It is fortuitous that I decided to make Steak Picado this week. The reason for that being that I totally forgot that Cinco De Mayo is a mere several days away!
Since this is a Mexican dish (I can’t vouch for the authenticity of mine, but it is deelish), it would be just the thing to feed your gathering. Add some rice, beans and tortillas and you have yourself a veritable fiesta.
At first I was intrigued, but a few minutes later I was obsessed. Since my heritage includes French-Canadian, I just had to prepare “the food of my people”. This is more of a medium-density soup. It is definitely not a broth, but it does have diminished spoon-standing capabilities.
I tried to be fairly true to tradition, but sometimes it’s not quite possible. For instance from what I have seen, this soup is usually made with whole dried peas, or a mixture of whole and split. I probably would have done this if I was able to track down the elusive whole dried yellow peas but I had no luck here in SoCal. Sure, I could have gone the internet route, but I had some good yellow split peas, so why wait for delivery and whatnot?
The recipe is easy, but a little more time consuming than some, just because it requires a simple ham stock to be made first. When I say the stock is simple, I mean simple. Just toss your choice of ham hock, ham shank or ham bone into twelve cups of water, cook at high pressure for 40 minutes and you’re in business.
The stock can be made ahead of time, so things will be speedy when you make the actual soup.
After the stock is done cooking, let the meat cool. When it is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, discard bones and any large chunks of fat that are present. Then, chop up the meat.
For the soup, get some butter melted in the pressure cooker pot and sauté the onions, carrots and celery until things start to soften a bit and onion is transparent.
I think this is one of the few recipes where I don’t use at least five cloves of garlic, but it is not exactly a garlic-driven recipe. I think the most important flavor profile in this dish would be the savory. That’s the thing that makes it the most “Canadian-y”. A lot of recipes say that you could substitute thyme, but I would highly recommend tracking down some savory in order to get the full Canuck experience.
Add in the garlic and sauté for another minute. Now add in the savory and a little salt and pepper. Don’t add too much salt at this point. Depending on the meat that you are using, you may not need a lot, you can add more later if it needs it.
Dump those peas in there, along with whatever meat you cut off those bones.
Pour in ten cups of the stock (you can add a cup or so less if you like it a little thicker, but I have found that ten cups is just about perfect for this. Sure, I specify twelve cups in the stock recipe because I like to have a little extra, just in case. As in almost every recipe I post, toss in a couple bay leaves.
Put the top on the cooker, turn heat to high and set the timer for eight minutes. Remember, when cooking legumes in the pressure cooker, never fill the pot of the pressure cooker over half full.
When the time is up, turn heat off and let pressure come down on its own for ten minutes, then do a quick release.
I like to serve it with toasted baguette with bleu cheese (not traditional, but tasty).
I know, I just recently posted a recipe for split pea soup, but that was green. This is yellow.
When I posted that recipe, I was unaware of the existence of French Canadian yellow pea soup. As soon as I heard about it, I knew I was going to have to make some. With my French Canadian heritage (among other things), I felt it was my duty to make this dish.
So, even though I recently posted a green split pea soup recipe, the cooler weather and possible rain that has been forecast for us makes this the perfect time to make some more pea soup!
So stop by on the weekend for my Yellow Split Pea Soup recipe, eh?
The Austrian Boiled Beef Dish Done The Pressure Cooker Way
Considered by many to be the national dish of Austria, Tafelspitz is basically beef boiled with root vegetables and spices. There are also several traditional sauces that it can be served with. I made an Apple-Horseradish Sauce to go with this one, and I have to say, it was tasty!
Austrian cooking tends to include a lot of sausages and various fried things, so this dish can be considered Austrian health food (ok, maybe not if you make potatoes fried in duck fat to go with it as I did, but I also served it with pickles, so that cancels out the duck fat. Right? Right?)
I used the traditional tri-tip (which in Austria is also know as Tafelspitz), but you could use some brisket or top round. Unless it has an unusually large fat cap, just leave the fat on, or trim off just some of it. I used a two-pounder, because as seems to be the case lately the store didn’t have a three pound one (three pounds is about as large as tri-tip gets).
Since this dish is traditionally boiled, it is one of the rare instances where I don’t brown the meat before pressure cooking.
The root vegetables can be a little flexible if you cannot find something. Just throw in an extra carrot or parsnip. I used two parsnips, two carrots, two celery stalks, and this is where it stops sounding like Noah’s ark, because I only used one small bulb of celeriac (celery root) and one leek. All the vegetables will be strained out later, so I didn’t bother peeling the carrots or parsnips. The celeriac I did peel, because I was getting tired of looking at its ugly mug. It is not the most attractive of veggies. I trimmed most of the dark green off the leek, cut it in half and soaked it a bit in some water, since leeks can be rather dirty.
The treatment of the onion seems to be very specific, and who am I to stray from tradition? The onion is cut in half, unpeeled, and browned on the cut side in a hot skillet with no oil until well browned, almost scorched. After this process, I pulled off the loose outer skin and rinsed and dried the outside of the onion.
