurry.)

Put the meat on top of the vegetables in the pressure cooker and add the spices. Pour in enough water to just cover the meat. Cook at high pressure for 30 minutes. Release the pressure according to manufacturers instruction. Remove the meat and set aside. Strain the cooking liquid into a bowl.

Put the carrots, potatoes, and onions into the pressure cooker. Season with salt and pepper. Put meat on top of the vegetables and pour the broth in—it should cover the vegetables, if not, add a bit more water. Cook on high pressure for 8 to 10 minutes. Release the pressure, open, and serve topped with horseradish sour cream.

Smoked Picnic Ham

First, let us clear up a bit of linguistic confusion. A picnic ham is not a ham at all but comes from the front leg of the animal. Sometimes it is called a pork shoulder but that is often incorrect as well since small picnic hams, the ones with two bones in them, come from forearm. To confuse things even more picnic hams are sometimes called Boston butts.  Compared to real ham a picnic ham generally is less expensive and contains more fat. Perhaps because my roots are in New England where picnic hams are especially popular I favor them for their smaller size and excellent soup bones. The one I prepared today was from Camillia Foods in Buffalo who call it callie ham, a term that seems to be of African American orgin. Their ham is salt and sugar cured then hardwood smoked with no added water (many supermarket hams are labeled “ham and water product” and contain 15% or more water).

The producer of the smoked picnic I cooked recommends boiling it or boiling then baking. I chose the latter course with a twist. I cooked it first in my pressure cooker for 30 minutes (after using a hacksaw to remove a bit of bone so that it would fit). That brought it to about 100° and seemed to really seal in the juices. I finished it in a 375° convection oven on a rack over a baking pan into which I poured the water from the pressure cooker, about 2½ cups (I had to add another cup about half way through bakiing). Before baking I removed the skin from the ham and scored the fat. When the ham reached an internal temperature of 145° I shut off the oven and left the ham in it until it reached the recommended 160°. I served it with a baked sweet potato and brussels sprouts.

In a couple days, when the meat is mostly gone, I will use the bone to make pea soup. Watch for the recipe.

Mexican-Style Pot Roast

Pot roast may not be authentically Mexican but Mexican-style seasonings make a wonderful pot roast. This recipe is based very loosely on a recipe for Jalisco-style braised lamb from Rick Bayless’ Mexican Everyday (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2005). I say very loosely because while his recipe uses bone-in lamb and a slow cooker, I use beef eye round and a pressure cooker. But since I copied his marinade I thought it only right to acknowledge the source. (That cookbook, by the way, is an excellent resource if you like healthy, full-flavored food.) The basic technique for cooking pot roast in a pressure cooker comes from the recipe book that came with my Cuisinart CPC-600 electric pressure cooker (an appliance I heartily recommend). Incidentally, this recipe scales up nicely. Just remember to increase the cooking time as well as the amount of marinade.


  • 8 or so cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 3 Tbsp. chile powder (see recipe below or use commercial ancho powder)
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 1 cup brown stock (beef or lamb) or water
  • 1¾ pound piece of beef eye round
  • Kosher salt
  • Oil
  • 4 small red or gold potatoes, about 1 pound
  • 1 Tbsp. butter (optional)


Heat a dry 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the unpeeled garlic and roast, turning frequently, until soft and blackened in spots, about 5 minutes. (They will cook faster if you put them under a weight such as another skillet or a steak press.) Set aside until cool enough to handle then peel.

Put the peeled garlic into a food processor and pulse to chop. Scrape the sides of the jar and add the chile powder, cumin, pepper, vinegar, and ½ cup of the stock. Pulse to combine then set aside.

Return the skillet to high heat. Season the meat with kosher salt. Film the pan lightly with oil and brown the meat well on all sides. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes total. Place the meat into the pressure cooker and cover with the marinade. Pour the remaining ½ cup of stock around the meat. Close the pressure cooker and set to high pressure for 40 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally, i.e. do not vent the pressure vessel.

Scrub the potatoes and cut in 1-inch pieces. When the pressure cooker unlocks, open it and put the potatoes around the meat. Reclose and cook at high pressure for another 8 minutes. Again, let the pressure release naturally.

