Nom Nom Paleo

Pressure Cooker Mexican Beef

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For the past couple of years, I’ve been making Oven Braised Mexican Beef at least twice a month because it’s simple and delicious—and because the kids’ll actually eat it. But here’s a dirty little secret: these days, I rarely braise it in the oven ’cause I can get similar results in a fraction of the time using a pressure cooker.

I’ve extolled the virtues of pressure cooking before, but it’s truly become one of my favorite cooking methods. (I love pretty much anything that helps me get satisfying meals on the table before I have to rush off to the hospital.) My trusty stovetop pressure cookers have been workhorses in my kitchen for some time now, but I recently treated myself to an Instant Pot because I’d read so many great things about this electric programmable multi-cooker. Also: I’m a gadget hoarder.

In fact, I’m such a hoarder that I’d neglected to break out my Instant Pot for months after buying it. It sat in a box in my garage for months before I managed to de-clutter my kitchen enough to make room for it.


And now, I’m totally crushing on my Instant Pot. I love that I can make bone broth at a moment’s notice without having to babysit it like a stove-top pressure cooker. Also, the sauté function lets me brown aromatics or meat right in the pot before I throw in the rest of the ingredients. Yippee!

One thing to note: The Instant Pot cooks at a slightly lower pressure (11.6 psi) than my stove top pressure cookers (15 psi), but that just means having to add a few minutes to the cooking time. I increase the cooking time by 7 to 15%, and refer to my friend Laura Pazzaglia’s Hip Pressure Cooking website and charts for specific cooking times. If you’re at all a fan of pressure cooking, I suggest that you do the same. One more thing: even though the dish is finished in about an hour, I often don’t serve it ’til the next day. There’s a scientific reason why stews and braises taste better as leftovers.

So with all of that out of the way, wanna see how I’ve modified my Mexican Beef recipe to work in a pressure cooker?

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Forky Friday: 3/1/13

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Today’s edition of Forky Friday is devoted entirely to pressure cooking! As a busy working mom, I often turn to my trusty pressure cooker to get meat and veggies on the table in a flash. Some days, I’ve got multiple pressure cookers on the burners at the same time. Loyal readers know that I never sacrifice flavor for speed, but I’m delighted to report that with a pressure cooker, I get both.

Still a skeptic? I’ve got lots of links in this post that’ll (hopefully) persuade you to take the plunge. Here we go!

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Whole30 Day 16: Pressure Cooker Indian Curry Lamb Spareribs

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Once upon a time (about 300 years ago), a French mathematician named Denis Papin was living and working in London. Papin was a tinkerer. After putting in long days as an assistant to a physicist, the Frenchman worked on his own inventions — the most enduring of which was something he called a “steam digester”: a cast iron container with a tight-sealing, screw-top lid and a release valve that could be heated over red-hot coals. The purpose of the device? To cook and tenderize food in a flash.


Papin’s steam digester was a closed environment that was designed to heat water under intense pressure, pushing its boiling point far above the normal 212°F. When the device was heated, the pressure from the steam would raise the internal temperature up to 257°F, forcing the steam — a fantastically efficient heat conductor — through foods, thus shortening the cooking time by as much as two-thirds. What’s more, with all the liquids retained in the pot, the resulting dishes were moist and bursting with concentrated flavors.

Papin was excited about his invention, and unveiled his new “engine for softening bones” before the Royal Society of London — the oldest and most prestigious geek squad known to man. He proudly noted that “the hardest cow-beef may be made as tender and savoury as young and choice meat,” making the steam digester ideal for speedy, cost-effective cooking — as well as for the “making of drinks, chemistry, and dyeing.”  


But Papin’s steam digester wasn’t quite ready for prime time. It required a specially-built furnace, and despite the addition of a safety valve, pressurized explosions weren’t uncommon. The steam digester never really caught on. Dejected after years of fruitless attempts to turn people onto pressure cooking, Papin never even bothered to patent his invention, and he died penniless in 1712.

This may be three centuries too late, but Denis Papin: I salute you.

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Pressure Cooker Lamb Shanks

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On blustery nights when my teeth are chattering, there are few things that make me happier than tucking into a steaming bowl of braised lamb shanks. It’s not just because it’s rib-sticking comfort food, but also ‘cause it reminds me of my dad and our shared love for lamb dishes. I don’t, however, share his stoicism and zen-like patience, so I’m always on the lookout for quick and easy ways to prepare lamb.

Here’s a recipe that fits the bill. Thanks to my pressure cooker, I can get a hearty winter meal of lamb shanks onto the dinner table in less than an hour.

Follow the jump for the recipe!

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Pressure Cooker Porcini and Tomato Beef Short Ribs

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In the kitchen, one plus one can equal much more than three. By combining ingredients packed with umami (mushrooms! beef! tomatoes!), you can exponentially increase the mouth-filling savoriness of your final dish. Here’s an example in the form of a comforting, fork-tender stew — and with a pressure cooker, it can be on the table in less than an hour.