I peeled and crushed five cloves of garlic a bit with the side of a knife.
After the browning and chopping and whatnot, throw it all into the pressure cooker with twelve cups of water, ten peppercorns, six juniper berries and two teaspoons of beef flavored Better Than Bouillon (you can substitute a couple cups of beef stock for two cups of the water and the BTB).
And as seems to be the norm with most of my recipes, toss a couple of bay leaves in, put the top on the cooker and set heat to high.
When high pressure is reached, adjust heat to maintain high pressure and set time for 40 minutes.
While the beef is cooking, prepare the apple horseradish sauce. A lot of recipes use fresh apples and freshly grated horseradish, but I cheated by using unsweetened applesauce and prepared horseradish.
In a medium-sized bowl, mix together 1 cup applesauce, 1-2 tablespoons prepared horseradish (to taste, and depending how hot your horseradish is), 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon sour cream and 2 tablespoons heavy cream. Taste, and add 1 tablespoon honey if needed. Stir well, cover and put in the fridge until ready to serve.
When the time is up, let the pressure come down on its own for 10-15 minutes then do a quick release.
Remove the meat to a plate to rest, and strain the broth. Taste the broth very carefully (it will be very hot) and add salt and pepper to taste.
Slice the meat against the grain a bit on the thick side, pour a little broth over it (the broth is sometimes also served as a soup, but I didn’t do that).
Now, don’t forget about that apple-horseradish sauce in the fridge (which I came very close to doing) and top the meat with a couple dollops. You can also serve some on the side in case anyone wants more (this recipe makes quite a bit).
I served with duck fat fried potatoes. Boiled and buttered small potatoes would also go well with it. You can also add a vegetable, but I just went with pickles.
Serve with a glass of Grüner Veltliner or an Austrian beer such as Gösser or Stiegl.
Considering a Pressure Cooker? Pay no attention to the naysayers!
I admit it, I’m no Andy Rooney, but I like to think that I can complain with the best of ’em. To that end, I have noticed an alarming trend lately when it comes to discussion boards on cooking.
Sometimes while doing my extensive research on the interwebs (I sacrifice so you don’t have to, you’re welcome), I come across conversations on some of the cooking forums such as this:
Q: I would like to cook a whole chicken in a pressure cooker. Does anyone have any tips? (Any type of meat, grain or vegetable can substituted for “chicken”. The answers are always similar, no matter what.
And every time, most of the answers are along these lines:
Yes, my tip is DON’T.
Why would you want to ruin a good chicken?
You will end up with a pot of mush!
Why would you want a dry flavorless chicken?
Cook the chicken in the oven, and if you MUST use the pressure cooker, make some beans to have with it.
Judging by the answers, it is unlikely that a lot of these folks have never used a pressure cooker at all. It has just been ingrained into their consciences that a PC is something to be feared. An evil, black magic-possessed pot sent here by the devil to do his bidding for him.
They might as well be saying “And risk eternal damnation? I think not. I will just continue using my usual, time-intensive methods of preparing food. And as my family sits down to enjoy a weeknight dinner shortly before midnight, I will thank my lucky stars that I was not lured over to “the dark side” with one of those infernal devices.”
Though I guess if everyone that says they have experienced an exploding pressure cooker is telling the truth, then sure, there may be reason to be cautious. But the cookers these days have multiple safety features on each one. And the electric models not only have the safety features, but it is also impossible to set the heat too high.
So, instead of giving any kind of constructive advice, these people are not only afraid to try something new, they make it their duty to stop others from trying something new as well. WELL, STOP IT!!!
I’ve been using pressure cookers for a few years new, and I’ve done a lot of experimenting. I admit that some of the experiments have had better results than others, but over these few years never have I ended up with a “pot of mush” or “dry flavorless (insert dish here).
So if you are considering a pressure cooker, pay no mind to the naysayers on some cooking forum. Come on, try it! You won’t be sorry!
Beef and Beer, Need I Say More? PC Stout Braised Beef.
It’s funny how the finest things in life begin with “bee”. Beef, beer, beets. Ok, my wife would definitely disagree with that last one. This recipe doesn’t use beets anyway so I am not sure why I even mentioned beets.
Beets aside, chuck roast is fast becoming one of my go-to meats. It’s great for someone on a budget (that would be me), and it turns out great in the pressure cooker. I’ve used it before in recipes such as my Steak and Stout Pie and French Dip. Oddly enough, most of my chuck roast recipes also include beer. Go figure.
This particular preparation came about because I couldn’t wait to try a new spice blend that I bought. I started out planning to make a traditional pot roast with the carrots and potatoes and whatnot, but I ended up making more of a brisket-style preparation. Maybe because I had thought about making a brisket first, but the chuck roast was cheaper.
If you use a pre-made Berbere blend, carefully give it a little taste first. Some of them are spicier than others, so you might want to use a bit less than a tablespoon.
