We have thirty more days ahead of operation #StayHome to stop the spread of Coronavirus. So for the month of April, I’ve challenged myself to creating as many meals as I can from my freezer and pantry, without a visit to the supermarket.
It’s particularly challenging because I prefer fresh foods over canned or frozen. I haven’t a garden, thanks to the deer who thought we planted vegetables just for them. But we fall into the vulnerable demographic and I’m determined to make this work.
I won’t post every meal, but asoften as possible I will share the interesting (?) menus and dishes I develop. So who’s with me? It’ll be fun.
We love all meat yet try to limit our consumption of red meats. So I developed a recipe for beef stew that uses only half a pound of meat. By adding a pound of mushrooms, I boost theumami taste. I sneak in more vegetables, too.
This is a pressure cooker recipe that’s easily adapted to slow cooking. By using the pressure cooker, we get that cooked all day flavor in about half an hour.
Beef and Mushroom Stew
Makes 4 one-cup servings
1/2 pound beef (chuck or round works) cut into 1” chunks
1 pound mushrooms, sliced and cleaned
1 cup broth + 1 Tbsp (reserved for slurry)
2 tsp. Oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 small red or gold potatoes, sliced or cubed
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced or sliced
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp cornstarch
Freshly ground pepper
Preheat cooker pot.
Generously salt and pepper the beef.
Brown the beefon all sides, then remove from pot and set aside.
Sautéonions, garlic, and mushrooms 1 minute.
Add cup of broth, deglaze bottom of pot, and return the beef to the cooker.
Seal and cook under high pressure for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare slurry by combining Worcestershire sauce, reserved broth, and cornstarch.
Remove pot from heat (or hit Cancel if using electric) and allow pressure to drop on its own.
Carefully open pot and add potatoes and carrots. Reseal.
Bring to pressure and cook 1 minute under pressure.
Remove from heat, allow pressure to drop 5 minutes on its own, then release remaining pressure.
Carefully open the cooker and checkvegetables for doneness.
Stir slurry again right before adding it to the pot. Return to heat (or use sautémode on electric models) just until sauce thickens.
Remove from heat immediately and check for seasonings. Add salt and pepper if needed and serve.
Adding fresh chopped parsleybefore serving adds flavor. Unfortunately, I was out of parsley when I cooked this stew today. Next time …
My grocer had pork tenderloins on sale this week buy-one-get-one-free (BOGO). Pork tenderloin, not to be confused with pork loin, is a lean and tender cut ideal for a Hasty Tasty Meal. It’s easily over cooked, which is why it’s crucial to distinguish tenderloin from loin. Yet it’s also difficult to pass up a BOGO, so I decided it was time to master pork tenderloin.
Baking or roasting pork tenderloin using a meat thermometer (internal temperature of 145°￼) is a foolproof cooking technique, yet I wanted to use my pressure cooker. Why? We’re campers and don’t travel with an oven or even a microwave oven. But I do have a 3 quart Instant Pot Duo Mini in my travel trailer. Even when “roughing it,” I like to prepare good meals.
I experimented with steaming the tenderloin on a trivet over the liquid as well as braising in the cooking liquid. I tried chicken broth, water, and apple juice for the cooking liquid. All techniques produced edible meat, but here’s my favorite and most successful recipe.
Hasty Tasty Pork Tenderloin Roast
1 pork tenderloin, approximately 1.5 pound
2 tsp. Canola oil or your choice vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 fennel bulb, sliced
1 apple (gala or Granny Smith works well), sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1.5 cups water
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat multi cooker on sauté mode.
When heated, add oil and brown all sides of the tenderloin.
Remove tenderloin to a plate. Add fennel, apple, and onion to the pot and sauté approximately 5 minutes. Salt and pepper. Turn off heat.
While vegetables sauté, use a sharp paring knife and make slits evenly throughout the meat to insert the garlic pieces.
Pour water slowly into the pot. Using a wooden spoon, deglaze the pot of any cooked-on bits.
Return tenderloin to the cooker and place atop the fennel, apple, and onion slices.
Seal cooker and set pressure cooking time for zero minutes (or lowest time setting available).
After cooking time completes, hit cancel. Do not allow cooker to “keep warm.” Allow pressure to drop on its own one minute and then vent.
Open cooker, remove meat to a plate, and pour cooking liquid into a heavy duty blender (I use a Vitamix) to purée.* Return liquid to pot, and hit sauté.
While liquid reduces, allow tenderloin to rest. Tent with foil to keep warm. After the cooking liquid boils down to desired thickness, turn off cooker and add butter. Salt and pepper sauce to taste. Slice the tenderloin and serve drizzled with the sauce.
Browned tenderloins cook quickly.
Whisk in butter right before serving.
Serve with sauce and side dishes of your choice.
*For a chunkier sauce, mash the cooked apple, fennel, and onion mixture with a potato masher.
We often eat beans. We like them, they’re good for us, and they are inexpensive. Today’s pintos (made in my Instant Pot) are made zesty with the addition of hot Hatch Chilies.
We discovered Hatch Chilies in Texas one summer. Although next to impossible to find fresh in my area, Hatch Chilies in cans are usually found in my pantry.
Here’s my recipe:
Zesty Pinto Beans
1 cup Dried Pinto Beans
1 cup Chopped Onion
1/2 cup Diced Sweet Pepper
1/2 cup Hatch Chilies (we like hot, but choose your heat level)
1 clove garlic, minced
Water or Broth
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Soak beans overnight or do a 1-hour Quick Soak in a Pressure Cooker.*
Rinse beans and set aside. Wipe the pressure cooker dry and preheat (Sauté Mode).
