a home cook with notions & an appetite
Chili on a weeknight? Made with pork that will be tender? And will have fully developed flavors that taste like you let it simmer all afternoon? Is this magic?
It’s one of my favorite convenience appliances that I own. My pressure cooker. I own an electric model, but it still gives me the extra atmosphere that can cut cooking times by 70%. As a bonus, just like a stove-top model, I can saute and brown ingredients before putting them under pressure.
There is but one side to the electric model. Where stove tops give you 15psi, my electric model tops out at 10. This means that when I read conventional pressure cooker recipes without instructions for an electric model, I’m forced to do actual math. I do straightforward math. Since standard psi is 150% of my psi (10 * 1.5 = 15), I multiply my cooking time by 150%. 30 minutes of standard pressure cooker time becomes 45 minutes in mine. It is trial and error at times, but it usually gets the job done.
First things first. I actually do soak the beans all day in water. There are varying theories on dried beans and pressure cookers. They run all the way from not soaking to overnight soaks to everything in-between. I am personally of the belief that the soaking cuts down on the less pleasant side effects of bean digestion and it has the added benefit of letting you know that your beans are still good. (Yes, beans actually do become too old to soak into softness again – basically, if you soak them and the skins never wrinkle, you’ve got dead beans.)
That being said, you know that there’s beans in the dish. How about a run-down of ingredients in general? This recipe comes from Miss Vickie’s Big Book of Pressure Cooker Recipes. Here’s what I used (and yes, I made this a while ago, so the reference to the garden is legit):
First things first, browning of the various porks. The recipe did originally call for simple boneless pork. When I mention the mesquite marinated pork, I’m just talking about the small pork tenderloins that go on sale at the mega-mart every other month or so that come in everything from plain to lemon pepper to garlic to mesquite. Mesquite added a nice smokey tang to the dish.
I do realize that there’s a certain theory to convenience appliances and whether or not browning meat ahead of time negates said convenience. This comes up both for pressure and slow cookers. Why one would skip 10 minutes of browning to make something “more convenient” and skip out on the flavor boost that you’ll get is beyond me. Seriously, it’s 10 minutes. If you don’t have time for it, just go out to eat. Don’t be proud of bland just because you barely touched the food in order to prepare it.
Where was I? Oh, yeah, climbing off the soapbox. And quick chopping cilantro, onions and peppers. Those peppers are actually Hungarian peppers that turned red/orange from hanging out in the garden far too long. I actually still had leftover pickled pepper rings from last year, so there was really only so much I could do with the batch this year. And hang out on the vine was one of those things. This is your unintended lesson on proper garden planning.
Once these were chopped, it was time to gather spices, canned goods and time to do some quick math. The math was fairly simple. For a standard pressure cooker, the cooking time would be 15 minutes. Multiply that by 150% and one gets 22.5. Rounded up, I’d need to remember that I’d be cooking this 23 minutes. Mr. Carpenter, if you remember a snotty middle-schooler ever telling you she’d never need to know something as boring as math EVER, I apologize.
There’s still a small amount of cooking before we add all the ingredients and apply pressure, but it goes fast. Basically, the onions, chiles and garlic cook for 3 minutes and then the dry spices are added go for about a minute after that. After that four minutes, the rest of the ingredients are added:
Basically, the only thing you don’t see are the canned tomatoes and tomato paste going in, which are more than enough in terms of liquid that need to be present for pressure cooking. (The beans were rinsed and drained of their soaking liquid.)
Now for the exciting part. Okay, the easy part. Put on lid, set dial to pressure and then set timer to “High Pressure” and 23 minutes. It takes my machine about 5-10 minutes to hit pressure depending on how much is in the cooker and then the cook time. This was a quick release, which means I just flip the pressure switch with towel in hand and let all the steam escape for about 3 minutes. At which point, I have a meaty, full-flavored chili with tender beans and tender pork that would have taken a stove-top hours to achieve. Delicious and all I had to remember to do in the morning was soak some black beans. Did I mention the awesome leftovers? I really should have.