Remove the meat and potatoes to a platter and keep warm. Pour the cooking liquid into a saucepan or, as I did, the skillet I browned the meat in. Boil the liquid down over high heat until it is syrupy. Stir in the butter if using. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt if needed.

To serve, divide the potatoes into shallow bowls, put a generous slice of the meat on top and nap with the sauce.

Chile Powder

Heat a dry cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When hot put in about 1½ ounces of assorted dried chiles, I use ancho, pasilla, guajillo, morita, and árbol, 2 or 3 of each. (For a milder powder omit the morita and árbol chiles.) Toast for about 30 seconds per side until fragrant but not burned. Remove from the skillet and allow to cool a bit.  When cool enough to handle, remove the stems from the chiles and break them up into a food processor. Chop for a minute or so to a coarse powder then finish in a coffee grinder set aside for spices. You should have about ½ cup of chile powder.

Chole (2)

This tasty chickpea curry, also known as chana masala or chana dal, is popular in northern India where it is often sold by street vendors and eaten with fried bread called bhature.  It is also very good served simply over basmati rice as a vegetarian entrée or as an accompaniment to other Indian dishes.

This recipe is an update to one I posted in early November before I bought my Cuisinart electric pressure cooker. The technique I use is similar to the one I used to make pressure cooker cowboy beans. The idea is to use the pressure cooker to partially cook the beans then add flavoring and return to the pressure cooker to finish. In this case I use the simmer function of the pressure cooker for the second step. Total time from dry beans to dinner is under an hour. You could use canned chickpeas. If so, simply skip the first part of the recipe and go easy on the salt. If you do not have a pressure cooker and want to start with dried chickpeas allow for double the cooking time.


  • 12 ounces dried chickpeas
  • 2 large Indian bay leaves or 4 small Turkish ones
  • ½ tsp. turmeric
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 medium onions, about 1 pound
  • 1 14.5-ouncs can juice-pack diced tomatoes
  • 6 or 7 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
  • 2 Tbsp. grated ginger or ginger paste
  • 2 Tbsp. oil or ghee
  • 10 cloves
  • 8 green cardamoms
  • ½ tsp. whole black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. or to taste Indian red chili (mirch) powder (or cayenne; do not use Mexican-style chili powder)
  • ½ tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • Fresh coriander leaves to garnish
  • Method

Rinse the chickpeas and put into the pressure cooker along with 6 cups of water. Cook on high (15 psi) for 30 minutes. Release the pressure and open the pressure cooker according to manufacturer’s instructions and drain the chickpeas, reserving the cooking liquid.

Chop the garlic in a food processor or blender for a few seconds then add the ½ of the onions, tomatoes, garlic, and ginger and reduce to a smooth paste, adding a bit of water if needed. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a thick-bottomed pan over medium heat. If you use a non-stick pan do not cut down on the oil. It is needed to form the curry base. Fry the bay leaves, cloves, cardamom, and peppercorns for about 30 seconds. Add the sliced onion and fry until light golden, about 8 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, cardamoms, and as many of the cloves as you can find. Add the onion-tomato paste to the pan and fry till the oil begins to separate from the paste, another 10 minutes or so. Sprinkle on the coriander, cumin, chili powder, turmeric, and garam masala powders and fry for 5 minutes or until the mixture has thickened and darkened somewhat. Do not rush this stage of preparation because getting the base well concentrated is the key to a good curry.

If your pressure cooker has a simmer function, return the chickpeas to it. Otherwise put them into a large pot. Add the curry base and enough of the bean cooking liquid to cover. Simmer, uncovered, for at least 10 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. (If using canned chickpeas discard the liquid in the can and use fresh water.)  Season with salt to taste.

Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot with Indian breads or rice.

Chili con Carne

The taxonomy of chili is always a matter of contention. While Chili con Carne, literally peppers with meat in Spanish, is the inclusive term for what is usually called chili, in my experience the longer name usually refers to a stew containing beef, peppers, beans, and tomatoes. Texas chili, on the other hand, contains no beans and often no tomatoes while Cincinnati chili contains tomatoes but no beans. Some claim that authentic Texas chili uses cubed meat; Cincinnati chili, ground meat. This recipe based on ground beef with kidney beans is pretty much what I remember my mother making when I was a boy so I supposed you could call it New England chili. Whatever you call it this is a tasty warming dish perfect for a cold winter night.


