#TBT – Using Your Pressure Cooker

Welcome back to another Thowback Thursday!  Here is one of our most popular posts from the past. The pressure cooker has become one of Kayte’s most-used kitchen appliances, and several of our regular readers have invested in (and love!) one.  I recommend it highly for anyone who is cooking for a family and needs to be able to put a good meal together without spending a lot of prep time.

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What I Ate Last Week … Meals On The Cheap

While I absolutely love to take a meal out of my freezer and pop it into the pressure cooker or slow cooker and walk away, then come back to something hot and delicious…I do also really enjoy cooking. These BBQ ribs were pretty much the bomb. They were super easy. Pre-cooked in a pressure cooker, then broiled following Mrs. Vickie’s recipe. We ate them with some costco Cesar salad, and asparagus and butternut squash. . Both of these veggies came from my freezer stock pile, at less than $1 each! (and that is Why I Coupon).

I tend to save my freezer meals for crazy days, or when I am working, particularly since we have a baby coming. Menu planning works best, when there some predictability to your schedule. Between traveling, family visits, and pre-term labor scares, life has been far from predictable for me lately. That is when a stocked pantry and freezer, and the means to bulk buy comes in handy!

At the beginning of last week I stopped at Kroger, purchased some fresh groceries and stocked up on a fantastic meat deal: Pork Shoulder was only $1.99/lb. This was a great stock up price! I purchased two 8 lbs pork shoulders, but you’ll have to check back later to see what I did with it. I also got the rack of ribs at a great stock up price.

After this I stopped at Costco and purchased a Costco Rotisserie Chicken ($4.99) and a Prepackaged Cesar Salad ($8.99). I’ve already written about my love for the rotisserie chicken, though I often forget how much I really do love it until its in my possession. This wonderful blog post, breaks down the cost of making one’s own chicken vs costco chicken – honestly, the price and convenience can’t be beat! We had chicken salad sandwiches, chicken Cesar salad, chicken quesadillas. My kiddo had some quesadillas, and dipped chopped up chicken in BBQ sauce.We always have shredded Mexican cheese, BBQ sauce, sour cream, and tortillas on hand. This chicken fed two adults and a toddler for more than 3 meals! The salad was used for one of those meals, and a side for two others. We easily spent less than $5 a meal for all of those meals.

What To Do With Your Pressure Cooker (Part 2)

So you’ve succumbed to your (wiser) instincts and bought an electric pressure cooker. Perhaps you read my previous post about Why Everybody Should Own An Electric Pressure Cooker. Now what?

I completely understand how intimidating it can be (took me 4 days), but you must simply plug that bad boy in and just do it. These days I’ve become quite cavalier with my pressure cooker, and use it 2-3 times per week. Generally speaking, anything you can do in a slow cooker you can accomplish in a pressure cooker, but within minutes instead of hours. When in doubt, I will flip through Miss Vickie’s cookbook to find cooking times for a comparable dish. I find that many people vastly overestimate the time required, so having a reliable reference is invaluable. For example, I can cook 8-10 chicken breasts in only 5 minutes, maybe 8-10 minutes if frozen. Frozen ingredients don’t require much extra time because the pressure cooker only begins counting down once internal temperatures are adequate and it begins actual pressure cooking. So it will simply take a little longer reaching pressure in these cases.

A good example of how convenient this doohickey is: Last night we ate our first spaghetti and meatball meal from our previous freezer cooking session, and I was able to throw the partially thawed sauce and frozen (cooked) meatballs into my pressure cooker and cook for 3 minutes, resulting in boiling sauce and meatballs that had the flavors of the sauce literally “pushed” into them under pressure. I started the pressure cooker and boiling water for pasta at the same time, and it was able to get up to pressure and finish cooking by the time my pasta hit the strainer.

Here are a few of my favorite things to make in the pressure cooker.

Rio Chicken 

Chicken Tacquitos. Photo courtesy of SkinnyMs.