When pot is hot, add 1 Tbsp. oil. Allow oil to heat.
Sauté chopped onions for 2 minutes before adding peppers.
Sauté peppers 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat (or hit Cancel).
Stir in garlic.
Add presoaked beans. Add liquid just to cover beans. Set cooker for 30 minutes.
Seal and bring to pressure.After cooking, allow pressure to drop on its own.
Open cooker, stir, and serve.
*For the 1-hour Quick Presoak, place beans in a pressure cooker. Add water to completely cover the beans. Add 1 Tbsp salt. Pressure cook for one minute, cancel, and then allow beans to soak undisturbed for one hour. Rinse and drain before cooking.
We love Mexican flavors and Southwest cuisine, and I love pressure cooking, so here is my version of a spicy taco bowl. It’s faster than messing with taco shells and making filling, so it’s a hasty and tasty meal for taco night. Enjoy.
Chicken Taco Bowl
Makes 5 – 6 servings
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (frozen or thawed)
1 cup dried black beans (not soaked)
1 cup brown long grain rice
12 ounces salsa or 1 regular size can Rotel® diced tomatoes with green chilies
2½ cups chicken broth or water
1 ounce chili or taco seasoning mix
8 ounce block Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
(optional) fresh cilantro sprigs
In the pot of a pressure cooker, place chicken, beans, and rice. Pour salsa and broth over them. Add 1 ounce chili seasoning mix.
Seal and bring to pressure. Cook 18 minutes (stovetop) or 23 minutes (electric).
Remove from heat (or hit “cancel”) and allow pressure to drop on its own. Natural depressurization takes approximately 15 minutes.
Carefully open cooker and stir. Chicken should easily shred, or you may remove it, shred it separately, and stir it into the rice and beans mixture. Top with cheese and cover. Do not return to heat.
After a minute or two, the residual heat will melt the cheese and the taco bowl is ready to serve with optional garnish.
Variation: add 1 cup frozen corn kernels before adding the cheese.
Thousands of people received an electric programmable pressure cooker for gifts during the holidays, or purchased one during the black Friday sales. Dozens of social media groups offer recipe exchanges and tips. One frequent question that I see on a daily basis is “How do I convert my slow cooker recipe for the _________(insert brand name of electric pressure cooker)?”
As a veteran pressure cooker cook, I feel qualified to address this question. I hope my recommendations help you. Here’s an example: A favorite slow cooker recipe of ours is slow cooker chili, based on Hurst’s HamBeens brand Slow Cooker Chili. I substitute ground turkey for the beef and Rotel for the diced tomatoes. I also use 1 quart chicken broth and 3 pints water instead of using all water, but otherwise I follow the recipe on the package.
First I turned on the pot and browned the onion and turkey. Then I added all other ingredients and sealed the pot. I cooked the recipe on high pressure for 40 minutes, followed by natural release. The beans were tender yet not too mushy, and the chili was delicious. However, the finished product was a little soupy for our preference.
However, it’s always better to err on the side of caution (that is, too much liquid) when cooking dried beans. Also, reheating the leftover chili evaporated any excess moisture. Therefore, the only conversion I suggest is cooking time. Each pot differs in buttons and settings, so you’ll have to consult your own manufacturer’s manual or website to know how to set high pressure for 40 minutes.
Where did I get the 40 minutes? I consulted the cooking chart for dried beans (without soaking) and used that time. Since beans take the longest cooking time, that’s what you should choose. If you’re a Crockpot veteran, you already know there’s a range of cooking time when slow cooking. There’s also a range with pressure cooking, so if I tell you 40 minutes and someone else tells you an hour, cook for the minimum time. It’s easy to check for doneness and bring the pot back to pressure to add cooking time. The contents are already hot, which means your pot returns to pressure quickly. Note: If you’re using a stovetop pressure cooker, reduce cooking time to 35 minutes followed by natural release. The electric models take a tad longer to cook.
Safety first. The new cookers are the safest yet, but you have to follow the rules. Don’t overfill (2/3 pot for most dishes, 1/2 pot for bean dishes) and always use liquid. Even the shortest cooking time requires a minimum amount of liquid to reach pressure. Read your manual. If instructions are missing, either visit the manufacturer’s site or contact them.
Final word of advice: Cook! Don’t leave your new cooker in a box in a closet. Use it. Experience is the best teacher. Also, join a group or two on Facebook and read through their posts. You’ll find answers to your questions, and you’ll learn there is no one way to cook a dish.
In my previous post, I sang the praises of shaved Brussels Sprouts. This week I picked up a free recipe card at the grocery store and tried it. It paired Brussels Sprouts with carrots, adding a sweetness to balance the sulfur-like taste of veggies in the cabbage family. Yum! So with apologies to Publix for a couple of modifications, here it is.
Brussels Sprouts and Carrots
Nonstick cooking spray
1 package shaved Brussels sprouts
5 oz. carrots cut into matchsticks
1 Tbsp. butter
¼ tsp. Kosher or pink Himalayan salt
¼ tsp. fresh ground pepper
Spray skillet with cooking spray and preheat on medium 2-3 minutes.
Add Brussels sprouts and carrot matchsticks, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook for about 5 minutes or until sprouts and carrots are tender but not overcooked.
Remove skillet from heat. Add butter, salt, and pepper and toss.
Note: This dish also works in the microwave oven. Use a microwave-safe dish, rinse sprouts and carrots, and then cover with a wet paper towel. Microwave on High 2-3 minutes, stir, and add butter. Cover and let stand for five minutes. Season, toss, and serve.