Talk about old-fashioned cooking: My sweetie gave me a pressure cooker a few months ago. I know what you’re thinking. “Hmmm, pressure cookers: kitchen explosions, food spattered all over the ceiling, emergency room…I don’t think so.”
And I must admit, I approached my first experiment in pressure cooking with trepidation. I envisioned shambles worthy of Ma Kettle, Laurel and Hardy and Lucy combined. Somehow, despite my honey’s promises of no kitchen eruptions, I just knew one was waiting in the wings.
Still, I gave it a try. Guess what? No explosions. And while I haven’t mastered pressure cooking by any means, I have mastered a few select meals. One of which, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, is corned beef and cabbage.
How? Easy. Here’s what you do. Purchase a package of corned beef (you know, with the bag of seasonings–all those seeds and stuff), grab a couple bottles (or cans) of Guinness stout, or Murphy’s or your favorite yummy Irish dark beer. Stick with dark beer–porter, oatmeal stout, something of that ilk–because it adds flavor.
I usually heat a little olive oil in my pressure cooker, sear the meat on both sides, then quarter an onion and toss it in the pan on top of the beef. Pour the beer over it all–you need it to fill the pan about halfway. This is important! Pressure cooking works because of the steam; if you run out of liquid, you run out of steam.
Cover the pan with the seal and the pressure cooker lid and twist till the lid locks in place. It won’t be all the way tight, but you’ll know quickly if it’s not quite tight enough because steam will escape from the pan lid. If it does, make sure the handles line up, so the steam stops coming out the sides and goes up through the pressure regulator (the little round thingy). The pressure regulator on mine has three holes in it with different pounds of pressure; I use 15 for this recipe.
It will whistle and rattle as the steam vibrates the little round regulator. This will go on for 20 to 25 minutes. Then just turn off the heat under the pan and let the pressure drop. I usually take off the rattler/regulator with my kitchen tongs, because that lets the steam out faster. Once it’s cooled enough to open (don’t be afraid: It won’t open until the steam has dissipated, so you really need have no fear of burning your arm off with the steam).
I have occasionally had an extra-tough hunk o’ meat that needed to cook under pressure for a little longer than the average piece of meat, so slice a bit off for a taste test before adding your potatoes. If it’s still on the tough side, steam another 15 minutes and test again. Then make sure there’s still plenty of liquid in the pan and add peeled and quartered potatoes and carrots and chunks of cabbage, re-cover and bring back up to steam. Steam for another six minutes.
Release the pressure just like you did before, and it’s ready to serve. Corned beef that used to take hours of simmering to get even half tender (if I was lucky) is now perfection in 25 minutes under pressure. Every time, guaranteed.
Now, I should tell you I don’t actually add cabbage to mine. I make my mom’s creamed cabbage. Here’s the recipe; it’s one of my favorites.
Mom’s Creamed Cabbage
1 head cabbage, cored and sliced into 1/2 inch slivers
3 strips bacon, cut into chunks (1/2 inch)
1 medium onion, cut in half and then sliced thin
2 tbls butter
¼ cup flour
1 ¼ cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbls heavy cream
Steam sliced cabbage 5 minutes, drain and set aside. Fry bacon 2 minutes (not crispy), then add the butter. Add the onions to the fat and saute until they are soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the flour to the fat and cook 1 minute. Add the milk and stir until smooth. Simmer until thickened and bubbly. Add cabbage and simmer on low 3 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the cream and the salt and pepper to taste. There are two schools of thought to this recipe: Laurie cooks the bacon crisp and drains it on a paper towel, then crumbles it over the top as a finish. I generally cook it with the onions and cabbage. Both versions are delish!
How simple is that? It’s fabulous with corned beef (or anything else).