  • 1 pound dry red kidney beans (or 3 15-ounce cans, drained, plus water)
  • 8 quarts cold water
  • Vegetable oil (see instructions)
  • 2 pounds ground beef (I use ½ sirloin and ½ eye round)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper or 2 Anaheim peppers, chopped
  • 2 jalapeño chiles, chopped (optional but recommended)
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 3 Tbsp. chili powder, preferably homemade
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Rinse dry beans and pick over for any discolored ones or small stones. Place in the pressure cooker with the 8 quarts of water. Cook at high pressure for 20 minutes, timing from when the cooker reaches full pressure. Allow to cool for 10 minutes then open according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Drain the beans reserving the cooking liquid. (If you do not have a pressure cooker simply double the cooking time.)

Film a large non-stick skillet with oil, set over medium heat and, working in batches, brown the meat. Set aside.

Heat a large, cast iron Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When hot add about 1 Tbsp. of oil and cook the onion, pepper, and jalapeños until softened. Add the garlic and tomatoes. Cook for about 1 minute then stir in the chili powder, cumin, and vinegar.  Put the meat and beans in the pot along with enough of the reserved cooking liquid to just cover. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, uncovered. Cook for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally, and adding a bit more bean cooking liquid or water as needed. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve with chopped onions, chopped pickled jalapeños, shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese, sour cream, and perhaps a piece of corn bread.

Cowboy Beans

Pot beans, i.e. beans cooked on top of the stove instead of baked in the oven, are a staple of Mexican cooking and in many other cuisines they show up in various guises from Cajun red beans and rice to Brazilian fejoada. The traditional method of preparing the beans calls for an overnight soaking and long simmering making them something less than a spur of the moment dish. Enter the pressure cooker. With it you can go from a bag of dried beans to a tasty meal in less than an hour including preparation time. Just add a grain like rice or corn, some vegetables, and perhaps a bit of meat for a balanced, nutritious dish. And a pressure cooker, especially an electric one, is energy efficient. What’s not to like?

Every pressure cooker comes with a list of cooking times for various beans. And if all you want to do is cook some beans that list will serve. But I found with a bit of experimentation that producing an outstanding bean dish takes a bit more work. In the traditional simmered version one sautés meat and vegetables as a flavor base for the beans. You could do that in a pressure cooker as well but I found that the vegetables lose their texture when cooked that long at high temperature. Also, cooking the beans with salt for the entire time tends to toughen them. So I split the pressure cooking into two stages: the first with the beans alone; the second with the flavorings and seasonings. The process goes like this for Mexican cowboy beans:


  • 1 pound dried pinto beans
  • 4 ounces slab or thick-sliced bacon, diced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 medium bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño chile, minced (optional but recommended)
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt


Rinse the beans and pick over for any small stones or discolored beans. Place in the pressure cooker and cover with 8 quarts of cold water. Cook at high pressure (15 psi) for 15 minutes timing from when the cooker reaches full pressure. At the end of the cooking release the pressure according to manufacturer’s instructions and drain the beans reserving the cooking liquid.

While the beans are cooking render the bacon in a frying pan over medium-high heat for a few minutes then add the onions and peppers. Turn the heat down a bit, to medium, and sauté until the vegetables are softened. Add the garlic, tomatoes, and seasonings. Cook for another 2 or 3 minutes until well combined.

(If you are making rice as an accompaniment put it on now.)

Return the beans to the pressure cooker along with the meat and vegetables. Stir to mix well. Pour in enough reserved cooking liquid to just barely cover the beans. Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes, again timing from when the cooker reaches full pressure. Since pressure cookers vary you may need to lengthen this cooking a bit.  At the end of the cooking time allow you can either release the pressure right away or let it sit for a few minutes.

Pork and Potatoes with Guajillo-Ancho Sauce

For Christmas my wife Glenda presented me with Rick Bayless’ Mexican Everyday (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2005). It is a lovely cookbook with simple, authentic recipes. This dish is rather loosely adapted from that book with full apologies to Mr. and Mrs. Bayless. For one thing, the original recipe calls for 6 hours of cooking in a slow cooker or braising in a Dutch oven for 3 hours. Not having a slow cooker or the 3 hours to use my Dutch oven I went to the opposite extreme and prepared the dish in my electric pressure cooker. For another, I did not have any pork shoulder roast as specified in the recipe so I used meat from the fattier end of the loin. And I made roughly a half recipe, adjusting the amount of water to ensure that it did not dry out. Except for that, it is the same dish—sort of. But then Mr. Bayless urges his readers to be creative; I hope he would approve.