I used a two-pound piece of chuck, but I probably would have gotten a 3 pound one if the store had it. This recipe will still work fine with a 3-pounder.
So, to get started, heat a couple tablespoons of oil on medium-high heat and brown the beef on both sides.
Put the meat on a plate and sauté the onion until slightly brown, then add the garlic and sauté for another minute or two.
Add in the spice mix and continue to sauté for another 30 seconds.
Plop in that ‘mater paste and mix it all together.
Add a touch of salt and pepper (You can add more at the end. The amount will vary depending on whether or not your spice mix includes salt and pepper, along with personal taste, which is impeccable.)
Now add the Worcestershire Sauce, vinegar, brown sugar and stout.
Pour in the water and add the Better Than Bouillon. You can substitute one cup of beef stock for this.
Add the meat back into the pot.
Toss in the bay leaves, slap the top on the PC and crank the heat to high.
When high pressure is reached, adjust the heat to maintain high pressure.
Set timer for 40 minutes.
When the time is up, let pressure come down on its own for ten minutes, then release the hounds, er, I mean do a quick release.
Remove the meat to a plate. If you would like to thicken the sauce a bit (which I did), put the pot back over medium-high heat and bring to a low boil for 7-10 minutes.
Slice the meat and serve with some of the sauce, being sure to put some of the onions on top.
Serve with mashed potatoes and a vegetable (if you are into that sort of thing).
A spicy take on Chuck Roast. I started out planning to make classic pot roast with potatoes and carrots and the whole nine yards, but changed my mind because I had just picked up some new spices I was itching to try out.
I used a Berbere spice blend in this particular recipe such as this one and this one, or this perhaps.
This is one of those times I started searching for one thing, and a few hours and a couple hundred clicks later, I found myself wanting, no needing, to make Sauerkraut Soup. How a search for Potato Soup ultimately led to this, I am not sure, but I must say I am happy I stumbled upon this. Even though it turned out to be pretty warm the past couple days (as I predicted in my last post), this soup wasn’t so heavy that it was difficult to eat in such conditions, unlike the creamy potato soups that originally started my search.
And, it goes exceptionally well with beer, so that helped alleviate the warm weather issue!
Sauerkraut soup is popular in a lot of places, particularly areas of Eastern Europe, including Polish Kapusniak, German (such as this one from Heidi Klum), Russian Shchi, and even from the US Midwest.
They vary in the meats used, some using beef, some pork and some with multiple meats. Some use only sauerkraut, some a combination of sauerkraut and fresh cabbage.
My primary goal for my version was to follow the Three E’s – Effortless, Economical and Expeditious. And I think I succeeded, if I do say so myself. Using relatively inexpensive Kielbasa as the protein, and just 8 minutes under pressure take care of the economical and expeditious elements. Except for a little minor chopping and sautéing, most of the elements are just dumped in the pressure cooker, which covers the effortless aspect.
A pound of sausage would be fine, but I used 12 ounces because that seems to be the only size package that I can find around here. I used a 28 ounce jar of sauerkraut, you can use as much as a quart, or less if you would like your soup to be a bit more liquid.
Start by chopping the onion and potato. Run the garlic through a press. Cut the kielbasa in half lengthwise, then slice.
Since I used the InstantPot, these instructions are for that, but it can easily be adapted to another electric or a stovetop cooker. I would keep the same time for whatever method you choose.
Using the sauté setting on medium, heat the oil.
Toss in the onion, sausage and garlic together. Cook until the onion starts to become translucent.
Dump in the potato, paprika, caraway seeds and tomato paste. Stir everything together.
Cook for another minute or so.
Add 5-6 grinds of black pepper and about a 1/2 teaspoon of salt (you can adjust this later, the amount needed will vary depending on your sausage and sauerkraut.
Dump in the sauerkraut (including the liquid).
Pour in the chicken stock.
Stir in two tablespoons brown sugar (you can add more later if necessary, depending on how sour your sauerkraut is) and a tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce.
Toss in the two bay leaves.
Turn off the sauté mode and place the top on the pressure cooker.
Turn the cooker to “soup” mode and set the timer for 8 minutes
When time is up, let pressure release naturally for ten minutes, then do a quick release.
When pressure is completely released, remove the top.
Give it a taste and adjust the salt and brown sugar as necessary.
Serve topped with sour cream (I highly recommend that you don’t skip this, it adds a lot to this soup) and a little fresh dill.
With some good buttered rye bread on the side, this makes a complete meal.
Sauerkraut, potatoes, kielbasa. All the basic food groups.
If all goes as planned, this recipe will be up this weekend. Of course, if history is any indication, by the time I get this tasty, warming soup ready to serve it will be 90 degrees outside again (but if the forecast can be trusted it will only be around 80 or so).
If my experimentation over the next couple days pays off, check back on the weekend for my recipe for Pressure Cooker Sauerkraut Soup!