Here’s what to gather to feed 4-6 people:

  • 5 pounds grass fed short ribs, cut into 3- to 4-inch segments
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • ½ ounce porcini mushrooms
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon lard or fat of choice
  • 1 large onion, chopped medium
  • 3 carrots, chopped medium
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped medium
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 cup marinara sauce (I like Rao’s marinara sauce)
  • ½ cup bone broth
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
  • ¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
Here’s how you make it:

Season the short ribs liberally with salt and pepper.

If you’d like, you can do this step the night before and store the seasoned ribs in the fridge. Salting early helps amplify the flavor.

Place the porcini mushrooms in a bowl…

…and cover with boiling water until softened (15-30 minutes).

Take out your 8-quart or larger pressure cooker and melt the lard over medium high heat. Sear the ribs in batches until well-browned…

…and transfer them to a platter.

While the ribs are browning, chop up the veggies…

…and toss the onions, carrots and celery into the empty pot. Lower the heat to medium, season with salt and pepper, and sauté the vegetables until softened. 

Fish out the softened mushrooms and squeeze out the liquid. You can reserve the mushroom water to use in place of broth, but I personally find it a little muddy tasting.

Coarsely chop up the mushrooms….

…and toss them in the pot along with the garlic. Stir the pot for another minute…

…and add in the marinara sauce, broth, and 1 tablespoon of the balsamic vinegar.

Add the ribs back into the pot, mixing well.

Increase the heat to high and bring the stew to a boil. Cover the pressure cooker with the lid and let the contents come to high pressure.

Once the pot reaches high pressure, decrease the heat to low and maintain on high pressure for 30 minutes. Then, take the pot off the heat and let the pressure come down naturally (10-15 minutes).

When the pressure is released, add the remaining tablespoon of vinegar and check for seasoning. You can eat the stew right away, but I think it tastes much better after the flavors have had a chance to meld overnight in the fridge. Plus, it’s easier to peel off the layer of fat when it’s hardened.

To reheat the stew, dump it in a pot, and bring to a boil. 

Simmer the stew for at least 20 minutes and top with minced parsley.

Try this recipe — I guarantee you’ll like it. There’s no need to be afraid of pressure cookers! 

Pressure Cooker Indian Curry Lamb Spareribs

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I got the inspiration for this dish after tasting my buddy Noopur’s bright and fresh-tasting curried mutton the other day. She’s a fellow CrossFitting foodie who obsesses about what’s she’s going to eat all the time — just like me. Noopur told me the secret to her recipe is to use lots of lemon juice and chopped cilantro.  Here’s a simplified (and bastardized) American version of her phenomenal recipe.

Ingredients (Serves 2-3 people)

For the lamb

For the sauce

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 pound ripe tomatoes
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder (I use Maharajah Style Curry Powder)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, divided
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced

Toss the spare ribs with 2 teaspoons salt…


…and 1 tablespoon curry powder.



Use your hands to thoroughly coat the ribs.


Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of four hours and up to a day.

When you’re ready to cook off the ribs, melt the coconut oil over medium heat in a 6-qt pressure cooker.

Brown the spare ribs in two batches…


…and remove them to a plate when they’re done.


While the ribs are sizzling, grab the onion and tomatoes…


…throw them in a blender


…and blitz until smooth.


Once the spare ribs are seared…


…add the minced garlic to the empty pot off the heat.


I take the pot off the heat so the garlic doesn’t burn — that’ll add a yucky metallic taste and it’ll ruin your curry.

Stir the garlic until fragrant (30 seconds) before adding the tomato and onion puree.


Put the pot back on a burner set at medium heat.


Add curry powder, salt, 1 cup chopped cilantro, and lemon juice.


Bring to a boil…image

 …and add the lamb back in.


Mix the spareribs to coat with curry sauce.


Lock on the pressure cooker lid and increase heat to high to bring up to high pressure. Once high pressure is reached, decrease the heat to low to maintain high pressure for 20 minutes.


Let the pressure release naturally (10-15 minutes).


Taste for seasoning and stir in scallions and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro.



Video: Veggies 4 Ways

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Wanna see how quick and easy it is to throw together four of my favorite vegetable sides? Watch the video below to see how I made roasted kabocha squash, garlic cauliflower mashed “potatoes,” pressure cooker braised greens, and stir-fried kale and bacon — all in just one hour. I did this after working a 10-hour graveyard shift, so I don’t want to hear any complaints about not having the time or energy to make veggies!

And if you can’t get the catchy music out of your head, blame Ryan of The Cave Kids, who created the soundtrack to this video with lightning speed!

Pressure Cooker Braised Kale and Carrots

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Everyone should eat kale. That statement’s irrefutable because it’s uber-healthy, versatile (e.g. chips, salad, stir-fry), and ‘cause I said so. Still resistant? Well, here’s another quick and easy method to cook kale where you’ll end up with a bowl of tender greens and carrots in about 15 minutes. Grab your pressure cooker and let’s get some dark leafy greens in your belly already.

Ingredients (Serves 2):

  • 10 ounces of kale, roughly chopped (including stems)
  • 1 tablespoon of ghee or fat of choice
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 1/2” slices
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

I love buying organic produce at the farmers’ market but when I need a quick veggie side, I just grab a bag of washed and chopped kale from Trader Joe’s.