  • 12 ounces firm boiling potatoes, about 3 medium
  • 12 ounces pork loin cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 or 4 dried guajillo chiles, about ½ ounce, stemmed
  • 2 dried ancho chiles, about ½ ounce, stemmed
  • 1 small morita chile, stemmed and seeded, optional (this is a hot chile)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, about ¾ cup
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup water


Scrub the potatoes and cut into 6 or 8 wedges depending on their size. Place in the pressure cooker vessel then add the pork.

To reduce the heat, remove the seeds from the chiles (optional). Heat a dry cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and toast first the guajillo then the ancho chiles for 10 to 15 seconds per side or until they are fragrant but not smoking. Remove the chiles to a blender and pulverize them. Add the garlic, oregano, Worcestershire sauce, tomatoes, salt, and water to the blender jar. Puree on high speed until very smooth. Pour over the meat and potatoes. Stir to combine.

Cook at high pressure for 15 minutes, timed from when the pressure cooker comes to full pressure. Release the pressure according to manufacturer’s instructions. If the sauce seems thin, strain the dish into a large pot and boil down the liquid. Add the meat and potatoes to the pot, stir to warm through, check the seasoning, and serve.

Pot Roast

This should properly be called “Pressure Cooker-Assisted Pot Roast” because it is not cooked entirely in that vessel. There are many recipes for pot roast that call for the meat and vegetables to simply be dumped into the pressure cooker but for my taste that leaves the vegetables over done and the meat somewhat flat tasting. So I use the pressure cooker to save some time and energy but bracket its use with more conventional cooking techniques. The result is every bit as good as a roast cooked for hours in the oven but ready an hour or so sooner.

A note on the meat to use: chuck is perhaps the most common cut of beef used for pot roast and is certainly a tasty choice. However it is somewhat fatty. I prefer to look farther aft on the beast and use round. My favorite is eye round because it is very lean and inexpensive. I buy a whole eye of round and trim off the excess fat yielding six to seven pounds of lean meat for around $3 a pound. Then I portion it into steaks, roasts, cubes, and ground beef depending on my fancy and freeze whatever I will not be using within a few days.


  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 large stalk celery
  • 1 large or 2 medium carrots
  • 3 or 4 pounds of eye round
  • Kosher salt
  • Oil
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, mashed, no need to peel
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ cups beef stock (more or less depending on what the manufacturer of your pressure cooker recommends)
  • Potatoes, carrots, onions, and/or other vegetables to taste
  • Prepared horseradish to serve


First make the mirepoix: coarsely chopped the onions, celery, and carrot then mince in a food processor. You will strain these from the cooking liquid later so they do not need to look good.

Pat the meat dry with paper towels and season with kosher salt. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high to high heat giving it time to get really hot. Pour in oil to coat the bottom by about ⅛ inch. Just as the oil begins to smoke put in the meat and brown for 2 or 3 minutes on each side. Do not be tempted to rush this process. Deep browning is essential to a rich, beefy flavor.

While you are browning the meat, sauté the mirepoix in a bit of oil in the pressure cooker. When it is softened add the garlic, bay leaves, and black pepper to taste. When the meat is well browned put it atop the vegetables and add the stock. Cook on high (15 psi) for 15 minutes per pound after the cooker comes to pressure.

Preheat oven to 325°. Release the pressure according to the manufacturer’s instructions and open the pressure cooker. Remove the meat to large Dutch oven. Strain the cooking liquid into a large bowl or a de-fatting pitcher and let sit for the fat to separate while you prepare the vegetables.  Add the liquid back to the pot with meat and vegetables, place in the oven, covered, and cook until the vegetables are done, about 20 minutes.

Place the meat on a platter and surround with the vegetables. Strain the cooking liquid into a bowl or gravy boat—or you can make gravy with it but I think that is gilding the lily, so to speak. Serve with horseradish and perhaps some sour cream.