Pressure Cooker Crispy Potatoes

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"But…but…but…potatoes aren’t Paleo!"

Once again, with feeling: It all depends on what you mean when you say “Paleo.” There is, after all, no such thing as one definitive Paleo diet. Potatoes may not have been available to cavemen, but I really don’t care. Historical re-enactment ain’t my cup of tea. (Besides, it’s not like our prehistoric ancestors snacked on dark chocolate bars, either.)

My personal template for Paleo eating focuses on nutrient-packed whole foods that don’t hurt me. For me, potatoes fall into that category. After checking out Bill and Hayley’s post on the Paleosity of potatoes, listening to the safe starch debate, and soaking in Mat Lalonde’s talk about nutrient density at the 2012 Ancestral Health Symposium (during which Mat pointed out that peeled potatoes are actually more nutrient dense than sweet potatoes, save for the beta-carotene in the latter), I’ve decided that an occasional portion of peeled potatoes are a-OK on my plate. Your circumstances may be different; for instance, if you’re on a super-low-carb protocol at the moment, you’re probably not looking to down a bowl of spuds.

Blah, blah, blah, science, science, science, blah, blah, blah.

With that pesky business out of the way, let me show you how to use a pressure cooker to make spuds with crispy exteriors and fluffy interiors in no time flat.

Ready?

Here’s what to gather to make a side dish fit for four folks:

  • 1 pound of potatoes, peeled and cut into uniform 1 - 1½ inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons of ghee or butter
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup minced Italian parsley
  • ½ lemon

Add ½ cup of water to the bottom of a 6-quart pressure cooker fitted with a steamer insert. Dump in the potatoes.

Cover the pot and cook over high heat until high pressure is reached. Lower the heat to a simmer and maintain high pressure for 5 minutes.

Let the pressure release naturally (~10 minutes).

Melt the ghee or butter over medium high heat in a large skillet. Once it starts sputtering, carefully add the potatoes to the pan.

Season generously with salt and pepper. Leave the potatoes undisturbed for 1 minute before flipping to brown the other side for an additional minute. 

Squeeze the juice from half a lemon and toss with fresh Italian parsley.

P.S. Just ‘cause I’m posting a recipe for a side dish of potatoes doesn’t mean you have license to gorge on potato chips and French fries, which are just vehicles for delivering vegetable oil badness into your system. Yes, I know you already know that, but I’m a mother, and my job is to nag.

Roasted Green Beans

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Before anyone gets on my case about whether green beans are Paleo, I eat them when they’re in season because they’re more pod than bean, and because Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson, and Whole9 say it’s a-OK. So there.

My favorite way to cook these green pods is to roast them in a hot oven after they’ve been tossed with melted fat and lightly drizzled with fish sauce. When they come out of the oven, they’re tender yet roast-y, and a spritz of citrus ties everything together. 

Here’s what to gather to feed 4 people as a side dish:

  • 1 pound green beans, stem ends removed
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil, ghee, or fat of choice
  • 1 teaspoon Red Boat Fish Sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice from half a lime or lemon

Here’s what to do:

Preheat the oven to 450°F with the rack in the middle of the oven. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Grab your washed and trimmed green beans and make sure they are bone dry.

Throw them on the baking sheet and coat the green beans with fat, fish sauce, and a few grinds of pepper.

Arrange the beans in a single layer on the tray…

…and pop them in the oven for 20 minutes, tossing the beans at the midway point.

The beans are ready when the skins are wrinkly and dotted with browned spots. Squeeze on the juice from half a lime or lemon and serve immediately.

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.

Oven-Roasted Escarole

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Roasting is my go-to method for cooking veggies — so why should a head of escarole be any different? I got the idea for roasting these greens from Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating From America’s Farmers’ Markets. In her version, she uses a head of radicchio but any chicory will do. Roasting mellows out the bitterness and also adds some nice crunchy bits. 

Here’s what I gathered to serve four people as a side dish:

  • 1 large head of escarole, cut into quarters (or 3 heads of radicchio, cut in half lengthwise)
  • 3 tablespoons of ghee, melted
  • 1 tablespoon Sunny Paris seasoning
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Balsamic vinegar

Here’s how I made it:

I preheated the oven to 400 F and grabbed a 9x13” glass baking dish. I coated the dish with ghee before putting the escarole in a single layer. I drizzled the remaining ghee over the top of the greens and seasoned with Sunny Paris, salt, and pepper.

I roasted the greens in the oven for 15 minutes before flipping them. After an additional 8-10 minutes, the escarole was finished — tender yet crunchy on the edges.

Before taking the dish to the table, I drizzled on some aged balsamic vinegar.

I can’t wait to roast some radicchio, too!

Roasted Portobello Mushrooms (Easiest Version)

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I love the meatiness of roasted Portobello mushrooms but sometimes I just don’t have the time or inclination to marinate them before roasting them in the oven. Luckily, there’s a quick and dirty method that does the trick. 

Once these ‘shrooms are roasted, I slice them up and drizzle on my favorite vinegar or spritz on some lemon or lime juice. Voila!  Easy and tasty side dish! Alternatively, you can use the caps as “bread” for Paleo sandwiches since they come out nice and flat.

Follow the jump for the pics and steps!

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Stir Fried Napa Cabbage with Mushrooms and Bacon

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To celebrate Chinese New Year, I finished off my hunk of Fatted Calf slab bacon by making a Napa cabbage stir fry with diced bacon, thinly sliced onions and cremini mushrooms. Doesn’t sound like a Chinese dish to you? Tough. Gung Hay Fat Choy, buddy.

Here’s what I assembled:

  • Small head of napa cabbage, sliced crosswise into ½ inch pieces
  • ½ cup diced bacon
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces of cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup chicken broth

Here’s what I did:

I assembled the ingredients…

…heated a large cast iron skillet to medium and threw in the bacon.

The piece of bacon I had was pretty meaty and I sliced it pretty thick, so it was more like sautéing ham matchsticks as opposed to crisping thin slices of bacon.

Then, I added the onions (with some salt and pepper) and cooked them until they were translucent.

Once the onions were softened, I added the sliced mushrooms (with some salt and pepper) and sautéed them until the moisture had cooked off.

I put in the Napa cabbage…

…and splashed in some chicken broth.

I placed a lid on the skillet and lowered the heat to medium low. I simmered the dish for about 5-10 minutes until the cabbage softened to my preferred tenderness. I did a final taste for seasoning and adjusted with salt and pepper.

Easy and tasty. In the future, I’ll scoop out the bacon before adding the onions and mushrooms because the fatty part gets kind of rubbery. Because the bacon I used was more like ham, it wasn’t a problem. If I were using thin bacon, I’d definitely fish out the bacon and sprinkle the crispy pork bits on top after I finished the dish.

Quick and Simple Stir-Fried Kale and Bacon

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I posted Serious Eats’s recipe for Collard Greens Mineira less than a week ago and I finally had a chance to make them tonight. In the past, I blanched my hearty greens before I sauteed them — a time-consuming, multiple-pan process — so this super-quick, one-pan recipe piqued my interest.

Here’s what I gathered for the recipe:

  • 1 bunch of lancinato kale, leaves removed and thinly chopped
  • 3 slices of bacon, cut in 1/4” strips
  • splash of Banyuls vinegar (the original recipe uses a squeeze of lemon)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Here’s what I did:

I washed and chopped the kale leaves…

…and assembled the rest of my ingredients.

I sauteed the bacon bits in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once they were crisp…

…I added in the kale leaves with a dash of salt and pepper.

I stirred the kale and bacon for a couple minutes and then splashed on some vinegar.

Super quick and yummy! The slightly wilted bitter greens are well-balanced with the bacon and vinegar. From now on, this speedy and simple cooking method will be the only way I make my hearty greens! Another shortcut to deliciousness…

Spicy Sautéed Mushrooms with Anchovy

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This is another great recipe from the folks at Cook’s Illustrated.  I refer to their books and website more than any others whenever I’m cooking something for the first time because I know I’ll always get great results from their recipes.  I’m not super anal-retentive in the kitchen so it’s great that they are!  In this recipe, I subbed out olive oil with more butter and increased the amount of garlic.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • ¼ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 3 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 2 medium anchovy fillets
  • 1 pound cremini or white mushrooms, cut into halves if small, quarters if large

What to do:

Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  When the butter melts and the foam subsides, add the pepper flakes, garlic, and anchovies and cook, breaking up the anchovy fillets, with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is fragrant (~1 minute)

Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated and the mushrooms are lightly browned, about 12 minutes.  Season with salt to taste and serve immediately.

Yummy, spicy, and umami-y.  Now I gotta find another recipe to use up the rest of the anchovies in my can…

Braised Green Beans with Tomatoes and Onions

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What do you do when the green beans you bought are a little too long in the tooth and tough?  Slow-braise them until they’re tender in a tomato-based broth!  What do you do if you’re out of Rao’s marinara sauce (I normally make a 1:1 ratio of Rao’s:chicken broth braising liquid)?  You can make your own!

I adapted this recipe from Deborah Madison’s Green Beans Simmered with Tomato in her cookbook, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.   

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 pound of trimmed, older green beans cut into uniform 2-inch pieces
  • 14 ounce can of Muir Glen diced fire roasted tomatoes, drained
  • 1 large onion, sliced thin
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1-2 cups of low sodium chicken broth
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Here’s what you do:

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Once the butter melts and the foam subsides, throw in the onions and some salt and sauté until translucent. 

Add the minced garlic, green beans, tomatoes, and enough broth to cover everything.   Increase the heat to high until the broth comes to a boil.   Then, cover the skillet with a lid and reduce the heat to low to produce a constant simmer.

Let the beans simmer for 5-10 minutes (or as long as it takes) to get tender. Remove lid and simmer to reduce liquid for ~5 minutes.  Check for seasoning and plate it up.