 

We featured this in our last freezer cooking session, and since then Rachaelle has made it for the first time and loved it enough that she made 5.5 lbs of it within 24 hours! I use frozen chicken thighs from Costco, simply dumping them in my InstantPot, then pouring the ingredients on top. Lock the lid in place, make sure the vent is pointing straight forward in the pressure position, push the “Meat” button, set the timer for 15 minutes, and walk away. When it’s done cooking, you can either let it depressurize naturally over about 10 minutes, or flip the vent. I like to shred the chicken and place it back in the broth for maximum flavor. The broth this produces is mind-blowing with a Mexican flair, and can be used in almost anything that calls for chicken broth. It is particularly tasty as the liquid base for rice. Zesty Italian dressing is not negotiable, and coming soon MaryP will be sharing her recipe for homemade Ranch Dressing seasoning for those of you who have the time and want to skip any artificial flavoring. I, alas, do not have the time, but I am completely willing to let her make and provide it! Our favorite way to eat Rio Chicken is as Skinny Tacquitos, which take all of 5 minutes to throw together. Dipped in sour cream….forget about it.

Chicken Broth

So easy, so fast, so delicious, so I-am-a-Domestic-Goddess-smell-my-house brag worthy. Rachaelle recently wrote a post about it. Browning the bones is key for making the broth’s flavor more intense, and adding 2 tablespoons of vinegar helps to leach the calcium from the bones so the broth is more nutritious, will gel when cold, and and make you attain the status of Domestic Goddess. This broth is obviously wonderful in any recipe, but other uses include making dried beans, soup, or rice.

Rachaelle’s frozen 1 oz. chicken broth cubes

Carnitas 

My brother-in-law got me hooked on this dish, something which my husband will be forever thankful for. We also made this dish during our last freezer cooking session. Some fun twists on this recipe include adding a jar of Trader Joe’s Salsa Verde or a can of crushed pineapple. I used to eat these as tacos with cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and onions, but have since discovered I like them best with nothing but a flour tortilla and sharp cheddar. Easy and delicious!

Shredded pineapple carnitas ready for the freezer.


Pot Roast (recipe coming soon)

My favorite pot roast recipe comes from Miss Vickie’s cookbook, and is Apple Cider Pot Roast with Sour Cream Gravy, which I’ve already mentioned tastes and smells like Thanksgiving. My favorite way to serve it is to remove the pot roast at the end, throw in baby carrots and large chuncks of peeled sweet potatoes, and cook under pressure for 2 minutes, Heavenly! With the added bonus of being Paleo friendly and lower carb than potatoes. For traditional pot roast, you can sear your pot roast on the “Saute” setting (adjust heat setting to High), then add a cubed onion, onion soup mix packet, and enough water to cover the meat half way, then cook on the “Meat” setting for 35 minutes. Open, remove meat, add your desired veggies, cook again for 2-5 minutes, and enjoy!

Spaghetti Sauce (recipe coming soon)

For as long as I can remember, my mother (MaryP) has made homemade spaghetti and meatballs, which simmered on the stove for no less than 8 hours and made us all salivate like Pavlov’s hounds. By dinner time we’d be a pack of wild animals descending upon it. It feels almost sacrilegious to cheat and make it in under and hour in my pressure cooker while I take a nap [HAHAHAHA! More like write a thesis, do the dishes, do laundry, pry my toddler’s fingers out of the light socket…]. The great thing about the InstantPot is that you can begin by searing the Italian sausage on the “Saute” mode (adjust heat setting to High), then saute the diced onions without dirtying another dish.  I cook this under pressure for 50 minutes, depressurize, gently add browned meatballs (recipe coming soon!), then cook again under pressure for 5-10 minutes.

Ribs, Baby!!

I literally bought Harris Teeter out of ribs the last time they were on sale (50% off!) and have been slowly rationing out my freezer stock of beef ribs. I cut the meat into individual ribs before cooking.
1. Place wire rack (comes with InstantPot) .
2. Add 1/2 cup water to pot.
3. Coat ribs with your favorite BBQ sauce, mine is Jack Daniels Honey Hickory.
4. Cook on “Meat” setting for 12 minutes (20 if frozen).
5. Brush on more BBQ sauce.
6. Broil in oven (parchment paper is aluminum-free and mess-free) till browned ~ 5 minutes.
7. Flip ribs, brush on more BBQ sauce, broil again till browned ~5 minutes.
8. EAT!!

These ribs make me really happy.