Once you cut open the bag, you’re ready to go. There’s no tedious washing, spinning, or removing ribs.

Get your 6-qt or larger pressure cooker and melt the ghee over medium heat.

Toss in the chopped carrots and onions…

…and saute until softened.

Throw in the garlic and stir until fragrant (~30 seconds). Pile in the kale, pour in the chicken broth…

…and sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste. Make sure you still have at least 1/3 of the head space at the top of the pot or it just might go kablooey.

Increase the heat to high, lock the lid in place, and wait until the cooker reaches high pressure. Once high pressure is achieved, decrease the heat to low and maintain high pressure for 8 minutes. At the end of the cooking time, take the pot off the heat. You can let the pressure drop naturally (10-15 minutes) or if you’re impatient like me, activate the quick release valve and the steam will hiss right out.

Remove the lid, give everything a swirl, and taste for seasoning. Splash on some balsamic vinegar and sprinkle on some red pepper flakes if you want some heat.

Ladle it up and dig in.

Pressure Cooker Grass Fed Beef Back Ribs

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Grass fed beef back ribs are normally cooked low and slow for many hours to break down the collagen in the tough meat. What if I told you you could get the same results in less than an hour in a pressure cooker? Seriously. Don’t be afraid of your pot exploding. If you get a good pressure cooker AND follow directions, you’ll save time and energy PLUS get kickass results. If you don’t…it was nice knowing you.

Ingredients (Serves 2):

I love Chili 9000 on all sorts of stuff, but it’s my go-to dry rub for ribs.

Grab a rack of grass fed beef back ribs and pat them dry with a paper towel. Then, sprinkle it liberally on both sides with the dry rub and kosher salt. 

Wrap it up in foil to marinate for at least two hours and up to a day.

When you’re ready to cook the ribs, preheat the broiler with the rack positioned 4-6 inches from the heating element. 

Grab the rack from the fridge and cut it so it’ll fit in your pressure cooker. If you’ve got a 6-quart pot, cut the rack into three even pieces. Put the ribs on a wire rack in a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. 

Broil the ribs for 1-2 minutes on each side to get a nice char. Keep the broiler on because you’ll be broiling these meaty bones again at the end.

Add the water, applesauce, coconut aminos, and fish sauce to the pressure cooker. Stir to combine and add a rack to the pot.

Pile the ribs into the pressure cooker and lock on the lid. 

Crank the heat to high and when the pot reaches high pressure, turn down the heat to maintain high pressure on the lowest setting possible. Cook on high pressure for 20 minutes and let the pressure come down naturally or release it quickly.

Remove the ribs and place them back on a wire rack atop a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet.

Simmer the cooking liquid until it is reduced to 2 cups (~5 minutes). Skim off the excess fat at the top if desired and adjust seasoning.

Baste the racks with the braising liquid…

…and broil them for about a minute to get some crunchy bits.

With a minimal investment in time, you’ve got some finger-lickin’ tender ribs. Try it!

Paleo Eats: 1/20/12 (Whole30 Day 20)

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Fitbomb and I stayed up late last night working on our side project so I was especially grumpy when the Double-O’s barged into our room at 7:00 a.m. on the dot. Mommy really needed her black espresso this morning. Since I still had a hacking cough, didn’t get enough sleep, and the boys had no school, I decided to skip out on my class at CrossFit Palo Alto. Are those good enough excuses, Coach Trish?

Instead of getting my WOD on, I spent the morning hanging with the boys and making a quick batch of pressure cooker beef broth with oxtails and cross shanks to soothe my raw throat.

As I babysat the kids and the pot of pressurized broth, I patiently scrambled eggs and ghee a la Gordon Ramsay for breakfast. These come out with an ultra-creamy and custardy texture, but it’s much easier to achieve these results in the SousVide Supreme — with no effort.

At lunchtime, I downed a couple of bowls of soup filled with fork tender beef. I know bone broth is good for you, but it tastes so much better when you’ve got some meat in there, too.

I seasoned a big pile of New York steaks with Magic Mushroom Powder, vacuum-sealed them, and dunked them in the SousVide Supreme for a few hours.

In the afternoon, I dropped the Double-O’s at my in-laws for the weekend. Fitbomb and I have a weekend rendezvous at Catalyst Athletics for a two-day Oly Lifting seminar. Who says romance is dead?

Oh! I almost forgot that I got in a fender bender this afternoon. I’m fine and the car is a little dinged, but I’m p.o.’d that some inattentive loser of a driver is causing me to be carless for a week. On a brighter note, the accident occurred as I was returning home after a super-productive meeting with some people about our side project. I have to say it’s looking pretty darn cool, and I’m proud of all the hard work Fitbomb and I’ve put into it. I’ll have an announcement soon, I promise.

For dinner, we hosted our best buds S & J and their adorable son, M. I used the pressure cooker to make a batch of cauliflower, parsnip, and carrot puree

…prepared a gravy with sauteed mushrooms…

…sauteed chard and red onions…

…and charred the sous vide New York steaks with my kitchen torch.

Time to get some zzz’s!