Monday, January 12, 2009

Under Pressure

Time passes so quickly these days...especially the weekends. And it is always on those days that fly by that I have planned a meal that requires much cooking, not necessarily prep time, but hours in the oven or on the cook top. Before I know it, I've missed the window and it is 5 o'clock, too late to start a slow braise, unless we want to eat after nine.

Such was the case on Saturday evening. The daylight hours had somehow raced by me, my brain addled from so much sun and record breaking heat. So when my belly began to remind me that mealtime was fast approaching, I was disappointed to see that I wouldn't have time to make the short ribs that I had planned. That is, unless I used my pressure cooker....where was that darn thing anyway?

After digging through all my cabinets, my overflow pantry in the garage, and phoning my mom to accuse her of stealing it (she uses her OLD one all the time for cooking artichokes), I finally found it on top of my garage freezer, because evidently that is where my extra cookware goes (hear the sarcasm in my voice?). That was a good place for it, at least according to my adorable husband who is my esteemed dish washer and dish putter awayer.

Anyway, I revamped my recipe for the pressure cooker, which cooks food under very high pressure, thus reducing the cooking time by drastic amounts. Honestly, the pressure cooker kind of scares me, and I can actually feel my pulse rising as it starts to rattle and hiss. I am always afraid that it will suddenly burst open, spraying me with scalding juices and splattering my kitchen with a disastrous mess. So I don't use it nearly as often as I should. However, I have found that it is a miracle machine, worth every penny, and I really need to just get over my fear (and perhaps store it in a more accessible place).

If you don't have a pressure cooker, the short ribs can be cooked in a medium hot oven for about 2-3 hours, or until meat is falling off the bone. But if you do, your dinner will be done in less than an hour, start to finish. We served these with creme fraiche mashed potatoes with chives (yum) and sauteed tri-color carrots.

Pressure Cooker Short Ribs
serves 3-4

6, 4 inch short ribs
1/2 C flour and salt and pepper
4 oz. pancetta, cubed
10 cloves garlic, peeled
12 cipollini onions, peeled and halved if large
3 sprigs rosemary, leaves chopped fine (about 1 T)
1 t dried thyme
2 strips of orange peel
2 C beef broth
1 1/2 C diced tomatoes in juice
1 1/2 C red wine
olive oil

Drizzle olive oil in bottom of pressure cooker (or large dutch oven) and heat to medium high. Dredge short ribs in flour seasoned with salt and pepper and brown in batches on all sides in pan. Remove to a plate. Wipe out excess oil and flour from pan. Drizzle in a bit more olive oil and toss in pancetta cubes, stirring until fat begins to render out. Add garlic cloves and onions and stir frequently until they begin to turn golden. Return ribs to pot, along with rosemary, thyme, orange peel, diced tomatoes, beef broth and wine. Cover tightly with lid and bring to high pressure. Reduce heat, while still maintaining high pressure, and cook for about 40 minutes or until meat is tender and falling off the bone. If you aren't using a pressure cooker, bring mixture to a boil, cover then bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 2-3 hours, or until meat is tender and falling off the bone.

No comments: